This is a short article - well, closer to a diary entry - that I wrote and posted on my Facebook account. Fascinating stuff this 'social-networking' phenomenon. For now this means any blog entry I decide to create will go up there, but the more interesting or in-depth stuff will be posted here too, for all 3 of you who read this blog
Answers To Questions Never Asked: No. 1</i>
A lot of people - yes, you two in the top right - often ask me about my ancestors. Given the predilection among white people (for reference, that's 35 people in my Friends list) to try and discover their family history, I feel it is time to do something practical with my procrastination time. That does not entail doing some practical work.
From what I can gather, my family history is relatively uneventful. The most famous person in my family history appears to be from my mother's side, who's apparently descended from Guangdong nobility, however since my mum's ancestors were something along the lines of 17th in line for the title, money apparently isn't part of the familial contract, which I find rather disappointing. Other than that however, there is little to say about my mother's side of the family, given the fact that that branch of the family is rather unadventurous.
That's not to say my father's side is more interesting, rather there is simply more to say about it. My family is almost totally farming stock, and apparently have been for the past 1200 years - I bet you whiteys can't claim that. The Yau family (in Pinyin it's You (pronounced Yo), to the great mirth of southern Chinese people - I won't go into that) has a minor claim to fame, as they were so numerous about 700 years ago that the Emperor - he of the flowing robes and ridiculous beard - decided to frog march all of us - up to 30,000 according to some records - all the way up the north, specifically the area today known as Manchuria, more evocatively known as East of the Mountain Pass, and less evocatively known as 'the cold place in China that you DON'T read in the travelogues,' so that he could keep an eye on us.
Other then that however, there's not much more to say. My branch for as long as familial history has been recorded, settled in a village that now stands in the New Development Zone of Yantai, a port city close to Qingdao that has been described as a a rather battered seaside town according to The Lonely Planet guide to China. An interesting thing to note - Yantai is known throughout China as having better water conditions then Qingdao. The only reason why the sailing events happened in Qingdao was because it had a better tourist face, all of which is interesting to no-one except the people of Yantai. Yantai is better known by its British name when it was a minor Treaty Port under the control of the British - it was known as Chefoo. Not that that mattered to my ancestors since everyone and everything that happened in our village was to do with farming.
A little note about our surname - the surname Yau (由 ) is a highly interesting character in the etymological sense. First and foremost, even in the simplified Chinese (which incidentally is a very 1984-esque way of rewriting the Chinese language), it is an exceptionally simple character. Generally speaking, the simpler a character is, the older the character is. Secondly, and this is the most important, the structure is made up of the character for farm (the 4 squares, minus the flick on the top), and the the little flick on the top. Taken together, this character signifies a desire to leave the land, more specifically, it means that these people are far more likely to emigrate.
It is with this in mind that I turn your attention to my family - my grandad was never around for most of my dad's childhood, being as he was in the Merchant Navy during the war. It was only after me granddad's death that I found out he came to Britain the long way around - he went to New York first, and sailed through the Panama Canal, and then from there found his way into Britain. During this time, me gran emigrated to Hong Kong and took Hong Kong citizenship, and by extension, the opportunity to emigrate to Britain. You can pretty much guess the rest. My family ended up in Liverpool, practically penniless, and only rudimentary English to get us started. My dad and his brothers and sister learnt enough English to integrate, and after the Toxteth Riots in 1981, my dad moved the family to Frodsham, a quiet market town between Chester and Liverpool, that despite all its faults - teenage crime, a falling birth rate, whiter than bleached chalk - I'm quite proud of
A Yau cannot stay in one place for long though. My dad intends to move back to China when he retires, but as for meself, I don't envision staying in Britain when I graduate, although I'll carry my identity on my sleeve and in my heart. My wanderlust can never be sated.
"Go forth on your path, as it exists only through your walking." ~ Saint Augustine (354-430)