LIKE many people, I know little about my family history beyond my grandparents.

I’ve heard family stories – my paternal great grandparents played music in pubs and danced in clogs, and my mum’s “nanah” was a mother-of-eight who discovered her hard-drinking husband had another family. But what did my forebears do in the First World War? “There was an uncle who was gassed on the Somme, he was about 21,” one of my aunts told me recently. That’s pretty much all I know.

Other than pinning a poppy to my school jumper every year and going to Remembrance Sunday services at church with the Girl Guides, the ‘Great War’ meant little to me as a youngster. I didn’t even learn about it at school. War wasn’t on the curriculum; my history lessons began and ended with the Industrial Revolution, so I knew more about the Spinning Jenny than I did about either world war.

Now I wish I’d talked to my grandparents about the world they grew up in. I was quite close to my grandmothers, I even lived with one for a while, but I didn’t know much about their younger selves. One of them was a little girl during the 1914-18 war, the other was born two years after it ended. They must have remembered photographs of young men in uniform on mantelpieces, and quiet voices whenever a much missed name was mentioned.

I guess we’re so wrapped up in our own lives we don’t think about the generations who came before, until we too become older. I recently came across some newspaper photographs of men from Pals battalions at Cenotaph services in the 1970s; old chaps, united by memories of horrors in the mud. One caption quotes Cpl George Morgan: “I’ve lived 60 years afterwards and never, never got over it”.

As a child I didn’t take much notice of old men, like Cpl Morgan, who turned out at church on foggy November Sundays in dark suits. Only now do I think: "Those were men who survived the trenches". We had a kindly old neighbour, Mr Atkinson, who gave us sweets. My mum helped him with shopping and told me he’d been "in the War". I sometimes think of him and wonder what he went through. Like most of that generation, I doubt he talked of it – and if he did, did anyone listen?

Those who survived that war are all gone, and soon those from the Second World War will be too. It is left to us, who remember them as flesh and blood, to ensure they are thought of by future generations.

To mark the centenary of the Armistice, a Yorkshire First World War group has been inviting people to share family stories of men, and women, in the 1914-18 war. An exhibition by the group, called Shared Remembrance, has been highlighting the war’s global context.

A particularly haunting strand lists men from Yorkshire towns and cities, and around the world, who died the same day. Two lists each begin with men from Arncliffe Terrace – a street in Bradford that lost ten men to the war – followed by names and regiments of pre-Partition Indian soldiers who perished the same day, from places such as Jhelum and Gujar Khan, where the current Lord Mayor of Bradford lived as a child.

This was a global war. Almost everyone living in that city today will have some connection with it.

What did our great grandfathers and uncles do in the Great War? It’s what people around the world should be asking themselves.

* Wannabes to hasbeens: Spice Girls tour is a bore

A SPICE Girls tour without Victoria Beckham isn’t exactly Queen without Freddie, but if I was a fan I’d feel a bit cheated at news that the girl group has reunited as a four-piece.

Next year the Spice Girls on yet another comeback tour. Forgive me for being underwhelmed. Yes, they were pivotal to Nineties pop culture and smashed America, blah blah, but I remember them from back then; they acted like a bunch of daft schoolgirls and their music was, at best, mediocre. Now they’re four middle-aged hasbeens grasping at the fading limelight like Norma Desmond. So much for Girl Power.