“The Particular” seeks to unleash the commonplace wisdom, memories, insights and secrets of a generation who have much to share, but are not often asked to talk about it. The series sets out to document a rich tapestry of life from a selection of subjects, primarily in the communities of West Surrey and North East Hampshire – in their own voice, capturing a slice of their lives while we have the chance, and taking delight in celebrating the small, the everyday, and the particular aspects of their past lives, and special events they may have lived through. In the process, it seeks to encourage more of us to talk to each other, and more importantly, listen.
Explaining the idea behind the show, producer Paul Simpson said;
“I am making this show to make sure we do not lose the stories and experiences of a special generation, especially when we have the technology available to document them in their own words. In doing so, not only do we create a story-powered programme, we create content with which we can reach out to older generations with, to involve them in digital media, and help promote digital literacy using their interest in the content. It gives the participants the opportunity to tell some of their own story in their own words, and so democratise access to the media to a group of people who have been particularly excluded from the digital space. The programme is not just for the older generation. It seeks to reach out across the generations, with valuable lessons for us all, generating emotional responses to very real life experiences.”
Seven episodes of the podcast were made, and you can listen to each one below:
Episode 1: Ruby’s story
In episode one, Ruby Bassett, of Yateley, Hampshire shares the story of how she was abandoned by her Mum at the age of seven years old.
“She just gave me a note one day. She said, ‘Take your dollies’ pram, and take this note down to Granny’. So I said ‘Ok’. Seven years old, you don’t think nothing. It was a long, long walk. By the time I got down there, she read it, and she grabbed my hand and we raced all the way back up to the village. But it was too late. My Mum had got on a bus and gone. So, she’d got that all planned out.” For more, click here.
Episode 2: Brendan’s story
Brendan McEnhill is in his 80s, but can still be found playing the violin and clarinet regularly for residents of care homes in Farnham, Surrey and the surrounding area. Brendan is a natural storyteller, with an eventful life to draw upon and share in this second episode.
“We shared the stage in the Castle Ballroom, Banbridge with Jerry Lee Lewis. We shared the stage of the Boom Boom Room in Belfast with Bill Haley and the Comets,” he enthuses, about some of his earlier music performances, together with his brother. “They were so nice these people. They helped us carry our gear in!”
Brendan reveals that he first took up music at the age of seven, and was on the BBC by the age of eleven!
“When I was 11, I got a call that I could go to the BBC in Belfast, to play a tune on Children’s Hour. You used to have children from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, but it was very rare for a boy from Donegal to get on the BBC.” Click here for more.
Episode 3: Blanche’s story
Blanche Rogers of Yateley is 74, and in her story documents many of the social changes which have impacted on everyday life across the UK in the 20th and 21st centuries.
She begins with powerful testimony about the death of her father when she was just two years old, falling into a threshing machine in one of the fields around Yateley – an accident unlikely to happen today with much tighter health and safety at work.
“He was walking along the side of it in hobnailed boots and he slipped into the mechanism of it and it trapped him by the legs. By the time they got up Yateley [Cottage] Hospital to get the equipment to go down there and cut his legs off, one from his knee, and one from his ankle, and got him to Reading Hospital, well he died within quarter of an hour of being in there.”
Listen to much more about moving from nissen huts into new council housing after WWII; post-war education, and working in the ‘rags factory’ – click here.
Episode 4: Wendy’s story
Episode 4 is the story of Wendy Shaw, nee Claw. Wendy spent much of her childhood in Minley, Hampshire, before moving just up the road to Yateley. Her immediate family also lived in Blackwater.
Wendy begins by telling listeners how she lived in what was believed to be Colonel Blood’s house at Minley Warren. She tells of the many famous bands that used to stop off there as part of their tours, at the night she ran at the Old Manor Club, at Blackwater.
Wendy leaves the most powerful of her testimony to her last two stories. She reveals how her Nan was knocked-down off her bicycle by two army officers on the A30, when cycling between her two cleaning jobs at The Swan in Blackwater, and The Ely, on Yateley Common. Worse than that, getting out of their car, and discovering she was still alive, they scooped her ‘up’ off the road, and threw her into a ditch to die.
And, she shares the story of discovering how her father was not the same man she had come to know as Dad, or who was the father of her brother and sister (and her Mum’s husband), but was in fact one of the Canadian Air Force stationed at RAF Hartford Bridge (now Blackbushe) during WWII – a familiar story for a small group of people born in Yateley around that time.
A ‘must-listen’ if you live in Yateley or Minley – and a fascinating story even if you don’t! It’s got it all – bluebell woods; 60’s glamour; whirlwind romance; music; fashion; murder; historical locations – and a wartime baby. Click here for more details – and photos!
Episode 5: John’s story
As much as the specific episodes in his life, John Carter’s story is about the little things, and the values that have come to shape his life. John’s is a truly particular story, of dedicated service to family, community, company, club, and country. He was born in the 1930s in Blackwater. His family heralds from Eversley, and he has spent most of his life living in Yateley, Hampshire.
His story includes National Service in the 1950s, with time serving in Malaya. He talks about life driving the lorries and collecting the milk churns from the farms, and the high regard with which he held his employers, the Milk Marketing Board. And he recalls his time spent volunteering for Aldershot Town Football Club. Full details, and photos, click here.
Episode 6: Our story
Episode 6 of The Particular is an opportunity for us to explain a little of our story – what we were trying to achieve with the series, and when we put a call out for listeners to get in touch if they knew anyone, whether a member of their family, a friend, or neighbour (or themselves!), who might be interested in sharing their story. Click here for more.
A collage featuring our first five guests: Wendy (left); John (top centre); Blanche (centre); Brendan (top right) and Ruby (bottom right).
Episode 7: Dr Lister’s story
The final part of the series features the story of Dr. Lister. Dr. Lister will be well known to many people locally in Yateley, having been a GP in the town for 25 years, but has now been retired for 14 years.
He takes the opportunity to share experiences which span at least three continents, having previously spent time after university in southern Africa (where he once had breakfast with a young Robert Mugabe!); having been a medical missionary in India; and worked as surgeon in Sweden and Denmark, before returning to the UK to become a GP in the 1980s. For much more detail, click here.