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Green Light in the City

Rehannah Mian

30 October 13 words: James Walker
Former BBC journalist sets up a biography writing service so you can dish the dirt on yer mam...
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Rehannah Mian, the brains behiond My Story - A Piece of History


Rehanah Mian was born and bred in Nottingham. Passionate about her home town she’s always had a particular fascination by its history. “I love seeing old photographs of Narrow Marsh and Drury Hill and learning about what life in Nottingham was like "In them days", as my granddad used to say.” In her spare time she regularly heads up to the castle “to get a good view of the city and to imagine what it would have been like to look out over the open fields that were here, not so long ago.” On such occasions she is drawn to a recurring question: was life better or worse back then.

Until March 2013, Rehanah worked as a journalist at the BBC. During this time she met countless celebs but it was meeting ordinary members of the public and hearing their incredible stories that was the most engaging aspect of the job, something that made her reflect on her own family history.

“I realised while I was asking strangers about their life stories that I'd never asked my mum about hers. I knew bits and pieces but I felt that I wanted to know the whole story so one day I sat her down and interviewed her.” It was a pleasant shock as Rehanah discovered many surprising details about her mother as well as Nottingham in the 50s. Two stories in particular stood out: “how the kids used to make fun of the old piano player at The Grand Picture House in Hyson Green until one day she stormed out during a performance and the detailed experience of my mum taking her sister’s broken doll to the doll hospital on Alfreton Rd.”

Learning that she knew far less about her mother than she thought she knew had a profound effect on her “so I decided to leave the BBC and set up a business that would encourage people to start writing down their stories again. It's called My Story-A Piece of History because everyone’s life story really is a piece of England’s history. I want to encourage people to use a service like mine to document the social history of Nottingham before it's forgotten. But even if you want to write your own story, then please get a notebook or sit at a computer make a start. Leave your story where it can be found by future generations to learn from.”

It’s certainly a noble idea although I’m not entirely convinced that there will be a shortage of memories in the future. The internet is a social document that records our every thought, so much so that there is currently plans on using our online comments as a means to predict how we would react to events in the future once we’ve physically died. But this is not necessarily the case for generations born outside the internet age whose ideas need to be preserved more than ever.

“I see advert after advert telling us how we can trace our family tree but wouldn't it be lovely if we found an old diary or book written by one of our ancestors from a hundred, or even fifty years ago? Then we could share in all their experiences and really get to know who they were. If we document our stories now, we can ensure that our descendants will know who we were and where they came from. They will get to learn about all the small details of what it was like living in 20th century Nottingham and I’m sure that they will thank us for it.”

Visit the My Story website. Contact Rehanan on 07711 911 529 or email her at [email protected]


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