Monday, 30 April 2012

Pea Wack for 300 children

I'm coming to the end of my time running workshops for the pilot project 'text from Grandma/Granddad' in St Helens Care Homes. Our experimental approach has brought with it some wonderful new work but equally has raised questions and occasionally practical problems to overcome. Until you actually start on a project, it is impossible to predict all of the concerns or faltering points.

Karen Banbury from Mayfield Care Home described some of the issues: "text for some of the children is a bit daunting unless they know it's coming, if they get it cold, they would panic... they might think what's wrong with my mum/dad?  I'm going to text them whilst they are visiting, so they can all see what's going on and I can see the reaction. 

It should work really well with the grandchildren. On a weekend the majority of families are here. I've explained about the text, for example I've checked with Normans grandchildren, who have said they would text back if they received one from their granddad.

Our theme for the morning was food, as ever with reminiscence it spilled into other subjects, in this case school. We followed the conversations with selecting words to be re-writen onto iced fingers. The following are a few of the notes from the morning:

Margaret's decorated cake "Smell"
"My mother very good cook, excellent. Very hard working. We had fish on a Friday, loved the smell of cooking bread. One of the big days of cooking was bread- grandmother she'd take charge, baked bread all her life, an Irish woman, baked soda bread. A little woman, a small woman. I used to wonder why my mother, why she didn't bake? grandmother always took over, making bread for 50 years." Norman 

"Teachers very strict think nothing of rattling you with a ruler. Your hand or your leg. Higher grade school, College Street, St Helen's." Margaret

Ernie's Bluecoat School uniform
"Pea wack, very thick. 300 children to be fed, 100 girls, 200 boys. Porridge twice a week with brown sugar.

The younger ones got bullied a bit till you learnt to look after yourself. Thought it was tough then, you were educated. Always smart, all tailcoats aged 8 and long trousers, later on blazers. Bluecoat, Wavertree. After boarding school the army was easy for you. Go to your beds at half past 7 till you were 14 then stayed up to 9. Always had good football sides." Ernie

"I went to Sherwood Lane School, Longmore Lane, Fazakerley. Considered modern school- toilets indoors and all that. For lunch took sandwiches or went home, I went home as only 5 minutes away. I wore a gym slip, school badge, didn't have a belt wore a sash, folded down. I was very proud of my gym slip, pressed 3 box pleats at the front, 3 box pleats at the back.Some children in the school from the Cottage Homes in Frazakerley, for children whose mothers couldn't look after them. 

Barbara writing reminiscence onto iced finger
We had porridge with sugar or honey. Grandmother looked after us. Roast beef, steamed puddings, scones, vegetable dishes, good variety, rice pudding all learnt. Secret to success, right temperature, perfectly mixed, not thrown together, no lumps. We were disappointed if there was no pudding when we came home for lunch.  Tea we had sandwich and maybe a scone." Barbara.

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