Creative Matters

Waving at Soldiers


  • Heather Richardson Open University



Memoir, Northern Ireland, Soldiers


For most writers the first experience of narrative comes from within the family. Facts, opinions, distortions and – very occasionally – truth, are shaped into family stories. A first-time memoirist such as myself has to acknowledge her own unreliability as a narrator, and must unpick real from false memory, the accidently misremembered from the downright lie. In this piece I chart the uncomfortable experience of remembering and writing about growing up during the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’, focusing on the life and death of my Aunt’s husband. He was a British soldier serving in Northern Ireland during the worst years of the Troubles in the early 70s and latterly a constable in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). From their peculiar wedding in my parents’ front room to his death in a car crash five years later, exploring his story has confronted me with the long-denied impact of the Northern Irish conflict on my practice as a writer and teacher of creative writing.


This article was submitted to the European Journal of Life Writing on 20 April 2015 and published on 19 July 2015.

Author Biography

Heather Richardson, Open University

Heather Richardson is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University. She is the author of the historical novel Magdeburg (2010, Lagan Press) and numerous short stories.





Creative Matters