Wednesday, 30 April 2008

yesterday and tomorrow

Here is a photograph taken around 1910 of shearers at the property known as Ensay Station (in the eastern part of the state of Victoria, Australia) enjoying a tea and smokes break. The slight man standing with a metal cup near the left of the picture is my grandfather, Michael Frederick Duggan. He was born in 1870 not far from the location of this photograph in a small settlement called Hinnomunjie. My father was born in 1909 and I was born in 1949. It still seems strange to be able to claim something as early as this as a part of my own life. My grandfather lived until 1962. He worked as a general farm hand though he had also been a postman. This term hardly does justice to what he must have had to do: deliver mail in rugged country where there were few roads as we know them and not a lot to navigate by. He happened to be an expert horseman and won many races as a jockey (I used to joke that as time went by what my family gained in physical size, they lost in equestrian skills). Tomorrow I vote for the first time in British council elections. Our local representatives, like those of most of Kent, are entirely Conservative. Labour are a different beast, I know, to those idealists of the early twentieth century. But when I go to vote I will be expressing my distant solidarity with the people shown half a world and a full century away in this photograph. OK, so Gordon Brown and Ken Livingstone might not be the perfect representatives of the politic I espouse. But would you want our (inept) council running Faversham, Boris Johnson running London, or, ultimately, David Cameron running the country?

No comments: