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The Secret Cevennes - articles by Samantha David


Rellies and other animals... 

      I grew up in a very small family with hardly any relatives at all.  One uncle, one granny, and that was our lot.  Reading books, I used to wonder what it would be like to wake up one day and discover that I had exciting exotic cousins, long-lost siblings, dotty aunts, steps and halves and twice-removed uncles and glamorous things like Indian Connections.  (That sort of thing always seemed to be happening in the children's books I read back then.)

      But of course there was no chance.  We never had any mysterious visits from magical gypsies or witches in disguise and in any case how could you have relations you didn't even know about and everyone I asked said absolutely no, there's no-one else in the family.  How could there be?

      So our family remained resolutely small.  Until one day someone appeared out of the blue.  A writer, would you believe?  A bona fide second cousin once removed.  Or was it the other way round?  Anyway, she was a Longlost Relation.  She was blonde and glamorous and had a degree in name-dropping.  Such fun.  We were excited.

      Sadly, she wasn't as thrilled as we were and within a few weeks she had disappeared to track down better, more interesting relatives.  Life went back to normal.  Small family: no excitement.  A comfortable re-establishment of the status quo.  No problem.

      Trouble is, within six months she was back having stirred up a right rat's nest.  There were rellies crawling out of the woodwork on three continents.  There was a mad rat-catcher, a fireman (or was he a postman?), whole swathes of aunts and uncles, a sibling or two, more cousins than you could poke a stick at, and of course hundreds and hundreds of writers.  Blimey.

      It got to the point where a Canadian TV company even made a film all about the family finding each other.  In fact because they paid for the lunches, no-one was allowed to meet each other until the cameras were rolling.  Dearo dearo. 

      Well, that was the Canadian lot - about 50 of them.  But that wasn't the end of it.  Oh no, no.  The TV programme had an even more alarming effect.  Rellies began pouring out of the woodwork like Niagara Falls - New Zealand, India, Australia... there was no end to it.  Europe was the worst of course.  Apparently there are Longlosts living all over the UK, and more in Belgium and other places... like 10 minutes down the road from here.

      Yes, how bizarre is that?  I mean.  Ten minutes down the road from here.  And another nest of them in Montpellier.  I mean, if you put that in a book, they'd say you were stretching the truth too far, wouldn't they?  Of course, any editor worth her salt would say it wasn't realistic.

      But here's something worse.  All these Davids have got names beginning with either M or S and they're all either involved with transport or they're writers.  Weirder and weirder.  I mean, we don't even know each other.  We've never met.  We don't even know what we all look like.  And yet...

      Oh, but what am I saying?  After months of mob-handed reply-to-all emailing, there's going to be a reunion.  In London this summer.  We don't know where, we don't know when.  It isn't quite organised yet.  And of course there are glitches like the Brits assuming that everyone knows where Eros is, and the Americans calling everyone Baby.

      But I feel it's only fair to warn you that London is liable to be overrun by rellies this summer.  You'll be able to spot them a mile off, because I expect they'll all be clutching little maps of Piccadilly Circus and photos of babies.  So unless you are a Rellie-Lover, you should definitely steer clear.

      But as for me... I can't wait.


Next column will be uploaded around 1st March.



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