Conversation - Personal history

Conversation between Peter (caregiver) and Mrs Jones (resident)

Situation: Peter engages Mrs Jones in a conversation and asks her to talk about aspects of her own life. Peter is aware of the importance of encouraging senior residents to remember their own past experiences.

Audio: Listen to the audio file here.

Grammar points:

Reported speech

Past perfect

Persons: Peter (caregiver), Mrs Jones (resident)

Location: Care facility sitting room

Peter: Hello Mrs Jones, did you enjoy your lunch.
Mrs Jones: Yes it was delicious, I always enjoy cooked meat and vegetables.
Peter: What are you reading?
Mrs Jones: It's a book about a group of young Girls working in a Mill. The stories are interesting but they had to work for many hours in those days. Some of them were very young too.
Peter: How old were you when you started work?
Mrs Jones: I was fourteen, which was quite normal then.
Peter: Can you tell me about your first Day at work?
Mrs Jones: Of course, I always enjoy talking about the past. I remember my fist day quite well, I'd just had my fourteenth birthday. Like most people I finished school on Friday and started work the following Monday.
Peter: So you didn't have any time to relax?
Mrs Jones: No, we hadn't got enough money to pay for a holiday in those days. Most people hadn't.
Peter: Where did you work?
Mrs Jones: My first job was at the Dunlop factory where they made tyres for cars and bicycles. When I started working there my mother had already worked there for twenty years. She had worked there since she left school at fourteen.
Peter: Did she want you to work there?
Mrs Jones: She said that if it was good enough for her, it was also good enough for me.
Peter: So what happened on your first day?
Mrs Jones: I'd visited the factory the week before I started, so I had already met the person in charge, my boss. His name was Mr. Grimes and I don't think he liked me very much when I first started.
Peter: Oh really, why was that?
Mrs Jones: We had to start work at 6am, which was very early for me. We were supposed to process about 60 tyres per hour, cutting the extra rubber off each one using a machine.
Peter: That sounds like hard work.
Mrs Jones: It was not hard once you got used to it, but at the start I was very slow. At lunchtime Mr. Grimes came round to check my work. Most of the women had done two hundred and fifty tyres by then, I had only done a hundred and fifty.
Peter: Did you get in trouble?
Mrs Jones: Yes he shouted at me in front of the other women. He told me I was one of the slowest workers he'd ever seen. He also said I needed to speed up or I would get my cards.
Peter: What does that mean?
Mrs Jones: It means you would lose your job.
Peter: Were you upset?
Mrs Jones: Yes, I had worked as hard as I could all through the morning. Also my machine had stopped just before lunch.
Peter: So what happened?
Mrs Jones: One of the ladies sat with me at lunch, her name was Ivy. She said that Mr. Grimes was always mean to the new girls. It was nothing personal.
Peter: Did that make you feel better?
Mrs Jones: Yes, I had thought about leaving when he was telling me off.
Peter: But you didn't?
Mrs Jones: No I stayed there for nearly twenty years. When I got back from lunch my machine had been repaired. Mr. Grimes was waiting at the machine.
Peter: What did he say?
Mrs Jones: Nothing. Before he could speak Ivy told him to leave me alone and promised him that she would see that I did enough tyres?
Peter: Did you process enough tyres?
Mrs Jones: Not for the first few weeks. But the other women gave me some of their tyres so that I could make the amount.
Peter: That was very kind of them.
Mrs Jones: Yes it was. When I had been there for some time and got faster myself, I used to do the same for some of the other new girls.
Peter: Didn't you meet your husband at that factory?
Mrs Jones: Yes I did. He had worked there for around two years when I started working there.
Peter: Had you worked there long before you met him?
Mrs Jones: He used to fix the machines in the factory so I saw him almost every day. He never spoke to me though. One of the older women who knew him told me he wanted to take me to the cinema.
Peter: How long had you worked at the factory for by then?
Mrs Jones: Over two years, I was already sixteen.
Peter: So you went to the cinema with him?
Mrs Jones: Yes I did, but not the first time I was asked. I had refused twice before I agreed to go. I didn’t know if I wanted a sweetheart.
Peter: A sweetheart?
Mrs Jones: Yes that's what we used to call a boyfriend in those days.
Peter: And then you were married?
Mrs Jones: We got married when I was 18. We were married for just over fifty years.
Peter: That is a long time.
Mrs Jones: Yes we were lucky. My husband told me he had known that he wanted to marry me the first time he saw me at the factory, my first day at work.
Project number: 543336-LLP-1-2013-1-DE-KA2-KA2MP - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.