Colchester Memory Afternoon at Enoch House: Work and Early Life

12th, March 2018

We once again return to 'Enoch House' in Colchester, Essex to have the privilege of listening to and documenting memories.

Whereas last time the group got great enjoyment talking about food, this time around we were gathered in our circle to share our earliest memories of work and of becoming an adult.

Have a look at the bottom of the article for an audio podcast so you can get the whole experience.

The format remained the same, namely having residents in this retirement community sitting in a circle and sharing their stories. There is no pressure or obligation for people to get involved, but as with the last time people couldn't wait to get sharing.

When the residents started talking about their early life it became clear, that despite many momentous and tumultuous events that they had witnessed, there was a strong sense that people had a happy and fulfilled life. For example, just two weeks ago one of the residents was talking about the austere and impoverished foster care she received and how she had such vivid memories of "porridge, porridge, porridge". Now, that same resident, speaks of her happy memories of her family and of looking after her grandchildren. How she felt fulfilled by having children and of the joy that they brought and continue to bring as she gains more and more generations to her family.

"They are the really happy memories I will cherish"

There was another resident who had a similar assessment of her life. She spoke of how she left school and that being in the country meant that she was introduced to the land army, an organisation that was set up during the second world war to fill the largely agricultural jobs left by men who had gone to fight. She was offered a position of companion to a wealthy country lady. This experience profoundly shaped her and she was still grateful to this day.

"It's lovely to have a memory of the lovely life"

Other people shared tales of fascinating jobs, like one participant who spoke of how she used to hand paint the little matchbox cars that were such a feature of many children's childhood. Getting into work and preparing the inks is a little gem of a story that we were pleased to hear.

Connoisseurs of music history and equipment would appreciate the story of a resident who helped construct the Marshall amplifiers. They were (and indeed still are) used by some of the most famous names in the business including Roy Orbison, Cliff Richard and Hank Marvin. You could hear how much he loved that job and the pride he took in constructing these amplifiers. In fact, he would sign the inside of the case before it left the factory. So who knows, your favourite artist could be tuning their guitar on an amplifier containing the signature of this Colchester Memory Afternoon resident.

This particular memory afternoon took place at a time when Essex was experiencing extremely cold weather with numerous snow blizzards. This, unfortunately, made it impossible for the booked entertainment from getting to us at the memory afternoon. We were due to have a lovely female barbershop choir singing from us but the 'beast from the east' scuppered that plan. However, the cold weather didn't dampen peoples enthusiasm to tell tales and share stories. We had people wiping away tears of laughter as the stories were being shared. Having a regular event like this helps these residents hold on to a sense of wonder you would normally associate with the young, but when you have one resident wondering if she can still skip and then giving us a hilarious demonstration for the group you know you're doing something right. It's always a pleasure and a privilege to be a witness to these events and I can only hope that they last well into the future.