It’s been a little while since I visited the fine folks at ‘Enoch House’ to experience a Warm & Toasty Club ‘Memory Afternoon’ and I’ve certainly noticed some changes, the most notable is the number of people that gather to talk about their lives.
There was easily over 30 people at this retirement community in Colchester and the energy and appreciation was palpable.
The topic for today was all about the sixties. Not a subject I have often heard people of this generation talk about but it was a great choice as the participants relished the opportunity to talk about this vibrant decade.
There were fond memories of shops that were once so iconic on the British high street such as ‘Woolworths’ and ‘C&A’. Shops where they had different counters for the many different products on offer. Where stuff would pat out lumps of butter with wooden paddles.
Then we heard about the old laundry machines that seemed to have a mind of their own as they would jump around the room when on full spin, much to the annoyance of the poor people living in the flat below! Johnno recalled being asked by his mum to sit on his washing machine to stop it from running away.
We also heard about the many dance halls that were in the area and the ways in which people entertained themselves. For example, there was the '59 Club' when one lady was telling us about the famous people that could be spotted off an evening. Names like Cliff Richard and even Princess Margaret. There was quite the claim to fame as it was at this club that Hank Marvin urinated on her brother's swede shoes! We can any assume by accident!
The sixties were a decade of great change and momentous events for the 'Memory Afternoon' participants. Some experienced their first colour television, the contraceptive pill became available and all could remember where they were when Kennedy was assassinated. When asked, it was clear that this decade was the groups favourite by quite a margin and it's not hard to understand why. From the hardship of war had come new freedom and optimism. It was lovely to hear people look back with such fondness.
As always, 'Memory Afternoons' isn't just archiving stories but creating new experiences. The participants brought miscellaneous items to be raffled off. Items as diverse as a Beefeater candle to a washing-up sponge.
There was also an artist painting the participants in watercolour. It's a treasured art, especially in the age of ubiquitous photography that people really appreciate an artist taking time and talent to paint an interpretation of them.
Then we had entertainment in from 'Rococo'; a female barbershop quartet which not only sung a collection of songs beautifully but they perfectly demonstrated how all the different elements and vocal ranges of the songs interacted which I found very interesting.
It's clear that I've been away from the Warm & Toast Clubs 'Memory Afternoons' for too long. I was keeping busy doing other projects, but during that time these gatherings of friends were becoming more and more popular. It is clear that the appetite for being with happy people and remembering good times shows no signs of slowing down, and why should it? As I said, I've been away too long, but I'm looking forward to being back next month and sharing more of the life-affirming benefits of the Warm & Toasty Clubs 'Memory Afternoons'.