Lockdown has been challenging in many ways for all of us but it is a very fertile time for writing. I’m currently working on two family memoirs and a non fiction book for clients, as well as editing a novel of my own.

But tomorrow, the 75th anniversary of VE Day, I’m pausing to think of my own family, and their contribution to World War 2. Most particularly, my grandfather, who was in the RAF. His job was to fly reconnaissance missions over Germany, and take photographs of where their munitions factories were. This information was fed back to the British fighter planes, who would then target the factories in future bombing raids. My Grandpa’s job was a job that required a lot of courage, as the planes had to fly low in order to be able to take the photographs. This meant the planes had to be as light as possible. Carrying any bombs or defences wasn’t possible. If spotted by a German plane, they were sitting ducks.

I was born over twenty years after the end of the Second World War, and none of the above did I learn from my Grandpa, a modest and smiling kind of man, who smelt faintly of hair oil and tobacco, and liked to go on boating holidays on the Norfolk Broads, near where he lived. Like many of that generation, he didn’t talk of the war. It was my mother who told me, and it was she who gave his medals to the Imperial War Museum, where they are today.

However, thanks to my grandfather, I was christened in St Clement Dane’s, the RAF church in Fleet Street. It’s a beautifully restored and kept church, and I took my youngest son there for a Remembrance Day service in 2018. The quiet pride of the congregation in their relatives was palpable. I felt tearful being one of them, that a small part of my heritage was caught up in that Sunday service, and that I’d brought my grandpa’s great grandson, who he never met, to take part in it.

Remembering is really important. It helps to make sense of life, and loss, and the ongoing nature of the tide of life. Family memoirs are, in my view, the 21st century version of a family portrait. We keep the stories alive for those who are too young to remember, or not yet with us. It’s as old as time, this telling of stories. Once, we passed them down orally. Now we can get them down on paper. There’s never been a better time.