I arrived to find a state of excitement: they were celebrating my sweet old lady’s birthday. There was a birthday cake which was divided up amongst the company and devoured! My sweet old lady revealed she was born in 1914, before the Great War started (making her the oldest service user there), and a whip-round of dates established birth-years ranged from 1914 to 1926.
I asked who could remember Compton in the old days, in particular when the train ran through it on the disused railway line. After much muttering that it was a shame it had closed down, and realising that it was about 50 years ago, reminiscences abounded forth about how convenient it had been to get to Newbury to do a bit of shopping, how the pram could be stowed away in the guard’s van, and that everybody, particularly the children, enjoyed the day out.
Celebrations continued with glasses of wine and sherry, which resulted in pink cheeks, giggles and loosened tongues. One of the helpers described how naughty her little boy had been that morning, and, to the chagrin of one of the male service users, the subject developed into having babies and how home-births were normal in their day. One service user announced all her six children were born at home.
Next it was time for some keep-fit exercises, specially formulated to be accomplished sitting down. Everybody (except the put-out male service user who was still pouting about the baby-talk and simulated having a snooze) joined in with as must gusto as they could manage, accompanied to instructions and music from a tape. Much amusement arose when some went the wrong way, or got their left mixed up with their right.
Next was a general knowledge session, graduating from easy to quite difficult, with a large percentage of the questions answered correctly. Appreciation was shown when individual service users provided the correct responses, and a particular question about earthquakes in Japan woke up our snoozing male service provider who spitted out his vitriol about the Japanese during the War. It was important to reign back enthusiasm in answering the questions, to give the others a chance to think and answer first.
I left the service users tucking into fish and chips, a treat they all relished!
Listening is vital to receive the entire question or statement before you give an answer, so that you don’t get the wrong end of the stick. Concentration is needed, as well as immediate comprehension, to process the information listened to, in order to provide a relevant and suitable answer. Waiting your turn so others can get a chance, even if you know the answer, is not only good manners but a necessary discipline which should be cultivated and valued. Delaying your response until the end of the question or statement will enable all the facts to be gathered in before formulating your answer, guaranteeing its practicality and relevance. Pausing before speaking to gather your thoughts is another good trait, to prevent blurting out inappropriate comments.