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The way we tell stories of our lives can shape our memories

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Stories for Life trains “life biographers” to record the memories of people in hospices, palliative care and residential homes: “We believe everyone has a story to tell and a legacy to leave behind. ” Suddenly, ordinary lives are of note.

The impulse to document our lives is not new. The impulse to record a life in flashes and notes, a liquid diary that drips across social media and puddles on shelves in an Ikea frame, has ancient roots.

Even when we’re not publishing them we’re doing it, telling our stories in pubs, in our heads, in our updates about lunch. The difference today seems to be the growing realisation that narrative is important.

A beginning, a middle and then, an end. I watched Barbara Windsor’s 1992 episode of This Is Your Life the other day on YouTube – “Darling, you can’t do my life,” she shrieked gorgeously upon being presented with the big red book on stage. “It’s too naughty!” They didn’t show the naughty bits; it was filtered of pulp and scandal.

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