I’m currently privileged to be listening to sound archives at the Museum of Bath at Work, oral histories recorded mostly in the 1980s. Hunched in the building’s basement, with headphones placing the voices of the interviewees inside my head, some of these people have entered my heart too. It’s started me thinking again about how Voice, a complex ephemerality produced by air and muscle movement from the instant we’re born, can cut across time, building relationships between people who’ve never met. Every one of us, even those denied the power of speech for various reasons, has a sound that’s as unique as fingerprints. In some languages the word for ‘soul’ is related to that for ‘breath’. ‘In-spire’ is life, the taking in of spirit. Ron Perry spent his working days as a car and truck mechanic, but he spent all his life responding to the world around him, alive to potential in the small things. The pleasures he describes touch me even though I’ve never experienced them, and make me wish I could have talked to him. Here’s a fragment of his recollections. I hope it makes you as happy and thoughtful as it does me.
recording property of Museum of Bath at Work