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Summer thoughts

I finally gave myself two weeks off from posting on this blog. In the past I have made sure to have something to post even if I was going to be away from home.

Unusually hot weather (not as extreme as in much of England this year) made me think twice about switching on my computer. There were days when I didn’t leave the house either.

I am currently reading a very interesting nonfiction book, which I have renewed from the library a few times already. I hope to finish it and review it before I need to show the librarian that I still have it.

The hobby I began earlier this year of researching my family history is time-consuming, but interesting. Making discoveries about people is sometimes exciting. Other times there is frustration when there do not appear to be any relevant records.

In my quiet times this year I have read some of the minor prophets – Amos and Joel, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and I am currently reading Chronicles and John’s gospel. When I reached the point in 2 Chronicles when Rehoboam, son of Solomon, was king of Judah. One verse jumped out at me.

The news is full of reports of people doing evil. People doing good things rarely reach the headlines. Rehoboam did evil because his heart was not set on seeking the Lord. 2 Chronicles 12:14

How many people nowadays have set their hearts on seeking the Lord? Have you? Have I?

The state of the world is depressing. We hear of wars, people fleeing countries where they feel unsafe, weapon tests, pollution, global warming, unprovoked physical attacks on people in public places, unjust governments, people only caring about themselves and their nearest and dearest.

In the Bible we read that there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

Over and over again in the Bible the story is told of how people sought God and worshipped Him; then they forgot about Him. He often brought them back into a state of grace by bringing various hardships on them – plagues, wars or famine, for example.

We are living through difficult times. We have had plagues in the form of Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. There are wars. Global warming is bringing the threat of famine to many people.

In the Bible God relieved people’s suffering when they began to seek Him again.

Nowadays people ask, ‘How can a loving God allow awful things to happen?’

Another side of God’s character is that he is holy and just. I am not going to attempt to make a theological explanation. We have the example of God’s dealings with people in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

We also have the promises made there. Even if we give up on God, he doesn’t give up on us.

There are other pieces of advice, which do not come from the Bible. One I have been thinking about recently is, ‘Consider what sort of world it would be if everyone did what you do.’

This needs questioning. What you do…
…is how you behave, what you achieve and more.

There are some things which everyone might do, such as looking after themselves and others in their household, being polite and courteous, keeping their homes and gardens in a reasonable state, considering carefully what to buy, how to dispose of rubbish, how to use the world’s resources without negatively impacting others (including other species). There are also beneficial things that we may do, which others will not. They have different skills and interests.

My family history research began because I inherited historical papers and old photographs. I have been able to share some information with a local history society. This is not something that everyone would have the opportunity or time to do.

‘Do what you can, but don’t be too hard on yourself over the things you can’t’, might be good advice.

Perhaps we should make a habit of asking for eyes to see opportunities to help others day by day.

Fashions in handwriting

This post is a change from a book review. I have not been spending as much time reading recently, because I have embarked on a voyage of discovery. From the comfort of my home I can explore the past. Have you guessed? I am researching the family history of various branches, particularly my mother’s maternal line and both lines of my mother-in-law. I have made more progress with the latter as people had more varied and less usual names.

I like to look at the original transcriptions of census records. Enumerators copied the information from the forms filled in by heads of households. Some of the writing is almost indecipherable. Typed transcriptions are available. Often some of the details have been omitted or incorrectly transcribed.

A contents page fom a school project on the history of books
An example of my earlier handwriting. Notice how upper case T and I were written.

At school I was taught cursive writing. I didn’t find it easy to write neatly using this style. I held my pen too tightly and tried to write too quickly. In my teens I changed to italic script. However, many of the records are written in the style I was taught. Some capital letters are quite different from most of the fonts we are familiar with today.

An older style of writing was copperplate. It is a very even form of joined-up writing. Many historical documents were written in copperplate.

I have managed to deduce what some of the indecipherable words were by looking at census records for the same families at different times. What I jotted down as ‘Renul Maker’ turned out to be Pencil Maker. Pencil-making was an important industry in the Lake District. There is a pencil museum in Keswick, where the history of he local industry is presented.

But back to fashions in handwriting. By the time my children were learning to write, the style chosen was much rounder than earlier generations had been taught.

Styles of handwriting are also different from one country to another. In the past I used to correspond with pen-friends in France and Germany. Their style of writing was different from that taught in English schools. Where our n and m had arches theirs had gullies like our u.

How were you taught to write? Do you still use the same style of writing?