“A single image of an ordinary street or family photo can spark memories, stories and conversations bringing the past and participants to life making concerns and thoughts ever present. A family photo, a black and white image of a woman’s great grandmother sat on a chair holding a piece of paper can be recognised by a stranger as ‘Banana Lil’, someone she’d not seen since her childhood in St Ebbe’s between the wars. The group could then tell previously unknown stories to the woman about her own relative that she could then take away to the rest of her family.”
It was wonderful to meet 'Banana Lil's' great-grand daughter, Jen, at the last of our reminiscence sessions at Modern Art Oxford. 'Banana Lil'', also known as 'old mother fire blocks', was a well known character in St Ebbe's. She ran a fruit and vegetable shop on Commercial Road, but drummed up extra custom by selling fruit and veg from a barrow which she wheeled around the streets of St Ebbe's. She was a strong character, shaped by a tough life and a will to survive. Banana Lil' seems to epitomise a certain spirit and character so typical of St Ebbe's. The grit and determination to succeed, and the wry humour with which to laugh away life's knocks and bumps.