The Paisley Suite

A series of six, 30-45-minute, new monologues by Scottish writers exploring the lives and experiences of people in care and care settings with a strong accent on mental health, wellbeing and creative ageing.

The Monologues

  1. Teas & Tucks
  2. Lovely Peas
  3. Mr Connolly’s Last Vegas
  4. A Tale of Two Sisters
  5. The Registrar’s Last Entry
  6. Patient Sympatico

OUTLINES

Teas & Tucks
An experienced care worker spills the beans.

Ella is approaching that difficult time in her life, mid 50s and pondering early retirement. However, her life as a care worker sees her bound hand and foot to the care of some of the most vulnerable people in her community. She is single, overweight, works mainly nights and lives on takeaway food. Much as she loves her job, some of her clients are a nightmare. She always has a handy bottle of eye drops for those difficult clients. She’s not had much luck, been attacked by rabid dogs, had one or two falls in the snow and ice and just had the most awful diagnosis. In the final analysis, Ella decides it is time to wrestle with some of her life’s demons and spill the beans.

Lovely Peas
A misremembered memoir

Edna has been stuck at home for the last ten years caring for her dying husband Jim. Now that he is gone, she too has gone into a bit of decline. Whilst the lovely care worker pops in everyday to make her tea she cannot for the life of her remember her name. However always a cheery coper, Edna relishes that tea every night remarking on the ‘lovely peas’, the same lovely peas she has with every meal. Her memories of Jim are not so dim and here she recounts their life together, the humour, the sadness, their grown-up family long gone and uncaring who don’t visit.

Mr Connolly’s Last Vegas
An old man’s unfulfilled ambition
Wheelchair-bound Mr Connolly hankers to return to Las Vegas where he visited regularly in his years as a travelling salesman. Surrounded by a sea of golden trinkets and tacky paraphernalia, he is convinced he’s sitting on a goldmine. An inveterate gambler, Mr Connolly recounts the many tales of love and loss on the highway to fame and fortune. Sadly, he won’t ever revisit Vegas since his iron lung wouldn’t be suitable for travel and his mass collection of cigarette coupons are now invalid.

A Tale of Two Sisters
Or Whatever has happened to Sister Sarah

Stuck in her top floor high flat Josephine, a former thread mill worker, is raging because her care worker is late, her poor sister Sarah has collapsed on the hallway floor just out of sight, and the leccy has gone off. Convinced it’s the fuel strike of 1974 she is insistent that the care worker get down to Lyon’s coal shop for a bag of grade one smokeless. Sadly, it’s not just the coal shop that gone it’s the manner of her sisters’ untimely demise that reveals the terrible truth about these troubled siblings.

The Registrar’s Last Entry
A final fall from grace for this once fine gent

Mr Fleming lives alone in a grand Victorian house in Mansionhouse Terrace surrounded by his parent’s collection of grandfather clocks and priceless antiques. Years of dust, detritus and decay have put paid to the old range in his ancient kitchen and he can cook no more. Community meals come in everyday but on this day, Mr Fleming is nowhere to be seen. Fiercely independent he’s popped out in a taxi to Marks to get some quality nosh. Never mind the care workers almost breaking down the door out of sheer worry. After a long career as Registrar of Renfrewshire, he can tell many a tale of the odd cases he’s had to register. But it’s his final entry that reveals his frailty as he’s found face down in the jungle of his back garden amongst all the community meals he’s repeatedly thrown out to the birds.

Patient Sympatico
The final analysis for this feisty NHS key worker

Meet Norman, just turned 50 and fighting for life, his job and his patients. Norman is a middle-aged auxiliary nurse who is spending his 50th birthday fighting Covid-19 and onset lung cancer in the ward of his local hospital, The Royal Alexandra. A child of the Windrush generation, he’s used to standing up for himself, but now finds he’s the patient, totally dependent on round the clock care. What on earth will happen to him, his house, his job, his immigration status when he has nowt but a pot to piss in.

Rationale

Focus: age / elderly / creative ageing / care and care settings / loneliness /isolation / health and well-being / relationships.

Inspired by research undertaken during the Paisley 2021 bid by Steven Thomson. Outspoken Arts’ Creative Director recorded stories from retired and former care workers in Paisley, which created the premise of The Paisley Suite. The stories shared referenced to people living with dementia, in wheelchairs or the bedridden, some formerly with illustrious careers and interesting lives. Through talking to volunteers and elderly people at the Disability Resource Centre and ROAR Connections (Reaching Older Adults Across Renfrewshire) we met former care workers whose experiences were sharp and observed. In meetings with the writers identified we have explored the idea of updating these stories and issues of people in care. In addition to these stories, the writers wish to focus on extended family relationships and the duty of care that some, but not all, manage with varying degrees. From the research meetings we established a central figure of the Care Worker; acting as a repository of the multiple stories and experiences. It was also recognised that they too have a life disrupted by care work, working unsociable hours, late at night, sometimes walking miles between clients in outdoor, inclement and wintry conditions and vulnerable to attack. The writers feel that it is important to tell their story too. We feel it is important to focus and give voice to people not as victims of care, but as somehow transgressing their lives. How they overcame difficulty, eking out an existence, sometimes through frugal means, but retaining dignity and self-worth in a world that had largely forgotten them or overlooked their contributions. The writers are challenged to find humour, pathos and underlying truths about the characters to give sense of humanity in the face of adversity.

Why
Our call to action came about after learning that there were up to 3,000 Renfrewshire residents living with dementia. By research undertaken during the Paisley 2021 bid we became acutely alert of the growing national problem in care in the community. News reports of older people being abused by care workers and much coverage on the strain on the system for those in residential care. The Creative Director then approached the Scottish writers to see if they would take up the stories for theatrical production. We aim to explore through theatre the difficult experiences of our consultees that mirror the contemporary care worker; the low pay, the hard work, the multiple client portfolio leading to reduced time for care and attention. This work has been made even more timely and relevant given the experience of older people in the current Corona virus pandemic.

Genre
Theatre / New Writing

When
Spring 2021