The Reading Room 5th Visit : Whist Drive and progress


I am writing this  at the end of July 2015  but the events below were taking place  in a build up to the general Election on May 7th and follow the Scottish Referendum earlier in the year.

Because I’m writing this retrospectively, have a poor memory and ‘ a day is a long time in politics’ I can’t remember much else… though it may be written in my note book.

I’m sure that UK and world news as well as events at home and work had an influence on what I was recording and how, but I did not make it a conscious decision.

Interestingly, I did look up ‘news for April 9th 2015’ and this is what I found on Duck duck go.

The War in Yemen is getting worse- and a civilian catastrophe is looming

All the time I was developing this work ( thing this had already started )I felt increasingly a sense of connectedness with Yemen and had been researching Dijibouti and their possible virtual and communications connection to Croughton.

The village seems so separate in some ways not exactly isolated but detached, but the Reading Room was gifted in 1903 by local landowner so that the men of the village could meet and read the news in newspapers, and discuss it together.

5th Visit: 9th April 2015 : evening and morning Reflections on Ritual and community

This evening I visited the Reading Room for a whist drive.

I have never played whist but know from tales about elderly relatives that it can be a ruthless game.

I was interested in the sense of community within the room before and during the game.

The way at the ‘All Change’ command the winner moves on to the next table ( have I got that right?).

The levels of play, some experienced player can remember what each player has played and so what is left in the hands still being played on the table.

The ritual associated with the layout and the activities, the raffle and the refreshments.

There is no conversation during play.

I filmed some video from this session and there are some stills as well as photographs which are just documentation really rather than material.

Though since working on all this I realise that Richard, in particular, and Jane because of the sense of attachment they have to the Reading Room, really would like to see any video or photographs of the Reading Room, regardless of whether I feel they are any ‘good’!

Again, this is a difficult situation for me as I have a desire and need to make people happy and want to please them with what I make.

However, this of course is work for me, for my research and my project.

Unlike when I am paid to do community work.. where I do things for people to ‘enjoy’ and engage with, this has an element of that but is really for me….or is it…?

Is it mutually beneficial? does that matter?

Is this for the community or am I using the community?

Another issue is Story-telling and narrative.

When I started this project I did think about getting home after every visit and just writing what I could remember rather than recording through images or video.

The video I am recording has a strong sense of surveillance to me- as if the Reading Room is watching the events within it.

Also, especially in the video where there is camera noise and other unedited video I often move the camera a little bit to adjust the image.

This makes it obvious that there is an observer. It stops the immediacy and emphasises the mediation through film.

I guess this is a bit of both. I’m not really sure what i am doing here. Just engaging with the community in this place and when I am not here, researching other things that are relevant to the area and Croughton/ RAF Croughton.

I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable as I am becoming increasingly attached to the Reading Room, the community and feel my analysis through my work may not be what they expect.

At the Whist Drive, Richard told the assembled throng that I was filming for a course I was doing and that if anybody objected to being filmed to tell me.

Nobody did  ( although the video has recorded a joke { I hope}  ‘ I object’! ) but people asked what I was doing and I tried to explain….without going into too much detail.

Am I really unsure where this is leading or do I have a goal that I am hiding form myself.

There are increasing feelings of conflict, which is good I think when making work….if somewhat uncomfortable.

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Before the Whist Drive, in the morning I had visited to see the preparations.

The stained glass reflections on the wooden floor are beautiful and chapel -like.

I could see why Jane and Richard feel what they do about the building; why they try to keep it ‘alive’, desperately trying to raise money for the next renovation.

It had been thick curtains for the winter to keep the heat in and next is the guttering which Richard will repair in his own time, but will be funded for these activities.

This time I spent some time looking at the books in the corridor where there is a make-shift library.

It reminded me of the one in the phone box on South Bar and the one we saw in Lewisham during the low- res.

I looked at some of the books more carefully.

Previously I’d just used them to prop up the camera and make it a little higher…. feeling that I was using part of the building to film.

There was one very interesting, well travelled book on Italian Painting, along with Adkins diet and Tom Clancy.

Jane makes home- baked cakes for the coffee morning but for the whist Drive I seem to recollect there was a meat raffle.

I didn’t win.

When i went round on the Tuesday morning before the Coffee Morning, I called at the house as she was busy baking.

The house was filled with the scent of warm cakes, and oven.

I’m really enjoying my trips to Croughton and have a sense of ‘ belonging’.

This could make the detachment needed to make a piece of work difficult, but as I am unsure of my direction and just allowing it to be dictated by the space it isn’t a problem at all… I’ll just observe it.

Buut I do feel a little uncomfortable and as is if there is a level of deception.


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