In my constant quest to get good post I sent away for a DNA Collection Kit from 23AndMe. I don’t know much about my family history. My paternal grandfather was born and raised in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. He never really shared a lot about what happened to him understandably. I know it was quite a hard thing to go through. He never spoke to us directly about it but he did eventually write about it. He was my last surviving grandparent so when he passed away, it left me with all these questions about where I came from. I thought I would eventually get round to addressing this.
I was actually contacted a year ago by a distant cousin, based in Holland. She had a lot of history on the family and was able to share pictures of my great great-grandfather and the Schiernecker family from the 1920s and earlier.
I have an ongoing conversation with my brothers about Britishness and what it means to be British. I describe myself as being a mongrel child of Europe. My brother is quite set in thinking he is British, which is ridiculous. Nobody is British, especially us.
The kit consists of a small pot that at first I thought meant I had to give myself a blood test. I had to go thirty minutes without food or drink which was a struggle as I had celebrated opening the box by eating a pack of Hula Hoops. I had to spit to the fill line, which they advise is two to six minutes of spitting. I then had to ship the box back, ironically, to the Netherlands.
They then send you a test result back with a percentage breakdown for each country. Before I start, I would guess that I am a quarter Dutch and there’s some Germany in there. On my paternal grandmother’s side they are English but I’ve recently been told there is some Jewish heritage in there. My mum’s family is Jewish so I guess there are eastern European links there, maybe something Israeli originally. I think it’ll be a real hotchpotch of stuff in there.
So, five weeks later I got my results through. This was following a weird incident where I took the spit speciment out to a fancy London bar and had my bag checked. I digress.
It’s quite interesting looking at what I said before and what the results showed:
I had to look up Ashkenazi Jewish. It’s basically the Eastern European Jewish community who spoke Hebrew and Yiddish. It’s cool to see because I’ve always been interested in my ancestry, particularly my Jewish heritage. More than anything else that’s what I am composed of. I think my father’s side is the split and my mother’s is just Jew. Jew down the line.
I also got a list of famous people who are in the same Haplogroup on my mother’s side:
Imagine them at a dinner party.
It would explain some of the bumbling nonsense that comes out of my family that we are related to Prince Philip I guess.
There are also family traits:
This is all above board. I can confirm my ear wax is wet.
My eye colour changes. It’s sort of blue and green and grey. A lovely little Spirograph.
I also have <1% chance of having red hair and am likely to smoke more if I am a smoker.
I am 2.5% neanderthal which is lower than the average of 2.7%. This makes sense as I have a higher brow, narrow shoulders, taller than average.
So I guess the point of all this is that’s what makes up me and my brothers. If you go back then that’s who my dad is and on the other side, the Jewish side, is my mum. I would be interested to get both of them to do it to see what they have given me, aside from being pretty awesome parents.
Just remember, when we are threatening to leave Europe, that we are all from Europe, or further afield and there’s nothing wrong with that. We can all exist together. There’s not some ulterior motive in people that makes them want to be here. We have it pretty good. We are pretty fucking lucky. You’re talking about people who are related to you. You’re talking about people who are only split off from yourself by a couple of generations.
People say that charity begins at home. What is closer to home than the planet we inhabit?