A most peculiar piece of information arrives on my doorstep today. Very peculiar, indeed. So much so that i am still twizzling it around, trying to work out what if any significance it has.
Whether, in fact, my grandfather held an honorary title and whether,therefore, that title has wound its way down the generations to myself. Whether – don’t laugh – whether i am technically a “count”.
I know, i know: stop giggling at the back!
The problem comes from generations not talking to generations. My father, who i never knew as well as i would have wished,arrived on these shores in late 1939/early 1940, an early refugee from WWII. From Poland, in fact. He had – luckily – graduated in summer of 1939 and was on holiday in September of that year when war broke out. His mum, allegedly, sent him a telegram along the lines of “country invaded: don’t come home”.
He never went back. First war, then a totalitarian communist regime separated him from his birth country. And it showed in a silence:a reluctance to speak overmuch of the past. Or so i thought.
Although, as i learnt today, he had spoken, at length, to a close friend. And while i bemoaned his lack of communication, i gather he, for his part, was bemoaning my apparent lack of desire to listen. Of such stuff are generation gaps grown.
He was born in Tarnow: his own father was a fairly respectable type, a pillar of the local community and, i learnt today,fairly active in the church. For his pains, again allegedly – though i shall now try to check on this – he was appointed a “papal count”.
Which is a genuine noble title, doled out over the years by Popes, i guess in recognition of services rendered. Not much of late. Apparently over the last century, the practice more or less dried up – although it was revived a little by John-Paul II.
The honour may be awarded for life, or could be hereditary: so while the papacy is no longer in the business of creating new counts…it recognises those who have inherited a past title.
So there you have it.
A small piece of whimsy that may or may not have a basis in reality. Was my grandfather awarded such a title? That much i can certainly check up on.
Was it hereditary? My sense is that there the tale will come to an end: because that must have been far less common and something i would have been told.
But there is a great deal about the Polish family, pre-war, that i do not know. And odd hints, here and there, that they played a slightly greater role in political stuff than they cared to make public.
This is hardly life-changing. But its a minor project worth at least a little bit of effort over the next couple of years.
At the end of which, who knows: moi? a Countess?
That would be…exquisite.