Oral History - John Hansen, Betty Joyce, Victor Jones, unkown

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Audio file


Oral History - John Hansen, Betty Joyce, Victor Jones, unkown

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Audio recording of an interview primarily with John Hansen and Betty Joyce who were born in the Caribbean and moved to the UK in 1955. Topics discussed include first jobs in the UK after arrival and highlight the different experiences each had with finding employment in the UK. Also Betty briefly recalls a story of owning a store in the Caribbean. The interview also captures the conversations of the larger group who reminisce about their social life in the UK, sharing and laughing over stories of going out and enjoying the party scene in the UK. Regrettably, as these stories are difficult to record they do not appear in the formal transcript.



Q. John you know we had a bit of reminiscence last week and I had a few questions after last week. [Inaudible] I don’t know how far you got [inaudible] you said you was a carpenter, a joiner, a musician. [00:06]
JH. Yes, correct.

Q. Then you got married, how many children did you have with your wife? [00:29]
JH. None.

Q. No children at all. You also after growing up had been to the states. Was that in your early days or in [inaudible] manhood? [00:39]
JH. Manhood.

Q. How long did you then spend in the states? [00:52]
JH. Nearly 2 years.

Q. Was it reassuring [inaudible]? [00:58]
JH. Humiliation.

Q. What was it like? [1:05]
JH. When I first came to this country here, in 1955 I lived in the west end just up from [inaudible] street. Then I got a job and worked there, Chiswick. I worked three days but I get late every time you know, so I had to pack it up and get the next job. At a place where [inaudible] I would do sandblasting and sometimes electroplating [inaudible] I had to pack it up and get a job in [inaudible]. I was a good decorator, I decorated three offices with some sign writing and after that they inspected me with pass and reject and move again, they were going to send to Swin Burn (?) but I was so long in London that I did not want to go there now. To get the next job [inaudible] I used to do the cleaning [inaudible] then they got to move again and they want to take me along with them and I said no and that was my job as a decorator.

Q. When did you move to Hackney? [2:51]
JH. I was not living in Hackney at the time I was living in Horsey(?) [inaudible] you have to be a very good worker and a pass worker at the same time. Some guys in the west end just do a little bit and that’s a day’s work. One gentlemen [inaudible] he said don’t work so fast [inaudible]

Q. You don’t know what it[the medicine] was to this day? [6:09]
JH. No I don’t know.

Q. Betty, you were talking about when you got your first job in London, do you want to tell us a bit about that? [6:17]
BJ. No I never did. When I was a catholic girl, it’s a long story. I came to England in 1955. I came the 2nd of October 1955. And I borrowed from a few different jobs, you know not important. Until the first of January, back then they didn’t give you New Year’s Day off. So I went out the first of January 1956 I went to Labour exterior and they gave me two cards to carry down to Bethnal Green. They put me on [inaudible]
Anyway I went right down to Bethnal Green and I was standing right outside Bethnal Green Hospital and I had these two cards in me hand and they said if you throw them back into the nearest post box, so I went to the nearest post box and chucked them in [laughter] and I step across the road and I [inaudible] right into Bethnal Green Hospital and the supervisor tell me you are too late, I just take someone this morning but if you go straight down there you will end up in the laundry and I am sure they will take you on. I went down there to see the manager and I went and said I am looking for a job and he said come on in. He sit me down there and he asked me have you ever worked in a laundry before? I says no but from experience I learn. Oh he was in badly need of someone and said oh don’t worry about that.
He tell me all of the things and asked if I could rise early, I tell him yes, and he tell me be here tomorrow morning, be here at 8 o’clock and I come out all cheerful and happy, anyhow I had to take two busses to get there and it was busy I work the 2nd of January 1956, put it down. [laughter]
I get a bus from Dalston to Shoreditch that was alright I had to get the bus from Shoreditch to Bethnal Green that was the one. I get the right bus but I didn’t know where to get off. When I reach there, you see, I lost my way, I never find it but I lost it. The bus bring me back to Mare Street and I say I am driving too far and I come out of the bus and ask the gentlemen, where is Bethnal Green Hospital? And he tell me oh my dear it is far away from here you have to go on the other side, get another side and get another bus and go straight down you can’t miss it when you go on the other side.
I go over the road and I get another bus. At that time it was 106 and that was fast, straight down and I going down and I am looking for the hospital, I couldn’t get out of my seat fast enough. I get out at the next stop and walk back and I was in Bethnal Green Hospital. I leave home early, you have to leave room for [getting lost]. I got there 10 to 8. I go to the manager and teach me the skills and get the supervisor to take me to the staff room to get uniform and bits and pieces and to pick up [inaudible] and when I come out he was there and he take me to the laundry. And I started at that laundry from the 2nd of January 1956, I learn everything in that laundry for 10 months. Only worked there for 10 months, but he was working there on a Saturday and I Saint Matthews which is the same one that didn’t work on Saturday so I asked him for a transfer because I didn’t want to work on Saturdays. And I was so lucky he had a woman that was living at City Rd that worked at Bethnal Green so he just transfer she from Bethnal Green back to there from where she was working at St Matthews to Bethnal Green and transfer me from Bethnal Green to St Matthews so we both meet half where we were going the next morning. I started St Matthews from October the same year and I go there until the 3rd of November 1983.
I never budge and I work until, when I was there for 20 years they make me supervisor that was a dam long time I tell them so I should get supervisor [laughter] And then I finished there after, they let me out of there because [inaudible] I finished work. My expire date was 20 January 1984. They gave me that time off you see I get from November, December until January and then I retire. So I had two and half months I think.

Q. For good behaviour, you! [16:32]
BJ. Something in the hospital business that they have to give you that when you are retiring. And that was it. [Inaudible]

Q. I remember we sat down here and you all started saying, ‘I remember when’ I first came here and tried getting somewhere to stay and you all started laughing and telling these terrible tales. What was it like when you first came here? Victor told us all about the problems he had when he first arrived here and he was lucky in a way because he met up with someone who recommended somewhere to go and it when from there. So did somebody else? [19:28]
VJ. That was a good guy who was looking out for me.
Unknown. As I told you last week when I started I did say I came straight here and I expected I would be [inaudible] he was already here and it carry on from there [inaudible]

Q. You never told us about the music, the jam sessions where did they take place? [22:22]
VJ. We use to have them in [inaudible] Caribbean [inaudible]

Q. We heard Phil(?) use to play the saxophone, can you tell us about the musical side of things? [23:44]
JH. [Inaudible] so I learned the trumpet and I been playing the trumpet since 1938 [inaudible] I never had a tape recorder, when you hear them say [inaudible]

Q. What about singers? Betty says she sings. [25:54]
Unknown female. No sing, I dance.
Unknown male. Not singers, dancers.

Unknown. Sometimes on a Sat or Sun morning my husband come out to them. We are so boozed up we don’t even know where to turn. [laughter] If you sit in basement flat that we are in and it is crowded, a little basement flat and they had a crowd in it.

[Group continues to reminisce about going out to parties and share individual stories that resonate with the group. Difficult to distinguish individuals who are speaking. Plenty of shared memories and mutual laughter.] [25:00-33:00]

Q. Betty, is this the same [inaudible] Trials? [33:33]
BJ. Trials village, that is where we live. My husband used to go to work, he work on the street. [inaudible] He was doing that job and I was selling in that shop. I had the shop then [inaudible] so he [inaudible] it was illegal because I was selling grocery and sometimes the police come out to raid. So when we get the news the police coming out to raid I hide the bottle, I stick one down in the barrel of rice, I stick one down in the barrel of sugar, I stick them in the flour. They can’t put their hand down in there, they wouldn’t dare. So when they come they don’t find anything and then I pull them out again
Unknown. [Inaudible] every time they take money that is the trouble

Q. Are you still talking or shall I put this on pause? [37:09]
BJ. No we finished now
[END OF TAPE] [37:50]

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