by Amelia King 25/08/2015
In my head, before all this began, were many experimental ethnographic techniques. These were going to be applied to my subjects like a teabag to water, colouring everything that we did together and making something new. Sitting there though, in the hall full of voices, I just wanted to listen. So I listened. And I asked some questions, and I made some tea. What I was interested in, which has always been essentially, the day to day experiences of those growing old, began to unfold themselves.
I learnt the routine of the place, from the setting out of tables to the packing them away. I learnt people's names, how they like their coffee, where they like to sit and how long they've been coming for. I began to learn more about people's lives outside of the morning, whether they have family or other friends. I learnt about their illnesses, how life is getting harder, how they sometimes feel alone.
And what becomes apparent, the more that I learn, is how important the morning is to people. How in the face of communities breaking down, bigger cities, migrated families, reduced mobility and decreasing health, organisations like Good Neighbours are, as in the words of many: A lifeline.