Today I went to the Ashley Care Home in Morningside along with Anne and Fran, my fellow authors from the Scottish Book Trust’s Stories of Home anthology, to read to the residents. They’d loved the book so much they’ve asked if authors can come every week and read to them, which is fantastic- but also a bit nerve-wracking.
I hadn’t read my story aloud before today. Three years ago, I read my work out to a creative writing class for the first time, and it was terrifying. But in the cosy surroundings of the care home, it was much more relaxing. At least, it was once I got going. It’s actually quite scary, sitting at a table facing a crowd of people who look variously confused or unimpressed, like the poor chap who wanted to know if we’d be more than five minutes in case his oxygen tank ran out. Good practice for future readings, I guess.
The thing is, though, they really loved our stories, and so did the staff. There’s maybe something about stories, like music, that sparks memories. As Monika, the home’s activities coordinator, said, a lot of the residents might not remember what they had for lunch but could dredge up memories from decades ago. This happened in a really lovely way when one of the gentlemen announced that, as a young man, he’d written a poem, then proceeded to recite it from memory. Our jaws hit the floor. It was such a beautiful poem too, and I wish I’d recorded it somehow. We also coaxed some nice reminiscing from Oxygen Guy, who heard that Fran’s book was set in a 50s mining community. He said it was sad the industry had gone, and wasn’t it nice that they used to keep homing and racing pigeons. It was great to see his face light up when I told him our area was near a mine and our neighbours keep homing pigeons that preen and strut round, doing lovely aerial displays. All in all, I think the residents had a great time, so it was well worth bussing across town for.
It’s been so long since I even looked at my story (and I did mention it once or twice last year…) and it was a real boost to remind myself that this was the first time I was actually published, six months after moving back to Edinburgh to try this whole writing lark. And to see just how much the community appreciates your work warms the cockles of your heart, so it does. There’ll be a new book this autumn themed round Journeys, and I can’t wait to see the reaction from the public. For now, I’ll content myself with the lashings of tea and cake we received, and the unexpected bottle of wine we all got which I’ll crack open for my third wedding anniversary tonight. Thanks, Scottish Book Trust ❤