Sitting at a dinner table in the last light of a French summer’s evening, conversation turned to to the reluctance to talk about the past, the burial of the memories of war, the collective conspiracy to say nothing about anything that might arouse controversial discussion. Of course, the silence is not just a thing of the past, moving to the country four years ago brought an encounter with determined silence.
“Tell me about Mr xxxxx”, I asked.
“Do you know the stories about Mr xxxxx?” came the reply.
“Then you can draw your own conclusions”.
I had called with xxxx. He has been in psychiatric care for years.
“Did you know Mr xxxxx?” he asks.
“He’s dead now”.
Researching Mr xxxxx had uncovered only one reference to him on the Internet, on a family history website. An inquirer named Mr xxxxx; the response could have been anticipated,
My family and I are in the process of creating our family tree . . .We have come to a full stop on my nan’s side of the family. I am trying to get some detail about a Headmaster who was at xxxxxxxxx School House his name was xxxxx (not sure if this the correct spelling it could be xxxxx) he was born xxxx in xxxx. He is the brother of my great grandmother xxxx. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
The reply was discreet,
Just read your query. I am the current owner/occupier of xxxxxxxxx Schoolhouse. The family name of the last headmaster was xxxxx. I know a little of the person, but could find a lot more. However, there may be some problems, so I don’t know if you want to proceed further.
The inquirer is delighted at the response,
Fantastic. I can’t believe somebody has been in touch. I am in the process of researching my family history and have come to a full stop on my grandmother’s side of the family. Any information you have would be appreciated good or bad.
There was no point in causing unnecessary pain,
I can get you plenty of information, but am not sure that a public forum is the best way. Do you want to correspond by email as it would be more private.
Mr xxxxx was a paedophile. The pain he caused and the damage he did in people’s lives still endures. xxxx was sent to Mr xxxx as a foster child; he never recovered. Years later, memories are still too raw for Mr xxxx to be discussed; in death, he remains the abuser he was in life.