Session 1

Friday 28th Oct 2016

Went to see Phil and Janet to try to get an angle on the direction of my research. Before I went I wrote a list of words from the rounds we do at SftB, wondering whether, if they were difficult for Phil to remember, singing the song might help. I tried ‘daffodil’ and ‘pigs’.

I set the context first for Phil by asking him if he remembered what the yellow flowers that come out in Spring were called. He nodded and gave the impression that he knew what I was talking about (although, as I discovered during the session, that is not always an accurate indicator).

I sang ‘I like the flowers. I love the -’ and didn’t sing ‘daffodils’ He appeared to recognise the tune but couldn’t come up with the word ‘daffodil.’ I gave it to him three or four times in the context of the song and he repeated the word, but couldn’t say it independently. I then showed him a picture and he said ‘daffodil’ immediately. When I returned to it 20 minutes later, he couldn’t say it, even with the picture.

With ‘pigs’, I sang, ‘Whose —- are these? Whose —- are these?

They are John Potts’, you can tell them by their spots

And we found them in the vicarage garden.’

Again, Phil appeared to recognise the song, but couldn’t find the word, ‘pig’. I sang it for him in the song, but he appeared to have lost concentration and just nodded and said, ‘yes’. I showed him a picture of a pig and he referred to it as a ‘goat’. I told him it was a pig, and he repeated, ‘goat’. I got the impression he was getting tired – I know I was!

There was, however, more conversation after this; this consisted of old stories from when he was younger – stories, according to Janet, that he tells everyone. So while I was impressed and heartened by his willingness to talk, I also wanted to try to get him to talk about more recent events. I asked him what he had done the day before and he couldn’t really remember. Normally he would have visited his daughter, Hannah and grandson, Aneurin in Bristol, but he hadn’t been well so he didn’t go. He thought he had gone. He also couldn’t remember his daughter or grandson’s names, but did remember that they lived in Bristol. He also remembered that his son lived in Bournemouth. He accidentally said Bournemouth instead of Bristol, when talking about Hannah, but realised he had the wrong place and said so.

Janet mentioned that at SftB sessions, Phil was able to sing along to the songs at the end with the aid of the songbook, but he couldn’t read the words of the songs, without singing them. This is an interesting idea and one that I want to pursue. Phil liked folk music in the 1960s and 70s and knew a lot of the standard folk songs from that time (The Wild Rover, The Leaving of Liverpool, etc). Janet also mentioned that he has a Spinners CD that he enjoys.

Next session:

  • Have short, typed and hand-written passages which I ask Phil to read aloud – not song lyrics.
  • Have song lyrics, typed and hand-written that I ask Phil to read aloud.
  • Read through the song lyrics aloud with Phil – does it make a difference?
  • Sing the song with Phil, (unaccompanied) reading from the words.
  • Sing the song with Phil (with guitar) reading from the words.
  • Sing along with the Spinners!