My grandma, it may come as no surprise, loved a good news clipping. News clipping, with the advent of the internet, is a dying art. Now it’s all just tweeted links and Facebook shares, rather than cutting out a piece of physical newspaper and sending it to someone with “I thought you might be interested in this…” written on it.
To be fair, news clippings were a lot more selective than the shared with 300+ friends bollocks news item about hair clips, or whatever it may be you choose to share on Bookface.
Anyway, my grandma loved them. She used to send them to my parents all the time. And now she’s gone, and we’re in the midst of sorting out all the crap and getting rid of a lot of it, there’s a lot of stuff to wade through.
There are nuggets of family history – a relative who rode his bicycle into the path of a motorbike and died, for example. Which is quite exciting and leads to several hours of faffing around on Ancestry, and then Google to try and locate more information, during which time you discover that, potentially, he was in hospital for a month before he died of his injuries. I need to become famous so that I can get Who Do You Think You Are to do all this research stuff and I can just go “oooh” at the results and visit places thoughtfully instead of spending hours hunched over a laptop with a notepad and pen, cross-referencing miniscule details.
Ah, who am I kidding, I bloody love that shit.
But there are less obvious news things – there’s a whole heap of cuttings, stapled together, about British Forces overseas. The only connection I can make is that my dad was a Royal Marine, and was stationed in some of the places mentioned in the articles. I assume that’s the whole story, but I may be wrong and – more worryingly – may have to read through everything in case he’s name-checked in there or somesuch nonsense.
And then there’s a miniscule cutting about a woman from Bromley who was seen bobbing around in the Thames having thrown herself off Westminster Bridge. No indication is made in the paragraph long clipping as to how it was determined, as she bobbed about gasping for breath, that she was from Bromley. But it was definitely listed as a fact. Maybe when you drown not only do you do that surface three times thing, you also involuntarily shout out where you’re from. Who knows?
Stapled to this is an even smaller piece of paper from the deaths section of the Bromley paper which lists a woman who has died. One assumes, then, that the two are connected. The woman in the death notices is the one last seen bobbing about in the Thames. She’s not a member of the family. From what I can gather, having talked to mum, it’s possible that she was the friend of someone who used to live next door to my grandma. A friend of a friend. Or, in today’s parlance, 1 mutual friend. Click to add friend.
Basically, there’s a wooden box that’s essentially pensioner’s Facebook, and I’ve got to sift through it and work out whether we want the profile to remain active or not.
The only thing that actually makes it different from a digital profile – once you’ve sifted through birthday greetings, photos of snow (I kid you not) and all these shared news stories – is that there are no quizzes about what character from, I don’t know, Z-Cars she was, or anything like that.
I haven’t got to the bottom of the box yet.