(This was also published in the Huffington Post)
I was chatting to absurdist comedian Charlie Chuck last night. Or, rather, to the real person who performs as Charlie Chuck – Dave Kear. He told me he had been researching his family tree.
“I’ve traced it back,” he told me. “Me family tree. It went back to eleven-something. And the reason it went back to eleven-something was that one o’ the Kears… One o’ me nephews kept the archives in a place called Bream. His name were Bernard Kear and I went down to Bream, where all me family were from – it’s agin Blakeney in the Forest o’ Dean in Gloucestershire. Me family are from Bream in the Forest o’ Dean…
“I went down to Bream, I went into the church wi’ me sister in search o’ me family tree in the Forest o’ Dean an’ this woman said to me: There’s a chap over there – David Kear – an’ he’ll tell you about yer family tree.
“So I actually met another David Kear and he were the same age as me, which were incredible.”
“Did he look the same as you?” I asked.
“No,” said Dave. “No, he didn’t.
“But,” he continued, “Me grandmother’s side were called Brain and there were lots of Brains in the graveyard and one were called Arthur – Arfur Brain. Me granny’s name were Maude. She were called Maude Brain. And, on me grandmother’s side – on the Brain side – one were a Baptist minister from Castleford in Yorkshire. And, on me dad’s side, there were a preacher from Bream in the Forest o’ Dean and his name were Isaiah.
“So you had preachers on both sides of the family?” I asked.
“Yes,” said Dave. “Me dad used to back horses and one of the horses that won the Derby was called Blakeney. That’s where me dad were born. Blakeney, near Bream in the Forest o’ Dean. And this horse called Blakeney won the Derby in 1969. And me dad backed it.”
“And it won?” I asked.
“And it won,” Dave agreed.
“And your dad made lots of money?” I asked.
“He did alright on Blakeney,” said Dave.
There was a pause.
“But he lost it on others?” I said.
“He lost it on others,” Dave confirmed.
There was another pause.
“The thing about that…” Dave eventually continued. “I’ll never forget this, but there were a horse in another race called The Elk wi’ Lester Piggott on it. And The Elk beat Blakeney in a photo finish. But Geoff Lewis were told not to hit Blakeney with the whip. Only hands an’ heels. And it went on to win the Derby.”
“With Geoff Lewis riding him?” I asked.
“No,” said Dave. “I just thought I’d mention that.”