We started doing some genealogical rummaging through our family skeletons about a year ago. Using sites like Genes Reunited, one soon starts bumping into other potentially related folks sorting through similar closets. My surname, Curd, is relatively unusual; one doesn’t bump into many Curds. "Thank the Lord for that", I hear you say. Although it is quite unusual, I soon discovered a veritable hotbed of Curds in Buxted Sussex, whence my ancestors hailed. Given the number of offspring those folks had, hotbed seems like a particularly appropriate term. There are also web sites that have information relating to family surnames, one of which (National Trust Names) graphically shows the Curd stronghold in 1881 to have been the southeast corner of England, Kent and Sussex.
As well as bumping into various second, third or fourth cousins, etc., I found a lady, another Curd, from the rather grandly named Guild of One Name Studies. She and I didn’t appear to be related but she explained that she was trying to trace the various Curd family roots and tie them together, where appropriate, via DNA tests. She encouraged me to volunteer for such a test and pointed me at a Family Tree DNA web site where DNA kits were supplied and analysed. Since she also volunteered to pay for the kit, I agreed to join in and she organized a kit for me. For some silly reason, I had originally imagined blood tests but no, this was to be carried out by myself swabbing my mouth. Ah, of course; I’ve seen the soon-to-be-sorely-missed Mr Gil Grissom swiftly wipe a Q-tip cotton bud around loads of mouths to catch the perp. No problem.
[Aside: while I’m on the subject of CSI, I couldn’t help but watch part one of the two part farewell to Grissom episode yesterday. Where have all Catherine Willows’ wrinkles gone? I’m sure when this latest series of CSI began, her complexion was considerably more like that of a prune. Last night her complexion seemed ironing-board smooth. It was a bit over shiny, though. Has she, perhaps, been pumped full of BOTOX™?]
My DNA kit arrived yesterday, together with instructions on the "DNA Collection Method".
There are three swabs. The swabs are actually referred to as scrapers, which seems more appropriate since they are serrated and appear to be composed of a very stiff fibrous material. I am to collect three lots of DNA. Each is to be collected "a minimum of 3-4 hours apart" thus:
Using one cheek scraper, scrape forcefully inside the cheek many times (about 60 seconds). A great scrape gives us a great sample!
Gil Grissom doesn’t have to do it like that; it’s very gentle and over in a flash. I was also intrigued by the following instruction:
Scraping should be before eating or drinking, or at least an hour after eating and drinking. Avoid warm or hot fluids before scraping.
I can only think that, had I just consumed, say, a portion of Coq au Vin, that the DNA test would be in danger of concluding that I was a Rhode Island Red. Alternatively, a decent steak might throw them off the scent sufficiently to have them determining that I stemmed from a line of prize-winning Aberdeen Angus cattle. Thank the Lord I don’t eat McRubbish burgers.
I’ve collected one sample and it is, as advertized, quite painless. When I have all three, I have to return my uncontaminated samples to Houston, Texas. I don’t know what results will be deduced or how they’ll be fed back but, in the fullness of time, I’m sure we’ll see.