In which The Author opens a can of worms
As soon as I posted the previous entry Profiling the Present
I realised that it was the 451st item in this blog. That struck me as significant for a couple of reasons.
Ray Bradbury’s cult novel Fahrenheit 451 is about exactly the sort of thing I’d been discussing – the importance of preserving written documents. As you’ll know if you’ve read the book (or seen the film, come to that), it’s about a ‘fireman’ whose job is to burn books which are seen as subversive, or the contents of which run counter to the prevailing ideology. (Its title comes from the fact that 451º Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper ignites.)
Also, the first gig I went to featured two of my mates from school, Darren Broome and Stuart Turvill, whose band was called Farenheit 451. (The subtly-altered spelling was an attempt to sidestep the unlikely event that they became huge, and Ray Bradbury sent Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne after them.) When I said that Crass was my second ‘proper gig’ I wasn’t counting the boys’ gig. It was upstairs in The Conway in Aberdare, after all. When I saw The Cure (also with Darren and a gang of our pals, on Darren’s eighteenth birthday) they were in the Colston Hall in Bristol. I think that counts as my first ‘proper gig’, if you see what I mean.
Anyway, I made a comment to this effect when the link fed through to Facebook, and then returned to the pile of documents on my table in the Library. A brown envelope labelled only with an accession number caught my eye, so I tipped the contents out. The first thing I saw was this:
See what I mean about opening a can of worms?
Now, I know from bitter experience that the apostrophe in my family surname has a habit of going walkabout. In fact, it took the Halifax Building Society (pre-carpetbaggers) no fewer than eleven attempts to get my name right on my cashpoint card. Therefore, I’m not sure whether this rent book relates to my late uncle Pat O’Gorman, or to someone whose surname was just Gorman. (See Dave Gorman’s very funny book Are You Dave Gorman? for his own experiences of tracking down people who share his name.) Pat and Vilda certainly lived at a Number 23, but it wasn’t ‘Rose Terrace’!
I’ve got the bound electoral registers from 1961-2 in front of me at the moment, covering the period when the rent book was in use. Pat and Vilda were living in the house which I always remember them living in. Dad and his first wife were living at 1 Economy Cottages (see A Little Economy
) at the bottom of Meirion Street. Pat and Vilda’s next-door neighbour wasn’t even named Griffiths. I’ve no idea where Rose Terrace was, as there’s no entry in the electoral register. It’s yet another lost street for the Street Names Project. The plot thickens.
I imagine one of my cousins might be able to shed some light on this. Until then, it’s a mystery, and a bizarre coincidence to boot.
That wasn’t the only weird thing about the envelope. The only other thing in there was a tenancy agreement for someone living at 24 Meirion Street – in other words, just at the top of the hill from where I grew up.
You know, some days you wish you’d gone to the pub instead.