Letters to the Editor: Is It Story Time?

Mike muses on the way our personal histories can be so easily lost and suggests a solution

I read recently in the paper that someone had suggested that all grandparents give their grandchildren a piece of paper and a pen/pencil for Christmas. The speaker then went on to say that the grandchildren then ought to sit down with their grandparents on Boxing Day and interview them about their lives and experiences so that they would have some family history once the grandparents were no longer around.

I think this is one of those ideas that we might all wish we had had previously. For me and probably quite a few of us, it would be really good to know about our grandparents’ lives to put them in context with our own. There are currently a number of TV shows which allow celebrities to explore their family trees but what about the rest of us?

Wouldn’t you like to know just what you forebears did pre-you? I certainly would, for good or bad. My grandfather on my mother’s side was a bit of a rogue, but according to family history joined up at 14 for the first world war, and then got kicked out once they found out his true age. He liked a drink and apparently once came home from the pub telling his wife, my grandmother, that he had bought a fish and chip shop and they were moving into it the very next day!!

My mother always told us she had met Winston Churchill in Leeds during the second world war, my father was sent to Persia during the same conflict apparently, but short of employing someone to check these stories for us, that’s all they are – stories!

If my grandchildren ever sat down with me they might learn amongst other things, that I once played football on the old Wembley Stadium, that I appeared in three Pantos, one of which was at the Leeds City Varieties, (Charlie Chaplin had previously occupied our dressing room), that I once had a weekly show on local radio, and that I was once an executive at a World Famous computer company.

As it is, all they will ever know is that I was their grandad, a grey haired old man who just pottered around. . . . until they get older and more inquisitive about who their grandad really was.

And so I’d have to say, I think it is a really good idea that we try to tell our grandkids who and what we were before its too late for us to tell our sides of our story