I was thinking about what I’ve been able to piece together from recollection and historic records about my life as John Harris.
I originally had a rather grim picture of a fairly boring, pointless life in the late Victorian era as an illiterate country bumpkin with very little going for him. But, as I might have said in an earlier post, that view has been evolving.
I’m thinking in particular about the places John and his father William moved following the death of John’s mother Jane. By all accounts, William moved to Hereford and remarried within a few years of Jane’s death, but John, a teenager at the time if memory serves, went to live with an aunt in East Coker rather than going with his father.
But it wasn’t as if his father had just discarded him. In fact, John is later listed as living with his father and stepmother in Hereford in the early 1890s, until he got his own place some time around 1900. His father took him in and let him stay for a good while as he got situated in Hereford.
I also think, in hindsight, that sending John to East Coker may have been for his own good. You have to understand that the cities were not good places for young people in those days, and any Victorian family with strong values wouldn’t have wanted their son going out at night to places where a criminal element might hang out. Instead, my memories of going out at night as a teenager back in the Victorian era are full of starry skies and rolling hills bathed in moonlight, where the most dangerous thing you would meet was a will o’ the wisp, and for that I’m thankful.
My father loved me very much in my previous life as John, just like my father loves me very much in this life. I can’t say that William Harris became my father in this life too, but I realize how lucky I am to have the same sort of love and support in two lives in a row.