A strange morning. Request from my publishers for regurgitable rave reviews of my past books. Well, I think I have just about every one ever written in the 1980s and early '90s. Not that *I* saved them. But, the day the first ads and flyers for my very first adult book came out, the memorable Maisie Fielding presented Ian with one of the vast press-cutting books, beautifully bound, which the Fielding office ordered, in quantity, to hold the records of their various shows and seasons. 'Fill that' she grinned imperiously, as only Maisie could. Oh, Maisie, silly us, we only used one side of the pages, little realising that I was getting into A Career in Books. By book four, the album was bulgingly full ... and I more or less stopped clipping. And you were gone.
Anyway, I snipped some suitably over-the-top phrases, sent them off to New York, shoved the album back on the topmost shelf, and ... felt, suddenly, rather deflated. And dreadfully sad. Oh, no, not because one can't be a Wunderkind all one's working life. But you see, today is 5th November. Exactly fourteen years ago tonight, here at Gerolstein, my darling Ian breathed his last ...
I can still see him laughingly pasting the first notices in the album. I think, maybe, today of all days, I should have got someone else to have reviewed my reviews.
So ... when feeling low: e-bay! Get into someone else's life ...! What shall it be? Well, among the very first places I visited when, the formalities completed, I fled off round the world were Leicestershire (to see little brother) and the Isle of Wight (to be alone on a hilltop). So Leics and IoW? ... here were a couple who seemed exactly to fit the bill: from Leics and photographed in Ryde ...
Somone has scribbled across the album page 'Leicestershire 1862'. The vendor describes the couple as the Rev William Gibbson and Mrs Rev W Gibbson. Another ruddy Rev? No. He is actually wrong, on all counts. But it's not entirely his fault. Because the inscriber has got his facts wrong too ... scribal error down the generations!
Firstly, it is not Gibbson. I know a 'b' when I see one. It is GILLSON. Secondly, he wasn't a Rev (hurrah!), he was an Esq. His younger brother (as befell younger brothers) was ladled into the clergy. And his name was Edward. So... I doubt that the inscriber knew them. Them?
I reckon we have here William Hall Gillson (b Greetham, Rutland 1796; d Barsby Lodge, Ryde 29 February 1880). He doesn't look 65 in that photo, does he? His wife doesn't look 60. Misdated? Wife: Maria née Goodacre of Ullesthorpe, daughter of one of two largest landowners, farmers, graziers in that area. The other? Why, Mr William Gillson, father to her new husband. The couple were married 26 October 1819, and the future of Ullesthorpe was sealed. They had two children: both daughters.
The Gillson family had been for generations large farmers and graziers, sherrifs and high sherrifs etc in Rutland and Leicestershire, and had clearly married into equally land-rich families: I see an 1800 will in which an aged Elizabeth Cole names father William and his brother John her executors for a healthy wad of land, shares and cash, to be shared among her Gillson grandchildren. And grandfather William 'of Oakham' in his will, around the same time left 'Property at Greetham, Barsby, South Croxton and Ashby Folville to his son William. That at St. Martins Stamford Baron, Braunston, Leighfield and Market Overton, Rutland and Knossington, Leics. to his son John Cole Gillson, interest in a shop in London to son George, £1,200 to son Thomas...' Land rich, all right!