Before leaving The Reader Organisation last week, our most recent Market Research Intern Shauna Waterman went along to one of our long-running and regular shared reading groups at Blackburne House in Liverpool City Centre. Here she shares her experience of the group:
Blackburne House runs a weekly Get Into Reading group, where you’re surrounded by great company with a chance to read aloud and enjoy some great literature. I had the chance to get involved and see what they were reading.
Blackburne House is a successful and vibrant organisation that has grown from a centre of education for women therefore the group, run by volunteer Pat Otty, is a women’s only group. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, with tea, biscuits and even crackers with Philadelphia (I ate a lot of this). A small group at the moment, Pat explained that there are usually a few regulars that come and enjoy the literature. We started the group with a short poem called Somebody by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Pat pointed out that when we finished it we were all just smiling at the page trying to figure it out. As it was confusing at first we tried reading it again and this time had a lot to discuss and talked about how the poem wasn’t dated and how relevant it could still be today.
Somebody being a nobody,
Thinking to look like a somebody,
Said that he thought me a nobody: Good little somebody-nobody,
Had you not known me a somebody,
Would you have called me nobody?
-‘Somebody’ Alfred Lord Tennyson
This led us into the text that the group have been reading together, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell. I’d never read the book before so Pat gave me the gist and told me it was set in the early 1900s and followed a man called Frank Owen who believes that the capitalist society he and his fellow workers are in is to cause of the poverty around them. It’s quite a large book and it has taken the group nearly a year to complete. With lots of political ideas throughout, the group stops often to discuss what they have just read. It was a very meaty book with lots to discuss. A part of it that stuck out for all of us was:
“In order that the men employed shall not have to work unpleasantly hard, and that their hours of labour may be as short as possible—at first, say, eight hours per day—and also to make sure that the greatest possible quantity of everything shall be produced, these factories and farms will be equipped with the most up-to-date and efficient labour-saving machinery.”
– Extract from ‘The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists’ by Robert Tressell
We thought about how today “labour-saving machinery” is a big part of our everyday lives e.g. self- check-out machines. We had a discussion and a good moan about how much easier it is to go to someone on a till and how the machines will have taken people out of a job. We talked about how people now live such busy lives that we have become far too impatient to even wait in line for to pay for our weekly shop. As a society we rely so much on technology that we forget that it often replaces human to human contact. It’s interesting that what Tressell wrote so many years ago can still ring true today.
The Blackburne House Get Into Reading group (women only) meets every Monday, 11am-12:30pm. So, come along for a cup of tea, a biscuit and good company. Take a break and immerse yourself in a good book.
Blackburne House can be found on the east side of Hope Street, Liverpool City Centre. Click here to access an online map and click here for directions to Blackburne House from Liverpool Lime Street station.