Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

Great Aunts Ain't What They Used To Be

My great aunt Enid left behind two suitcases full of papers. They were originally lodged- by her instruction- with my cousin Jane and have suddenly, unexpectedly- by a process of death and down-sizing- come to me.

I knew Aunt Enid. She was tall and dignified and wore a ridiculous wig. She was a conscientious Quaker, bred dogs and lived with a long-time female companion. She was always kind to me and once gifted me with a hand-written copy of her family tree. I assumed- as one does with Great Aunts- that she was rather straight-laced, a view I had confirmed when it was conveyed to me- through my parents-  that she rather disapproved of my divorce. She was born in 1888 and lived to be a hundred.

Last night I started reading one of her diaries...

The year is 1922 and Enid is living with one woman and carrying on an affair with another. Her live-in girlfriend is also having an affair (and to complicate matters it's with Enid's sister, my Great Aunt Elfrida)- and has given her lovers identical gold rings. Enid invites Nina to stay and Smithie invites Elf and there is a charged (but painfully civilized) debate about sleeping arrangements. Enid fills page after page with speculation about who Smithie loves best and whether Nina's affections have changed. She also expresses dismay over her partner's suicidal tendencies.

She must have hoped- or she'd have had a bonfire- that all this would be aired one day.
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