Why I prefer dead relatives
Historians may sneer at amateur genealogists, but their work is a compelling business
Wednesday November 30, 2005
One of the more convenient side-effects of the explosion of interest in family history is that you need never again be stumped for what to give your nearest and dearest for Christmas. Instead of a lacklustre pair of socks or bottle of whisky, what could be more thrilling than a voucher that entitles the grateful recipient to extended access to the online version of the 1901 census?
Real relatives slump in chairs and snore. They want to watch Bruce Forsyth, and tell your children to tidy the wrapping paper. If there is anything rackety in their background - a wartime lover, a business that went bust - they won't talk to you about it.
How much more pleasurable, in such circumstances, to spend Christmas with the dead. For the dead do not mind about seeming respectable. They do not even care whether you like them. And perhaps, most important of all, they will not complain when you decide that it's time for them to go back in their box.
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