Well, my husband and I have been plotting and daydreaming about this website for a couple of years, and the ‘push’ to action finally came when I lost my job through redundancy at the end of 2009. It’s amazing what a mid life crisis and a loss of income can do to clear the head!
The inspiration for our site came when my mother passed away. I was approaching 40 and I felt as though I still didn’t really know much about my mum. The irony of youth of course is that you appreciate pretty much nothing until you’re no longer youthful….. My mum had a sister, who has now also died, and with them has gone the memories and stories of all the generations before them. Yes, we have some old treasured photographs – some of them are fastidiously dated and named even, but the richness of the descriptions is lacking, as is the human narrative. There are no successes and tragedies, no mundane tales of schools, wars, friends, homes, or how it was to live there and then.
So, at 42 I find myself sitting and contemplating what a disaster it would be to lose another generation’s stories too. Whilst my life seems inordinately uninteresting to me, I am now aware that the very fact that I was once a spotty teenager with grey print-ruled exercise books filled with Latin conjugations, is of such intense amusement to my children that it is in itself precious and something to be retained.
It is perverse that we, and every generation preceding and succeeding us, think of ourselves as entirely ‘current’. Indeed, at that moment, we are! But we are soon to become ancient history. My father, aged 75, writes tales of his childhood in Birmingham in the 1930s. The house had no hot water and they used to find their entertainment in watching the Baker’s horse ‘Bob’ pee great streams of horsey urine down the hill of their street. To a 10 year old contemporary kid (whom I dragged away from the PS3 to read about his grandfather’s childhood), this was so far from the reality in which he exists, it may as well have been a PS3 game in its own right. How quickly we become out of date!