It's the perfect time to write your life story!

By W Bro Ryland James, Assistant Provincial Grand Master

I have been extremely fortunate to have recently celebrated 50 years of competing in my chosen sport of car rallying. Back in 1988, a journalist for a National Motorsport publication interviewed me for a feature covering my career to date. This week, 32 years later, I spent an enjoyable couple of hours as he interviewed me for an article looking back over those 50 years.


Fortunately, human nature being what it is, we tend to remember the good times more than the bad – so I, personally, found it quite uplifting to recall stories from those golden years in my mind.


A well respected journalist by the name of Max Hastings writes a weekly column in the Times. Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings FRSL FRHistS (to use his full title) is a British journalist, who has worked as a foreign correspondent for the BBC, editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph, and editor of the Evening Standard. He is also the author of numerous books, chiefly on defence matters, which have won several major awards. On March 21st his headline read simply “It’s the perfect time to write your life story”. 


I remember, but as I was so young, cannot say that I knew, my grandparents. That was partly corrected in 2011 when, after mother passed away, I discovered an amateurishly typed up document entitled “Who was Olwydd?”


My mother was an avid collector of old photographs, coupled with an interest in family trees. It was a simple booklet with, for example, chapters on each of her parents, further chapters on her school days, working life, siblings, memories of Whitland during the war, etc., etc.  Nothing too intense, and, as I found last week, when the questions are asked, it is the good memories that generally flood back.


I typed mother’s story up, scanned in the photographs using current technology, and distributed it to my sister and the few cousins I have. I did this as a Word document intentionally so that they can, as in the case of my cousins, select the chapters relevant to them – and add to them as and when time permits. It doesn’t need to be professionally written. The good news stories we need to keep going for our future generations will more than outweigh any typing or grammatical errors. It is not something necessarily for formal publication – it may just be something for our family members – but to them, we can all give something I am certain they will find precious – fond memories.


Of course, if you do proceed to do some research, be prepared for questions to be raised. I did find my paternal grandfather’s birth certificate. Great grandfather was a “John James” but more interestingly, my great grandmother was named as “Elizabeth James formerly Hilling” – and there aren’t many of those in the local telephone directory. At least it brought some more sunshine into my life!!


Stay safe brethren.

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