AT first glance, it looked like a box of junk someone had unearthed at a car boot sale.

But its contents - including a bar of Fairy soap, a ginger beer bottle and a pair of old ice skates - unlocked a flood of precious memories for some older people I met this week.

The Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK Bradford & District's Military Memories team have have joined forces on a wonderful project using archive footage of life in the war years, and items from the period, to prompt conversations and memories among people in care homes.

On Monday I visited Heaton Grange care home where residents watched some short films from the Yorkshire Film Archive, looking at the Home Guard, the Land Army and evacuees. While they watched the footage, various items relating to the films were passed around; creating a lively reminiscence session.

A film about evacuees showed youngsters skating on a frozen lake at Castle Howard. Holding a pair of children's ice skates from the period, one lady recalled skating. Another, gazing at a child's gas mask, remembered the smell of them. "I hid in the dustbin when we heard the bombs. My mother didn't know where I was, until she saw the bin move," she said.

Also passed around were the contents of an evacuee's suitcase, including a ration book, identity card and a handwritten letter from a girl on a Devon farm. She reveals that a nearby bombing raid had left the farmhouse on fire, destroying clothes belonging to her and her sister. "Nothing is left of the house except the four walls," she writes to her parents, adding on a cheery note: "Hope you are well. Love Pam." I can't imagine a child of today being so matter-of-fact.

Footage of the Home Guard practising with wooden rifles led a chap called Bill to recall his own ammunition training in National Service. "I told them I was 17 so I could get in early," he revealed.

Brian Percival, project co-ordinator for Military Memories, told me the project has "enormous value" to people who lived and served during the war. "Military veterans in care homes can feel a bit lost. Their service years are so important to them but some of them tell me they don't think anyone will be interested," he said.

Brian visits veterans from the Second World War, the Korea and Burma conflicts and National Service in care homes and in their own homes, encouraging them to share memories and stories. He also takes veterans into schools, and plans to create a schools resource pack from interviews with them. "We took a paratrooper into one school, along with a fullscale parachute. The children loved it. Meeting someone who was in active service brings history alive for them," said Brian. "And once veterans realise children are interested, it's a great boost and encourages social engagement."

The Alzheimer's Society and Age UK are working as part of Airedale Social Movement, enriching the lives of care home residents by developing links with communities. As well as Military Memories, there are many opportunities for people to get involved - from choirs to sports clubs. One idea is for schools to 'adopt' a care home, visiting regularly for things like storytelling, gardening and penpal projects.

Having seen this reminiscence therapy firsthand, I was touched and uplifted by how simple objects from the past can get people talking. By getting involved, we can create more inclusive communities that embrace age and experience, rather than shutting it away behind closed doors.

* IT'S all very well letting the public vote for TV awards, but they often get it wrong.

The National Television Awards is popularist, fair enough, and some say viewer votes make the awards more meaningful. But I think a voting panel of industry professionals make far better decisions (on shortlists and winners) than tweeting millennials. Why no Thandie Newton for Line of Duty in the drama performance category? Self-indulgent Doctor Foster and tiresome Broadchurch weren't in the same league as this drama, yet both won awards this week. Hopefully the Baftas will see more sense.

* IS it bad manners to use a mobile phone at the table? Not these days, it seems.

A survey by Sky Atlantic reveals that 47per cent of folk think nothing of using their mobile during a meal. And around half wouldn't even bother saying "please" and "thank you".

Other disappearing courtesies include keeping elbows off the table, shaking hands to greet someone, and not swearing in public. A third even thought it was okay to be rude, so people know what they really think of them. There goes that awful phrase: "I'm just being honest".

How sad that considering other people no longer seems important. Good manners are what separates us from chimps; if we can't even be bothered to say "thank you" anymore there really isn't much hope for us.