‘Don’t make it sound like a bloody eulogy’. The inspiration for Precious Stories.

The post-Christmas lunch cricket match gets pretty serious in our family. Here mum clips one off the legs for a couple of runs

The post-Christmas lunch cricket match gets pretty serious in our family. Here mum clips one off the legs for a couple of runs

Precious Stories started by accident. Well, sort of. It was the lead up to my mum’s 80th birthday and my five siblings and I wanted to ensure we put on a suitably memorable party to celebrate her milestone. We were going to have the day planned within an inch of its life. For once, this was going to be an event just for mum and to celebrate the Parnell side of our family history.

Jobs were dished out to the siblings - all the relly’s we needed to invite - check, venue - check, menu - check etc. Speeches - hmmm - there were some gaps that needed to be fact-checked. Yours truly got that job. I called mum and dad in advance and told them I would like to pop down to their place for a few hours and effectively do an interview so I could ensure that we covered all the bases in our speeches. That was a fortuitous mistake - giving mum the heads up just wound her up a bit, because when I produced my portable audio recorder, mum declared, ‘whatever you say in the speeches, don’t make it sound like a bloody eulogy!’

Ouch, fair enough. The warning was noted and we pushed on. For nearly two hours, mum (mostly) and dad (chipping in) proceeded to tell me her story. The portable recorder was barely noticed after a few minutes on the kitchen table and over several rounds of afternoon tea and cake (mum insists on this combination EVERY visit) I started hearing her life story in its entirely for the first time.

My favourite was mum and her best mate going AWOL on Sunday nights after curfew at the then Melbourne Teachers College boarding house where they were studying back in the 1950s. The saddest was hearing mum recalling the day she was told her mum had died. She was a teenager living and studying in a Convent secondary school in regional NSW. One day the Mother Superior summonsed mum from class to inform her that her mother had died. ‘Now go back to class’ was the rather less than empathetic directive following this devastating piece of news! For the record, mum never got to attend her mum’s funeral...amazing.

Anyway, the birthday party was a raging success and we all felt wonderful (and a bit smug) about how well we all pulled it off.

A few years later I was talking to a friend about how I had slipped into professional interviewer mode as a once-off for my mum’s birthday and had recorded her story..the response from my friend was immediate and telling...’I wish I had done that when my mum was alive, I would do anything to have a recording of her now’

It didn’t take much convincing that this was one of those hobby/businesses that could make a difference to people’s lives. I had been interviewing and producing media content professionally for many, many years. The craft of the interview was something I was good at (I had plenty of practice) and I had spent countless hours in edit suites pulling together stories. Until then, it never occurred to me these skills could be in such demand for personal story telling. I toyed with naming the business Bloody Eulogy for about a nano-second.

Precious Stories sounded a bit more universal.