Yvonne’s Story: “It’s like a therapy for your mind. It relaxes your mind to have something different to think about.”
Yvonne moved to England from Jamaica in the 1970s and worked as a nurse for many years. She joined a telephone Shared Reading group during lockdown, after she found out about The Reader from Age UK Bristol. Since then, she has been reading with the group almost every week . At time of recording, Yvonne had been outside only a few times in the last year.
When I first heard about Shared Reading I really didn’t think I would get into the habit of sharing and I didn’t think I would get any interaction from it. I didn’t think it would lead to something that feels like a hobby. Each week now, my brain connects with the reading so when it comes to a Thursday, my brain is ticking over. So I look forward to sharing it and it’s so nice listening to the different voices and the different inputs from each other from reading a story and the way everyone treats it in their own way. I find the stories very, very interesting.
There was one story about a lady who had a son that kept stealing from his employer. The mother talked to him about his behaviour but when the boss caught him red handed he called the mother. He went home with his mum and she was so distraught that she didn’t realise that she hadn’t dressed properly because she was so distressed. Then the son caught his mum talking about him and he could see how unhappy he had made his mum. It leads to showing the interest and care that his mum shows. She was really fighting for him to keep his job. We were all talking in the group of how children behave and misbehave.
There was this poem. It was about the daffodils (Miracle on St David’s Day). The daffodils for me are about the beautiful colours and when they are open they are relaxing and I always like to see the butterflies flying around, sucking the nectar out of the daffodils. I could look at a whole field of daffodils, driving out on a coach trip, a day trip and passing all these homes where there are huge daffodils and big gardens, and I can imagine just lying down in that field on a hot summer day.
We don’t have daffodils in Jamaica but when I came to England, that was one of the colours that I really love to plant in my garden. I just love daffodils. It reminds me of when I first arrived in England and I suffered a lot of racism and looking at my daffodils helped me then. Reading about the daffodils reminds me of those misery days and the fear, and you need a bit of peace and tranquillity around you. Reading the poem reminds me of those times. It brings a form of tranquillity. After reading it, I can sit there reflecting on the daffodils and the story. Even though it reminds me of sadness, it brings out joy and contentment of mind. My mind becomes relaxed and more peaceful and less angry. More of a happiness. Daffodils means a lot. They stand out for me more than any other flowers in the garden.
The reading has made a lot of difference in lockdown because I mostly just read scriptures because I am a Christian and I read my Bible. It gave me something else to occupy my mind so I’m not reading the same things all the time. I find it very therapeutic. It’s like a therapy for your mind. It relaxes your mind to have something different to think about. It’s like meeting somebody else, like going out with a coffee and talking about all sorts of things. I’m not able to go out for coffee or lunch like before so it’s like having those people. It’s very, very supportive for me. It’s been good for my brain as it tried to work things out.
Because of lockdown my mind stays in one place. You get up, you cook, you eat, you go to bed and my mind was becoming too boring. Shared Reading is something I look forward to. Each week, my interest builds up. The stories change each week and reading for me is very interesting - you need to see things in other ways. For me it’s about what I’m missing from outside.