A recent email alerted me to the death of one of the ‘characters’ that played a part in my youth. The local cobbler—a business one doesn’t often come across these days—would pass our door at the same time every morning on his way to work, and during the week not a day went by when he wasn’t to be seen sitting in his window, facing the street, working on someone’s shoes. He didn’t always look up when you passed but you knew that he didn’t miss much of what went on in the village. Hearing of his passing led me on an internet trail of obituaries from the last six or seven years and I was surprised to read that many others whom I have long since forgotten are no longer with us. Reading about people’s lives is so often a revelation and the fact that we know so little about those around us until they are dead was one of the reasons we began our series of cover stories, giving people an opportunity to talk about their lives. Sadly, as a general rule many of our observations of people are tainted by perception or assumption. It is so easy to make decisions about what type of person someone is with little or no knowledge of their lives. They may spend great chunks of their time quietly doing charitable works, caring for sick relatives or assisting behind the scenes in local community initiatives, but we don’t find out until after they are gone, only learning from a eulogy or an obituary. We may have thought them cold, grumpy or humourless, when to their close family they were a tower of strength with a great sense of humour, but it is then too late to elevate our long held opinion—one that might have been shaped by an ill-informed rumour or a gossip’s throw-away comment. There are hundreds of people whose stories we would like to publish but as a monthly magazine we are never likely to catch up. However we are working on it, and though we can’t control the fact that the printed page has to be paid for, whether it has editorial or advertisements on it, we look forward to publishing many more.