Our house, in the middle of our street

March 2, 2013 § 2 Comments

Pinfold Lane Centre, Whitefield 1 March 2013


Kath with drawing of childhood home


Philip writes:

We’re coming toward the end of Spaghetti Maze, our project making life stories with people who have a dementia diagnosis. We’ve had a break from the project to assess the material and on returning to the Pinfold Lane Centre in Whitefield, we were made very welcome by the staff. Interestingly, although our participant groups have memory loss problems they all remembered us too – despite a 3 month break – which suggests that we’ve impacted on them quite deeply. Hopefully, it also suggests that we are doing something right and the bonds we’ve formed are strong.

Both sessions were very heavily planned because we’re tying up loose ends, bringing our work with this particular set of people to a close. We wanted to fill in any gaps that we might have left in the life stories and so had very focussed and time-aware sessions.


Mary designing picture frame


We’re also thinking about taking this work forward – how we can develop this further into a large-scale life story book that we will publish. We have spent over a decade working with many, many groups but the connecting thread has always been the telling of lives. Now we’re turning these skills and techniques into a how-to guide for others to use, particularly people with a dementia diagnosis and those around them – carers, relatives.

Today, Lois brought two drawing exercises; a particular success was the suggestion that people draw the home of their childhood. Often people are reluctant to pick up a pen and draw. It’s a big leap of faith to trust that they won’t be mocked, by us, their peers, or (most devastatingly themselves, seeing oneself produce drawings that appear child-like can lead to a sense of being diminished). Actually, today there were no complaints. Drawing a house is one of the very first things we learn to do at school; it is iconic and because of that people didn’t seem to mind having a go. Perhaps because the point of a drawing like this is that it’s not technically perfect. Like a picture of a smiley face, it’s the spirit of the thing that counts.


Doreen drawing childhood home


We’re also building a repertoire of new writing exercises. These have to tread a line between being informative and something more wayward, which allows room for the eccentricity and tangential thinking that makes an individual. We tried making little charts of family members, name, rank, and other details and putting them into a grid. Dependent on how this is filled in and read out, this can be a ‘straight’ information chart, or a more elusive, poetic piece.

The Pinfold Lane Centre is a dementia daycare centre, but it is also a remarkably happy, safe gathering place for people people who sometimes struggle with the world. It’s a haven, a house of memories, a place of forgetting. Every time we make our goodbyes, I realise that I’ve been uplinfted by my day there. It’s the biggest compliment that I can think of, to the staff there, that from much misery and confusion they bring something joyful.


two in the bed

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m going to tell you something now, I heard 2 women say it when I was very young ‘2 in a bed trying to make 3’ I never forgot it. I went home and told my mum, got a smack and sent to bed! She told me never to repeat anything. I learnt that day. Grounded for the least thing. Once you got in from school, you couldn’t go out again.


5th October 2012

out the window

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

We used to have parties on Saturday Nights, would charge 2 shillings to get in!

There were 6 brothers and 6 lasses. My eldest brother, my John, got hurt n the war, he went missing. James found him in the hospital, was going through on troops and saw him there, he didn’t know his name, didn’t know who he was. James took him out, said he wouldn’t get better there with to many men. He had plastic surgery, all head wounds. He never worked again, lived a good bit after the war, but died of his war wounds.

Couldn’t love anyone like your man. Ohh romance was out the window for me and him. Love him, me and Hugh. Since before we left school, 15 years of age. He had to Duke, hide from them, he would go into his bed, I would go into my bed- he lived above us, we would talk through the window. I don’t want it to change, stay the way it is. When we’re in bed, we take one another’s arm and say ‘I’m nuts about you’…. Aren’t it sickening!

Trevor my one and only

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Nothing, I don’t get involved in it. Trevor my one and only. But he died, been dead a while now. Make do with what you get. He was so ill

A laugh, every time I turned round he was laughing, so I’d laugh and he couldn’t stop.Can’t keep it, has to go back now.

Two girls grown up now. Keep him at the front of my mind. Silly should let go carry on. Had some good times

Can’t have conditional love with a child. Give and take for love, ain’t got nobody to love now. He’s gone again, a one way trap.

Most of us do have a good relationship with our parents. They’re me mum and that’s it. No matter goes right or wrong, that’s me mum and dad that’s that

5th October 2012

blind love

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

Would be something wrong if you didn’t love your parents
Fred was strict but he had to be
mum was blind
What the hell did my dad see in my mum?
But such a happy marriage
Father wouldn’t hurt a fly
Mum couldn’t see him
But were very close
I asked him once why did you marry her?
‘I fell in love’

5th October 2012


Then you give them a kiss

October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

don’t think you can define it
Either love them or not
Met my first boy Steve thought he was horrid
Took me to the Rex
Cheapest seats you could get
The Gods
He said ‘let’s go to the back seats’
Katie wasn’t having it
Any boy saying back seat on a first date
You say ‘no way’
No back seat with this Katie

Knew when I first met James that was it
Tall good looking and another girl wanted him
(Helen Moore or Helen Shaw)
I got him
And the silly bugger went to fight in the war
Got himself killed

One good thing came out
My son Anthony my son
Spitting image of him
Looks and character
mum why didn’t you ever get re-married you where so young
The thought never occurred
Met the one and you know
Know immediately if you meet the right one
He was lost and I grabbed him
Treat you with respect right from the beginning
Get to know them
Then you give them a kiss
Killed in 1943
Never re-married never wanted to
Got my son a very good son

The right man comes up and you know

1st man was Bernard
I thought Bernie?
Then I met James and that was it
The silly bugger went and got killed

5th October 2012


October 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

Played football, that’s all I did. I was a good player. They said to me: “A good little player, but you’re not big enough.” It was everything to me. Streets, fields, we played everywhere. Took the bag off your back and used it for goals.

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