The past is on my mind. I'm preparing a video to mark my father Bob Skinner's 80th birthday in November, covering family life and his 60+ years in journalism and PR. (Bob published a book, Don't hold the front page!, last year about his life in communications, as I recorded in one of my first posts.)
I've learnt a lesson. We've left it far too late to check many essential details of our family history. We have no recording of my Victorian grandmother's voice - even though she died (aged 102) just 12 years ago.
We spent some time last night poring over dozens of old photos, some dating back to the Great War. The photos seen here stumped us. Dad thinks the handsome chap on the far left is his father Frank, and the soldier in the middle Frank's twin brother Bert, who tragically died in the terrible flu epidemic in 1918. But then we found the photo on the right - which of the two features in that picture?
We'll have to spend more timing comparing other pictures to try to find the answer. But if only we had asked my grandmother before she died in 1994!
The reason we're struggling is that most family photos carry no caption. For decades, we took a picture and filed it in an album - or a box in the loft. The digital age offers a solution: e-captions and tags, whether on the hard drive of our PCs or online at sites such as Flickr. Similarly, we can video recollections of major national and family events and store them on DVD, PC and YouTube.
Do it now. You'll regret it in the future if you don't.