Tony Mindham was born in rural Norfolk in 1938 and didn’t see much of the War which, living in Holme Hale, passed him by to an extent.

Carole Mindham (née Wilkinson) was born in South Manchester in 1941, after the War had started.

They could not have come from more different backgrounds!

This transcript records their memories before and during World War 2 together with other experiences.

The transcript and the video are about 42 minutes long.

Recorded in Chorlton cum Hardy, Manchester on 23rd August 2018

[Pauses indicated by ….]

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

Transcript: –

Michael: What I would like to do is basically just to ask you …. I don’t know who would like to start first …. Tony, you tend to be the quieter one …. [laughing]

Tony: Right ….

Carole: Oh, you have noticed! ….

Michael: Tell me a little bit about your …. well, start with, at the beginning for you in 1938 …. your parents, what your parents did, where you were ….

Tony: Well, I was born in a very rural district of Norfolk …. in a very small village …. I am no. 7 of 8 children. My father was a land worker …. and we lived in a small council house …. and my mother was a hous…. …. home keeper …. in a big way, really …. and I really …. in a sense, the War kind of passed me by …. because nothing very much happened in our village.

And …. we knew nothing, or I knew nothing …. no experience, at any rate, of any horrors …. or bombings or anything of that nature …. So, in a sense I had a very quiet and relatively peaceful, if that’s the right word, period during the war. And as far as I can know, of course, it was a very happy childhood. Living in the country we had absolute freedom and no worries.

Michael: Did you …. your father get involved in the War in any sort of way?

Tony with his older brother.

Tony: Yes, he was actually in the First World War …. he was a prisoner and in fact wounded. So, in the Second World War, he was a Special Constable. What those duties entailed I’m not quite sure. I think he went round making sure that blackouts were adhered to and things like that but that’s all there was to worry about in our village.

Michael: Yes, so …. war broke out in 1939, you won’t have any memories, what were your first memories of wartime, would you think?

Tony: Possibly, the arrival of the American Air Force which there was quite a large base about 3 miles away …. and I can remember the Americans being about …. but quite honestly nothing much more.

Michael: What about you Carole? You were born in 1941, so you don’t remember much of the very beginning …. Well, you weren’t about at the beginning of the War at all but ….

Carole aged about 3 years

Carole: No ….

Michael: What were your first memories?

Carole: I can remember the Anderson Shelter in the garden which both my mother and I absolutely hated …. I remember being in there once and she’d got plum jam on the stove.

Sugar was a luxury and she’d managed to get some sugar and was making plum jam when air-raid siren went …. So, she took me into the …. air-raid shelter and she stayed behind to make sure the plum jam didn’t burn. And I can remember being horrified in that shelter by myself.

I also remember she eventually, we hated it so much, she made a sort of cave under the stairs. It was a tiny space, but she managed to get 2 chairs and, my father had sent from Egypt a leather ‘pouffey’ …. we called it a ‘pouffey’ …. I think it should be pronounced ‘pouffe’ …. but it was made of pieces of leather and that was for me. And we sat under there when the air-raid sirens went …. And I firmly believe that if I hammered on this ‘pouffey’, loudly enough, the all clear would sound. And I vividly remember kneeling on floor, hammering on the ‘pouffey’ to make the …. to make the planes go away.

I’m not sure, of course, I could only have been 2 or 3 at the time, so very small. I remember a bomb dropping nearby and demolished some shops. This was, you may know it actually, in Sharston on the main Sharston road there. And the following day we went along to have a look at what had happened. That was a bit horrific.

The clothes-rack, we had a rack for clothes that you let down put clothes on and pulled it up again. And that was in the kitchen and that set-fire one night, I think it was over the cooker, and my bedroom was up above it. And so there was, I remember the panic stations when my mother came to get me out of bed because the kitchen was on fire.  It was all put out and it wasn’t very serious but her panic I remember.

I have to say we went quite recently, we took the grandchildren to Stockport to the, what do they call them? Not the war cellars ….

Tony: No, the air-raid shelters ….

Carole: the air-raid shelters in Stockport. And, they set a siren off and I was absolutely petrified. This is 5 years ago? I couldn’t go in I was so upset by that sound. It was so realistic it brought back the horror that I remember as a very, very small child.

Michael: I don’t know whether that might have triggered something for Tony because what was your average day as a child during the war would you think, Tony.  What were you up to?

Tony: Well, I think I went to school quite early because …. the school was actually about 50 yards from my house. I can remember actually using a slate when we first went in. And I also remember that the windows were all taped. And at the time I probably didn’t realise why. Apart from that I think most of my childhood was spent outdoors. Well it had to be, we had no space indoors. [Laughter] Yes ….

Michael: So what sort of house did you live in?

Tony: It was a council house, 2 rooms downstairs, 3 small bedrooms upstairs. There were at that time 6 children and the 2 adults. My 2 eldest sisters had left home and gone into service. We had no running water, no electricity. We had the traditional village pump to fetch water from, I can remember that quite vividly. But we only lived in the one room. We had the front room which was kept for Christmas and special occasions. So, we did spend 95% of our time outdoors.

Michael: And where would you have gone outdoors?

Tony: We just …. there was a field nearby the farmers were all very good because obviously my parents knew them, and we could never get into trouble …. because no matter what, there was an underground …. farmer people would tell my parents where we were or what we’d been up to and vice versa. We couldn’t escape that …. and I think my mother, especially, knew everything we did.

We just wandered the fields and played on the fields. Probably played war games from a very early age …. I can remember, possibly post-war though going to the local cinema. A lady took half a dozen of us to …. by train to the local cinema. We called it the threepenny rush …. but really as I said earlier the actual war didn’t really touch me as a child.

I didn’t know …. any hardships we did/were being incurred didn’t mean anything to me because I’d known nothing different.

Michael: So, I mean, your father was where at that time?

Tony: He was working on the farm ….

Michael: So, he was a …. they have a special term, don’t they? A reserved occupation ….

Tony: No, he was too old. He would have been too old for call-up anyway, I’m sure ….

Michael: Right ….

Tony: He was born in 1898, so he was quite elderly when, well, mature anyway, when the war came along. But he did work, he worked …. he went out at 7 o’clock every morning and returned at dusk, really ….

00:09:51

Michael: Never the less, doing a very important thing ….

Tony: Oh yes, yes …. I mean my mother ruled the roost with 5 boys …. she had to be fairly strong ….

Michael: That was bad planning on her part ….

Tony: Yes, it was, wasn’t it? [laughter]

Michael: So, yes, so I mean, did you see any aircraft go over or anything like that?

Tony: Oh, yes …. towards the end of the war, there was an American air station as I said, nearby. Possibly, it must have been late in the war, we used to walk up to the airfield and we used to watch the planes coming back. They were the …. don’t know what the term was, they were liberators as we knew them. And the American airmen were quite good to us. We had our sweeties and gum and things like that.

Michael: So, you …. how did you meet them?

Tony: I’ve got a vague memory of my mother walking with a pram full of washing. I think she did laundry for the air force, but I can’t imagine how she did it because we had no running water, she had a copper in the kitchen …. and that was it. But I’ve got the vague memory of us walking with a pram-load of washing to the guardroom on this airfield.

Michael: Yes, so what about you then Carole, what were your …. how were your days spent? You were probably too young for school almost.

Carole: I went to school when I was 3 so like Tony I was quite young, but it was a school like Tony. Again, the school was opposite, and I seem to remember my mother helping in the kitchens there and that’s possibly why I went early.

And we had Cowry shells to count. You know how children nowadays have little blocks and counters and things, it was Cowry shells we learned to count with …. I have loved them ever since.

It’s just come back to me when Tony was talking about aeroplanes, we went to …. it’s now Manchester Airport but then it was Ringway …. and, I think they trained men to parachute jump in the area, and there was a display of parachute jumping …. and I was sitting in a …. sitting in a push chair and my mother and I were watching, and this parachute was coming down over us and she panicked …. this is the second time she panicked, she did panic quite a lot …. [laughing] She panicked, she thought the silk was going to suffocate us and so she was desperately trying to get us, herself and me and the push chair …. out from under this parachute. When you look at Manchester Airport now it’s hard to think we were just standing on the airfield.

And another memory which came back to me very recently …. we went to visit Bramhall Hall and in one of the rooms the walls are covered in lincrusta.  Do you remember lincrusta?

Michael: No.

Carole: Most people say, “What’s that”? I remember it vividly, my mother really desperately wanted lincrusta on the toilet wall. And she managed to save up somehow or other and get this lincrusta, and it was sort of halfway up the toilet wall and it was green with tiles on it. Linen-backed material this is, this is why it was expensive. And I sat on the toilet one day, and there was a little loose piece which I pulled.

Ooo, it made a gorgeous noise, the linen on the back ripped all the way down like that, it was gorgeous. So, I pulled a bit more and a bit more and a bit more until there was a lovely fringe.

Tony: I can remember my younger sister getting married and having …. her wedding dress was parachute silk. Probably again, we thank the Americans for that, but it was very important then.

Michael: Yes, material was very short then ….

Carole and Tony together: Yes ….

Tony: I think most women of that age and that period probably got married in parachute silk ….

Michael: Yes, and they also made under garments from it too ….

Carole and Tony together: Yes ….

Michael: as well, so I believe …. I’ve heard this from other people who we’ve interviewed, so yep. Your father was overseas in the 8th Army, wasn’t he, is that right? [His story can be found on WarGen at http://www.wargen.org/3500]

Carole: Yes, he was …. He went, I think, he was posted abroad when I was a few days, well, a few weeks old, yes …. So, I didn’t see him, I didn’t know him at all. He came home when I was 5½ …. but there was a photograph of him and every night I went to bed I had to say goodnight to Daddy. And, he was due home …. we waited, we waited and waited on the day …. he didn’t appear …. in the end I had to go to bed.

Carole’s father, Private Stan Wilkinson

I really, I can, I didn’t know what to expect at all. I didn’t know many men. I had some lovely uncles, my mother was one of a large family, I had lots of aunts and uncles, fortunately, who looked after us during the war. But I didn’t know any men, so I had no idea what to expect.  He did arrive during the night, apparently, he came in. I vaguely remember opening my eyes and saying “Hello Daddy” but that’s it.

Carole with her younger sister.

The next thing I remember was my sister being born after he’d been home for about 10 months and I hated it because there was this other person here and he was my daddy by then and I didn’t want anyone else.

Michael: So, you, I mean, some people resented their fathers coming home because they interfered with the family life in a way.

Carole: No, I didn’t resent him coming home at all. However, he …. his nerves must have been, he wasn’t a nervous person at all he was a very cheerful, bright person …. but he couldn’t stand the sound of the vacuum cleaner or my mother’s knitting needles. She couldn’t knit because the clicking irritated him so much. I remember that vividly …. and the vacuum cleaner upset him too. So, something had caused that irritation. We’ll never know what ….

Michael: We have part of your father’s history on Wargen already because he, I think he wrote a certain amount and I think you tried to sort of clean it up and tidy it up a bit ….

Carole: I put it together ….

Michael: and put it together, yes ….

Carole: I’m sorry he didn’t write more about his time in Egypt, he talked about it a lot ….

Michael: Yes ….

Carole: And he travelled a lot, I never quite fathomed out how he managed to do that …. He seemed to have gone out reconnoitring with somebody. As his title was cook, I don’t know how he managed to get away from his duties ….

Michael: He wasn’t with the Long Rand Desert people, was he? He might have been because they would go off and they would need someone to cook for them on the …. whilst they were travelling ….

Carole: Oh, well perhaps that was it ….

Michael: I don’t know ….

Tony: He was very attached to a ….

Carole and Tony together: Major Carter ….

Carole: He went everywhere with Major Carter ….

Tony: Obviously, they worked together …. it sounds to be something like that ….

Michael: It could well be ….

Carole: And he visited, he visited so many places …. He saw all the sights and told us all about them. I’m so, so sorry he wasn’t able to go back. Tony and I went and did a Nile cruise and I knew all the places I was looking at from what he told me but I’m so sorry he didn’t go back ….

Postcard from Jerusalem, sent by Carole’s father with photos of him, Carole and her mother.

Michael: Yes ….

Carole: He’d have loved it, I know he would, yeah. I would think it was a very hard time for him and obviously being away from his wife and I, my mother and I, must have been dreadful.

Michael: Mmm ….

Carole: But, I think it was an adventure ….

Michael: Yes ….

Carole: as well ….

Michael: And a very different life ….

Carole: A very different life ….

Michael: It sound s as though he may have spent quite a period in the desert itself, or ….

Carole: Oh yes, he was in the desert. He learnt quite a bit of Arabic because he had Arabs working for him. He visited Bedouin tribes. You know, some of the stories, I don’t know whether we took them with a pinch of salt, about being offered a, offered a wife …. and ….

Michael: Quite possible ….

Carole: It were quite possible, oh, and eating …. was it Camel’s eyes? And he had to eat because it would have offended the people if he hadn’t eaten it and things like that. But I’m not sure how true they are.

00:19:30

Michael: There may be a certain element of truth about them, I am sure.  So, War comes to an end. Do you remember, Tony, do you remember anything about war coming to an end at all or ….?

Tony: I can remember parties but again going back to the Americans, every Christmas they came in a great big wagon, lorry, and hoisted us up and we went off to one of their bases for Christmas parties. I can’t remember any great celebration, there must have been at the end of the War but I can’t actually put my finger on it, no ….

Carole: No, I don’t remember anything either ….

Tony: It seemed to have drifted through the war and carried on afterward the War. And life didn’t change that much for us ….

Michael: No. It would have changed for you Carole, I think, presumably ….

Carole: …. Yes, I can’t remember anything of the War coming to an end. I don’t remember any celebrations …. As I said earlier, I did have …. had an uncle …. 2 uncles who came quite regularly, one was in the RAF …. The other one, I think, he was a solicitor at the Town Hall in Manchester. Now, why he didn’t go because that’s not a, that wasn’t an occupation to keep him at home, I wouldn’t have thought.

Michael: Yes ….

Carole: But, I was very, I was quite poorly several times, and the doctor, at one time …. now, I don’t remember this, my mother told me this …. I was about 3, with pneumonia and the doctor said there is a brand new …. drug that would help her, but the only place you can get it is Northenden, a chemist in Northenden, and one of these uncles cycled to Northenden and got it for me and it was …. the antibiotic ….

Tony: Penicillin?

Carole: Penicillin. So, it was very, very new, obviously. So, who this chemist in Northenden was who ….

Michael: Had some ….

Carole: had it?

Michael: Who knows ….

Carole: Yea, and how much it cost?

Michael: Yes, because this is before the days of the National Health Service ….

Carole: No, National Health, no …. so ….. that was Penicillin in about ’44, I should think …. ’45.

Michael: Do you remember rationing?

Carole: Oh yes [laughing] ….

Tony: Oh, gosh, yes ….

Michael: I mean, for a country boy, that probably didn’t affect you a lot, did it?

Tony: Well, things like sweets and …. things, yea … yes, we lived …. off the land to a certain extent, my father being a farm worker ….

Carole: And there was your garden, your Dad’s garden ….

Young Tony in his Dad’s garden.

Michael: Yes ….

Tony:  He …. every inch was growing vegetables which he was very skilled at ….

Carole: Yes, he was ….

Tony: and at weekends, it was often going out for rabbits, pigeons ….

Michael: They literally did live off the land ….

Tony: We did, to a certain extent, and …. things like potatoes and things came along from the farm. Yes, as I said, I knew nothing of the hardship …. I know we never had butter except if we made it ourselves ….

Michael: Yes ….

Tony: Meat …. I remember a butcher coming down once a week …. but we didn’t see ….

Michael: That would be rationed, I would imagine?

Tony: I am sure …. I can remember also occasionally …. some pies arrived into the village and people went and got meat pies, and they were pretty foul [sounds disgusted]! But …. no, as I said, it …. we drifted through. We always had food on the table and enough of it, I think, yes.

Carole: It was totally different for me …. we have discussed this, haven’t we? …. Yea, we often were short of food. Our neighbour had some hens and …. gave, we .… My mother and I used to sing the song ‘Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken, lay a little egg for me’ frequently, and this neighbour …. brought one egg, and we shared a boiled egg …. [laughs] because eggs were a …. real treat.

Michael: Yes ….

Tony: And not a problem for us ….

Carole: Not a problem ….

Tony: because we had our own hens ….

Carole: Yes ….

Michael: You had your own hens, yes …. and quite a lot people did have their own hens ….

Tony: I can also remember, post-war, my uncle, who returned from Burma ….

Carole: Oh, yeah ….

Tony: He had a pig in the back yard …. and they were allowed to keep a pig in those days …. and used the waste food for feeding, and we had a little bit of it, I think ….

Michael: That was a very different life in Burma. When did he return from there?

Tony: From Burma?

Michael: Yes ….

Tony: I can’t remember the date, but I know my aunt ….  we lived as a very close unit, our families, and …. my mother and my aunt lived next door to each other …. joined on in a semi-detached, and I can remember my uncle coming home because there were banners out and …. balloons and so on, from …. Burma.

He fought actually at Kohima, which was a pretty bloody battle, I think. I can remember him coming home, yes.

Carole: Before the end of the War ….

Tony: No, that would be V…. That was VJ Day, wasn’t it? VE ….

Michael: VJ Day was later than VE Day, wasn’t it?

Tony: He would have been, I don’t know, quite a lot ….

Carole: later ….

Tony: …. later ….

Michael: And he wasn’t captured by the Japanese, or anything?

Tony: No, but I think he went through a lot of stress …. and I can remember going with him, I mean, to visit the Italian prisoner of war camp, that was his job to …. supervise…. no, sorry Japanese, Italian, sorry …. prisoners …. There were a lot of prisoners of war and that working on the farms, and …. I mean it was all very open ….

Michael: He was still in uniform at that time?

Tony: I don’t think he was in uniform …. No, I don’t think he was in uniform ….

Michael: No ….

Tony: but that was …. I don’t know if he was still part of the army, in fact ….

Michael: But taking on some sort of administrative job anyway …. doing that presumably ….

Tony: Yea ….

Michael: So, War comes to an end …. Is it a different life for you?

Carole: Mine, mine was completely different because there were now a father and baby sister, and Grandma came to live with us …. so, yes, it was very different …. having been just my mother and I. And lots of men around as well, you know, there were …. And at some point …. and I don’t know the details of this ….  at some point, a Canadian stayed with my mother. Now, I presume he was a serviceman of some kind…

Tony: He was billeted to there ….

Carole: Yes, and I don’t know the details. He stayed with my mother and he used to send clothes when he went home …. Clothes from his daughter used to come for me, and they were just beautiful. Nothing like them …. Well, nothing we could afford here, yes.

Oh, and something else I’ve just remembered, was going into Manchester on the bus. There were barrage balloons down Princess Road. I’m not sure what the fields were called …. the fields are still there …. they’ve not been built on…

Michael: Hough End, probably ….

Carole: Yes, is it Hough End? Coming from Altrincham into Manchester, they are on the left ….

Michael: Yes, probably Hough End, yes ….

Carole: There were a lot of barrage balloons.

Michael: Not that far from Didsbury ….

Carole: No ….

Michael: and Withington ….

Carole: Yes …. I think it is Withington there. There were barrage balloons there which I thought were gorgeous [Laughs]. Great big balloons, I mean, actually they were horrendous things, weren’t they? There was chains hanging down to stop the aeroplanes. I suppose it was the aeroplanes. Would they be heading for Old Trafford, perhaps, or The Docks?

Michael: Almost certainly I mean, Salford Docks, Old Trafford and they were target areas as I’ve heard from other people we’ve interviewed ….

Tony: Carole speaking about the Canadians, I can again .… this is a photograph, I tried to remind you of .… There were two Canadian soldiers billeted with my grandmother who again lived two or three houses away …. I can remember them, but not much about them. I can remember them being there. And, of course, we had evacuees.

Michael: So where did they come from?

Tony: The evacuees? From London ….

Michael: Right, so, they were children, moved out of London to make them safe, and so on?

Tony: Yes. And I can remember the nit comb [Carole laughs]. Vividly! In fact, there was .… we called it The Old School …. a building which had previously been a school …. the Village Hall …. was set up for the evacuees. I can remember that.

Carole: What, for a school?

Tony: As a school, yes. They didn’t mix with us in our …. well, they did mix …. and my aunt who, as I said, who lived next door …. she had an evacuee boy. And in actual fact, this is going off the track, do you remember Mrs Garwood?

Carole: Yes ….

Tony: When I went to London for working, my first digs was with the parent of one of the evacuee girls.

Carole: Oh, I didn’t know that!

Tony: Yes, in a billet. So, yes ….

Michael: Small world ….

Tony: It is, yes ….

Carole: Yes, my aunt in Timperley had an evacuee child. I would have thought Timperley a bit close to Manchester, but she did have a child.

Michael: I know that places like Cheadle were also used for evacuation.

Carole: It is a bit close really ….

Michael: Well, you’d think so.

Tony: I think the people who came from the East End of London to Home Hale, where I lived, must have had quite a culture shock ….

Carole laughing: Yes ….

Tony: Because I remember this lady saying, horrified, that there were no street lights, and things like that.

Carole: Well, I was horrified when I first went to this village, so I’m sure they were!

00:30:27

Michael: Well …. How did you meet?

Carole: How did we meet? Oh dear ….

Michael: Family living far apart ….

Carole: Yeah, well, I was at college and my friend knocked on my door and said, “I’ve got a date with this chap tonight and he frightens me to death but he’s bringing his friend, so, will you come with me?”  And I said, “Oh, no …. No, I’m going to wash my hair tonight ….” “Oh, come ….”, she said, “Come, it’ll be free beer and cigarettes.” So, I said, “Oh, go on then ….”

So, we actually met on Putney Bridge. Tony was the friend and the other chap who frightened Pam was your friend from the village, wasn’t he?

Tony: Yeah, yeah ….

Carole: So, yeah, we met on Putney Bridge and went to the Star and Garter, don’t know whether you know Putney Bridge, but the Star and Garter’s still there ….

Michael: So, why were you in London?

Carole: I was at college training to be a teacher …. and ….

Tony: I had trained to be a teacher and I was working in London.

Carole: He was teaching ….

Michael: Right …. when did you meet?

Carole: When …. well, that must have been ’61 because I was in my last year at college, wasn’t I?

Michael: So …. the rest is history!

Carole: The rest is history, yes, yes ….

Tony: Again, quite a cultural mix ….

Carole: Yes, yes, I really was very taken aback when I first went to Norfolk to this village, and it was very, very rural …. yeah.

Michael: Especially after, I mean, you said you were brought up in Sharston, I think you said?

Carole: Yes, my mother is of a long line of Mancunians and she was very very proud of Lady Simon of Manchester who gave the land for the Wythenshawe Estate …. and the whole family, my mother, her mother, 2 or 3 sisters, all, were the first people in the first houses.

I suspect the uncle who was a solicitor at the Town Hall had something to do with that but nevertheless, they were the first residents and it was a wonderful childhood.

I mean, the reputation of Wythenshawe now, I’m so sad, because I had a fantastic childhood and we had a lovely house …. All my family, all my aunts, Grandma, all had a lovely house, fields all around.

I played where the Airport now is, so, yes, I grew up there and then I went to school in Manchester, what was a grammar school at Whalley Range which was then a girls’ grammar school …. got to know Manchester well as a teenager and, yeah, very happy …. growing up altogether, but totally totally different from Tony’s ….

Michael: Yes, I mean, when you first married, where were you living then in London? Or ….

Carole: We started in London ….

Tony: We had one year in London, didn’t we? Then ….

Carole: We couldn’t afford ….

Tony: We couldn’t afford to buy a house there ….

Michael: No, no ….

Carole: I did …. my first 2 years were in Moss Side, teaching in Moss Side, and I loved it there, very very happy school. So, when we got married and went to Brixton expecting to find a similar situation, and it wasn’t, I hated it, didn’t like it at all.

Michael: Inner city ….

Carole: It wasn’t the community that I had been used to in Moss Side. Moss Side was a real community, people helped each other. Brixton wasn’t like that.

Michael: Were there problems in Moss Side at that time, or …. ?

Carole: No, not really. We were just beginning to get some West Indian children coming in then …. that was ’61. So …. but I don’t remember any problems at all ….

Michael: No ….

Carole: I mean, you might hear about the odd fight round a backstreet then …. or drunks. And I do remember drunken people on the bus, you could smell ….

Michael: And that, presumably, was as a result of people who’d been through the War, do you think? I mean, people have been affected by ….

Carole: What the people drinking?

Michael: Yes, or am I wrong with that?

Carole: I don’t ….

Tony: It was a very poor area, wasn’t it?

Carole: Oh, yes, it was very poor ….

Tony: Poverty, I should think was the problem more than race was?

Carole: Yes, probably ….

Michael: I know, I remember as a child and I know I shouldn’t be saying this really, but as a child, we came across people who were living on the land, if you like, tramps …. wandering around …. and that was directly, I think, as a result of the War and what they had gone through, but I don’t know whether you experienced anything like that, but particularly in the country ….

Tony: Yeah, there were tramps, but we just accepted it and there was no animosity or anything. We just accepted them for what they were, they wandered around.

Michael: And I think they wanted to live that way ….

Tony: Yes, I think so ….

Michael: I usually ask a killer question, but before we do that, you were married in the ’60s. Did you stay in London at that time, or did you come back to Manchester?

Carole: We had one year, didn’t we?

Michael: Then you came back ….

Carole: Then, we came back, we both were lucky enough to get jobs in Macclesfield ….

Michael: Oh, right ….

Carole: So, we moved to Macclesfield ….

Michael: It’s a little way out, it’s about 20 minutes on the train these days ….

Carole: It’s very nice to live there …. we could afford a house there.

Michael: Yes ….

Carole: Had our children there ….

Michael: And then retired to Timperley.

Carole: Well, no …. we came to Timperley because my parents were there which meant I could go back to work, because they were there to help with child care. So, we came to Timperley, well for that ….

Tony: And for my job ….

Carole: and for your job [speaking to Tony]. Yes, you changed jobs then, didn’t you?

Michael: So, what were you doing by that time, Tony?

Tony: Well, I was still teaching when we moved to Timperley, but I didn’t like teaching and when I was …. when I worked in Macclesfield as a teacher, I used to do bar work, as most teachers did, I think, in those days …. and got to know the people who used the bar and became friendly with them, and we had been in Timperley 2 years when I just got a letter from one of the men, I’d met in the bar …. said, “Look we’re looking to open a shop in Altrincham, how do you feel?” So, I just wrote back and said, “Great!” I didn’t think about it, but you were worried.

Carole: I was very worried about that, him giving up a secure job like teaching to go and run this hire shop which we’d no idea whether it would work or …. fortunately, it did.

Michael: So, you found something you enjoyed doing ….

Tony: Oh, yes. I stayed with it.

Michael: Yes ….

I think we are probably coming towards the end of the interview, unless you’ve got other things that are pressing, but I have a killer question that I often ask people …. and I will spring it on you …. and, that is, if you were advising a youngster today about how they should go ahead with their lives, what advice would you give them?

Carole: Goodness me ….

Michael: I thought that would be dead easy for teachers …. [laughing] ….

Tony: Gosh, no! We are in a kind of position where we’ve got grandchildren who are late teens, and we have spoken to them about it, haven’t we?

Carole: Yes ….

Tony: Certainly, as far as the financial situation’s concerned, I wouldn’t have a clue what to advise. I think the only advice is to find an occupation that you’re happy with, and if you’re happy, then I think you’ll progress.

Michael: Yes ….

Tony: But ….

Carole: We’ve got half our family are in New Zealand. Our son married a girl from New Zealand and their life there is so totally different. I think, travel around and have a look at as …. experience as much as you possibly can and I’m very sad that children don’t seem, well, I know they don’t, they don’t read like we did …. and I think we gained a lot of …. can’t call it experience ….

Tony: 2nd hand experience ….

Carole: 2nd hand experience from what we read, not …. I didn’t read anything serious, it was all novels, stories, fiction …. but nevertheless, vicariously, you’ve picked, I picked up lots of information about things, and I think children are missing on that now …. saddens me very much that they don’t read for pleasure, as we used to do.

Michael: Yes ….

Carole: But that’s not really giving advice, is it?

Michael: I always feel that youngsters these days are perhaps not living in a real world.

Tony: That’s true.

Carole: Yes, I think that from my own point of view, I have very rarely said “No”. I know that can be taken in lots of ways. But if anything comes along like this, I’m the slightest bit interested in, I say, “Oh, yes, let’s have a look at it!” Have a try …. And I think that would be my advice, don’t turn your back on anything till you’ve had a good look at it.

Michael: Good advice.

Carole: Had lots of strange experiences because of that …. [laughing] …. Tony quails sometimes ….

Michael: Well, that’s leaving us with a cliff hanger, but Carol, Tony, thank you very much for participating in the WarGen adventure …. thank you very much indeed ….

Carole: Thank you ….

Tony: Yes, thank you ….

Carole: Very interesting ….

End of Transcription

Interview recorded by Michael Thompson, Hardy Productions UK, Manchester, for WarGen. Transcription by Michael Thompson, Tom Humphrey, Julie Plummer.

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