If only……………



question mark

I’ve kept a detailed diary for over fifty years, in an attempt to preserve a record in the life of an ‘ordinary person’. It has proved invaluable in settling many arguments about where or when an event occurred in our lives, often giving us a surprise as memory detail fades with time.

Unfortunately, I know of no such diaries kept by my grandparents, on either side. This leaves me with an amazing lack of information about my forebears. I had obviously many, many chances to ask questions, but never did. Such questions would not have been about great philosophical ideas or earth-shattering revelations, simple day-to-day enquiries about their life.

  • Their parents were farmers, and lived in the country, so how did they get to school?
  • What games did they play?
  • What toys did they have?
  • What was their favourite food?
  • What did they do for holidays?
  • Did they have to wear hand-me-downs?
  • How well did they do at school?
  • How did they meet their eventual spouse?
  • What was their wedding like?
  • How could they afford the relatively-large families?
  • Did they read a lot?
  • How did they get to a doctor…and how could they afford it?
  • How did they keep warm without central heating and double glazing?

………….Just a few of the questions which shall be forever un-answered. None is of great importance, but put together and with a bit of imagination we might be able to piece together ‘a day in the life of’ for people just over 100 years ago.

Are there any questions you wish you had asked your parents or grandparents…but never did?

And do your children ask you questions about your youth?

4 thoughts on “If only……………

  1. I found this an interesting post!
    I’ve never been close to my family and consequently I know virtually nothing about my grandparents.
    It’s not somthing that I’ve ever wanted to learn about but fully understand why others do. Cheers!

  2. I suppose I am lucky in that our lineage has been well documented back to about 1100, but only in factual form…birth, marriage, children, death…. but it is the minor details of life which I would find interesting.

    When I knew my maternal grandparents first they lived in a typical Irish farmstead….water from a well, tilly lamps for lighting, no mains electricity (lead-acid accumulators for the radio, cooking and baking over the fire, butter made in a churn….seems charming but it must have been hard work….also they never travelled more than about 30 miles from their house!

  3. Snap! I’ve kept a diary for over 50 years, and like you have referred to it to settle arguments and recently to check the infant progress of my sons now that they are fathers. It has to be said that these same sons seem not at all interested in asking about my past – and I may feel, like Larkin, that I want my journals shredded on my demise!

    I wish I’d asked my parents how they managed to settle back into normal life when my father returned from three years overseas in WW2. I never did, and all I know is that I was the first thing my father heard when he was finally demobbed and came home – for I was a product of his first home leave after all that time in the Western Desert!

    • So you admit to being even older than me!

      I think weare generally too close to our parents to ask them questions like the one you posed….but grandparents are sufficiently remote that you could ask them questions….but I think we rarely do.

      Besides my daily diary of detailed events, I then try to condense each year into 6 A4 pages which are more-easily readable. However since they only contain the more-interesting bits of life they seem to indicate that we were always busy! Maybe we were!

      Love the bit about the joyous return from the Western Desert!

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