Since my other post I’ve thought about what other books I’ve read involving inheritance – it seems such a rich vein to mine.
Administering every estate, even those involving close-knit families, touches family relationships, investments, mistakes, friends, loves and hobbies – mistresses? – and of course tragedy. Whilst most can’t boast the kind of international tycoons revealed in The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, I think most people would love to a do a ‘So Who Do You Think You Are?’ style family-tree (as evinced by ancestry.co.uk et al). Doesn’t everyone have a relative they wish they’d learnt more about when they were alive? I’m currently mid-way through the phase where I’m trying to piece together the fragments I’ve gathered about my immediate-ish ancestors into some sort of coherent chronology. The great-uncles and aunts who bought me presents every year as a kid and were rewarded by far too few thank-you letters are now people I wish I’d spent more time to get to know.
I’m lucky in that I got to meet one of my great-grandads on a few occasions (he was ninety-nine when he died) but unfortunately not the Glaswegian father of 12 (at least), gangster-incarcerating copper of a grandfather.
But where is this sauvignon plonk inspired ranting getting me? How am I trying to promote our wonderful probate service? Well I suppose what I’m trying to get at is that, whilst death is sometimes the point when secrets, people are revealed, the reality is that it’s also a time for form-filling, government department-dealing, bank-bothering boringness.
Some people amass a physical narrative of their life whilst others leave no clue of the life they’ve led. But nothing impresses the tax man. You still have to fill in the forms, you still have to produce the ID like you’re transporting flour from Colombia, you still have to deal with the relatives who aren’t interested in the person, just the money they left.
That is where we come in. We deal with the forms. And the tax man. And the cousin who had a really special relationship with grandma Agnes, it’s just no-one ever noticed because Agnes was a private woman, but definitely deserves that Chinese-looking jar on the mantelpiece.