Old photographs hold an element of charm and shine light onto an era gone by. But with it reveals a truth and glimpse into the lives of our ancestors.
My ‘real’ surname is not Petchey, it is McGregor. I am 1/4 Scottish and know very little to that side of the family, it’s a long story, another whirlwind of sorts. Nevertheless, I am fortunate enough to hold in my possession a small selection of photographs of my Scottish family.
As a child I was always fascinated by this picture (below, far right) of my Great Grandfather, Duncan. I never understood the image much, nor connected with it, but that didn’t stop me longing and wanting to know more. A few years ago I visited my Scottish family for the first time and was warmly welcomed, what an incredibly vibrant, strong and resilient bunch of individuals. The circumstances for the visit were not pleasant, yet we all made the best of the situation.
Whilst in Glasgow my aunties and cousin showed me a box FULL of old photographs, they scurried through the box passing me image after image, telling me of names and stories that unfortunately I failed to retain. It was a real exhibition of my heritage and I became engulfed in it. As the photographs continued to flow around the kitchen table they showed me a photograph from a sequence I recognised… It was Duncan.
My eyes lit up and I looked at him in awe (middle), ‘what a strong, proud and distinguished man’ I thought, ‘he’s related to me, I’m related to him, that’s my great grandfather’. I was so proud of this image and, I still am. I cannot and should not be held accountable for the actions of my late family and I do not applaud nor condemn his actions. This photograph was taken at a very different time in our world (around late 1800’s). I am sad he did this as a job, but he was doing what he believed to be right.
Now, from his attire (look at him with his swagger and pocket watch!) you can probably see where this blog post is going? Duncan, was a gamekeeper in the west of Scotland, he worked in a small village and from the photograph, I presume he was a valued member of the community and well-respected? It got me thinking (as I know little of this man) I wonder what he would think to veganism? I wonder what he would say and how he would react to not hunting animals in this day and age? What would Duncan say to my anti-fur protests outside Tessuti for selling coyote fur that was caught by ‘licensed’ trappers in Canada? I like to think he was a ‘man of his time’ and did what he needed to survive for himself and his family. I like to think he could bring about change and do what is truly right in his day of living. As a descendant of his, I like to think we would share the understanding to evolve. I know he was a compassionate man, as I have been told he wanted to raise my father (Duncan’s grandson) with him, but that was not meant to be.
Duncan with my grandmother, Margaret
I wish we could all be ‘people of our time’ for the better and to evolve within society to be the best version of ourselves for one another, us and future generations. Here’s to dreaming big and bringing more awareness to veganism!