Marks & Measures

In offering an explanation for the difference between a Mark of Man and a Measure I may appear somewhat irrational. A lot of the photographs I take, some of which will end up here as A Daily Image, are snapped with a heavy heart because they portray the darkish side of human nature. If there is a light side to my days it is usually not man-made in any way. (Sometimes it seems that “four legs good, two legs bad” describes our world perfectly.)

Before I go any further, “Man” obviously refers to both sexes. I’m so glad that the female cricketers in our national team refer to themselves as batsmen and fieldsmen.  We’re all people on a joint venture; we are all accountable. There’s nowhere to hide.

I began this project by making two image categories where one might have sufficed, with Mark being positive (I thought) and Measure its opposite. Does this work for the first two photographs posted? A Latin Cross (mark) and a Gun? Not really. A case could be made for the cross being a symbol for one of the largest and longest surviving terrorist organizations in history. (“The Christians are coming!”) At the very least it is a constant reminder of  inhumanity to one very particular man.

20170622ColinsPistol2_6mGuns don’t kill people. Humankind may be measured by the manufacture of weapons and their use against its own and every other animal kind. But today’s image is of a relatively harmless “liquid pistol”, dug up by a small boy in the garden of his grandmother’s house in Leeds about sixty years ago. (Checking online it appears the pistol was marketed as a “dog scarer” and ammonia was possibly the ammunition of choice. It was also designed to resemble a “real” pistol or firearm.) Young Colin cleaned the mud off the gun, was fascinated by the date on it (June 30th 1896) and particularly excited that it had come all the way from the United States of America. He turned the screw and the gun separated into two halves. In the handle he found a bag for the liquid ammo. Elderly Colin kindly brought the weapon for me to photograph this morning on Muston Sands. In return I gave him a rudimentary family tree I’d researched. Swaps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAColin worked for local councils for 42 years, starting at Morley Borough and ending in Filey. He retired two or three years ago but comes into town most Thursdays for a walk along the sands with Angus. I haven’t found any of Colin’s forebears on FST. He told me this morning that one of his uncles played for Leeds United. There’s a brief bio and photograph of Billy HEATON here. (The garden-of-the-gun is almost in the shadow of the Elland Road stands;  John Charles and Jackie Charlton, among many other players, lived nearby.)

Another Kind of Measurement

I took an autosomal DNA test a couple of months ago. The results have marked me as just over 50 percent Scandinavian – and barely a quarter English. I have known pretty much forever that I had a Norwegian great grandfather, Martin Nielsen. His family name must have caused some confusion because he anglicized it to NELSON. Only a few weeks ago I found a Marthin NIELSEN on FST who must be responsible for a lot of my Scandinavian ethnicity. If you seek him out by ID [27N3-5G7] you’ll find him with his parents. I haven’t claimed him yet because “my” Martin told census enumerators that he was born in Christiania. Maybe that just sounded more grand than Skedsmo, Akershus.

But 50.7%, come on. Hull kids learned in primary school that our neck of the woods had been ruled by The Danes for long enough. Maybe that is where most of my Nordic ethnicity comes from. If that is so then most people born in the area of the Danelaw will be similarly taken aback if they undergo an atDNA test. (I realise that this test is only effective at pointing to relatives along all lines going back six generations but almost three centuries of Danish sexual activity in north and eastern “England” surely continues to have an effect on the native population today. Please educate me if you know better.)

A greater surprise was learning I have a 4% Eastern European and 2% Italian  ethnicity. I can’t get my head round that.

A few days ago My Heritage sent me introductions to potential cousins with whom I have loads of centiMorgans in common. I have been too busy with this blog to contact them yet. It’s on my list…