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A Brief Parole Beckons

Day 1 at home with my spouse is over. Little blood spilt. And that has been by my spouse in the daily battle to get a pill down the throat of our older cat.

I had a bit of a long lie but I don’t think it did me too much harm .. I rose at 0615 rather than my usual 0530.

Especially when followed by walking 2½ miles around our country roads. Not a single vehicle was seen or heard, so business as usual.

A brief chat, at a distance, with a neighbour – in country living a mile away counts as a neighbour – and the subject of the chat? Social distancing. And an agreement that we country dwellers were pretty adept at that already.

The other highlights?

Well, I have incorporated a few short bits of jogging to raise the cardio action. All on the flat of course. Perhaps I shall start on some uphill sections next week—a target set of getting to do 10K twice a week and doing it in the hour. But without a target date .. yet.

It’s a chastening thought that when I, and my late pals Archie and Joe, used to run around Linlithgow Loch on a Sunday morning, we did it in under 14 minutes. Now I feel quite pleased to walk it in 50.

But that was 40 years ago .. another life.

So back to the electronic bully. The email inbox.

And there’s a noticeable increase in emails from an unexpected source.

It’s been a hobby of mine since the early 1960s to undertake family ancestry research.

Initially one had to attend New Register House in Edinburgh. One bought a two-day ticket and had a free run of searching the original paper documents about births, deaths, marriages and censuses that are held there. Provided always that one took no pens in; only pencils were allowed.

Today the search room, still a favourite location of mine, is closed because of CORVID-19 so that’s no longer an option.

For the many tiny personal businesses that are the professional genealogists, that’s going to be a serious impediment to continuing their quite modestly paying researches. Like businesses large and small, their very viability will be threatened by the pandemic.

The increase in the inbox? Emails from amateur genealogists around the world.  Time at home, time to research.

For family research, like many desk-bound tasks, has been transformed by the internet.

50 years ago I searched for 3 years, during intermittent visits to Edinburgh, for the birth of my grandfather Alexander Campbell MacGregor.

A census record had him living in Leith, where my mother was born in 1909 and showed him born in Edin.

The psychological phenomenon of confirmation bias kicked in and I spent that 3 years searching Edinburgh’s birth records for him. To no avail.

It turned out, after a suggestion from the ever-helpful staff in New Register House, that he had been born not in Edinburgh, which I had assumed “Edin.” meant, but in Edindonich in Argyll. A hamlet so small that none of its houses have survived to today.

It was obvious, really. The census showed him as a native Gaelic speaker. Normal in Victorian Argyll. Unusual in Leith.

The final task of the day? Preparing for the highlight of the week. Discussing the shopping list for the special session at Huntly’s ASDA for pensioners tomorrow between 0700 to 0900. But as journalist Derek Bateman pointed out, the drinks aisle does not open until 1000. Ah well, a little help to keeping healthy.

Temporary parole beckons.

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