My grandma was a war criminal

I know. I know. This may put an end, once and for all, to my promising career as an echt feminist, lefty and all-purpose professional nuisance.

But like Georgina Walsingham of old, confronted with accusations of shooting her father’s favourite cherry tree, “I cannot tell a lie”.

Implausible biographies

So, dear readers, what can i do but reveal the truth, the whole truth and nothing but about my long-departed gran.

Who wasn’t who she said she was!

For when she died in 1992 – or was it 1991 (you see: she couldn’t even come clean about the date of her death), it became apparent there was mystery afoot.

For her birth certificate, it turned out, was all of two years at odds with her stated age.

What should i make of this? Was the woman an imposter? Sadly, now, i must conclude that to have been the case.

Proof? Well, in later years she looked nothing like the black and white photos of the young and nubile figure she kept around the house. And as for motive?

I remember her reminiscing interminably about lefties and how that wonderful Mr Churchill had saved the country. What need to emphasise her Britishness so if she wasn’t, in fact, a Nazi sympathiser and spy?

Undisproveable histories

Now that i think about it, there are other inconsistencies in my family history. On the paternal side, i know next to nothing about my dad before the age of 25. Some vague famiily history. Hints that just maybe, as a family, we have inherited the title of papal knight.

But my father, a Pole who graduated in the summer of 1939 and on holiday when war broke out – or so he claimed! – never properly went back. Never really spoke about before.

Suspicious, eh?

And as for documents, what documents? Most, it is alleged, were destroyed by a combination of Nazi and Soviet action. Sad. Or very convenient!

Though let’s not confine our suspicions to family members.

What of trans man, Herbert Hoover who, in his later role as J Edgar and head of the FBI, started to de-transition, wearing dresses when he thought no-one was looking.

What do you mean, you want proof? Have you ever seen either individual’s birth certificate? Or photos of them together?

As for the assassination of JFK. I distinctly remember reading somewhere…or maybe i was dreaming…that actually he was killed by aliens, alarmed at where his space programme might lead.

You doubt me? Then show me the evidence that this never happened!

Footnote: tedious reality

Of course, maybe, just maybe, its all a big misunderstanding. A few years after my gran dies, i was browsing the 1901 census records.

Odd. In her family record were two births, about two years apart, of girls with identical names: the names, as it happened, my gran bore throughout her life.

Was it possible, i wondered, that the younger of the two had died, her name been passed on to the next born daughter.

Possible, yes. But where’s the evidence.

So much more interesting, surely, to weave a web of presumption and conspiracy around her life. So much easier to believe that she was some species of exotic fantasist than accept the more plausible conclusion: that i didn’t know all there was to know about her and that the records of her life were ever so slightly difficult to read.



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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