Details and Corrections

Since I was posting from my phone while half-awake, I’m posting this for more details on the likely grave of Jack’s brother, Albert.

The image was found via Billiongraves.com.  I searched the same cemetery on Findagrave.com and got no results.  Billiongraves even had a photo though for copyright reasons I won’t post it.

It’s a two-part headstone. On the left it reads “In loving memory of a dear wife and mother, Harriett Ann Harris, who fell asleep 30th Oct. 1971, age 93 years, at rest.”

On the right it reads “Also of Dear Dad Albert James Harris, peacefully, 21 Sep. 1975 Aged 96 years. Re-United.”  I had misstated his age as 93.

There’s something else interesting. Notice the name of the woman he married, Harriett Ann Harris. I remember having a sweetheart named Ann!  I’ve even written it down in earlier entries.  This begs some interesting questions for sure… Was I Albert? Did he marry Ann when I didn’t come back from the war? Or is the name only a coincidence?

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File That Under “Weird,” Part 2

My cat goes nuts whenever he hears a West Country accent.

I noticed a while ago that whenever I watch clips from “Time Team”  on YouTube, he starts walking around and yowling.  At first I thought it was Tony Robinson’s voice for some reason that he was mistaking for someone else, but then I had a thought: what if it’s Phil Harding’s voice?

Phil Harding, one of the Time Team archaeologists, has a very distinct West Country accent (Wiltshire, apparently).

I played another clip of a Somerset accent, which is another West Country dialect,  and my cat went straight to the door of the room, yowling as if he expected someone to come in.

Incidentally, John probably had a  Somerset accent in his youth that he later gave up for a standard RP accent if my memories are correct.

On a hunch, I tried petting my cat and speaking to him in the best West Country accent I could manage, addressing him as “puss,” and he calmed down immediately.  He’s now curled up next to me perfectly calm.

I was overdue for some weirdness.  Not sure what to make of this; I don’t remember having a cat in that life.  PKD was a cat person but I can’t imagine John would have been, since he was a bit more rugged.  Then again, you never know.

Dream

Last night, I had a dream that was largely nonsensical, but there was one element that stands out.

In the dream, my fiance said the word “army” with a heavy Somerset accent (maybe he was trying to talk like a pirate?).  Just hearing the word “army” said that way triggered something undoubtedly past-life related within me and soured my mood.  It left me feeling unpleasant even after I had woken up.

What else?  I seem to remember there was also a moment going to one of those small, mid-century grocery stores with tall glass fronts that were still common in my childhood (but seem to be vanishing now that everything’s gone to big-box retail).  The usual colorful kiddie rides and candy vending machines were out front.  I wonder if that means anything?  It was a lot like the Piggly-Wiggly in Goose Creek, SC that we would shop at if we were down that way when I was young.

Beyond that, the dream made no sense whatsoever and I’m still in a hazy, dreamlike state (probably because I took something for anxiety right before bed…  I hate what those pills do to me though so I rarely take them).

East Coker Slide Show

Someone has put together a slide show of the village of East Coker with audio of the poem “East Coker” by TS Eliot:

Of course I got a chill from noticing just how little the village has changed since John’s time.  The roads are paved and marked now, there’s a lot more modern signage than there used to be, and to me, the Helyar Arms just looks wrong without a thatched roof (then again, I noticed about half of the thatched roofs have been upgraded to tile or shingles in the mean time).  

Also, there was one house at 4:07 that has a gate with iron anchors on it.  I feel weird about that one because my gut tells me that the gate was there in John’s time, even though my judgment tells me that the iron work is probably 1910s or later, judging by the style.  Now I’m curious as to when that gate was added.

It would be awesome if someone familiar with the history of East Coker could find this blog.  I still haven’t found Higher Lodge (where John lived according to the 1891 census).

Possible Trigger?

I think, in hindsight, I may have figured out what triggered me to recall past lives, and it’s not what I thought.

In 2011, my father (who knows I’m a big fan of the rock band Queen) got me a book written by Queen guitarist Brian May called “A Village Lost And Found,” because he knows how much of an Anglophile I’ve always been.  The book is about how Brian’s hobby, collecting stereo slides from the 19th century, led him to track down a mysterious village pictured in a series of slides from the 1850s.  It sat on my shelf for several months before I finally unwrapped it and looked at it.

This look at mid-19th century English village life may have helped me connect the dots and figure out why I felt so confused by the overall look of the villages I traveled to in the 2000s, looking for the one that felt like the right place but not sure what I was looking for.  What I noticed in these books was that there were many familiar features- clothes drying on front lawns, different monuments and fences in a churchyard, pollarded willows, and very ragged edges between roads and roadsides- that are missing now from the clean, sanitized, highly-gentrified rows of thatched cottages and pristine pubs that make up the English countryside today.  The feeling I got from it was such that I felt like I’d found the missing piece.  It just looked right to me.

I don’t consider this to be cryptomnesia because what I saw first was not a village like East Coker, but the war itself and then memories going back to the beginnings of Yeovil’s suburban sprawl in a terrace of relatively-new houses in the stark but sufficient life of a Victorian semiskilled laborer’s son.  We lived on a well-traveled road near a rail line and my father worked in a factory.  There wasn’t a single thatched cottage in my initial round of memories, mostly just a life on the edge of reasonably well-developed towns, and discovering that he had lived in East Coker- a village I knew as soon as I saw it- was an astonishing surprise.  

But maybe it was an indirect trigger, something that set off the same deep, repressed recollection within me that drove me to seek out this village in the New Forest, about fifty miles east of where I should have been and starting from a town- Lyndhurst- that was not much smaller than Yeovil.  Finally seeing how these types of villages looked in the 19th century may have somehow jogged my memory enough that the important details of John’s life came back to me shortly after I looked at this book.

I can’t believe I hadn’t considered that this book may have done it for me.  Odd to think that I may have Brian May to thank for remembering John’s life and all the rest of my past lives through more than just his music (which has also triggered memories), although I’m really not sure what he’d think of that!

Something I Forgot (A Mystery)

I had a hunch a few nights ago and decided to see if I could pick up any features near Weston-Super-Mare (Somerset’s biggest beach resort) that would suggest an artificial island and/or a wooden statue being built there some time in the last century.  I figured, since it was a little further out than the piers, the amount of sand required to make an artificial island like that would create a sand bar that might still be visible.

While I didn’t find anything near the pier, I did find a feature that’s a little hard to explain.

South of Weston near Brean Down, there is an island-like feature with a straight line running out to it, like the remains of a pier.  Most of the photos in the area are looking out at the down itself, so I can’t get a clear view of what it is.  

If anyone knows what this feature is, please let me know!  And if you know of a wooden statue being built there one summer between about 1880 and 1914, please let me know.

More memories

Had some piecemeal memories of childhood.

I saw East Coker before the roads were paved.  I saw the street as it is today melt away, the buildings still in place but a narrow, well-beaten track running through it, the smooth surfaces of today giving way to the rustic finish of countless centuries.

I saw a snail as I lay in a field, picking it up from a long blade of grass, putting on my glasses to look at it.  I saw streams crossed by centuries-old stone bridges, a countryside teeming with wildlife of every description, and trees in full leaf, and those rare cloudless days that one usually only sees over England in May and June.

I saw that girl again, the one with the round face who was always smiling.  I may have mentioned her before, I remember her once in winter time.  And even though her face as blurred again (I seem to remember I kept my glasses in my waistcoat pocket a lot of the time I played), I know she was the same girl, we were both about 9 or 10.  I can’t remember for the life of me if that was my sister (I know from census records I had one) or my childhood sweetheart.  But I keep getting the strange thought that she was indeed a childhood sweetheart, and that my partner today was her, my true and first love, and not my wife in that life.

These childhood memories are a welcome change from the grim finality of war.  I think if I keep my mood light and my thoughts of the war to a minimum I might dig up more of my life before 1914.  Somerset was really stunningly beautiful 130 years ago, idyllic in a way that doesn’t really exist anywhere on earth nowadays, and I’m excited to remember more.