Audrey Brookes (née Upton) was born on June 1930 in Stockport, and Alec Brookes was born in May 1926 in Hulme.

This transcript records their individual memories before and during World War 2 together with other experiences. Both had previous marriages before they themselves married in 1968.

The transcript and the video are about 1 hour 8 minutes long.

Recorded in South Manchester on 6th February 2018.

[Pauses indicated by ….]

Time codes on film indicated by Hour:Minute:Second for ease of reference between transcript and film on YouTube. 

Transcript: –

Audrey: It was 1933 and I was 3 years old when we first moved to Wythenshawe …. from a terraced house, an old terraced house in Longsight …. I always remember, when we arrived there …. the trees and the gardens …. we had a garden front and back ….

Alec: Some of the property around there, hadn’t been built, had it? And there were, they were still farm fields ….

Audrey: That’s right ….

Alec: and the farmers were still …. used to come and cut the grass for the hay ….

Audrey: Also, the roads weren’t made, so that ….

Alec: No, the roads weren’t made at all ….

Audrey: No ….

Alec: In fact, some of them were only small tracks and lanes ….

Audrey: That’s right ….

Alec: And that went round, eventually, to the Ringway Airport ….

Audrey: That’s right, yea …. and the space and the amount of playground that you had as children …. was just unbelievable …. next door, there was a field …. and every year, they used to cut the grass, the hay that had grown tall, with a scythe …. and erect this stage …. and they’d have a …. a crowning of the Rose Queen …. this was the Congregational Church …. and everybody came in their Sunday best …. and we got to know lots of people ….

Alec: Yes, it was …. one of those times from when you told me, because I wasn’t there then …. because I was …. Our association started much later, but …. I remember you telling me all about these …. wonderful times that you had …. as a kid …. because it was unknown where you’d come from, there weren’t fields, there were nothing really …. It was a wonderful time to grow up ….

Audrey: Also, there was so much celebrating, they had …. Whit week processions …. They were very well known …. the Church of England had theirs, and the Catholic Church had theirs …. and they were all round the Whitsun …. and all the children …. the girls, the little girls wore long white dresses …. and the boys had their new suits …. and the brass band was played …. in fact, everything was perfect, and that’s how it seemed to be ….

Alec: It would go on forever ….

Audrey: …. 1939 …. well, the September, Sunday September morning, everything changed …. That’s the day the War broke out, World War 2 …. Where were you when …. we never quite fathomed it, did we?

Alec: Well …. me …. the …. I am a bit older than you …. consequently, I was …. more or less involved, more in the actual …. War period …. but, I was only 11 years of age [actually 13] when War broke out …. and, I always remember that …. a lot of the male teachers were called up for the Forces, there was only one, in fact …. remained, which …. due to the fact that he wasn’t 100% fit …. at least, that’s what they said …. so, he remained, and he was a Science teacher …. but the remainder of the people …. or teachers there were all female …. there were no male teachers left …. and when I left school at the age of 14 …. I went straight into a factory ….

So, that was my early days, and I don’t remember a lot other than the fact that …. there was on one occasion when I was …. later on, when I was …. at the factory, I went to night school …. and …. the …. the sirens, on the way back, because we had no buses in those days …. at that time, anyway …. We had to walk …. and I remember the sirens going off …. and within a very short time, the …. battery …. the gun battery that was stationed or positioned in Hough End Fields …. used to …. take off …. they were manned by women, funnily enough, not men …. and the shrapnel that came off, used to be pelting down like rain ….

When I was walking along the Hardcastle Avenue, just short of 200 Darley Avenue …. they were hitting the pavement, and when I think about it afterwards …. how lucky I was not to be hit …. by the shrapnel falling, it was just like rain …. and that is something that I should imagine, a lot of people at that time, if they were out during air raids …. had to experience, and it was a dangerous time. You carry on ….

Audrey: Yes, I know …. the thing …. the thing that stuck in my mind very clearly …. was when we had to go to be fitted with gas masks …. There was my little brother, myself and parents …. walked down the road, and it was dark, and of course, the street lights were out …. people had black out blinds at the windows …. and we went to Sharston Hall [Sharston Hall no longer exists] …. with all the other families, we queued up and we went into the old hall …. which was really …. a shame, as years have gone by, to be neglected …. and, instead of being a beautiful hall …. it was, the plaster was dirty, and everything was grimy in this huge great room …. we went to a counter …. shepherded in …. they opened these boxes and all the children had to try these ….

Alec: Well, try them on and ….

Audrey: The gas masks were absolutely awful, they had straps that fitted over and a nozzle at the front ….

Alec: Frightening experience really …. It is really, because they put them on and they tried to drag them off ….

Audrey: Children were crying and screaming ….

Alec: [at same time] They probably couldn’t breathe ….

Audrey: But when you finally got the right fitting, they packed it into a little brown box …. with a string ….

Alec: With a piece of string ….

Audrey: Yes …. [both laughing] …. and you put it over your shoulder …. and went out …. into the dark night …. thinking “What, why, what have we got to wear these for? What will happen? What’s gas? ….

The poor parents …. just didn’t know how to explain things to children …. and they just sort of said “Oh, it will be all right, you’ll never have to use these ….” And fortunately, we didn’t have to use them.

Alec: But it was strange really, because everywhere you went …. everybody had this cardboard box! With a piece of string round their neck!

Audrey: Yes ….

Alec: And everybody had to carry them.

Audrey: But it became a fashion as you could take it out of the cardboard box …. and put it in like a holdall with a strap …. and you are right, but as the years, as the War went on …. people got …. they didn’t want to bother, they didn’t take them …. Nobody took their gas masks with them anywhere …. after the first 2 years ….

Alec: It became a nuisance really ….

Audrey: Yea …. Then we had to have clothing coupons …. so, you couldn’t have any clothes …. It wasn’t just a matter of poor families saving up …. for clothes, you couldn’t have them anyway …. and then you had your ration books …. and our job as young children was to go every Friday to the shops with the ration book to get the rations ….

We used to get so much butter, so much sugar, a piece of meat …. and how ….

Alec: I remember sitting down to a meal at my parents’ home …. and my father saying …. “Where did you manage to get all this meat from?” And it turned out, we were eating horse meat …. and he wasn’t very happy about it, so …. in fact, he pushed his plate away, he said “I can’t eat that!”

[Laughing]

Audrey: Yea, things were different, and of course, there was the Anderson shelter ….

Alec: I was going to say about the Anderson shelters …. I remember the vehicle coming along with all these …. piled up on the back and 2 blokes …. yanking these things off, and they were quite heavy …. and of course, …. you were supposed to erect them on the ground, just on the ground but …. my parents and I think your parents, the same …. dug them into the ground ….

Audrey: That’s right, yea ….

Alec: …. and they were blooming cold when they got in those …. and eventually, of course, you never used them ….

Audrey: Yea …. we used to sit in there, well my father …. had got a job by then at Barton Power Station …. and the only way he could get to work was on a bike …. and along with a lot of other men who used to ride their bike 10 miles …. work 12 hour shifts and then all the way back to where they lived …. and it always had, we always had an air raid when my father was on nights …. [laughing] and my poor mother …. by then …. had to deal with 2 children who were quite startled with the sound of the sirens …. and my brother never woke up, I don’t think, we used to …. prop him, get him down the stairs by me …. pulling his feet down the steps, one at a time, with my mother holding him up from the back …. drag him round the corner to the air raid shelter and lower him in …. and we used to sit there and hear the …. the …. planes droning because …. we were quite near to Manchester Airport …. which was known then as Ringway Airport …. And of course, you had the …. ack ack as you were saying …. you had the search lights …. it was quite frightening really …. and particularly ….

Alec: Barrage balloons were strapped round ….

Audrey: Oh, barrage balloons, they were like huge grey elephants that were …. tethered to the ground, floating above you …. it was supposedly to stop ….

Alex: Low flying aircraft trying to, you know ….

Audrey: …. machine guns …. yea …. yes, of course …. and ….

Alec: But, getting away from that, do you remember your father, and my father for that matter ….  having to dig for Victory ….

Audrey: Oh, yea ….

Alec: because we had to …. we had to …. grow as much as we possibly could …. for our own use …. not for sale, but for our own use …. and we had chickens …. I remember we used to have chickens and …. we used to buy them as pullets …. and when they got to 2 years old, of course, we used to kill them, and it was my job to kill these damned things …. and cook them ….

Audrey: Yea ….

Alec: But at least, we never got short of something to eat ….

Audrey: My father as well to get …. managed to get enough money to build a greenhouse …. which was absolutely amazing, because we had tomatoes …. but we had lots and lots of tomatoes …. and we used to give them to the neighbours and at least those, with some of the …. lettuce and stuff that you grew in the garden …. made a good meal …. Often one wonders …. Often, I often wonder, anyway …. about …. how the Mums managed to present …. a decent meal after the size of the rations and the …. quality of the stuff you got ….

Alec: The length of time that they were away shopping was amazing because they had to, everything had to be queued up for …. and always long long queues waiting for basic things really as well …. It was very difficult …. from a woman’s point of view, a housewife then …. in those days was very very difficult, very difficult …. and I don’t know how they managed …. but they did, amazing ….

Audrey: That’s true, they did …. Then next thing that comes to mind as well is …. we start, we grow so many, grew so many tomatoes that we …. that we were able to sell them …. and …. buy a pair of scales somehow or get, borrow a pair of scales from somebody …. and weigh the tomatoes and for a few pennies …. which went into a jam jar …. pay for the next year’s plants or …. something like that, you know, or something in the garden …. everybody became quite …. ingenious at the ideas that they came up with ….

We were taught to …. make clothes out of old clothes and …. If you had a sewing machine, then you were in demand ….

00:11:37

My mother went on War work …. she worked at first …. machine gunning …. at the pockets for the machine gun bullets to go in the webbing ….

Alec: Yes ….

Audrey: and that was …. a company down at Sharston which had been Thomas French that used to make …. curtain braids, curtain webbing …. and then after a while, she transferred to …. a place that was known as …. the Wash Way …. which was sewing parachutes …. and she became …. a parachute packer …. and from there, they used to bring, she used to bring home bits of bits of silk which we made bits of underwear with …. and then, she, also, as time went on …. got a job …. at the Tatton Cinema in Gatley ….

Well, this was our life saver, the Tatton Cinema in Gatley …. we used to see the Pathé News with all that was going on, it was …. very hard then, because …. you only had the radio, there was no television, we didn’t have telephones …. and certainly not all the mobile phones and things that are available now …. So, Pathé News was something that you sort of …. were able to see …. the soldiers …. fighting, you know, in battles and things, and it …. made it all seem …. you know …. really quite horrible ….

Alec: In some respects when you were younger …. it was like …. exciting …. We never, it was only when you get older that you realise …. War was a terrible thing …. but as a kid …. I mean, it was all exciting, these sort of things, I mean …. I used a system when I got older, before I got called up ….

I used to go to the Home Guard …. and they used to use me …. to throw hand grenades, so …. so, they could …. because they, I was young, and they were much older being in the Gu…., and I used to throw these hand grenades, show them how it was done …. and it was, when I look back, when I think back on it, it was a rather strange set up in a way …. because my father, unfortunately for us …. worked away and he did rather a lot of work down in London …. so, my mother had to …. provide for everything …. so, we didn’t have a father …. during the War for very long, he was nearly always away working ….

Audrey: Yes, the same for my father, yes ….

Alec: So, anyway, there we are ….

Audrey: I remember …. after a while …. a piano suddenly appeared …. in the house …. How we managed to save up and how …. that piano was delivered …. I can’t, I just can’t remember …. but my father, who had been in the band with the Manchester Regiment as a younger man …. I suppose yearned that his family would take, you know, into …. sort of, you know, become musicians …. like he’d been …. which was a far cry from what he was doing now …. working at the Power Station …. and …. we were given a chance to go …. for piano lessons …. and my brother and I used to laugh about it as we got older …. because …. he was absolutely useless and dreaded going to piano lessons …. because he never improved …. and my poor father was paying for piano lessons …. for ever more, I think!

Also, in those days, of course …. we had the doctor’s man …. who used to come round and collect ….

Alec: Oh yes …. we had no National Health in those days ….

Audrey: Yea …. He used to collect a shilling a week …. every Sun…. every Monday night about 6 o’clock, there would be a knock on the door …. and it was the doctor’s man for his money, so it meant that …. if you caught the measles or …. whatever childhood …. thing that you managed to pick up, chicken pox …. they used to put you in the same bed so that you’d all get it at the same time, because it cost such a lot of money to get the doctor’s man …. and then you think of the wonderful National Health that happened after the War.

Then again, during the War, you got used to seeing sticky tape over all the windows, didn’t you?

Alec: That’s right, all the windows had to have sticky tape on because …. to stop them from …. blowing in, to help to stop them from blowing in ….

Audrey: So, when I was about 11 …. we sat our exams, like …. called it 11+ now …. but it was called Scholarship then …. and by some surprise to the family …. I passed my 11+ and went to school at Whitworth Street …. Manchester Central High School in …. the centre of Manchester on Whitworth Street …. Have a uniform …. which you got then …. didn’t have to have coupons for the uniform …. and every morning at about twenty past eight …. I used to get the 46 bus …. into Manchester …. and every evening about quarter to four …. I’d be on the bus back …. and it would be during the period of …. the blitz, the Manchester Blitz …. you could see what a difference it was making to the centre of Manchester …. where they had bombs, where you know …. big craters were, there used to be a …. big shop called Paulins on Stretford Road, do you remember that?

Alec: Yes ….

Audrey: That was more like a Debenhams type of shop ….

Alec: [at same time] Of course, all …. the only traffic we had then was the tram ….

Audrey: That’s right ….

Alec: The trams used to go from Princess Parkway …. to Barlow Moor Road …. into Manchester, and I remember …. after one of the blitzes, because I was going, everybody was still going to work as best they could …. we were getting a tram …. to Old Trafford …. and they, just near where the …. it was called The Palace where they used to go dancing …. The Palace and the cinema on the other side was called the Ritz …. [possibly now the Palace Theatre which along Whitworth Street to the junction with Oxford Road] where flames were shooting up, must be …. 50ft in the air because the …. the mains had been damaged and they caught fire and …. it was horrendous ….

Audrey: That wasn’t very far from Whitworth Street School ….

Alec: and the trams couldn’t get past because of the flames.

Alec: It was quite a frightening time and yet somehow …. it was exciting really …. strange to say that ….

Audrey: During the time that I was going to Whitworth Street School …. the same thing happened …. every …. every …. few days …. you got to school, there were less and less pupils there because they’d been moved …. they’d been …. perhaps their houses had been bombed …. or they’d …. they’d been, you know …. evacuated into the country …. so, it would be safer …. and the same thing, again …. the teachers were …. you know …. less and less …. until in the end …. by the time it got to …. 19…. the end of, just before the end of the War …. I left ….

I left without permission …. and got a job …. and worked for a week and got sent back to school …. [laughing] I wasn’t allowed to leave ….

Alec: But it is funny, see, you were, you were the clever one, I wasn’t very clever, you see ….

Audrey: [talking together] You were bright in a different way though ….

Alec: and my parents didn’t have any money to send us to have a holiday …. and they had this …. scheme going …. for people whose families couldn’t afford a holiday …. to send them to a Birkdale Camp …. which was in the area of Southport …. Birkdale Camp, it was like a …. well, we used to refer to it as a Concentration Camp …. because it was so …. it was so basic …. that I was glad to get back, and when I did get back ….

Audrey: You cried, you told me you cried!

Alec: Well, I tried to, I tried to get away, but they wouldn’t let me get away [laughing] …. and when I got back, I started with Scarlet Fever …. [laughing] ….

Audrey: Yes, I remember all those sorts of things, yes …. We mentioned about the Picture House, about …. the Tatton, in Gatley …. and other cinemas …. and that was an era …. of film stars …. and it was a distraction from the War because the American films were like, Hollywood was like Heaven …. You know …. beautiful houses, beautiful people …. stories and we used to …. sometimes …. go on a Saturday morning to the cowboy ….

Well, at first, it wasn’t my thing at all …. but because I had a younger brother, I had to take him …. and I used to take him all the way from …. where we lived on Brownley Road …. to the Tatton in Gatley, and I think it cost tuppence …. and watch the film and then played parts coming back …

Alec: Bumping your backsides ….

Audrey: Because you were on a horse and things like …. to do really, don’t they?

00:20:30

But, the cinema became really really very important …. it was a …. an escape, wasn’t it really?  And …. the women all look so beautiful, the clothes were lovely, the men were handsome, and they always …. and if you didn’t like the ending, you made your own up, didn’t you?

I am sure you used to like to go to the cinema, didn’t you?

Alec: Well, I did, yes, well, it was the only really …. anything that was really going in those days, because they didn’t go to pubs, didn’t go drinking, or anything like that. There were no clubs …. There were dance halls, but I am afraid …. you were more into dancing than I was …. I didn’t used to bother with dancing …. but it was something you managed to …. managed to make your own entertainment …

That was the only way really …. and the cinema was something which you …. not, not only enjoy going to see, but then …. used have favourites …. like if you …. if, if it was like ….

Audrey: Oh, Errol Flynn …. you always wanted to ….

Alec: Errol Flynn, so you would want to grow a moustache …. to look like Errol Flynn ….

Audrey: Yes ….

Alec: and Clark Gable as well …. Well, I used to get away with that because I had big ears, like he did, you see …. [laughing] ….

Audrey: And they used to have the Palais …. on a Saturday night …. and then …. something else that had happened, well …. it gradually happened …. all the foreign soldiers used to come …. We had …. soldiers from Poland and Czechoslovakia …. all these languages ….

This was before the Americans arrived, I am talking about ….

Alec: But that was the airport that brought them there ….

Audrey: Well, the 6th Paratroop …. the airborne division, trained at Manchester Airport …. and it was very, Ringway Airport as it was …. and of course, you got to know them, I mean, I was really too young to have them as boyfriends, but my …. my other girlfriends had older sisters …. and they used to do 6 parachute jumps from …. from, oh, 5 from a plane …. and one from a ….

Alec: from a balloon in Tatton Park.

Audrey: Over Tatton Park, that’s right …. and after those, they would get …. wings which they could stitch over the …. pocket of the uniform …. and a little broach which they could give their girlfriends or their mums, or whatever …. and …. of course … they were very proud of them and they used to …. sing a song …. about “When the red light goes on, we are ready for the Sergeant to show No 1!”

Alec: Yea ….

Audrey: “with the knees of your feet close together, you’d jump out of the ….” and they used to sing these songs …. and of course, my father being an ex-army man had his eye on all these young men in uniforms …. and this 15 – 16 year old girl, well, 14 – 15 year old girl …. and you grew up quite quickly at that time, I think, because lots of girls …. that I …. went to school with …. had started to go to work …. my best friend worked at Lewis’ which is now Primark in Manchester …. and another one worked for a fashion company called C&A which used to be on Oldham Street in Manchester ….

Alec: and Afflecks ….

Audrey: and Afflecks, yes ….

Alec: Afflecks which is now ….

Audrey: Afflecks is a bit more …. fuddy duddy …. and when I decided that …. this may be the life for me …. as I wasn’t getting anywhere at school really …. apart from singing “Jerusalem” and …. you know …. sort of …. at assembly …. everything had just …. gone …. it was one of the things I’ve always regretted, isn’t it?

Alec: Well ….

Audrey: because I realise I could have got so much further in life, but in the end, would I have been any happier anyway?

Alec: Ah, you met me and that dragged you back then ….

Audrey: That was a long time later …. but …. No …. I decided to leave, as I say …. I had to go back but finally, they even, they even …. there wasn’t any restrictions on anything anymore, there were …. too many other things that people were worrying about …. and …. I think we were getting more news of the invasion, that France had fallen and once the …. nobody really knew ….

So, they wanted to go out and have a good time when they had chums …. So, I decided to leave …. which I did. My father was very disappointed but …. that was it.

Anyway, my mother said “Do something …. you know …. something that you feel as though you’ve achieved something ….” and she said, “Why don’t you apply for this job, this is a job at a hair dresser’s ….” Something, I had never even thought of …. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I did …. and I got a job in Didsbury village …. for two gentlemen …. and they had a salon in Manchester and they were very very well respected …. in Didsbury village …. and I went to work there, and they were absolutely wonderful ….

I was apprenticed there …. the two girls I worked with, that were senior to me …. both had husbands in …. serving in the forces …. and they used to long for letters, if they got a letter, they’d read them over and over again …. and talked about them constantly …. It was really …. It gave me an opportunity, I earned some money …. and even though you couldn’t buy many clothes …. you save up and buy something …. and …. it was from there …. one day, I got on the bus …. on the bus, oh, we had finished work a bit early and somebody said …. “I think it’s time we had a little early ….” You know ” …. a break …. you can go home.”

I got on the bus in Didsbury village …. and it pulled up at the traffic lights, ready to turn left to go down Barlow Moor Road …. when somebody jumped on the bus and shouted, “The War’s over!”

Well, nobody would believe it, we thought it was making a joke …. Finally, it …. you know, the coin dropped …. and we got home, and I ran in the house and there was going to be such a lot of …. bonfire across the road on the corner that should have been a sand pit ….

Everybody was cheering, and it was just ….

Alec: You know, I don’t remember any of that, unfortunately …. The only bits I remember is when I left school and went into a factory.

Audrey: Yea, but you used to say, you used to say to me that the men used to sit around and talk about …..

Alec: Yea, when we were in the factory, yes, well, I was only young and of course most of the …. the young …. 19-year olds and 20-year olds were called up so all you were left with were the …. rather elderly people, or the people that weren’t …. 100% fit …. that weren’t called up ….

Audrey: They probably seemed old to you then ….

Alec: and at lunchtime, we used to sit round this, this …. fire type place where I used to do what they call …. soldering, well, soldering …. and they used to talk about …. as the papers came through every day …. and it was like the armchair …. strategies, weren’t they? …. Everybody knew how to win the War …. when they were invading Russia …. Oh, what we would do is this, yea …. and I grew up amongst a lot of …. much older people …. and, in a way …. I had always been in the presence of people who were older than myself …. not any more now, of course, because I am 92 ….

So, it was an unusual time for me …. growing up …. I don’t know, it is hard to explain really because …. Even though, I lived through it, I don’t remember a lot of it …. only factory work ….

Audrey: Well, I remember when it got …. got …. towards the end of the War and you were talking earlier on about having crushes …. there used to be crooners then …. and all of a sudden, who came along …. but Frank Sinatra …. towards the end of the War ….

Alec: Frank Sinatra, don’t forget the other fellow as well ….

Audrey: and there also was the big bands …. these wonderful big bands …. and who was it? Glenn Miller ….

Alec: Glenn Miller, yes ….

Audrey: this particular sound of Glenn Miller ….

Alec: and Crosby, the singer ….

Audrey: “String of Pearls ….” …. Oh, Bing Crosby was old fashioned to us ….

Alec: It was to you, but it wasn’t to me ….

Audrey: Frank Sinatra’s songs were better …. [laughing] …. yea …. and of course, he used to sing …. and, oh, Vera Lynn …. now …. In a way, you remember her voice because it was always there when you were …. a kid, you know …. singing the songs like …. you know, “We’ll meet again” and all the rest of it that …. very sad song …. and another thing that …. springs to mind as well, more on the serious side …. there was one day before I left school, I remember …. we used to walk through …. the …. along the canal and into Piccadilly …. to get the bus back home …. and there was a little newspaper …. kiosk …. on the corner …. and I, if I could, I’d manage to buy a newspaper …. you know, each day …. and I kept the newspapers for a long time …. Sadly, lost them about …. the second, we moved, you know ….

00:29:47

When we moved from Dunnisher Road [Wythenshawe], but this particular day …. looked at the paper, opened it and I couldn’t believe it, it was …. Belsen …. and it was like …. now we were thinking about all the …. happy times that we might have as things were getting brighter …. all these records of the concentration camps …. and the terrible way that the Jewish people had been treated ….

It was there, and then, it was there on Pathé News …. and I can remember seeing them …. you know, like skeletons with these striped …. pyjama things on …. and I think it was the British that had …. got to Belsen, actually ….

Alec: No, no, I don’t know if it was the British, but the Russians were the first ones to experience this of course ….. [The British relieved Belsen, the Russians relieved Auschwitz]

Audrey: and it was just so horrifying ….

Alec: Anyway ….

Audrey:  to see it ….

Alec: One thing you mentioned, during the War that …. you used to have Picture Post ….

Audrey: Oh, yes ….

Alec: That is something from a …. from, it was the only paper that was like ….

Audrey: It was a weekly magazine …. yea …. with ….

Alec: It had all the …. things about the goings on in America, really …. The fashion in America, the film stars ….

Audrey: No, that wasn’t the Picture Post, was a magazine …. about the War time, about …. like a paper …. with more photographs in ….

Alec: Oh, was it about the War, I thought it was about ….

Audrey: No, the other one was Picture Goer ….

Alec: Picture Goer ….

Audrey: The one you are talking about was Picture Goer, yea …. Yes, that one was about, you know, the …. films and film stars …. and they always had a portrait on one page …. you could cut out and save, put in a photograph frame …. the girls used to have a crush on …. You know, you would save like a Clark Gable ….

Alec: Yes, definitely ….

Audrey: and Tyrone Power was a …. some of the names ….

Alec: And what was the other bloke who used to sing “When I’m calling you”?

Audrey: Oh, those were very old fashioned, weren’t they? …. Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy ….

Alec: I used to try and sing like him ….

Audrey: And there was Shirley Temple …. this was a long time before …. when the War had just started …. and she was a little American girl that tap danced, she was about 5 or 6 …. She had all curls and ….

Alec: There was the other one who was a skater ….

Audrey: Oh, Sonja Henie ….

Alec: Henie, yes ….

Audrey: Gosh …. where they had got that name for all these years? Yes, there was many things like that …. But then of course, after the War ….

Alec: These were idols …. you’ve got idols now in football, we had idols in the cinema ….  It was the only way that we could really express ourselves …. properly ….

Audrey: Well, when the Americans finally arrived, just as we were saying …. it was well known that in the centre of Manchester …. if you went in to the Gaumont long bar …. it was a place where everybody …. well, what they used to call “picking up place” …. it was a place where the girls could meet the Yanks ….

Alec: Yep, that’s right ….

Audrey: And of course, on a Saturday, I think …. my friend’s older sister used to go …. to …. a club in Warrington …. and I think there must have been a big …. American base somewhere near …. Warrington ….

Alec: There was yes, was, and also an air base as well ….

Audrey: And ….

Alec: That’s where my brother went ….

Audrey: we used to get the train, I think it was Gatley …. we used to get this train and go to the dance …. you know …. and of course, there was a lot of romances that went wrong …. as they always do …. and then there were GI brides, weren’t there …. They thought to go to America was going to be like Hollywood …. on the pictures ….

Alec: Yea, until they got there ….

Audrey: Yea, a lot of them, yes …. changed their minds, yea ….

Alec: It really was a very interesting time but ….

Audrey: After the War, then …. you realise how all the boys, you should have been …. having dates with …. weren’t there …. because they’d been called up when they were 18 …. and if you were about 14 or 15 and you were just starting to …. sort of …. find yourself …. going to the pictures with a boy …. there would be no boys to go to the pictures with …. But, once they started coming home …. they had a demob leave …. which meant they had about 6 weeks? Something like that? To readjust ….

Alec: Yea ….

Audrey: Better than the First World War where they just came out in huge numbers …. which created such a problem …. They were given a suit …. you could choose between this pin-stripe thing and this herring-bone thing or something …. neither of them were very nice …. but at least it was a suit, a civilian suit ….

Alec: Yea, they’d get brown boots …. brown boots ….

Audrey: and of course …. I had, because of where we lived and because of my age …. I got to know a family of boys going to St Luke’s Church …. And they used to have a Toc H thing there and …. scouts and …. in the hall and …. dances on a Saturday …. and I got to know them, and …. I always felt very sorry for the mother …. I used to say to you, didn’t I?  Her husband was in the Navy, so he was away …. two of the sons were in the Navy …. they were away …. one son was in the Army …. he was away …. and her youngest son, the youngest of 4 …. was in Baguley Sanatorium …. and of course, in those days, if you went to Baguley Sanatorium, you were very very fortunate if you survived …. and unfortunately, Raymond didn’t survive …. but I had a boyfriend …. the three sons …. because as I got a little bit older …. and able to go out …. with ….

Dates in them days were going to the Pictures or going to the Dance …. and that’s where it finished, not like today ….

Alec: Yea, but I was a bit backward in coming forward …. because all these lads that were in the Forces and I was only like 15, 16 …. these women sometimes married …. were trying to take you on …. [laughing] …. and it was so embarrassing …. I mean, I didn’t …. I know people are more advanced these days but when I was …. you know, 15 or 16 …. I didn’t know what kissing was, probably ….

Audrey: I think that was what it was like, wasn’t it?

Alec: Yea …. everything changed so much ….

Audrey: Yea …. Exactly …. well, then of course …. these boys, or young men came back …. some had seen service …. and been in War service …. I mean, Tony Hamlett, my first serious boyfriend, was quite a bit older than me …. and he’d been in the Navy …. In fact, he was about 9 years older than me …. but …. I think also …. they wanted to come home and get married …. they didn’t want to come home and …. they just wanted a home, didn’t they?

Alec: Yea …. Audrey: So, it wasn’t long before a lot of …. friends of mine …. were getting married when they were just 19 or 19 …. and, no houses to live in …. They couldn’t …. you just had to find a rented flat or …. live with your parents and …. no, no chance really …. was there?

Alec: That’s right ….

Audrey: because there hadn’t been any building ….

Alec: I mean, I lived with my parents until I was …. near enough 27 years of age …. from the age of 3 I had lived at 200 Darley Avenue …. and ….

Audrey: Well, this was ….

Alec: That was all I had known ….

Audrey: That was the natural world, wasn’t it?

Alec: Yes, yes, it was normal, yes ….

Audrey: They stayed until they got married …. Well then, I …. got engaged, I think …. I met Dennis, my first husband, who had been in the Paratroop Regiment …. Came home …. in very sad circumstances because his …. older brother had been killed in Monte Casino …. and of course, this photograph …. of the older brother who had been killed …. sat in …. on the, on the sideboard, everybody had a sideboard in those days …. where they could afford it …. and dominated the whole room and dominated the whole family with the loss …. I think he was about twenty …. four …. and he had left a wife …. and she was expecting a baby and that boy grew up …. never having seen his father, like many?

Alec: That was norm, that was the norm …. A very sad time in that respect ….

Audrey: Yea …. but it affected the family and it affected …. our marriage in a way because …. it was sort of like, always this sadness through the whole family ….

00:38:39:20

and …. and then came an opportunity, the first houses that were built on licence …. in Manchester …. were on Dunnisher Road …. which is Newall Green …. and for, I think, they were about £1,500 to buy a house ….

Alec: That’s right ….

Audrey: but you could get a 99-year ….

Alec: 99-year lease ….

Audrey: No, a 99-year but you get a 95% ….

Alec: 95% mortgage, yes …. yes ….

Audrey: but you had to go and see the builder first to see, you know, if he would accept you …. and I remember going to the builder …. asking a preliminary question, and then …. going with my husband …. to be interviewed …. to see, we had no money …. but they wouldn’t be built for so long …. you found every means you could of saving up ….

Alec: Saving up a deposit ….

Audrey: and scraping together this deposit …. to buy a house …. no furniture, no carpets, no curtains …. nothing in the house ….

Alec: Which in those days was unknown for our parents because they …. they never had enough money to buy a house ….

Audrey: They never had the opportunity ….

Alec: to buy a house was not possible ….

Audrey: Yea, yea …. and we bought these brand-new houses …. Well, people …. all the people on that road, there was only about …. 10 houses originally …. and they all gradually …. had a family, got their homes together …. and those were the first, as I say, the first houses …. and we’ve been back there since, not go in house, but just to look, you know, and I say …. and they still look nice, they’ve been extended, they still look as nice now as they did …. and those were the first …. private houses that Manchester Corporation allowed …. to be built on council …. you know, on council land …. so, that was a good chance to have a house …. and lived there for about 15, 16 years …. and …. that’s another story after that …. [laughing] ….

Alec: I think we’ve exhausted it, haven’t we?

Michael: You’ve done very well ….

Alec: Or, you have, Audrey …. you’ve done very well ….

Audrey: Oh, I don’t know, you did very well ….

Alec: No, I’m just the ‘chipper inner’ ….

Audrey: I can ….

Michael: I think you’ve done more than that, Alec ….

Audrey: I think so ….

Michael: Yes, indeed …. Just to go back to your …. family, I mean in your early days, your childhood, your …. your father was in the First World War, wasn’t he?

Alec: Correct …. He joined, I didn’t know until recently that he joined the Army …. [Manchester Regiment] …. of course, in those days, it was all volunteers, the First World War …. and he went in at the age of 17 …. which is really, he shouldn’t have done, but he …. falsified something to enable him to get into the forces …. served for 4 years …. in various places and, surprise, surprise …. I found out that he’d not only served in Egypt …. but also at the Dardanelles …. or Gallipoli …. he spent some time also in Khartoum …. and for the last 12 months, he was transferred to France and of course he was …. involved in various …. operations there …. and surprise, surprise, he came out alive …. with having been …. had two occasions where he had been shot …. and was eventually invalided out …. and was able to wear, from all accounts …. a red flash on his uniform …. to prove that he had been severely wounded …. and he spent some time also in hospital, I believe …. he spent about ….

Audrey: It was Nell Lane, wasn’t it? ….

Alec: Nell Lane, eventually …. or Withington Hospital as it is called now …. or was, as it is not a hospital any more …. but prior to that, he also spent time in two other hospitals …. which were probably down south, when he was first invalided out …. but …. no, he had rather a charmed life …. and, the funny thing is …. parents never used to talk about these things …. and it’s only now, years afterwards …. after my father died, when he was 65 …. which wasn’t a great age …. and you find out afterwards, what these guys did, and where they went …. it is quite remarkable that they survived, some of them ….

I can never understand how he managed to get through it all …. but anyway, you did ….

Audrey: When you were talking about, yea ….

Alec: Even in the Camel Corps in Egypt …. he did some wonderful things, I was ….

Audrey: It has been a revelation in a way, hasn’t it?

Alec: and the funny thing was that …. when I eventually got called up, because I was in a reserved occupation …. it was supplying the coal mining industry with equipment, so it was important that carried on, it was a necessity, really …. and when I eventually got called up, and I looked back on photographs …. I find that my father had a photograph taken in 1914 …. on a ship …. going out to Egypt …. and I look at my history …. and I was photographed in a similar way …. going out, again to Egypt on a boat, on a ship …. and when I wrote back saying that I had been climbing up the Pyramids …. and he wrote back and said “That’s exactly what I did when I was out there ….” …. [laughing] …. and then he went to Khartoum ….

I was asked to volunteer for Khartoum, which I turned down because I was too comfortable where I was …. So, it seems as though history seems to repeat itself a lot ….

Michael: Yes, yes ….

Alec: Amazing ….

Michael: What about you, Audrey? What about your parents?

Audrey: Well, my father, both my parents had a very very sad beginning in life …. My father was found wandering in the centre of Manchester …. and I got a …. “what’s a name” to say he was admitted to what was called the Ragged School …. he was arrested, well …. taken into care …. and taken to the Ragged School which is at Ardwick Green …. and …. there, he stayed until he was about 16 …. and on his report from the Ragged School …. it said, “Mother dead …. Father bad ….” …. Simple as that …. describing his build and his colouring …. and …. he was one of five children …. but the eldest boy had left and found work …. when the mother died …. the daughter had married …. and taken one of the others to live with her …. and it was my father …. and his younger brother …. they were only quite young …. I think my father was …. about 8 or 9 when he was found …. and he stayed there until he was 16 …. and then …. I always understood him saying there had been …. two men had come round and they were talking about …. asking …. those who were about to leave the Orphanage …. about a career in the Army …. and my father went into the Army as a …. in the Boys’ …. and …. to …. and he trained as a Bandsman …. I mean, he must have had that leaning towards music …. and all his life, I can remember he followed opera …. he followed, you know, the band music …. he just loved music …. and he stayed …. and served with the band of the Manchester Regiment …. on tour …. and he served in Northern Ireland, and that was his experience of …. ‘problems’ …. that was in the town of the Black and Tans, it was in the 20s ….

Then he joined a band of some …. I think it was …. one the like, Foden’s, you know, the big engineering …. they …. had this brass band thing, particularly in the North, isn’t it? It’s very popular …. Yorkshire and Lancashire and so on …. and they played at a band stand …. in …. what’s the park near ….

Alec: Platt Fields ….

Audrey: Platt fields …. they had a …. do you know the bandstands? And it was a thing on a Sunday afternoon that all the girls would walk round …. and that’s where my mother met my father …. Now, my mother had a terribly sad life …. she was the youngest of five …. in quite a comfortable family, and her father …. was an electrician …. working on …. big houses …. turning the gas …. lighting into the electricity …. and worked as a small team …. but as individual …. you know …. some were electricians, and some did various other things …. and it was bringing up the very old premises, Victorian properties …. a little bit up to date, modernising them …. So, he travelled all over ….

00:47:56

Well, he left his wife with 5 children …. 5 children …. and my mother was the youngest …. and …. of course, and then her mother was just left …. with, I think, two of the youngest ones …. until the bailiffs came, he disappeared …. and all they …. and they were just taken in, my mother was taken into St Thomas’s Workhouse with her mother …. when she was 5 …. and her mother died in there at forty …. I think she was 42 when she died …. of TB …. which was a common thing, really, in those days …. probably neglect catching it and, you know …. not having a decent …. well. stamina, really, I suppose ….

And, she was taken by an uncle …. down to London, to Wembley …. and there she lived, a really nice period of time …. until she was 12 …. They had a milliner’s shop in Wembley …. and it was there, she got her ideas, she was always very lady-like, always very smart …. very attractive when she was younger …. and …. when she was about 12 or …. 13, she came back, but she had …. when she came back here, she had to go part time …. to work …. in the mills, and part time to school …. and she was quite clever, actually, wasn’t she?

Alec: Oh yes, bright woman ….

Audrey: Very, very bright …. She could tell you all about history ….

Alec: All your family are bright ….

Audrey: Well, I wouldn’t say that ….

Alec: Yes, they are, they are quite bright ….

Audrey: but anyway …. she always, she wanted …. she would have loved to have been a teacher …. And …. anyway, she met my father and they both had this …. thing in common, they wanted a home, like, you know, people who have never had …. the comfort of a nice home …. it is a very, sort of special, precious thing …. and …. all my father wanted was a garden as well …. a garden, so the fact that he came …. to Wythenshawe, he got the opportunity because …. all he could get when he came out of the Army …. was a little terraced house …. in Longsight …. It was mouse infected, mouse infected, it was …. dirty and …. you know …. So, when they got this opportunity to go to …. come to Wythenshawe and get into that kind of a house …. it was always the nicest house on the block [laughing] wasn’t it …. well you didn’t know then of course ….

Alec: [at the same time] Well not there …. but my …. it was the same with my family ….

Audrey: But you knew …. you knew what she was like anyway…

Alec: My ….my family had to grow up with my parents .… grandparents ….

Audrey: Yes ….

Alec: And …. we…because there were so many living in the house …. that’s the reason why they were able to get a house in …. in Chorlton

Audrey: And we found some things about when you tried to buy furniture…and the price of it was so cheap ….

Alec: Yes ….

Audrey: Yes ….

Alec: We still have the bills …. some of the bills ….

Audrey: And then your father’s sister married quite well off …. and married .… a man who .… he used to …. import .…

Alec: [at same time] married …. material ….

Audrey: .…was it ….

Alec: Material …. cloth ….

Audrey: Cotton ….

Alec: Cotton, cloth …. yes ….

Audrey: In Manchester, yeah .…They lived in Lymm ….

Alec: [at same time] So .… so .… she had a good .… she had a life ….

Audrey: Yes, she had a very good life, didn’t she?Alec: but no family ….Audrey: Sadly she died …. but they had no.… yeah .… your father was the poor brother …. wasn’t he, yeah .… We don’t know a great deal about Alec’s mum .… we want to try and find out more …. with .…

Alec: Well the …. the only thing I do know is that…during, during the war .… she was a .… worked in munitions ….

Audrey: [at same time] Most women did though didn’t they, yeah ….

Alec: And then she turned .… was supposed to be a cook .… which is hard to .… believe because my mother was the worst cook in the world ….

Audrey: [laughs] ….

Alec: So I think she poisoned a few people on the way ….

Audrey: She was, bless her ….

Alec: [at same time] But she was a very hard worker .… very hard worker ….

Audrey: And we bought a house …. I think I mentioned it to you earlier on …. on Cheadle Road …. a big old house …. I’ll show you what it was …. a before and after picture …. you’ll be quite surprised …. and we were there …. for thirty-odd years …. But during the time we were there …. we, we …. brought it up to standard didn’t we ….

Alec: Yep ….

Audrey: and brought Vicky up …. and then …. we decided because we had a friend who was an architect as well …. and we were discussing it with him …. it was built in such a way that with a bit of …. well, with a lot of work …. it could be made into two houses …. it was a very big house …. it was a seven-bedroomed house ….

Alec: Semi-detached house ….

Audrey: Yeah, big Victorian ….

Alec: But very big ….

Audrey: So, we set about …. turning it into two houses and having it restored …. working with it …. working with the builder …. which we finally …. got the first house nearly, part nearly done …. and we had a …. we took an overdraft out to pay for it because we were both working ….

I had my own shop ….  and you had a good job then didn’t you …. So, we set off [laughs] doing this …. and then, we bought a business …. we went into a business …. we had a …. an antiques business in the centre of Manchester in the Royal Exchange …. before the bomb …. And there we were very happily …. going along …. half-way through …. We got the front half’s part nearly done …. And …. One day, I was …. you were taking me into work that particular day because you wanted to do something …. And ….

We usually …. we had a car, and a van, but you wanted to do something …. So, you said, ‘I’ll drop you off’, it was Saturday morning …. in the summer …. in nineteen ninety …. seven, eight …. was it 1998 …. and as I got into the Royal Exchange, I couldn’t get in because the police cordon was round.

Well, we so used to having …. fire alarms, it wasn’t anything unusual …. So I thought I knew how to get in the back way, so I …. nipped down Half Moon Street, round the back …. and got in …. and then, they said, “There’s been a bomb scare” …. so, I said to the security man ….  “Where’s the bomb?” ….

Alec: And the van …. we could see it …. the van was parked just down the road …. opposite where we were …. [laughs] ….

Audrey: So, we went upstairs with the security man …. and he said “See the van across there”, which was about as far as the …. houses across the …. park here …. He said “That’s been …. stuck there  ….  from early morning …. and the police are getting a bit suspicious …. and I think something, somebody’s said something about a phone call” ….

Well within no time at all the alarms went and we finished up …. You’d gone home, I was on my own there …. I’d just started to get everything out of the safe to put into the units …. When the alarm went …. And we were all told we had to get out …. And we were sent into St Anne …. Oh, first of all we went to Cross Street, then they took us into St Anne’s Square, then they took us against the church …. and then we finally finished up outside Kendal’s corner door …. And outside Kendal’s corner door for years, there’d been a man …. with a ….  a truck, and it was full of vegetables …. and fruit ….

Alec: He’s still there ….

Audrey: Is he still there?

Alec: Yes ….

Audrey: And we stood there, stood there …. and all of a sudden …. a friend of mine …. a girl …. a lady …. a girlfriend, who worked at the airport …. and her husband …. was there …. and he’d  …. heard this …. you know, alarm …. and he’d come into the city because his twin daughters were there to book a holiday or something …. and as he walked across and joined me, the bomb went off ….

So, we all ducked down and, I’ve said to you many a time, the strangest thing …. glass, when it shattered like that …. it …. it creates a vacuum …. and the glass …. didn’t go like that …. [demonstrating] …. it went …. like that …. and it ….

Alec: It goes in a curve like that ….

Audrey: Like that …. all over the place …. and we were told to run …. and we …. I remember quite clearly running down the middle of Deansgate, down the centre with everybody else, and the girl in front of me …. she had little pots of blood on her blouse …. and I had some hankies …. I …. and it was …. it was just tiny little bits of glass that had …. she wasn’t injured …. it was just little pricks of glass, you know ….

And we, I ran all the way to Knott Mill …. Oh no, I didn’t ….

Alec: No, I picked you up ….

Audrey: Yes no …. I ran all the way first of all to the end of Deansgate …. then I thought …. I’ve got to find some way of phoning …. So ….  made my way into St Peter’s Square …. there was a telephone box in St Peter’s Square then …. and it’s not there now anymore …. and there was a queue …. Everybody was wanting to phone home, cos …. no mobiles then ….

Michael: Yes, quite ….

00:57:02

Audrey: I ran along Deansgate and finally found this phone box in St Peter’s Square …. and people were getting change out …. and the, the nervousness of everything else …. there was …. money on the floor that had been rejected …. and …. just a lady before me picked up the phone, she said “I don’t know what to do ….” …. and a voice came on the phone, the operator ….”Just speak, we’ll put you through …. It wasn’t …. You don’t need to put any money in …. It’s you know, it’s on …. ”

So I rang …. you at home, told you …. well briefly, what had happened …. And …. you said, “I’ll meet, I’ll see you at Knott Mill” …. .and I walked the rest ….

Alec: It was far as you could go …. You couldn’t go any further into Manchester than Knott Mill ….

Audrey: We went back the next morning, on the Sunday morning, early, and it was really hot and sunny that day and we went with Vicky didn’t we ….

Alec: Yea ….

Audrey: and we got …. of course, we were in Zone A, or one …. whichever they called it …. I think it was Zone A …. which was all round …. St Anne’s Square, the Royal Exchange, Marks and Spencers …. that whole area was …. that was it …. And it took us a month of trying …. to get in …. and we finally did get in …. I …. What had happened was of course ….  that the water tanks up above ….  the glass …. dome …. had burst and water had all come through …. and we got a …. a …. a …. catalogue explanation didn’t we …. of what happens when that kind of bomb …. goes off …. this sort of vacuum ….

Anyway …. to fast forward a little, we tried everything to find an alternative because it was all our living …. I mean, everybody in the Royal Exchange ….

Alec: We know of three people who committed suicide as a result of that, because we got no help …. the only help we got was from the Royal Mayor’s Appeal ….

Audrey: Which lent you some money to start off again ….

Alec: But you had to pay it back ….

Audrey: [at the same time] You had to pay it back …. We had meeting after meeting and I was one on the…asked to go on this committee. We met .… the Lord Mayor, we met Michael Heseltine we met ….

Alec: Well you did, you met the Prime Minister ….

Audrey: It was …. what’s his name? What’s he called?

Alec: John Major ….

Audrey: John Major, yeah sorry …. And what had happened, I got a phone call in the morning…”Can you get down to Heron House…as soon as possible?”…. Which I …. got the car started ‘cos I used to drive in .… into Manchester each day and back working in the Royal Exchange …. [coughs] ….

Got .… got so far, got a puncture…managed to get it sorted…and got …. I had a parking place in Manchester because you were on the committee so that you could be at a meeting if it was necessary .… “and you’re needed and you’ve got to make your way to Heron House as soon as you can ….” …. So I ran from the park, car park, and when the security man met me outside Heron House, we ran up the corridor and through this door …. didn’t know what was going on .… burst through this door .… and there was a long table and sat round it was the Lord Mayor .… Michael Heseltine …. John Major …. and gentlemen being gentlemen, the lady came in and they all stood up.

So I thought, “Well .…

Alec: [starts laughing]

Audrey: “can’t be bad” …. [laughs] …. And I sat down next to John Major and I was never so angry in all my life as I was at Michael Heseltine …. We tried everything to explain to him, and he said “Well, if you didn’t have terrorist insurance, there’s nothing we can do …. unless you live in Northern Ireland ….”

Now in Northern Ireland you got ….  the compensation to start again, or at least, some help towards it ….  so it left a lot of us …. with no business …. No money, no income, and we were half of ….

Alec: [at the same time] No business, no money, no nothing …. The council were very good, the people who had mortgages they didn’t have to pay ….

Audrey: Yeah ….

Alec: Rent, you didn’t have to pay ….

Audrey: Barclays were wonderful, we went to see them ….

Alec: [at the same time] They were very good ….

Audrey: They said, “Don’t pay anything at all on this loan ….” that he’d had for ….  you know, your, your building …. And …. they were …. that was it wasn’t it, they were very good …. and finally, we managed to sell the front house …. We managed to get that, get straight. So …. it made a big difference to Manchester …. it’s given it a new life and it’s lovely to see it now …. but …. I knew Manchester like the back of my hand because I’d been to school there …. and …. I’d been, you know, working there …. all those years and I really ….  love it, and we still go back often now ….

Alec: Yep …. Yep. We still see people working there ….

Audrey: [at the same time] So we’re a Manchester couple you see ….

Michael: Very much so ….

Alec: We’re Mancunian ….

Michael: Very much so …. If we were to, we’re coming I think towards the end of the interview, but you may well have some funny moments you’d like to repeat before we sort of do any sort of summing up, but …. do you have anything, can you think of anything that was particularly funny …. that you would like to repeat?

Alec: [laughs] I can’t think of anything off hand ….

Audrey: [sigh] It’s been a mixed thing really hasn’t it …. I mean …. funny is …. funny is different things where you’re laughing at something that’s happened ….

Alec: There was one thing that which …. it wasn’t so much funny …. but it was very unusual in as much as when the bomb went off …. it activated all the alarm systems in the city and they all went off at the same time and the racket from that it was going …. [makes alarm sound] …. it was amazing …. the amount of noise from that …. in the city ….

Audrey: Yes [at the same time] I think Michael means something funny, amusing ….

Michael: No, no ….

but but that is something not so much funny ….

Audrey: Quirky ….

Alec: Yes, yes but I can’t think, it was most unusual …. you’d never experience it again it was most unusual to have all these alarms going off at the same time. Some were hooters, some were bells, some were …. all, all …. it was unbelievable …. the noise ….

Audrey: Something that wasn’t really funny but [laughing] it was like …. talk about an aftermath …. You picked me up at Knott Mill and we’d be going about ten minutes and the exhaust fell off …. [laughing] ….

Alec: Yeah we had, we had a bit of an old banger didn’t we ….

Michael: Well, yes ….

Audrey: We heard this horrible noise that you get when the exhaust falls off and ….

Alec: [at same time] and it was rattling on the floor dragging behind us

Audrey: Oh dear [laughing] ….

Michael: And really to sum up a little bit, if you were going to give advice to a youngster today, what would that advice be?

Alec: Advice in ….

Audrey: I think something that we’ve really always stood by is respect …. You respect people …. you don’t ….

Alec: [at the same time] This is something that ….

Audrey: You don’t scream and shout and …. I always remember my mother saying to me …. when you get in an argument, don’t carry it any further …. because the one that shouts …. you know, is …. you, you bring yourself down to ….  the level of the person that’s been shouting and screaming …. just, don’t do it …. so …. But respect is something that …. it’s like respecting …. and you ….

Alec: You’ve covered such a lot with the respect part ….

Audrey: [at the same time] Respect people you work with …. respect your parents, respect …. what …. space your children need …. Respect covers such a lot of things, doesn’t it because there’s nothing worse …. than being spoken to in a way that you ….  makes you …. unhappy …. or sad or angry or anything …. I think possibly that …. And …. opportunities …. they will make their own minds up …. you can’t persuade anybody, we’ve …. we’d tried …. various things haven’t we in the past ….

Alec: Yep, yep ….

Audrey: That the kids wanted to do and then it’s not worked out ….

Alec: But that respect is a strange thing in a way because I mean ….

Audrey: [at the same time] It covers a ….

Alec: Because there was something happened to me, oh, about two years ago …. We used to always stop at a particular greengrocer’s …. and on this particular occasion …. the way I was spoken to …. by the …. the person that was serving me meant that I’d never go back again …. A silly thing like that would lose them customers because …. they weren’t showing respect ….

Audrey: It wasn’t anything you’d done or needed to do ….

Alec: No, it was just the way I was spoken to ….

Audrey: Yes ….

Alec: And I’ve probably become more sensitive to this the older, when you get older …. you don’t probably aware of it when you’re younger but ….

Audrey: [at the same time] You see, you see it a lot now somehow …. and I don’t think it’s done intentionally …. It’s, it’s, very often because ….  it’s, it’s kind of a selfishness with perhaps younger people that they don’t realise …. and that, if they …. it’s so nice occasionally if you go ….  as an older person now somewhere and a younger person …. on the …. Metrolink …. gets up and gives you a seat …. you’re very lucky. Or if, if somebody …. asks you something and doesn’t tell you something, you know ….

Alec: But that respect comes in all sorts of forms …. because when we were in business …. we always made a point of being as …. as nice as we could to customers and they always, they always came back. And also, if we agreed to a …. a delivery …. we would always delivere on time …. And it, it stands you in good stead in life …. if you do what is expected of you, not what …. other people might expect ….

Michael: Yes. I mean, it’s about accountability as well isn’t it?

Alec: Yes, yes ….

Michael: And like ….

Audrey: I think everybody would have a different idea …. about …. advising because a lot of people have different experiences, don’t they?

Michael: Yes ….

Audrey: I mean, if you’d had kids to be ….  good and be respectful and this, that and the other then you wouldn’t have to say that. Some people …. are not fortunate enough …. other people have bigger problems with ….

You can’t live your life …. the one thing that does drive us all …. potty, and I am sure it must do with you as well …. is there’s no socialising amongst themselves. They sit on the tram, they sit on the train, they sit in the airport …. and they’ve all got their heads down …. [laughing] ….

Michael: Absolutely. Well, I am going to suggest at that point we finish off but thank you very much indeed, it’s been very enjoyable listening and talking to you ….

Audrey: Well I hope we haven’t disappointed you ….

Michael: Not at all, thank you very much indeed ….

 

End of Transcription

 

Interview recorded by Michael Thompson, Hardy Productions UK, Manchester, for WarGen. Transcription by Michael Thompson and Lizzie Oliver.

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