Posted on Dec 14, 2018 in Editorial.
The authors whose memories I’ve helped to write for LifeBook come from a wide variety of backgrounds and have been through a life of change. Some grew up ‘making do’, while others had relatively well-off parents; some had easy childhoods while others struggled. However, one of the things mentioned by nearly all of them is how things have changed during their lifetimes.
This isn’t surprising given that they are generally older people, who have long lives to write about. Those who were born in the 1930s or before have seen momentous changes in their own lifetimes, and have listened to their parents’ tales of even more dramatic ones. Some, for example, have fathers who fought in the First World War, an experience that traumatised many. Many authors have lived their young lives unprotected by antibiotics, vaccinations or the National Health Service, and the birth of these facilities, which we take so much for granted, seemed miraculous to them.
Many authors mention how children were strictly disciplined when they were young and corporal punishment was common – a far cry from today’s climate of political correctness – yet they don’t feel any resentment. Some of them remember how relative poverty was accepted stoically in ‘their day’ – with houses having outside toilets, even outside kitchens, and no hot water – yet they also remember how children had the freedom to roam for miles with their friends, unaccompanied by adults and how their parents would be unworried. They often speculate on how much we have lost in our modern world with all its conveniences.
Then there are the changes in technology. LifeBook authors lived in a time when there were far fewer cars on the road, for example, nor did everyone have a television in their home. More recently, has been the invention of computers, and later the internet, which many of them are embracing with gusto, despite their age.
One thing that unites them through this is their ethic of hard work, with a determination to achieve their aims and provide good lives for their families, through honesty and integrity. Whether they grew up rich or poor, they have forged their own paths through ‘good old-fashioned hard work’ and they’re keen that their younger relatives should know what life was like for them before our modern days of ‘everything on tap’.
Each person’s LifeBook is their way of documenting their life of change and, for me, helping them to achieve this always reminds me that in our rush towards the future, it’s also important to remember that the past has its own treasures. I feel privileged to have played a part in the journeys of some of the LifeBook authors.