Friday, 17 May 2013


Making Memories, Oldham 

Some of the best sessions we run are lucky accidents, which come from a mix of careful planning happy coincidence. The right people, the right topics, the right skills all come together and a wonderful workshop is the result. The flipside is that just as things can go magically right, they can also go magically wrong.

I'm coming home from a workshop that was intended to be a celebratory reminiscence about the joys of pubs, with some poem-writing and art-making to follow on. We'd prepped thoroughly and in fact were testing ideas that had already been very successful with a previous group, so we were feeling confident. What we hadn't anticipated was that nobody in the group today liked going to the pub.

Not only this, the one person who had the biggest experience of pubs didn't think of them as celebratory at all. She had been a Landlady and when asked what her customers liked by way of pub games she replied stonily: 'Nothing, we were strict.' But what did they do all night we asked, our enthusiasm weakening a little. 'Talk,' she said. Anything else we asked, by now a little desperate. 'Drink.' she said, grimly.

What did emerge from this session was a lovely set of reminiscences that were easily woven into a group poem. It also made us question ourselves and re-evaluate what we thought was a dead cert session plan. But oh how we sighed. And a glass of wine this evening is a very tempting thought.

Oldhamers are proud

of their drinking

the dust from the cotton

makes them thirsty

The Swan

and The Horse Edge

drink in excess and

it takes control

but oh the dust

in The Gaumont

and on Union Street

they're very clannish

self-contained and

what Oldhamers don't like is snobs or the rich

but they'll do a good job for you

they work hard at

The Mitre, The Randolf...

Extract from group poem 15 May 2013

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