• Dave Dutton

I'm Glad I Listened

In the course of writing my autobiography, I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve learned that it’s important to talk to your parents, grandparents and other family members who are still around to get their stories and reminiscences of the past. Otherwise, it’s lost forever and the lives of so-called ordinary folk are just as important as anyone else’s. More so in fact as we are in the majority. 

Every person has a story to tell if we would but listen to them. 

It goes without saying that everything is in a state of change and little things you take for granted suddenly are no longer there.

Even young people today reminisce about television programmes they used to love or their Commodore 64’s and He Man figures or sweets and confectionery that are no longer around.

When I was a lad, my Mam used to talk about her experiences at Risley where she made detonators in the war and I wasn’t really interested.

She always said “he’ll regret not listening one of these days“. She was right. Thankfully, I started to listen when I was older and found it interesting. I asked her to jot down her memories of her early life and her work during the war and boy am I glad I did. It help me to set the book in context as well as learning about her wartime love affair with her boss at work who was my father.

Even writing about myself, it brought home to me how things change so much. A lot of the childhood games I used to play are no longer played. When did you last see a kid playing hopscotch in the street, or flicking marbles in the gutter, or playing cricket against a drainpipe down some back street? Who plays Rolly 123, Queeny, British Bulldog or What Time Is It Mr Wolf? any more?

I used to have to walk to infants school when I was six or so. Imagine that these days. We could play safely in the street as nobody had a car in our neck of the woods. Now families have two or three.

When I eventually found my sister later in life, I asked her to fill in some details about my father and she was happy to do so. It helped to flesh out the picture.

Also I found an interest in digging into the past and finding out more about my ancestors and the lives they led. What hard lives they were too. Silk weavers, miners, carters, agricultural workers, sawyers and people who ended up in the workhouse. It made me realise how fortunate I am today.

My point in all this is to urge you to start a little project of your own. Whatever family you have left, talk to them and jot down their reminiscences. You’ll be surprised what comes out and what you’ve forgotten.

Put it in a blog or just write it for your own pleasure or to be passed in to others or do like I did and start a book.

I had no idea that the Thirty Bob Kid would turn out as it did– A 326 page paperback weighing 1 1/2 pounds!.

I am so grateful to my mum for everything she did and I’m glad I eventually found the time to listen to her before it was too late.

Thank you Mabel.