Hull Literature Festival 2004 
 the humber mouth  19th June - 4th July 2004

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The Book is Always Better Than the Film

A collection of essential advice, pearls of wisdom and lessons learnt from the lives of older people in Hull, to pass on from their generation to the rest.

Have you ever thought, I wish I'd known that when I was young? Ever since I was a teenager I have recorded the gems of knowledge and advice that I have discovered or created, with the hope of one day passing it on to any children that I may have. (Instead of jewellery.) My insights so far range from a secret technique for getting candle wax out of carpets, to the absolute truth that the book is always better than the film. My aim is to offer the opportunity for a similar social legacy for the older people of the region.

Participants are local residents from a variety of locations, over the age of fifty, who were happy for me to visit them in their place of residence or fill in a paper form and return it to me. They were invited to contribute their best piece of advice, the most valuable lesson they have learned or anything they wish they had known when they were young. Contributions are flippant, profound, or anything in between, and participants can interpret the word 'best' however they choose, be it in terms of usefulness, happiness or a historical tip-off, enabling readers to avoid making the same mistakes that they did.

Those participating are asked to complete simple, optional questions in the following format:




Area you live in:

What is the best piece of advice you can pass on from your own experience?


How could this have helped you if you'd known this when you were a young person?


Participants are free to share more than one contribution, should they wish, and to give as much or as little personal information as they are comfortable with. Whilst not necessarily original, these responses should be based on personal experience, rather than something that impressed, but was overheard or read.

Following these could save time, money and effort. Just reading them could provide the audience with a sense of community, and enhanced understanding of local people and culture, a greater understanding of older people, as well as genuine guidance and pleasure.

If you would like to contribute your own pearls of wisdom to this project please e-mail [email protected]

Louise Chapman

Summary of contributions to date

General wisdom and happiness (apologies, legacies and Roman poets)
Accumulated years of wisdom: 759

Try everything once, because you learn by your mistakes (Dot, 76)

Don't shout about your achievements: its more effective to let someone else do it for you (KD, 53)

During your life commit to something that was there before you were born and something that will remain after you die (PD, 50)

Don't drink and drive (Steve, 55)

Get what you want out of life and once you've got what you want, enjoy what you've got. Only the wise achieve this. (Steve, 50)

Eight words that can transform your life forever: 'our life is what our thoughts make it'. These words were spoken over 2,000 years ago by Marcus Aurelius, a Roman poet. (Ronald, 69)

Live for this day, don't worry about tomorrow (Ronald, 69)

There are more important things in life (Tony, 51)

Today is the first day of the rest of your life (Trish, 50)

Yesterday is the past and gone, tomorrow is unknown, but today is a gift, that's why we call it the present (Trish, 50)

If you want something doing, ask a busy person (Anon, 53)

Think not twice, but five times, before making any major moves in life (Eileen, 66)

Never be too proud to say you're sorry (Sarah, 83)

Whatever you do in life, exert the maximum amount of patience that you can (Harry, 84)

Trust in the Lord, because it works (Anon, 53)

Enjoy life, because you're a long time dead (Anon, 53)

Decisions and opinions formed in early life are inevitable open to modification later. This applies to everyone: it should not therefore inhibit a positive approach. One should not be afraid to view things differently with the passage of time. It should give confidence in making up one's mind, given that at a later stage a different opinion is acceptable (Wes, 66)

Take pleasure in the small things in life (Anon, 53)

Health and beauty (from warts and wrinkles to wasp stings and colds)
Accumulated years of wisdom: 482

You can get rid of warts by rubbing red meat on it, then bury the meat in the garden and by the time it rots, the wart will be gone (Dot, 76)

You can get rid of warts by rubbing the red end of a match on it (Dot, 76)

You can get rid of warts by cutting them off with a razor blade (George, 76)

You can ease sore throats with one teaspoon of butter, sugar and vinegar mixed together (Dot, 76)

Never wear high-heeled or wooden shoes, because they will damage your feet and legs (Dot, 76)

Don't wear a bra, then your titties will pull all of the wrinkles out of your face (Anon, 76)

Put vinegar in the water when you're washing windows to make them shine (Sarah, 83)

To prevent catching a cold, put a block of camphor in a bag and wear it round your neck (Sarah, 83)

Put vinegar on a wasp sting (Sarah, 83)

Keep yourself fit (Harold, 81)

Stay away from drugs (Harold, 81)

If you have a cold, take quinine (Marjorie, 90)

Wealth (not necessarily the path to happiness)
Accumulated years of wisdom: 326

Don't go out with dirty men unless they have a yacht in the Med (Dot, 76)

Spend your money yourself instead of giving it away to someone else (George, 76)

Yes money helps, but to be happy and content is more important (Trish, 50)

Appeasement gives rise to further demands (Brian, 71)

Get your money spent because there's no pockets in a shroud (Anon, 53)

Work (Education, dedication and the glass ceiling)
Accumulated years of wisdom: 537

Be careful before taking on any position in the Health Service. Too much red tape and having to take abuse from patients of all ages (Celia, 60)

If you find a good boss, stay with them and show them respect (Dot, 76)

You are never too old to learn something new (Dot, 76)

If you can't do your job right, leave so that someone else can (George, 76)

When asked a favour, always say "I'll get back to you" to give yourself time to decide without pressure (Josie, 60)

If you're idle, things never go wrong (Sarah, 83)

The hardest thing to say is 'no,' so practice (Anon, 53)

Do not assume that dedication and competence in an employment situation will ensure recognition and advancement (female employees) (Judy, 62)

To educate yourself as far as you can go (Sylvia, 67)

Relationships (Family, marriage and all kinds of tears)
Accumulated years of wisdom: 539

We should be big enough to accept the surprises that upset our plans, and give the Father the freedom to weave the pattern of our days (Sylvia, 74)

Never get married (Peter, over 50)

If you haven't got patience, it is something you should cultivate, especially before marriage (Harry, 84)

Keep in touch with your family (Harold, 81)

Someone once said, "laugh, and the world laughs with you. Cry, and you cry alone." To laugh and to smile wins hearts and friends. Boy, have I had some good laughs with my family and friends. Laughter helps keep you young (Wendy, 69)

Ensure that verbal communication with people is effective, particularly effective listening (Ken, 62)

Decisions and opinions formed in early life are inevitably open to modification later. This applies to everyone: it should not therefore inhibit a positive approach. One should not be afraid to view things differently with the passage of time (Wes, 66)

'Never say never' is not original, but totally true (Wes, 66)

Don't trust men who bite their fingernails (Anon, 53)

If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours (Anon, 53)

Treat others as you would like to be treated (Anon, 53)

If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all (Anon, 53)

Domestic life (Dancing, gardening and lots of stains)
Accumulated years of wisdom: 447

Learn sequence dancing (Marjorie, 90)

Learn ballroom dancing (Dot, 76)

Talk to your plants and they will grow more. It's true! (Dot, 76)

Get ink out of fabrics with an ice cube (Sarah, 83)

Clean your leather garments with saddle soap (Sarah, 83)

Putting soda crystals in your laundry will keep your laundry soft and your pipes free from limescale (Sarah, 83)

Use cold, not hot, water to get 'organic' stains out of fabric (wine, food, blood, etc) (Anon, 69)

Always treat your husband like your eldest son (Anon, 53)

Don't hit your mother, because your hand will wag above the grave! (Anon, 53)

If you make the beds, upstairs is tidy, if you set the fire, the room is tidy, if you wash the pots, the kitchen's tidy (Anon, 53)

Accumulated years of wisdom: 378

When rubbing in butter, keep going until its like fine breadcrumbs (Sarah, 83)

Always put an egg in whatever you're baking (Sarah, 83)

Dot's Easy Christmas pudding

1lb mincemeat
1 egg
2 oz self-raising flour

Slop and stir all the ingredients. Steam for two hours

Dot's Date and walnut loaf

1lb plain flour
� lb sugar
� lb soft margarine
� lb stoned chopped dates
2 oz walnuts
1 large egg
1� tsp bicarbonate of soda
1� cups of boiling water

Add the dates and bicarbonate of soda to the water and mix. Mix the margarine and flour together, then add the sugar, nuts, egg and date mixture and stir together well. Grease and line two large loaf tins and pour the mixture evenly between them. Cook in a medium oven (325 F). When the cakes spring back from being pressed with a thumb, they are ready. Stand the tins on a cold wet cloth to prevent the cakes form sticking to them.


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