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Who do you think you are?

(23 Posts)
Littleannie Thu 29-Oct-20 20:17:00

I have just watched this programme with actress Ruth Jones. She had some love letters that her grandfather sent to her grandmother, which her brother found in the garage. She read them out and sniggered over lines such as "when we lay in each others arms". I am absolutely disgusted. These are PRIVATE.
When my mum and I cleared grandma's house we found some letters tied up with ribbon. We both immediately said "we are not reading these, they are private". We put them in the fire grate and burned them.
In my opinion Ruth Jones should be ashamed of herself. Rant over.

Daddima Thu 29-Oct-20 20:20:33

I still have dozens of letters my uncle wrote to my aunt when he was in the army, and wouldn’t dream of reading them, and certainly not on the telly.
I’ve only ever seen the programme when Judge Rinder was on it, and it was fascinating.

Jane10 Thu 29-Oct-20 20:27:16

I would be too uncomfortable to read such private letters

GrannyGravy13 Thu 29-Oct-20 20:29:19

Whilst I agree that for a family member an intimate letter could make uncomfortable reading.

Letters give historians an insight to the past.

Septimia Thu 29-Oct-20 21:01:59

Before she died, my mum told me that I would find letters to her from my dad. She asked me to burn them without reading them.

Of course, it was a great temptation to take a peek but I respected her wishes. I've often wondered what was in them but, having seen Ruth Jones' reaction to the content of her grandfather's letters, I'm glad I didn't sneak a peek. What they said was between the two of them.

Oopsadaisy4 Thu 29-Oct-20 21:32:31

I put Mum and Dads letters into Mums coffin with her, (unread). Dad had died some years before.

ginny Thu 29-Oct-20 21:38:25

I actually said to DH as we were watching that I thought it was wrong of her to read the personal letters. It would be different if someone sent you a letter but these were meant to be between her Grandparents only.

Doodledog Thu 29-Oct-20 21:41:44

I agree. I think it is a huge betrayal to read them, particularly to read them out loud on TV. I know there is probably nobody left who knew the couple, but that's not the point.

PECS Thu 29-Oct-20 22:06:52

I don't think it is wrong! They are part of a family's history & social history and if the two writers are dead no harm done.
If there is a specific request re correspondence then that should, of course, be respected .

If my DDs /DGCs want to read any of my correspondence they can do..though in the early days of our marriage we had a quarrel and in a hissy fit I burned all the poems & letters DH had sent me so it will be just old bank statements,
& HMRC tax returns! confused

Grammaretto Thu 29-Oct-20 22:09:30

These were very personal love letters and I agree it wasn't appropriate to share them on TV.

However my MiL used her parents' letters in a presentation she made on the centenary of the 1st world war.
The couple had only just met so there was nothing embarrassing - and when one of their gt grandsons read them, I was in tears hearing these poignant words read by a young man with his young voice.
It brought it home that those soldiers, lonely and far from home, were very young.

Lucca Thu 29-Oct-20 22:20:34

Oh dear I must be very insensitive I thought nothing of it.
For some reason although I usually love this programme I was a bit bored with this one.

Sparkling Thu 29-Oct-20 22:57:16

I wouldn't have read the letters on tv, but family obviously didn't mind. I just wish I could get the pattern fir the gist was wearing test her mum had knitted!

Sparkling Thu 29-Oct-20 22:58:57

This i pad changes everything you write. It should read ! I would like the pattern for the hat her mother had made for her.

welbeck Fri 30-Oct-20 01:19:33

i did not see the programme.
but agree it was wrong to read them out, esp the most personal parts. she could have read some other lines.
but i guess it is all for tv splish and splosh.
to me it shews a lack of respect.
and are we sure there no living relatives who knew them, no uncles, aunts, cousins of hers.

Nadateturbe Fri 30-Oct-20 04:25:18

Whilst I agree it gives historians an insight I do feel it is wrong to read private letters and most definitely wrong to share them. Unless permission has been given.

Grammaretto Fri 30-Oct-20 11:38:40

I did wonder Sparkling grin what a gist was. Do I want one too?

After some thought, I agree that as the family were OK with the letters being shared, it's OK with the universe.

I think we have a fear of real emotion which catches us by surprise occasionally.

My MiL was interviewed on BBC radio about her parents' love letters. She said she was so glad her mum hadn't burned them but had bundled them in ribbon for her to find.. A few tasteful extracts were read out. I would put the link but I'm not quite ready to go public on GN yet!

Birdwatcher4 Sat 31-Oct-20 14:46:34

Enjoyed the program and Sparkling I loved the hat as well .

PollyDolly Sat 31-Oct-20 14:53:30

When my father died we found loads of letters written by him to mum and vice versa from when he did his National Service and later worked overseas.
It was obvious what they were although they were very much in disarray and none of us read them, we simply tied them up with ribbon and asked the undertaker to put them in dads coffin.
They were private and we felt at peace with what we decided to do with them.
Personally, I wouldn't dream of reading anyone's letters unless they specifically asked me to help them understand the content.

GagaJo Sat 31-Oct-20 14:55:16

This made me think of a poem I taught many moons ago.

My Box
My box is made of golden oak,
my lover’s gift to me.
He fitted hinges and a lock
of brass and a bright key.
He made it out of winter nights,
sanded and oiled and planed,
engraved inside the heavy lid
in brass, a golden tree.

In my box are twelve black books
where I have written down
how we have sanded, oiled and planed,
planted a garden, built a wall,
seen jays and goldcrests, rare red kites,
found the wild heartsease, drilled a well,
harvested apples and words and days
and planted a golden tree.

On an open shelf I keep my box.
Its key is in the lock.
I leave it there for you to read,
or them when we are dead,
how everything is slowly made,
how slowly things made me,
a tree, a lover, words, a box,
books and a golden tree.

dogsmother Sat 31-Oct-20 15:25:05

I don’t know about every one else but my mother said to me one time that whatever I committed to paper could then be read by anyone at anytime and I should always consider very carefully before dong this. It always resonated and left me reluctant to write anything very much.

JackyB Sun 01-Nov-20 09:13:11

Among my father in law's books we found a letter written in pencil in Cyrillic script. He had been a PoW in Russia (didn't come back till 1948).

I got a Russian girl at work to translate it for me. It was a sort of love letter. I haven't told DH and I certainly would never tell my sister in law. I don't even know if my Fil could read or understand Russian although he was very good at languages, having had a classical education. He was at one point a German/Italian interpreter, but unfortunately never spoke about it.

Shropshirelass Sun 01-Nov-20 09:16:57

I agree, I didn’t see the programme but having cleared out my parents house and recently my uncles house anything I found was private. It is bad enough going through their personal belongings without broadcasting their private lives. I said nothing about anything I found and it has been burned, treated with respect.

Doodledog Sun 01-Nov-20 09:44:09

I think you did the right thing, Shropshirelass, and hope that my privacy would be respected in the same way.

I don’t think it has anything to do with a fear of emotion- more that other people’s emotions should be treated with respect and their private thoughts and confidences should be theirs to keep. Our own emotions are for us to police, but we have no right to decide on privacy levels on behalf of others, alive or dead.