Document 1687

Interview with woman at Glasgow Women's Library

Author(s): N/A

Copyright holder(s): SCOTS Project

Audio transcription

F1218 I was born in nineteen forty-one in the Gorbals in Glasgow. Irish, illegitimate,
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 er now that was a time when that was a terrible thing, right? My mother was unmarried and she stayed with her sister and her brother-in-law and another sister, in a two-bedroom flat, apartment, in the centre of the Gorbals. And we all lived in this little, tiny little house, and also my cousin, I had a cousin as well, so we were all living in this this little flat. Erm, happy as Larry. //I've travelled a great deal, erm//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 and here I am, I start off, I I started to write this, I wrote it in Flori-, I have a a apartment in Florida, and I was sitting by myself, my kids had gone home, and I was to stay another two weeks, to rest, by the way, right? So I'm sitting on my little balcony, and I started, my daughter had said to me, "Mum, everyone's told me, you need to write all this down." And I thought, well I would have loved if my mum or my grandmother in a little, tiny little village, a hamlet, not even a village, a hamlet with five houses in the middle of Donegal, //at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean,//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 surrounded by the sea, I wish she had written, or cou-, she couldn't read or write, but I wish someone then had, I would love that. So I thought, well I'm busy saying that, why don't I do this for my grandsons? Because I want my grandsons to grow up knowing where they came from. They didn't just come from "someone from the Gorbals". They didn't just appear out of nowhere.
F1217 [laugh] //No.//
F1218 //They come from a culture, they come from both sides of their family.// And it may not be rich families or everything, but we're good, strong, healthy, hard-working people, and I want my grandsons to know that.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 So I said, "Okay, I'll write it", and I went and I bought a little thing, and I sat on-, so I'd written, "Here I am sitting on my balcony, overlooking the Mexican Gulf", which was all true, "watching the sun set over the sea". It was glorious. "And what a long way I've come, from being this little, poor little thing, born into a slum in the middle of the Gorbals,
F1217 Yeah, totally.
F1218 when an Irish illegitimate was a terrible sin." And, the child was pretended to be someone else.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 And I was supposed to be my aunt Mary's who was married. //You know? Which, fooled no one, by the way, it fooled no one, everyone knew.//
F1217 //Mmhm, yes. [laugh].//
F1218 Right? But that was just to keep the face, right? There was this house full, I loved it. It had a coal fire, and gas lamps.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 And wooden shutters. And er, two big chairs, wooden stairs, there was four te-, four apartments on the landing. Erm, I was a little busybody, I wanted to please everyone and do everything.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 And I was, my aunt Mary, my mother's sister, who was married, who had the apartment, she didn't have children. And of course she adored me. Erm, I say later on that every child should have the love, that kind of love, unconditional, you know? Erm, every morning, we always got up first in the morning, it was dark and rainy. The streets were all- usually always wet and there was gas lamps. There was a little corner shop, a dairy. And my my my aunt used to send me to the corner shop every morning, when I was about four, and I would have this little canvas bag, and it was always rolls and milk and erm maybe whatever else she needed. And I would be sent along, and the ladies in the little corner shop were always so so nice to me, so sweet to me. //And they were always big ladies with white, white, white coats on.//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 And I I could hardly reach the counter, no self-service those days, you, over the counter. They were always so nice to me. And then I realised later on in life, they were nice to me because my poor auntie Mary had TB. //She was ill. She never went anywhere.//
F1217 //Mm.//
F1218 She was always in and out of hospital. And erm then one of the times she went to hospital and she didn't come back. I used to sleep with her and eat with her and everything. The result of that was that I got TB when I was five, after my aunt Mary had [?]went[/?]. But in between times my mother had met this man. I was three and a half at the time. It was a Sunday when I first saw him. He came walking up the stairs, I was sat-, I knew there was something going on. They were all busy cleaning the flat. We were having this visitor. And I remember standing at the doorway, watching down the stairs, and this man walking up - he was really tall and skinny. And he had a box under his arm. And I thought, [?]oh I know what that is[/?], and he handed me the box. I never said anything, but I was very suspicious, I-I'm still suspicious.
F1217 [laugh] Oh right.
F1218 Uh-huh. Never trust anyone. So, I opened this, and there was these pink fluffy furry slippers. I didn't even have a pair of slippers, //never mind pink furry ones.//
F1217 //Yeah.// //[laugh]//
F1218 //[laugh]// And I thought "Oh here, right". So here, unbeknown to me, this was the man who was to be my stepfather. And he and I were together until the day he died,
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 which was, erm fifty years later. Erm, wasn't always a great relationship, but he taught me one thing. He was a sweet kind man, but even he couldn't be a father to another man's child. And I always remember, if Joe Terry can't do it, there's no man born, I don't care what society he comes from, because he was basically a very sweet kind man, but they either loved the woman, if they loved the woman, they can't really take the child,
F1217 Mm.
F1218 and if they're sort of okay with the woman and they don't care about the child, then that's just as bad as well, cause the child knows he doesn't care about his, her mum. So, i-, there's a no-win situation. And I vowed all my life, never a man will come in my door. A a husband, yeah, //but but after that, after that, if I were on my own,//
F1217 //[laugh] Yeah! [laugh]//
F1218 no man, I'm not saying there wouldn't be a man outside the door, but never inside. Never, and there never was. Anyway, that was my start of my relationship with the stepfather.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 So in between Mammy [?]Groden[/?], who was my aunt, and I called my mother my aunt, and I called my aunt my mammy, they got married. And I remember their wedding, I remember seeing them leaving in the car in the Gorbals, they used to make a a scramble. All the pennies would be in a poke, and the the groom would fling it out to all the local kids, and we would run after the cars. I never ran after that one, I I just waved bye bye. But shortly after that my mammy [?]Groden[/?] went to hospital and didn't come back. So I ended up going to stay with my real mum,
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 who was pretending to be my aunt. Then she had a wee boy, my stepbrother, my half-brother. Erm, and then I ended up in hospital. First I went to school, by the way, I went to school. And my mum took me to school, and then one day my mum came with me to the school, and I thought, "Something's not right here". I was five. And I thought "Something's not right here." To cut a long story short, it turns out that I had a very high IQ. Unbeknown to me, they'd done an IQ test, in the Gorbals, with all these kids //who were, we were the poor wee peasants, you know?//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 And they, and I had an extremely high IQ. Can't remember what it was, but it was very high. And they sent for my mother and told her this. And she was pleased, but in those days you [?]never did[/?], but shortly after that I took ill. And I spent about two years in and out of sanatoriums.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 So that knocked the education thing, when I c- got okay, I ended up two years behind in school. So anyway. But I I, people would look at, look at me in that area, and think, "poor wee soul", you know? I I wasn't the cleanest child, I mean, they'd done their best, but there was no running hot water, there was nothing, there was outside toilets. It was very very difficult for the women. Erm, and but they done well, my mother done extremely well, she kept a clean house, and she was a wonderful cook. So we were always well fed, and I thought I was the bee's knees. [laugh] //I thought I was quite the thing, you know? [laugh]//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 If someone else looking at me from the posher end of the city would go "Oh my goodness", you know? //I thought I was fine.//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 But I I, the one thing I would like to say is, you hear all these doom and gloom stories, you know? How deprived children, and I'm not saying that I didn't have a deprived childhood, when I look at my grandsons and my children, but I didn't look at it like that, I didn't want to see it like that.
F1217 Mm.
F1218 You either make it or you don't. Even as a child I said, you know, "I'm happy". I would make myself busy. I used to go round the doors. Later on when I was about nine, ten. I would chap, I had to, when I came back from school my mum would have my little brother or my little sister, waiting with the pram and the shopping bag, I had to go to the Co-op with a list. Right? Quite happy, I was quite happy. I would go to the Co-op. But there was older people lived around about in the tenements, and they would ask me to go shopping. Right? And I would say, okay. And they always used to buy sticks, wooden sticks to light their fires.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 My dad, my stepdad worked in an underground tunnel where they had big pieces of wood, and the men would chop up a little bit and cut it up, and they would bring it home and they would use it for sticks, they would cut it up. I ended up with a hatchet that I used to sharpen on the back step. And I would get my dad to bring me this wood. I was the expert.
F1217 [laugh]
F1218 I could go like this, and chop little sticks right round. Then I would tie them in bundles, so when the people would say to me, I say "You want some shopping?" "Yes, get me this and get me that", and "Do you want any sticks?" //[laugh]//
F1217 //[laugh]// //[laugh] Very nice!//
F1218 //[laugh] So I would sell them my sticks, right?// They never knew it but they would say "Oh yeah, get me a bundle of sticks darling, pet." So I would put my sticks in and charge, I think it was one and a half pence.
F1217 Okay, not very expensive then //these sticks. [laugh]//
F1218 //Oh that was a lot of money then.//
F1217 Oh right. //Yeah.//
F1218 //You're talking about seventy-five pence, in those days.// //In my money that would be about fifty, seventy-five pence.//
F1217 //Yeah.//
F1218 So I done alright. That was my first business, entrepreneurial thing. //Nine.//
F1217 //How old were you? Very good.//
F1218 Then I used to sell rags.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 And I remember one time I went, I took my brother and sister and it was a long walk, I got a great big bundle of rags, which was common in those days, all this stuff was common, you know, everyone did it. But I would take my brother and sister with the pram, and I had a great big bundle of rags from my aunt, and you got great money for wool, but very little for cotton or whatever it was, right, synthetics, there wasn't much synthetics then, but whatever, the wool was the crème de la crème. And I remember going one time to this rag merchant. I'd been to him many times. And I, what age was I? About eleven by this time, I was eleven, just before I went to secondary. I was eleven. I went to the rag man, and I said, now, he used to have great big heaps of rags up to the ceiling, you know, that's the wool that's this and that's that, right? So he says to me, "Right okay, here you are, give them to me" right? Puts them on his scale. And he flings them here and he flings them there, and he offers me the money, and I went "No, that was wool that I gave you." "No it wasn't." I said "Yes it was." And I remember it clearly because he was he was so adamant that, and he's going, "Look, away you go, take your money and away you go", I says "No", he says "Well take your rags back", so I says "Okay", so I went up this mountain of rags and grabbed all my, I don't know how I, probably took some of his as well. I took all my rags back, I thought the cheek of him, trying to cheat me, you know?
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 Anyway. Then the next thing was the Eleven-Plus, which was a big thing.
F1217 Okay.
F1218 And by this time I'd sort of worked myself along in the school. I thought I was getting along okay. I was still like classes behind. But I was ill when the Eleven-Plus sat. But normally when kids, if someone was ill, they would hold another class and put all those, maybe kids from different areas, they would have another Eleven-Plus. They never even let me sit it. They never even asked me. That's the best thing they ever done for me.
F1217 Okay.
F1218 I was so indignant, "How dare they not...? They think I'm a dummy." "I'm so stupid it's not even worth letting me sit the Eleven-Plus." //I was so, I didn't realise it at the time, of course, I didn't realise it that day or the next day or the week, it's just, nobody said, and then I was getting sent to school, they put me in the lowest class in the lowest school,//
F1217 //Right.//
F1218 One C,
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 which was the dummy class, the way I looked at it. And I thought "How dare they?" I ended up in Five A. //I worked my-. Right, through A, B, C, there was A, B, and C. I started off in C, went into B, and sta-ended up in A.//
F1217 //Which was the top?//
F1218 But my saving grace, I I have a great respect for teachers. There was a lady there, great big lady, like great big boobs, //I mean//
F1217 //[laugh]// //[laugh]//
F1218 //she had boobs out to here, and she had dark hair, and she always walked like that, and the boobs always bounced, and I remember that about her, and I don't even remember her name.// //And I'm sorry that I don't remember this lady's name.//
F1217 //Oh right. [laugh]//
F1218 But by the time I was thirteen, she must have seen something in me. She was actually the assistant headmistress. She wasn't even my teacher.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 But somehow, and it was a big school, Saint Rock's Junior Secondary, Saint Rock's Junior Secondary, One C, believe me, that's up in Blackhill where all the gangsters are now. That's Royston Road, that was just the same then. //It was the worst place.//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 I was stuck up there. Anyway, this lady took an interest in me. Sort of, not a great, but you know, sort of encouraged me. I wanted to do nursing, I think because I was in and out of hospital so much I wanted to do nursing. I'd loved to have been a doctor, loved to have been a brain surgeon. //That was my dream.//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 But that was out of the question, so the next thing was a nurse, going to be a nurse. I'd loved to have done that, but I didn't even really have the education then. Although getting to Five A in Saint Rock's Junior Secondary was an achievement for me, it was nothing like the normal ordinary school. Those girls in One C were equivalent to Five A in Saint Rock's. But anyway, but she encouraged me, there was a a sort of a nursing school, not far from here, in Parnie Street, not far from here, Charlotte Street, just over the, there.
F1217 Okay.
F1218 There was a nursing school there that you could go into from, we left school at fifteen in those days. You could go in there from fifteen to seventeen and then join nursing school. And she encouraged me to go there. And you got a uniform, right? You got a nice uniform, and it was a college, nursing college, and I'm fifteen, and and going "Oh here, that sounds //good."//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 Thought I would be... So I I worked hard, and I sat the entrance exam. How I got through it I'll never know. I'd got through it, and I passed. But once I passed I discovered that you didn't get any money, you didn't even get a grant, and your parents had to buy your uniform. No way my mum could afford a uniform, are you kidding? For me to go in and out on the bus and look smart. My cousin by this time worked in a cotton mill, away out on the other side of the city, was earning good money. Right? And the one thing that really put me off the nursing school was, I discovered that although you went from fifteen to seventeen, you never got any time off when you joined the nursing school,
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 You only got six months allowed to get in earlier. It was seventeen and a half you went into the nursing school. The only thing you got, they allowed you to s- go in at seventeen. But you still had to do the same curriculum as everyone else. And I thought, "Well what's the point of that?" I would rather earn good money in the cotton mill for two years,
F1217 Yes.
F1218 and then join the nursing, and that's exactly what I did.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 And this cotton mill you would not believe. You know how you see these old movies where all these machines are rattling?
F1217 Mm.
F1218 That's where I worked, right? And we used to sit on the floor in the bathroom for lunch, and I kid you not, you could go like this down your tongue and pull a big thread. All, we must have been breathing all this cotton dust.
F1217 Oh goodness.
F1218 Dust you could hardly see, and we used to carry great big tins of cotton in our hands. We worked like donkeys, and then we used to go home on the bus, right? You'd put on your coat, your coat was all fluff. Everyone in the bus would be going "Stay away", because if you touched them their clothes got all this dust. //So we used to do it deliberately to annoy them. [laugh]//
F1217 //[laugh]// //[laugh]//
F1218 //We used to go like this. Cause they were deliberately [inaudible].// So anyway, then I sat the nursing exam, right? //at seventeen, seventeen and a half, seventeen and a half.//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 Don't ask me how I got into that, I've no idea. One thing I did was read, I read, I used to hide in the library. My mum used to send my brother and I used to see my brother coming, and I would hide, he would come up there, I'd go there, and then he would go home and say "She's not in the library, Mum", and see when I come in my mum would go "You were in the library!" [laugh] I used to read a lot. Maths, forget it. I don't know. I still can't do long division. Still can't do subtrac-, I can do subtraction. So but I'm very, don't try and sell me anything, I'll know the price. //You know? [laugh] I can work my, mental arithmetic I can work like, you know, like that.//
F1217 //Really? [laugh]//
F1218 But all, on paper, no. Anyway, so where were we? Ah yeah, I went into the, I sat the nursing exam and I got in. So I thought I was the bee's knees again. I was doing well. Then one of the nurses said "We're having a party." The guys from the medical faculty in Glasgow University are coming, some of the, one of the young doctors was inviting this girl and she invited me. And it was up the West End, and I went "Okay". And we went and I met this guy, an Indian boy.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 And he can tell you to a T, he drove me nuts for the next forty years. [laugh]
F1217 Right. [laugh]
F1218 He was sweet and charming, that's the problem, he was sweet and charming, he wasn't hard-working and ambitious. //But he was sweet and charming.//
F1217 //Well. [laugh]//
F1218 He came from a fairly wealthy family in Ind- in in New Delhi. His father sent him to Glasgow. He lived in Charing Cross. His father wanted him to be a doctor, his brother was a pilot, his other one was in the army. Erm one was som- an engineer, and he was to be the doctor. So he was sent to Glasgow University, because he had two cousins in Glasgow University, doing engineering, //electrical engineering.//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 So he met me, [throat] and we fell in love, right? And we decided to get, we we we got quite serious fairly quick. I thought he was wonderful. He was he was a wonderful guy. Still is a nice man.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 Just wasn't the man for me later on in life. Erm and I've got a wonderful son and daughter, absolutely wonderful. Erm so anyway, we started out, but then his father got wind of me. His cousins wrote and said "He's getting too serious about this, blah blah blah blah". Cut a long story short, after much, all hullaballoo, his father stopped his money, because his father was paying for everything.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 So he stopped his money. So that was him, his father thought he would turn around and... But he says "[tut] I didn't really want to do medicine anyway. That was my father's choice. I'd no intention. I don't really want to do medicine." I said "Well, okay". So he went to, he had a cousin in London, and he went to London to work there, and we decided to work and save up to get married. But in those days if you were married or engaged you had to leave nursing. So I thought, well okay, I want to get married. There was no shotgun or anything like that. I wanted to get married. And I thought this was the one. So he worked in London. I left nursing and got a job as a bus conductress, because that's where the most money was. I worked all sorts of shifts at weekends, worked, the guys wanted to go to football matches, I would do their Saturday shift. They would pay me their wages and I would do the the football things for them. So I was earning really good money, and he was a... and we had a lovely wedding. He converted to Roman Catholic, because my mother was having a hairy fit. So there was, so I thought well if you do that, that might ease the way, so we did. Funny thing is, him and my mum and dad got on wonderful. because he was the type of guy, [laugh] by this time we lived out in Castlemilk in a a, what do, what would you call it, a c- council estate. //Right?//
F1217 //Right.//
F1218 Eh my mother loved her house, she had a beautiful house, a flat, right? But my dad and him got on like a house on fire, because my husband was more than h-, now he was a Sikh and a vegetarian, but he was more than happy to sit with a big steak and chips, at night, on a Saturday evening, a bit steak and a big plate of chips, and then two or three nice big double whiskies, and sit back there and watch TV with my dad. He'd have lived there, quite happy.
F1217 [laugh] Amazing. //[laugh]//
F1218 //But me, no, I was having hairy fits.// We'd actually gone to to London after we got married, because he was working in London, the night we got married. Had this lovely wedding, right? It was only in the house, got married in the chapel, white and the whole nine yards, but we had the little buffet in the house and that. Then we left on the plane going down to London. And [laugh] we had these cases, right, that you pull along by the ba-, not the type with the handles, but wee wheels. //And//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 two other big cases, right? And it was about ten thirty at night. And, it was in Golders Green in London, cause he had a little room in Golders Green. And he'd a job to go back to. I didn't have a job. So he'd a job. So we left, said bye bye to everyone, got on the plane, went to London, got off the plane, it was about ten o'clock at night when we arrived in Golders Green, and he's going to the taxi rank and I says "Where are you going?" I'd already been there and I knew where I was. He says "We're getting a taxi", I says "You're not paying money for a taxi. I'm not spending money on a taxi", because we were down to our la-. I says, "I'm not spending money on a taxi". //Well, see walking home with the case, see, my husband wasn't used to hard work or anything.//
F1217 //[exhale]// //[laugh]//
F1218 //His hands were all blistered.//
F1217 [laugh]
F1218 He stopped in the middle of the road, and he's cursing me, he's going "See you, I'm not carrying these cases." I says "Well stay where you are, I'm going, I'm no giving you any money for a taxi. Stand there or do what you like." And, anyway, that's how we started off married life, right? Now that was the Saturday. By the Monday afternoon I had a job. I just went out and went round the shops. And there was a a delicatessen in Golders Green, and there was a Polish man, a Polish man who ran it. //In fact,//
F1217 //There you go!//
F1218 I've got the cut. //I've got a cut, you can hardly see it now, it's gone. But he ran a delicatessen department.//
F1217 //No. [laugh]//
F1218 He was the nicest man, I walked into this little store, a Jewish store, and I walked in, and I asked did they have any... maybe they had in the window, I can't remember, but I ended up in behind him in the delicatessen department. And he was so nice, and there was a Polish girl worked in it as well, cause I remember she invited us for dinner and she made those things with the the leaves? //There was that, you know? Well, she ma- she used to make those.//
F1217 //Oh er we call them golomki. [laugh] Yeah.//
F1218 Right? So, but this man was so nice, and he took a real shine to me, cause I was always... I never got fired in my life. Every job my husband took he got fired.
F1217 [laugh] //I'm sorry to hear that. [laugh]//
F1218 //Every job, every job.// Never once stuck a job, he got fired out of every job. Me, if I got a job, they were like "Do you have to go? Just stay." Because I [taps table] was a worker. So anyway, that's how we started. We worked for a year. I ended up leaving there and get a job on London buses, because the money was terrific on London buses. I got my husband, wait until you hear this one. I got my husband a job on London buses, I said, really good money, right? Now e- you think being a bus conductor is easy, but every job looks easy from the outside. There's always a knack to it. And the thing was, if you drive up to a bus stop and people come on, the driver's waiting for that "ding-ding", and he wants to get away as quick as possible, but he can't move until you do "ding-ding" in case someone's hanging off a pole and gets killed. So of course a good conductress can see, and the minute the last person lifts their feet off the ground and is in the bu-, "ding-ding" and the- he's away. The lazy conductor's going... and the driver's still waiting. //And he's going "Mmm", right? He can't move.//
F1217 //[laugh] Mmhm.//
F1218 And this doolally at the back's going "Oh right, ding-ding", but he doesn't have the timetable, the driver's the one that's got to face up th-, but anyway, you understand.
F1217 Mm.
F1218 Of course, what's my husband do? He sits on the seat [laugh], he sits with his feet up, and the bell's there, and he just goes "ding-ding", you know? He got fired within three weeks. //Me, I earned really good money.//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 He went then, his cousin got him a job in an electric company. So, to cut a long story short, that's when we came back to my parents after one year exactly, stayed with my parents out in the flat, My husband was more than happy. He got a job on British Rail. Nine till five, nice. Come home, my dad was there to chat to, dadadada. I went back on the buses, saving up money, right? I, now I had seen, I'd never knew anything about people renting, and all that, students, I never knew anything about that until I met my husband. And I saw that his cousin had bought a house. And he rented to my husband, then boyfriend, and his other brother, and another couple of boys. And he was doing okay. So I thought, right, I'll buy a flat, I'm gonna work hard, I'm gonna get a flat. I ended up with a great big big in g-, Hillhead Street, don't know if you know it, Hillhead Street, //up on the top floor, six rooms, two bathrooms,//
F1217 //[inaudible].//
F1218 great big big, a h- I'm not kidding you, a hall that size, like, see that square,
F1217 Uh-huh.
F1218 great big big big big place. And I bought that. And I stayed in one room and rented out five.
F1217 Okay. //[laugh]//
F1218 //I went to the auctions, and I remember giving an old guy ten shillings for a chair, to carry the chair, me and this old guy's carrying it up three flights of stairs.// //And the man was drunk, you know, and he kept... [laugh] Honest to god, the things I've done.//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 And then someone would come to the, I had an advert in Byres Road, someone would come up and say "A room?" I'd go "Oh yes, what is it you're looking for?" "Erm, a double." "Oh yes, I've got a double, just come in." Right? And I'd show them into this room, there'd be no bed in it. I'd say "Oh well the bed's be-, I'll have the bed delivered, you know, it's getting a bed in it." But I never put the bed in, because if they wanted a single I'd have a single bed in it. And if they wanted a double no problem, there'd be a double bed in it. So, [laugh] I I had, course the rooms were so big anyway. And I done alright with that, but I also worked in East Park Children's Home, which was for handicapped children.
F1217 Okay.
F1218 I worked there eight till eight. Eight at night till eight in the morning. And I used to walk to Maryhill Road, to save thrupence, which is, what, a penny?
F1217 No way. //[laugh]//
F1218 //Honestly. And then climb all these stairs. See how these buildings are so high, the ceilings are so high.// That makes all the stairs, it means you've got tons and tons of stairs, cause there's big high ceilings. Climb all that up. And I'd clean all those ki-, those students, the two kitchens in the morning. I just couldn't go to bed and leave those kitchens, [inhale] sinks full, you know? So I would clear all the dishes, and clear that, and do a rough clean on the... so that's how I spent my time. My husband, by the way, went back to Glasgow University. By this time his br- his youngest brother is over from India. He's staying in one of the rooms, much to my... But it's his brother, okay. And those two were at Glasgow University, doing Electrical Engineering, by the way. Do you know that ha- half the time they were never there. //Years later//
F1217 //I know! [laugh]//
F1218 years later, he would say he was in the library, right? Years later, we would, we'd be sitting years, ten years later, watching TV and a film would come on and I would go "Oh, that looks good." "Och I've seen that." I'd say, "Where did you see that?" "Oh I seen it." He used to go and sit in the movies,
F1217 [laugh]
F1218 instead of the library he'd, and that's why he's seen every blinking film that was...
F1217 [laugh] //[laugh]//
F1218 //Anyway, anyway.// So, then we had a wee boy. So I bought another, in Havelock Street, just off Byres Road, //I bought another flat.//
F1217 //Mmhm.//
F1218 I kept the big one and rented that out, but of course, who do you think, muggins here, washed the sheets, away down Byres Road in a laundromat, carried them up Great George Street, if you know Great George Street you know the hill. Can you imagine carrying laundry away up there? And all the things that, and even all the cleaning equipment that goes for k-. Anyway, that's what I did. Eventually I ended, I bought that place, and I kept that as well, I bought another place, I decided, I was pregnant again, I had four miscarriages first, then I had two caesareans with my son and my daughter. And I I I er went out to the suburbs, bought, I thought, I want a little garden for my son and daughter. Well it was only my son at the time. Erm done a really good deal, an old man had lost his wife, and I had bought it within an hour of of seeing it. I s-saw it, I used to stand outside the newspaper offices on a Tuesday when the paper came out with all the houses in it. And then I just phoned up this man, and I said "Can I come out and see you?" I had my wee son, he was ten months old. And I said to the man, "I'll offer you that amount. Would you take it?" He said yes, I said right. I had to go to the local phone and phone the lawyer and say "Listen, gonna put in an o-, proper, this man's taken a verbal offer", that's how I got the house. So there I had three houses now.
F1217 Yeah.
F1218 I had the big flat in Hillhead Street, I had Havelock Street, and I now had this little house with the garden. I had terrible trouble having the child, terrible trouble. And it took me a lot, my husband by this time was working in an electronics factory in East Kilbride, right? Doing okay. Er he did, I mean he wasn't a bad man, he just wasn't ambitious, he wasn't hard-working. And maybe I was too much for him. Erm, anyway, er [laugh] I'll tell you //later on in life we pa-, I vowed I would never, having said about the stepfather stuff, he was never a bad father.//
F1217 //Yeah? [laugh]//
F1218 He wasn't a wonderful husband, but he wasn't a bad husband either.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 But there came a time when I thought, no, I've had enough.
F1217 Yeah.
F1218 I wanna go on my own. I was doing well. I started a business. I was doing okay. And my son was about nine, my daughter about seven, and I decided I'd go. I had bought a caravan so as the kids could go away at the weekend at the seaside. And I remember, he would go to one market, and I would go, my husband and I would go to another. And I'd had it all worked out. I could have a place no prob-. I had three houses. And he could have one, he could go somewhere. I was going to go on my own. I was going to take my kids. But then I thought, it's early in the morning, Saturday morning, and I was getting ready to go to a market. My husband went to the local one, ten minutes down the road. I went an hour and a half to Wishaw. So I'm up at five o'clock in the morning. And I couldn't rely on him to get up and go. If he got up he would take so long he would miss... //So,//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 I decided I was going, I had it all worked out in my mind, and this and that. And then I was stepping out the door, I'll never forget it, I was stepping out the door of the caravan, there was little steps. I put my foot on the step and in between I was thinking, "What could he do to really get to me?" you know? I had the money, I had a place, I could earn my own living. My kids were with me. I had my family. I thought, "I know what he'll do, I know what he'll do". He'll take my son and put him in a boarding school in India. He wouldn't take my daughter because she was asthmatic, but he would take my son. And in his eyes he'd be justifying himself, because I was going to take his son away, and he wanted his son to become a Sikh and be brought up in India in the proper way. He didn't really, but he would justify that to himself. I thought, "That's what he'll do." Now there was no other man or anything involved. And I thought "Oh oh, no, no. I'm not going to mention a thing." And I thought to myself "So what, who the heck's in love twenty-four hours a day? That's baloney." After the honeymoon season's over, you're down to the living. And I thought, "No, he'll take my son. That's what he'll do." And I was right, because about four years later, his brother done exactly the same thing. And I had never mentioned it to any of them, and I thought, I'll keep quiet and carry on, and when the time is right, my son's old enough to look after me or himself, he won't be able to do anything with him, right?
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 And I did. That's what I done. I thought "Life is not so difficult. I can bea- I can go through this, it's no bi-, for the sake of having my children. No problem. No question about it", right? I done that. And when my son was seventeen, my daughter was fifteen, that's when I left. And my husband, I used to say "Look, why don't you go to India, and get yourself a nice widow. There's loads of nice women in India would love you", right? "Where would I ever find anyone like you, [CENSORED: forename]?" [laugh] //He was, he's an absolute charmer, you know, I mean//
F1217 //Charming! [laugh] Yeah.//
F1218 and then, and yeah, in between times, I travelled to India. Now his father was very much against all this. his father was... I never really won him over but he was okay.
F1217 Mmhm.
F1218 His mother loved me. I remember one time, we were in India, right, visit-, I loved India by the way, and the people were wonderful to me, wonderful to me. The family the-they were all extremely educated, and all spoke English, and of course they wanted me to, I was trying to learn Punjabi, they wouldn't let me, they were too busy practising their English.
F1217 [laugh]
F1218 And they were too busy wanting their kids to speak proper English, and they were using me as the... right? But anyway, I remember one time, we arrives, and his brother was a Lieutenant Colonel, and he sent a staff car to meet us, right? So this big car comes with two outriders and a flag flying. [laugh] Now there's me, the girl from Castlemilk in the Gorbals, [laugh] and this car comes in, we goes in it, and we've to go to this luncheon or something, right? So we pulls up outside, there was a great, beautiful big sandstone building that was the officers' mess. And the car pulls up and we get out, and this this band starts playing up, pipeband. [CENSORED: phone rings and is answered] Pipeband, the full military thing with the kilts and the big sporrans and this guy with the thing, like this. And he walks up to me and he goes, "What's madam's preference?" //And I'm, [laugh], I didn't know any Sco-, I knew Irish songs, I didn't know any Scottish songs.//
F1217 //[laugh]//
F1218 So I turns to my husband, and said "What will I say?" He says "I don't know, how dae I know?" [inaudible] two dummies standing there like that, with the staff car and the outriders and the big pipeband and all these military people waiting on us. So er I says erm "O-o-over the Sea to Skye". He says, "The Skye Boat Song"? [laugh] He knew the name, I didn't, the guy, the pipeband //man.//
F1217 //Uh-huh.//
F1218 So that, I [inaudible] yeah, and his mother, we were sitting one day with my sister-in-laws, outside, having lunch. And she was a lovely lady, she was the only one in the family who didn't speak English. Everybody, even the servants sort of spoke English.
F1217 [laugh] Okay.
F1218 Right? But his mother-in-law did, my [?]brother-in-law[/?] didn't. So we're sitting like this, and she says something to my two sister-in-laws. And they started to laugh, and I said "What is it?" And they were doubling over, I said "What is it? What did she say?" And she's sitting back looking at me, right? And my sister-in-law said, "Do you know what BG", which is Mum, "BG said?" I said "No, what?" She said, "BG said, well the only reason that [CENSORED: forename]", my husband, "and the children and Sadie's here is because when I dropped the stick, [CENSORED: forename] lifted it up." You know, she always had a stick prodding him to do something, and she said when she dropped it I lifted it up, and that's why he's done something with himself. //But anyway, as I say, he was a lovely man, but drove me nuts.//
F1217 //[laugh] Right.//
F1218 Drove me nuts, and in the end he got so possessive, erm, my life was in danger, you know, it got beyond all that, you know, and end up, now I have to go, darling.
F1217 That's fine, thank you very much. //Very interesting.//
F1218 //Wait, I'll phone her, yeah.// //I would love to have gone, I could tell you, oh my God, I could go on and on and on. That's nothing.//
F1217 //Yeah, it's a very interesting story. [laugh]//

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Information about Document 1687

Interview with woman at Glasgow Women's Library


Audio audience

Adults (18+)
General public
For gender Mixed
Audience size N/A

Audio awareness & spontaneity

Speaker awareness Aware
Degree of spontaneity Spontaneous
Special circumstances surrounding speech recording was made as part of Aiming University Learning @ Work employability project, run by Department of English Language

Audio footage information

Year of recording 2010
Recording person id 1217
Size (min) 39
Size (mb) 152

Audio setting


Audio relationship between recorder/interviewer and speakers

Not previously acquainted
Speakers knew each other No

Audio transcription information

Transcriber id 718
Year of transcription 2010
Year material recorded 2010
Word count 7542

Audio type



Participant details

Participant id 1217
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1980
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Student
Place of birth Gdansk
Country of birth Poland
Place of residence Glasgow
Region of residence Glasgow
Residence CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of residence Scotland
Father's country of birth Poland
Mother's country of birth Poland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes at university, at work, with friends
French Yes Yes Yes Yes with friends
Polish Yes Yes Yes Yes at home, with friends


Participant details

Participant id 1218