Creative writing course pays off for Telford pensioner

Published: September 8, 2017

A 96-year-old pensioner who honed her creative writing skills at Telford College has become one of the oldest writers in Britain to bring out a new publication.

Joan Barlow has written a book called Fractured Times, a poignant account of the effect of moving into a residential care home.

It pays tribute to the dedication of her carers at Farcroft, in Wellington, but also speaks of the difficulty in losing independence.

Talking of her old beloved bungalow, she says: “Then I could still shuffle from room to room to make a cuppa, or heat some soup for lunch.

“Now I am wheeled down to a large dining room where we all eat together. Some have to be fed with a spoon, like babies. I shudder.”

The book will resonate with many older people who find their lives completely changed by

Joan and her book.

Joan who attended a Telford College creative writing course is now a published writer.

having to go into a residential home.

Joan said: “I’m an independent woman and now I have to take orders from everybody. I have to abide by rules and regulations. Until you come here you haven’t any idea.

“On the other hand, when I get into bed I can pull a bell and have somebody to come and help me to the toilet, which I couldn’t do anywhere else. I get my food and general welfare.”

Her latest booklet, Fractured Times, is a reflection on her changed circumstances and includes wistful reminiscences of her old, disappeared world.

Her book provides just a little bit extra towards paying for her new circumstances which arose a year ago. “The story of the book is a transition from being independent, to dependency.”

In Fractured Times she says that for a long time she could not settle in this strange place away from her bungalow, or accept new ways and the routines of strangers.

“After six months or more I became reconciled to living with strangers, with other residents whose lives have been fractured like mine.

“They too have lost houses and homes that were once filled with memories. They have learned to accept this new life we share, this different life,” she writes.

Mrs Barlow took a creative writing course at Telford College, and several little books have been the result.

She is registered blind – she has a little sight in just one eye – and was a regular listener of East Shropshire Talking Newspaper, and her books have been serialised by that charity and put on CD.

“She is quite a remarkable lady,” said Robert Green, chairman of ESTN.

He says Fractured Times will also be serialised by the talking newspaper.

Mrs Barlow has the help of her friend Olga Merrick in translating her writings and memories into print. “It’s like doctor’s writing, but she can interpret it,” she says.

Story courtesy of The Shropshire Star

Telford College are still taking applications for anyone who wants to study GCSE English and maths. Please call us on 01952 642237. If yo don’t already have an A-C grade, you’re likely to get the course for free.