Who is there?
Is a bell necessary on a bicycle?
You know that feeling you have that someone is watching you, only there is no-one there?
Well, that’s because someone is watching you.
It is also why you should never speak ill of the dead. They listen in.
They are the universe’s best eavesdroppers.
This little knock knock joke was casually traded between Young Master J and my stepmum at dinner.
A few days later she gave me a medium reading and my Great-Granny Bella used the knock knock joke to let me know she is watching over me.
I felt a bit as though I had taken her name in vain, but it seems she still has a tremendous sense of humour.
I never met her, but she was the matriarch of our little clan, Isabella Walker nee Connolly, was a woman to be reckoned with.
I have her recipe book and once I have deciphered her handwriting and obtuse instructions like – add flour until the right consistency – they have never failed me.
Granny Bella came through and as proof of her identity offered the knock knock joke and the tomato, chutney and sugar sandwiches on white bread with the crusts cut-off and cut into triangles she used to make my father as a boy.
I found myself a little in awe when she told me to “Be a good girl”.
When I asked if she had happened to pop in and see her new great-great grandchild born to my cousin, she replied, “Of course!”
I was then told in no uncertain terms how proud they all are of the new generation and what beautiful children they are inside and out.
Does a mother’s heart good to hear that.
The next visitor turned out to be my great-grandfather’s brother who might have been either Andrew (1848 – 1924) or Joseph (b 1849).
I have long been concerned about this gentlemen who was written out of family history for falling in love with a coloured woman during the Boer War.
Inter-cultural marriages have never been easy and certainly never more so than in South Africa.
He was not spoken of, nor referred to. I felt as though this entire branch of my family had disappeared as a result of racial prejudice and I often wondered how he lived, where and if he was lonely.
I was terribly grateful that he spoke to me and assured me that he was with his family again and that you can never choose who you will fall in love with, only that it is worth every challenge.
He showed my great-grandfather’s round spectacles, still in the family, and an engraved gold watch which he told me to keep.
The best messages to come out of my reading were that I should carry on writing, that trials are followed by triumphs and that I must hold our family’s stories from the next generation.
Now if only I could find my great-great-grandfather’s missing twin sister! They were 9 years old when separated in Glasgow after their parents left for the new world and were never heard of again. He was promptly sent off to be apprenticed to a tugboat-man and was never reunited with his sibling.
All of which is terribly sad. What cheered me up was the story my father told to my son later that evening. Aged about 10 his cousins came to stay at the chicken farm my great-grandparents ran just outside of East London.
In those days one had to traipse down the garden path to the 4-seater privy. Now, this privy had a trapdoor at the back to empty the barrels.
When these two little girls from the suburbs of Pretoria descended upon him, my father described them as terribly prissy.
So what did he do?
What would any small boy do?
He got a very long piece of grass and when they were both seated he opened the trapdoor and tickled their little white bottoms.
The shrieks as they ran into the trees could be heard for miles.
I could see the cogs clicking my son’s head as he tried to figure out how best to get the same result with indoor plumbing.