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  • Writer's pictureStephen Balogh

Multifarious family

I imagine everyone will have different ways of describing their family. I want to describe mine as multifarious.

In my family, including by immediate marriage, we have places of origin comprising Hungarian with admixture from immediately surrounding ethnic groups (plus a delicious sprinkling of Pashtun, from DNA analysis); Irish; English; Scottish; Afghan; Pakistani; Indian and Kenyan. The first in this list is me.

Amongst our forebears will be subject people as well as those benefiting indirectly from others’ subjection; illiterate labourers as well as, two generations back, a civil service clerk, an engineer, a small-town businessman, a draughtsman and teacher. We have a complicated set of parents between us totalling six and all bar one were born elsewhere than the United Kingdom. With possibly one exception, none of our 12 grandparents are known to have attended university and at least two were life-long illiterate, having never been taught to read and write.

The pivotal shift was from two generations ago to our parents’ generations, when aspiration, sacrifice and relocation (some as refugees from conflict) helped bring about previously unimaginable opportunities for them, and thereby for us and our children. These opportunities have latterly all been made possible here in Britain.

Like many families, we are a real mix and, as a result, I want to say we defy a neat and tidy categorisation. I am personally wary of any attempts at demarcation, not least because of countless malign ways in which such methods have been employed in the past, including by people of good intent.

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Oct 22, 2020

You know my family background. When people as me where I’m from, I ask them how much time they’ve got, then make them buy me a drink for the long version. Thanks for inviting me to this!

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