The Canterbury Festival Wise Words Groups are now on their way. It’s such an interesting project, and I’m just full of admiration for all the students facilitating the very different groups. Next step the festivals, but it’s important sometimes to take a step back and remember what it’s like at the beginning of any new project.
So thank you to Delphine Lever, from Canterbury Christ Church University, who has written this following piece to share about what it’s like to be thrown in at the deep end! It shows just why we’re so lucky to have her on our team – it’s honest, funny and fresh. Oh, and wise!
On the Way to Wise Words
By Delphine Lever
Anyway, so there I was, on the train, really excited. It felt like I was going on holiday, I had the thrill of the travel and a cup of hot chocolate. I settled down into it and waited to arrive. Just then I saw someone sidle into a seat diagonally opposite, and knew, sensed, that they wanted my attention (eyes boring, that sort of thing) and as I looked up I saw it was my daughter’s, friend’s mum.
‘Hi’, I said, and the rest of the journey is history. We discussed all sorts, children, men, money, dancing, what to call a hamster and the fact that the skin on the top of my knee seems to overhang slightly now. I wondered if Rachel’s knee skin was doing the same? It wasn’t, she said. As we talked she plucked the hairs out of her chin and I felt a tad queasy. I put my chocolate down.
Then the ticket lady walked up to us and as we rummaged frantically through all the shite in our bags, she said, ‘Have you just been to the toilet?’
What? What sort of question was that?
‘Blimey, they normally just ask for your ticket’, I said.
Anyway neither of us had just been to the toilet so we replied, ‘No, we haven’t’.
A few minutes later she announces over the tannoy, ‘If you have just used the ladies toilet can you please come to speak to the train supervisor as you may have left something behind’?
‘Oh, it must have been someone losing their handbag’ my mate says as we see said supervisor walking back down the aisle with a really snazzy handbag that didn’t quite go with her masculine train inspectors garb.
‘Can you imagine, losing your handbag? Puts the fear of God into you doesn’t it… it’s got your life in it, your handbag’.
‘Yeah I’d rather lose one of the kids’. My mate says.
20 minutes later and I was in Canterbury, much too early but I thought I might have a saunter.
I had taken my time to get ready. Well that’s a bit of a lie, I had thought of nothing much else for about a week. What to wear? Dress up? dress down? Make up? Jewellery? Perhaps even a little neckerchief, but then again… I didn’t want to look a twat. I’d decided on a flouncy affair, not my usual taste but it seemed fitting somehow, I’d never been to a launch before; I’d certainly never had anything personally to do with a launch. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was suitably attired and hot to trot. I sauntered for a while but it was boring, much too boring for someone with such a purpose, I stopped the sauntering and plunged in.
I say plunged because that’s exactly what I did. I left the bright sunshine of a May day and stepped down into the abyss of a cold, dark cave. I recognised someone, I’d seen her at a phonics workshop, so I bee lined my way straight up to her. I wasn’t quite ready for putting myself out there yet. We chatted, then the lovely Virginia said hello to us and her enthusiasm and verve fed into the heart of me. I had a good feeling about this. We all snuggled into a side cave and sat in the chill of it. Ali, all fun and bubble, said we were to go round introducing ourselves, you know the sort of thing…. ‘Hi I’m Delph and I love the crack a spot gives as it opens onto my mirror!’ Well obviously that wasn’t what I wanted for my introduction so as I scratched around for something interesting to wow them all with Ali said, ‘We’ll start with you Delph.’
No, no, no Ali. Not enough time. You’ve chosen a loose cannon. Too soon, too late….
‘Oh heelloo’, Good God I’d gone all Frankie Howard and I knew then and there that I wasn’t going to fool this lot. I prattled on in my pantomime patter; I’d started so I’d finish.
We went round and Ali said she loved pink and wine and I felt an instant affinity, I loved wine.
We learnt a little more about the Wise Words project, it just seemed so amazing and wonderful that I was a little overwhelmed by it all. Why was I here? An imposter. When I first heard about the project I was immediately tempted by it. I had always loved writing but when people talked of their ‘work’ I could only mumble about my scribblings, diary entries that sort of thing. But so many funny things happen it seems a shame not to keep them. I really love working with people of all ages and the idea of an intergenerational project seemed inspired, if a little daunting. I have had a lot of experience of working with young people, not so much with older, but I was excited by the prospect and extremely pleased when picked to take part.
I chatted to people as they came in; everyone seemed very friendly, interesting and interested. I drank a glass of wine.
We then listened to Sarah and Patricia read some of their work and I felt humbled by it. This is what it’s about, how to do it. I drank another glass of wine.
I chatted to the others on the project then, when almost everyone else had gone, I felt it time to leave.
I’ll give it a good try this project. It’s so exciting. I’m extremely lucky to be part of it. I really hope I can inspire some people to write.
Please note that if you are not part of the groups – or indeed even if you are – we would very much welcome your Wise Words to incorporate into our work. Please leave them, and see others, here. Thank you!