Followers of my blog will already know all too much about me. Sometimes I explore things theatrical, and sometimes more personal. Its been 5 years since I spent time on trying to find my half brothers and sisters who I have never met or some of their mothers who were at one time or another ‘married’ to my father. I only met my father once, at age 18 when he visited me at the Strand Theatre where I was a tea boy working for West End producer John Gale. My father took me to lunch, interviewed me about my life, and then left. I never saw him again, and I had no idea how to find him.
It was only in around 2006 that I discovered the power of the Genes Reunited database, and with the little I knew about him and the names of his parents, I found his birth certificate. Suddenly I had a father with a name and a history. Sadly 2 hours later I found his death certificate. Maybe best I never went looking for this old man who had never looked me up in 30 years.
So yesterday I set aside a day to do some exploring. Genes Reunited now has a growing family tree for me, and now there are other tools to look up old newspapers, but still I am an untrained amateur sleuth here. [If anyone tries this, then it pays to put an enquiry into the message system – all of a sudden people seem to find things I’d never have known to look for. No idea who they are, but they deliver wonderful gobbits of information & ideas].
I spent a day going down various rabbit holes. I may have found my father marrying three different women over the years and having 4 children – who would be my half siblings. However these may be men who just happen to have lived in the same town as my father was born, and have the same name. I have updated my message board request to see whether anyone comes forward. I also found details of my mother’s first husband before I was conceived, and definitely details of his later children. These will not be related to me, but may share some knowledge of our family past. I have reached out to one of these adult children. It was a fascinating day.
There is something strange about knowing so little about the past surrounding my family. I have no living contemporaries of my father or mother from that time (as far as I know), and I have two very competing stories of what my father did in the world.
Around 5 years ago I conceived the idea of doing a show at the Pleasance at Edinburgh Festival Fringe called ‘Are you my Brother ? Are you my Sister ?’ . I had decided I would use the month of August to tell my story around my rather unexpected conception [show some front page cuttings from the time etc], and invite the audience to work with me through the month to uncover my half siblings. The show would grow daily as each new discovery was made. My mother once told me I has a Swedish and a Japanese brother or sister. I now have an email from a distant contact telling me I have a brother or sister who is American. Maybe you and I are related ?
In the end, despite lots of interest from a writer, a director, even a producer, I decided that would not be a good thing to do. I have no idea what my bothers and sisters feel about their father, even if we could find each other. He left me at my baptism with a rugby ball as a gift. He gave me lunch in the Waldorf bar once 18 years later, and what he did in his life is a mystery.
I will continue my explore by setting aside a day of rabbit holing every few weeks. A day away from the usual bustle of zoom and theatre. Maybe one day I will know who my father really was…or maybe it will remain an official/unofficial secret, and maybe that’s best.