The BBC has a programme called The Listening Project where Britons chat about significant moments in their lives, perhaps moments they have never spoken about before.  Each conversation of the project lasts about 3 minutes and are archived in full length in the British Library.  This has been running for seven years and so there is a plethora of experiences and thoughts to listen to.


This was inspired by StoryCorps in America, a similar programme, archived in the Library of Congress.


The subjects covered are varied, from losing children, a nude model telling the photographer how he made her see the real her, a gay mother and son describing coming out and so on.

The project shows us how hard it to listen and how we are maybe losing the art of listening. People are not listening to one another.

The realisations that come out of the conversation are truthful and revealing.  One sister tells her sister, she can’t believe she was ‘looked up to’ as the conversation was never had between them.

The National conversation also is only based on what people want to remember in that the UK was ‘better’ in the past but if you listen carefully to people from the past, there were obviously many horrific events to overcome.

An evacuee describes being hurdled into a room to be picked out by strangers, something that would never happen nowadays.  How did the parents feel giving their child over to someone they had never met?

Similarly, a girl leaving Germany on Kinder transport, not being able to understand that her mother chose her brothers over her.

Aida Edemariam who wrote about Listening in the Guardian this week, was struck after writing a book on memories of her Grandmother, that many people afterwards wished they had listened to their grandparents more.

The Wife’s Tale by Aida, tells the stories of her paternal grandmother and born in Ethiopia.

Her grandmother was married at 8, to a man, 2 decades her senior and tells of how this child bride felt on the day, in a heavy outfit with an empty stomach.

The story unfolds of her extraordinary life, that Aida has listened to, remembered and written down.