Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sparrows and the China Cottage

In the boxing ring that is the frontal part of my mind there are two opposing corners at the moment: in one there are issues wearing the red satin boxer silks of part life memory; and in the other, the blue satin silks belonging to real-world research with stringent requirements.

I can remember things about my family from the 1840s until I left England in 1855, and I can recall things that were so, like two father figures, but one not an actual father, a cantankerous mother, interfering in-laws, money problems, past successes surviving as remembered glories, and the overarching, ever-present gloom of Dickensian poverty, ragged black bombazine and other clichés of the mid-Victorian aesthetic…at least as history likes to present it.

But I also have the detective work that must be carried out on the ground, in the present and carefully so, and always with one part of my psychic apparatus set aside for clues, corner-of-the-eye shimmers and the most subtle of indicators and sentiments.

My supposedly biological family, the Sparrows, wrote letters to their in-laws, the Morrises who had emigrated to Tasmania and the letters survive today, in Sydney. They are called rather charmingly, "The China Cottage Letters."Among the list of correspondents are many of the people whose names I have read in the research I have done upon the Sparrows. I could write a booklet on the Sparrow Tea Family and their in-laws the Phythians. Tea, tea, tea. Is this why I like tea cups, tea and the theatre around it, even though I am a coffee or hot-chocolate man?

Among these are Robert Sparrow (I think he was Robert Sparrow Smythe's real father) Frederick Sparrow ("his uncles paid for his education") and Henry who died in 1820, and who is most important but for what reason I cannot say, nor even guess. But that he is important is beyond debate. I also feel that I have got something slightly wrong and that the slight error has not-so-sleight implications.

The letters I hope will shed light on the family dynamic and what the heck was going on, and the fact that they are sitting in Sydney, unexamined is a great extravaganza of a tease.

Obviously, I can't wait to get my eyeballs on them, or at least a proxy set of eyeballs.