Friday, 14 October 2011

The Dinner Bell

I loved music at school, my favourite musical instrument? the dinner bell. George White

On Thursday morning Joanne and I joined the arts group at Four Acre Library, St Helens. Next week will be my last session- and I am getting serious pangs of sadness. I've been getting so much from this 
group- an education and lots of laughter. 

Joanne and Marion

This week my task was siting back and observing how Joanne got on with facilitating the group. This isn't such an easy job for me, who likes to be in control... as I sat burning to ask questions myself and wanting to join in with my take on the conversation! and it was such a fascinating conversation. We were discussing schooling- the realities for children during and into the 50s.

6 on the backside in front of the whole class if you were naughty Eddie

What struck me again was all the wasted talent and crushed aspirations. A story I have heard before (my father-in-law won a scholarship to a grammar school and couldn't take up the place as his parents didn't have the money for the uniform) was repeated here today, Joan had won a scholarship;

We couldn't afford the clothes, couldn't afford the equipment, the headteacher said to my mother 'you can't afford to come'. Joan

Brenda, Marion and Sid
Marion whose parents did manage to borrow enough money for her to get her uniform, spent the whole time in one oversized coat, brought large when she started school (I never grew any taller than that first day) recalled feeling she never fitted in with the people from the middle class backgrounds. She was always aware of her frayed and darned cuffs. She would run the gaunlet of the other kids going to the local schools, who teased her 'lend us your hat, we're havin soup tonight!' She felt she didnt fit in anywhere.

Norma and Eddy

After the very lively reminiscence, the group used their memories to effect in acrostic poems. The fantastic legacy of the project here is a lively enthusiastic group, who seem willing to try any art or poetry exercise presented to them. Who support each other creatively and socially, and who will continue to meet up weekly long after I am no longer part of the group. I'll miss them all.

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