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20 Dec 2018

Christmas at War

There’s been a very touching response to the publication of this book. I’ve had lots of lovely cards and emails from the elderly people who contributed to it, or the offspring of those whose memoirs I quoted – all delighted to see their stories getting a new outlet.

The sad thing is that, since I did the research about 18 months ago, at least five of those who shared memories with me have died. So there’s a lesson here, and not just to do with the deprivations of the war: if you have elderly people in your life, particularly if they are relatives, talk to them. Talk to them NOW, while you can. Get their stories, not necessarily down on paper, but into your head. Because once the people are gone, those stories are gone too. And gone forever.

But here’s a happy coincidence. One of those who died was my aunt. Her daughter, planning the funeral, got in touch to say that she didn’t know a great deal about her mother’s early life and could I fill in any blanks. Because my aunt had sent me a story for the book, I was able to send that to my cousin – and it was read at the service. A warm moment on a sad occasion.

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