'Attempts to erase the history we think is wrong is unproductive'

London school children from heavily bombed districts take their belongings to safer quarters.

Ann Easter remembers being told stories about growing up during the war - Credit: PA

I had a very happy, family-focused childhood and some of my favourite times were Friday evenings at my paternal grandmother’s home in Goodmayes.

My father was the youngest of seven children - five girls and two boys - and there would always be a number of his siblings and their families gathered there.

Gallons of tea would be drunk and one auntie who worked near a proper old fashioned sweet shop always brought some nice toffee or nougat blocks to be broken up with a hammer and shared out.

It was very loud and what I loved were the stories that were told, often repeatedly, about life in times gone by.

We heard stories of wartime, everyone crowding into the shelters on the Isle of Dogs and the youngsters trying to get to and from school safely – one aunt, aged 10, was chased by a plane as she walked along the street in broad daylight.


Ann Easter had a happy family-focused childhood - Credit: Archant

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We heard stories of our parents and grandparents starting work as very young teenagers, in a factory or the Docks, and of relationships - boyfriends and girlfriends, weddings and break ups.

Life has changed hugely, there’s no doubt about that, and many of the things that were said and done in past times would be judged inappropriate or downright wrong now.

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Almost everyone in my family smoked cigarettes, for example, and when I was about 15 I joined them with my parents’ blessing – it was what we all did. I don’t do it now!

But I don’t blame my foremothers and fathers as I’m quite sure that they did what they thought was best at the time.

I believe that attempts to erase the history we don’t like or think wrong is not productive. It’s past and done.

Rather I prefer to build on what was good, to tell family stories of love and laughter and to do our best to make this world a better place for all God’s children.

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