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long ease git A chap who takes a long ease with his laptop, researching family history, while everyone else is working. Anagram: genealogist!


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Rootschatter A great body of researchers who can be family historian's researching angels, helping them worry out the full story. On one occasion helpful Rootschatters propelled their companion on to national TV with the remarkable story of finding his sister.


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'online tree' Largely denigrated, a tree published on Ancestry with absolutely no standards of integrity or proof. Readily copied and can easily pollute other previously tidy trees. A term of contempt.


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daughtered out When a line fails because only daughters were left to have children, and they don't continue the male line.

/ George Coles, Premier of Prince Edward Island. His line was effectively daughtered-out in the 1860s or 1870s. (Davo)
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sweethearts Cousins that you are in touch with who show themselves to be absolutely wonderful people that decades on, will share a connection with you, forever.


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Texan line-chasers Librarians are bemused by the number of enquirers demanding information on their EKSLIN, DEBRIER or PRITTERSON lines ignoring place, record extant or available resources as they go about chasing their 'lines'.


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surname muppets My fading eyes light up when I have a pertinent family history enquiry hit my inbox. I am less pleased when someone is merely collecting surname data. This role is surely redundant when big name sites have all the data at their finger tips. Anyone carefully curating surname data uniting a number of seemingly disparate records is however to be saluted. Witness the late Malcolm Boyes who united me in nanoseconds with my cousin who'd contacted him about the same line as me.

/ basically random data collectors (Davo)
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stop lights Welcome breathers that emerge on the road to family history enlightenment. Sometimes, pausing for a breath, can be useful. Having traced my William Richards to Barry (Wales), I was stumped by his having disappeared to an unknown onward location. The stoplights had come on. But then, green on go again as a researcher tells us of his (verifiable) marriage in Bermondsey.


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stealthy extraction Like a reverse Santa Claus, there are moments online when we find such a treasures trove of information, we can't pause in case the data goes. By very carefully taking notes of the key parts, we can rest easy once we have safely captured all the key data. For a long time the key opponents in this battle were 192.com, whose data was very rich but required a very left-field approach to access.


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save it for d-day A puzzle which can be saved for the DNA scientist. Hoping that DNA will solve something for which the records are missing.


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snowtown A town where you didn't know there were family connections, and suddenly you have the whole town to explore. Towns where I gingerly began researching my new cousins are: Wellingborough, Grantham, Blackburn and Newcastle. Some relatives have the knack of arriving in towns where no-one else has ever been before: snowtowns, where everything is new.


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spd sudden photocopier demand A feeling surging through the researcher at about 4.50pm when a sudden irrational need for a photocopier makes itself known. The adrenalin coursing through your veins while you pump nickels and coppers into the machine will make you a very touchy driver as you make your getaway five minutes later.


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rootless Is it possible for cousins in big cities to lose all sense of heritage: that is the fear. However, a fireman in Williamsburg, several generations deep in the US, recently pulled photos of his UK-born forebear out of the hat and she was born back in 1862, Birmingham. Is anyone really rootless?


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roadtrip genealogist A cousin who unports the Winnebago and sets off with thermos, toaster and trusty bone china for the obscure counties of the southern US in search of an ancestor's sojourn there.


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repeated virginity In the recent past before the preponderance of original record images appearing online, a family historian would trust another's tree. Repeated virginity, where a lady married several times under maiden name, stretched that credulity and trust and was instrumental in the tumbling fortunes of 'online trees'.


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resuscitated memories A memory that comes back after prompting from a genealogist relative. It took me ten minutes with 96 year-old Doris to get her talking of the time before 1920 that she remembered. It had taken her daughter decades to get to this point. Before my grandfather died, I mentioned his second cousin Archie, and he duly complied with a memory resuscitated from the 1920s.


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reluctant genealogist A well informed individual who is in possession of all the family facts, but has gained this knowledge while looking for something completely different - studying a family-linked medical condition, studying their house (or village or family business) history or studying palaeography, for example.


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psychodrama Columbo and Perry Mason would struggle to argue sense out of these cousins, who host a complex psychodrama that has you doubting your sanity. Will they psych you out, or will you survive? My complicated wifeswap family from Kent had me wrestling truth from fiction as I concluded a rich game of deception had been played - only this explanation married up the myriad conflicting facts.


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prodigal reincorporation A son whose exploits were long forgotten and believed not to be associated with the main family tree members. And then years later his journeys and wanderings are reincorporated into the tree, all the more welcome for being so tardy. When I delved into a box of family photos to find a smiling photo of my William Smith (b 1851) (unlabelled), I knew who he was and this was the proof to say 'welcome home, son'. Various goldmining cousins also fit into this category: one of whom never said where he'd been, only that he had no treasure and no box to put it in.


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primary source snobbery Genealogists who demand you force entry to crypts to 'verify' the records you have found online. It is sufficient surely to have seen an online image (even a bishop's transcript) and higher standards of proof are redundant as a good index is better than poor eyesight in helping to assess the likelihood of a pair of events being linked.


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off piste In the words of the late Terry Wogan, when 'surfing our email' for new cousins - we sometimes find ourselves in alien territory, translating records from the Danish, or working with newspaper records in Alaska. My cousins took a left-turn settling in a western island of the Solomons, which required me to read harrowing world-war accounts to learn their fate. A white picket-fence cousin Bill in northern Califronia lost his talented impulsive daughter to a union both spiritual and temporal with the native Indian population, and her children had wild lives full of fast cars, early deaths and haunting music. Grandpa Bill, shearing his hedge, didn't understand.


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nin no internet needed I think I've watched very single Long Lost Family episode. The show a British TV programme reuniting family members after a long absence. Watching these, I worked out that sometimes you didn't need the internet at all to make a breakthrough, just the phone book. When I picked up the phone in a call box in East Budleigh 1994 to Ben James, Grandpa's 3rd cousin in Plymouth, I had done so with just a couple of jumps from within the family's known bounds.


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methodisers These folk knew how to eradicate the social hierarchy. Firebreathing Thomas Martin, a Methodist minister, was equally at home in City Road as he was in his native Cornwall. His daughter married a wealthy glover and MP, despite family members pointlessly fretting over her likely fate. Some of them were so rich they were 'destined to die'.


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mdi middleclass download issues Browsing through the Utah indexes to the Neath parish records in Cardiff, I felt I needed a copy of the register entries. I tapped my pocket for a camera but was told they were banned. I put the USB stick in, but it wasn't accepted. I attempted to save files into a folder to zip, but that required 'permissions'. Thankfully, I could download to the desktop and then I could attach and email myself copies. I also found a way of emailing myself 1939 register transcripts from Kew without any typing or rule-breaking. Ask for details!


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low hanging fruit A cutting term used to describe the family historian's bread-and-butter - the life records and census records that are apparently very easy to find, and thus are the 'low-hanging fruit' of genealogical research.


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matriarch Occasionally a matriarch emerges from a family tree as someone whom everyone respects and whom everyone in subsequent generations will recall. I must admit I am struggling to think of any. Except my forebear Maria, whose grandson wrote Christmas Roses in her memory at her death in 1891.


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logical lies Catching our relatives as they wonder how to lie is a liminal moment. My relative's wife gets his birthplace wrong, but put the place he grew up down instead on the census. Another relative is on the run from his wife and pretends to be Irish, choosing a place that he knows well to be his hometown.


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'life splicing' Canny workplace managers know that guilt-ridden humans will work harder if they are allowed to work any chosen portion of a 24-hour day. This 'life-splicing' sees the benign manager ignore the Facebook, Trivago and Ancestry usage during the day, knowing they will reap the rewards at night.


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lady doubt An early childhood memory which may be a recent implant is of my asking my grandmother, under a willow tree, how to spell doubt. It was a hot summer's day, so why was she under a tree? Daphne du Maurier persecutes her protagonist Ambrose in My Cousin Rachel who never quite knows if he was right or wrong about the good lady named. It makes perfect sense for my grandfather's Irish parents to have had their uncle James Dawson arrange their union - but lady doubt isn't so sure. The data shows uncle Arthur Smith's family are my cousins, but why is there no family resemblance and was contact totally severed nearly 150 years ago?


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kernel of truth The journalist Isabel Fonseca records that in Romania, among the Romani, the best story was deemed the correct one, if not the truest. With grandparents competing to ply their family with a lasting story small wonder the infant ears misheard dates and places and only the most fantastic tales survive. But among them may be a kernel of truth. The Irish ancestor was probably Scottish; the remembered migration happened 30 years earlier than thought; and the child held by John Wesley was really baptised by another, less renowned, leader.


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just great: no doubts Sometimes, the family historian can genuinely immerse themselves in a rich seam of soil tilled. There are no doubts, no gaps, no confusion, just terrific freshly dug roots. My Dibben family of Gunville and Guernsey, and my pre-war Hunts of New Jersey solidly fit this mould.


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keeping up with the Cornish As the twentieth century dawned on our former colonies, the Cornish were well-entrenched. Free from fitless wandering as their native soil's resources dwindled, they had adapted like chameleons to a new land. Keeping track of their numbers is absolutely impossible, with new pages being written every minute and some folk having thousands of descendants. Like my Amelia Seccombe of Redruth, or William Treasure (admittedly not Cornish) of North Bruham.


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intuitively wrong That can't possibly be the case fumes cousin Rupert over a Lowenbrau. Everyone knows our family weren't German! These names just don't like right, concludes our brave family historian in his study, less than satisfied with the gathered data. Ladies and gentlemen we present intuition. If you are usually correct about lightning striking, stop-lights changing and the risks associated with re-gifting presents, you should activate your intuition. Everyone else, leave it at home.


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incorrect approach Blundering into a strangers' Sunday lunch with the photograph of a long-forgotten adopted child would be an extreme example of the wrong approach. The family historian remembers their wise driving instructor: mirror signal position manoeuvre, and they very carefully deploy their facts, bait and charm to get the juicy details from their target.


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image writing This is a modern conundrum for the data-driven family historian. How much information to share and how to protect it from further (unauthorised) sharing. A working fix of 2016 is a move to image-write, to render digital data into analogue. Not keen on your tree being shared widely? Draw one by hand with key information missing. Unfond of folk copying your Ancestry tree? Split it up into hundreds of nuclear trees (easily done with a rudimentary knowledge of gedcom files and MS Excel). Less than tickled by your Google Map data being filched from the source page? Arrange for PHP to write data to infowindows as image files. So simple, so satisfying.


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holiday gold It is hard for a family historian to keep the beaches and a spouse-pleasing mountain view out of their mind when their eyes alight on the new cousin's address in Hawaii. How soon can I decently invite myself over? Is the first question. Others prefer the holiday gold associated with staying in their ancestor's former working cottage, now a bed-and-breakfast. See also the roadtrip genealogist.


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getaway ancestor A genetic mutation of a gateway ancestor. Like a fish poorly guddled, they slip through your grasp leaving just a muddy trace of their presence as they slip back beneath the reeds. Dang them! Case in point: William Hunter whose birth almost survives, and also Margaret Rea whose birth records nearly survive, too.


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graval attack Some relatives manage a perfect attack from beyond the grave. They are the sure-fire ancestors who you subsequently discover died as infants, the ladies whose gentle wills firmly place the views of retired military professionals into the realms of 'wrong' and your own into the 'right'. And the correspondent whose gigantic collection of photographs finally emerges for you to view after their death.


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G'estrogen The Estrogen for a 'g', a bonding hormone that requires new fathers to briefly research their new born baby's family tree


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Geocities survivor 1970s Yorkshire was buzzing with the news that the 'lady of Teesdale', Hannah Hauxwell had been found indeed living in her remote valley apparently doing absolutely fine without twentieth century luxuries. I messaged every single owner of online trees featuring my Verrants of Clare Valley, netting not a single response from the careless curators. Then I stumbled on a relict from the ancient internet of the 1990s, a Geocities tree complete with its 95 year-old author, Dr John. Needless to say my email to this hoary veteran saw an immediate and erudite response.


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gene maven Jealously guarding other people's secrets for umpteen generations, the gene maven looks like you or I. It is only when they get talking that you marvel at their vicelike grip on the facts. Which Alexander? they enquire, when you refer to your eighteenth-century relatives. You check your notes to see that the happy wedding they chatted on, did indeed happen 150 years ago. They toss out stories of returning Crimean War soldiers while fishing out last week's postcard from a branch last seen emigrating at the time of the Titanic.


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gateway ancestor A rather meaningless term that family historians enjoy using. Imagine bursting through brambles, gorse and woodland predators only to emerge on a hidden valley courtesy of a lovely neat white gate. Powerful imagery employed by broadband providers. I have several gateway ancestors that collected something more valuable than Nectar points (UK) or airmiles (US) but blood mixed from 4 or more counties. Although they would be banned from most UK supermarkets as an utterly untraceable product they are very much welcomed on the tree of a family historian.


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fpc = frightfully posh cousin Common sense tells you not to keep gasping at the sheer wealth on display. You are trying to work out which grandparent to blame for your descent to the levels of ordinary mortals. You are pretty sure that was Prince Charles whose call they just cut short. You would be able to enjoy your visit, and those high ceilings, even more if it wasn't for that dang Westie terrier that you keep batting away.


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fat cop moment 'You mothers', shouts PC Simon Pegge, as he is foiled in his hunt by a group of ordinary women conducting their business. A fat cop moment is when our ancestor takes a quick left turn, then a right, and is out of sight by the time we come lumbering round the bend. Coming to mind is Ann Hooper, who makes a quick marriage in Bristol, before instantly remarrying to a local and finally skipping into a third county at census time.


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eleven pm'rs Generation Y does family history too. After hours, with the kids in bed and Birds of a Feather watched, the iPad is back to Chrome and the bright lights of Ancestry's online trees are reflected in the parents' expensive coated glasses. Night comes and they are romping over dark and peaceful 19th century London skies, like folk in a phone advert or dogs in the Starlight Barking.


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dripfeeding A new contact appears, with, as befits their presence outside our circle of influence, details that are as astonishing as if they were from alien visitors. Not wishing to frighten away this golden goose, we dripfeed pretty prune-sized facts, hoping for a 'cluck' and yet another eggy fact.


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Doncaster truckers Farmers and miners are the stock-in-trade of this family researcher. I profess utter ignorance of the world of soldiers, truckers, jewellers, saddlers and plumbers. When called in to help research a friend's family tree, I am lost in a world of Doncaster truckers. Such a different environment, I can't make sense of it, and drop the research as quick as I decently can.


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disinter-list The wholly imaginary and mildly distasteful practice of maintaining a list of those relatives that the family historian might wish to briefly reunite with the ground above, so that a DNA check can be performed. My own guilty list is of William Roy Hunter, Bendigo and Robert Urch, Dublin.


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destined to die Sometimes a family historian will follow onwards with a lead and end up in the gilded land of money, wealth and influence. His cautious eye recognises that if these had been retained, stories and cousins would still be in evidence today. So sadly, the conclusion is that the holders of these money, wealth and influence are destined to die. They'll leave no heirs and no trace. (The rollcall from my tree tolls of Emily Lister, Dorothea Crickett, Charles Squire, Thomas Stevenson, Emlyn Dewey, Christopher Bird jr).


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deep dredging Playing at peek-a-boo with the sons and daughters of their native soil keeps family historians merrily occupied. After a time, the game is over and the hunt must begin. Every single record must be examined, all occurrences within a window ran to earth, and all mysteries smoked out. If you only catch a shrimp and get caught up with someone else's big fish, so be it. This is deep-dredging. It's not pretty, but it moves things forward.


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crock of gold They say there is no gold at the end of the rainbow. But at the end of a long hunt, it's nice to get a reward. Occasionally, this takes tangible form: a family bible, a handwritten set of letters, an extraordinarily informative will.


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decade errors A family historian's careless transposing of digits can have devastating consequences for an individual - they are wrenched from their era to another time, perhaps several hundred years after their own children lived. Picking the wrong decade can have equally ruinous effects on trying to trace an indivudal. Unless a kindly search engine widens its scope, you will lose the trail. So remember those number bonds and count backwards with care from a census year.


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crack-hunter The Romans designed the censuses as a way of keeping track of their subjects, and this 'snapshot' approach has been continued, very inefficiently, to the present day. Primary care commissioners in Newham despair their data is already five years old, while DVLA driver data might almost be up-to-the-minute. The decennial census made it easy for people to disappear, and the family historian someday needs to win the battle of the crack. My emigrant cousins have children: Barnaby Hooper, Sophia Thynne, Mary Perry who leave England as youngsters before the census nets them. Mary's mother was a childless widow returned from Australia in 1851, and by 1861 was back out there with Mary and her new family. See what a difference a decade makes.


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bridal vanishment The peculiar custom of brides making it all the way to the altar from their native place, and then at the moment of marriage, being consigned to oblivion. Example: I found that Mrs Frances Brown and Mrs Sarah Gould who married in London 1858, 1845 had gone respectively to Northern Ireland and Westchester, New York - vanishing from our shores.


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Brickwall A metaphor for silence, usually used for the absence of clues when family historians want to trace their family back in time.


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bolt-'em-on time There comes a time when even a family historian can finally add that interesting branch onto your tree. Proof has come in and extra folk can legitimately by sellotaped on.


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bigfoot woz ere Even the shortest guy can walk tall if he knows where is from. John Jones can utter his name confidently and loudly, because in his hamlet at laest, he, is the only John Jones. A place, even a tiny one, can harbour a whole thicket of trees your forebear planted, can host a bench or intitals they carved. In family history, particularly in Wales, place is king.


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bg = before Google That ancient era when family historians needed to whip out a fountain pen or dial a number to make any progress. Or take their driving licence to an industrial estate where the record office could be found. The Greeks had their Oracle who sat on a hill and could be consulted. The absence of google generated its own Oracles, and I once had the singular experience of having my Creed tree phoned through to me, from a Bath telephone exchange - the best kind of fantasy phoneline.


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4.50 discovery Everyone knows that record offices close their doors at 5pm. So when the clock hand winds its way past the half-hour, whatever a family historian spots had better be good. And available. Example: At Guildhall Library, who should I find but my Miss Mercy Haine, linked to her husband's massive biography. Just enough time to get the ten photocopies and hightail it out.


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that's impossible Words for the family historian to watch out for as they go through their research. That's unlikely, is possible, but that's impossible is unlikely, as most things over time are in fact certain to have happened at least once.


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vampire cousins This purely theoretical group are cousins who will take all your research and pass it off as their own, for religious or individualistic reasons. In so doing they may draw traffic to their pages rather than yours, and generally undermine your role as the family expert. A group of researchers who communicate well are the best 'net' to field new enquirers.


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waiting list A wishlist of records to check when the price comes down/ the researcher wins the lottery or the years roll round. Examples would include entries in the 1939, the 1921 census and those hidden in the GRO index, for which a price review is long overdue.


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will-leavers There are few joys in family history as unalloyed as getting 'a good will'. Quite often these are as significant for what they don't say as what they do. If your relative isn't named, try to thnk a bit more laterally. I failed to notice that a married sister had been omitted from a particular will, but the sister's young grandchildren had actually been included.


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you never asked The classic line beloved of British situation comedy, where the valiant protagonist is deprived of key information, that had been there's for the asking - if only they had known to ask a specific question.


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