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Gwen Hester. Windrush Cymru: Ein Lleisiau, Ein Straeon, Ein Hanes, 2019

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Trawsgrifiad o gyfweliad hanes llafar gyda Gwen Hester yng Nghasnewydd, yn trafod ei phrofiad o dyfu i fyny o fewn teulu a ymfudodd o'r Caribî yn ystod y 1950au. Ganed Gwen Hester, aelod o deulu Broodie, yn St Kitts yn y Caribî. Daeth i Gasnewydd i ymuno â'i rhieni yn ferch ifanc.

Cyfwelai: Gwen Hestor
dyddiad cyfweliad: 6th November 2019

 
Rhan 1 o 2 [Hyd cyfweliad: 00:32:17]

[00:00:00]

My full name is Gwendoline Jemima Hestor. I was born in St Kitts in the Caribbean in May, I’m over 21! My father was called Alexander Broodie and my mother’s name was Leonora Broodie, her maiden name was O’Lynn. My mum worked as a nurse in Britain and my father worked at Super Oil Seas, that was his only job, his first ever job. They came straight to Cardiff when they came over and they got a job straight away. Like a friend of mine, when she first came into Newport she saw all these chimneys and she thought “oh they’re no short of jobs here” she thought all the streets full of chimneys were all factories, she didn’t realise they were fireplaces to keep them warm, she thought they were all factories.

All I remember about St Kitts was grapes, there were these grapes, black grapes, I’ve got a sister in St Kitts and I asked her about them and she said they were called ‘sea grapes’ and they’re only grown by the sea. That’s the only thing I remember, the sea grapes.

I was in junior school when I came over to the UK. I don’t remember the journey over at all but I came by boat and I travelled with someone who brought me over, I didn’t come with my parents. My parents were already here. My grandmother, my father’s mother, looked after me. She was a business lady, she sold fish and she also had properties that she rented out, she was a business lady and she rented them out. She used to take me everywhere with her, selling the fish, collecting the rent, and she was a church lady and she’d take me to church with her in the evenings and on Sundays and during the week, she’d take me everywhere with her. She was a big influence on me, she used to say to me “if you’ve got a pound, make sure you save 50 pence, always save half of whatever you’ve got”. That’s put me in good stead because my husband was from Newport and I can remember, once, his friend came over for them to go out and he told him that he couldn’t and I asked “why don’t you go out with him?” and he said “I’ve got no money” so I gave him £5. He said “where did you get that £5 from?” I said “I saved it so that when I have no money” I said “even if I’ve got £1 I make sure I save 50p and I’ve saved 50p every week so I’ve got £5”. He was so impressed. He worked for a medical and surgical exhibition so he said to me “I’ll work all week” and he used to give me these wage packets, he said “I’ll have to get another job so we can go out once a week, I’ll take you out” and he taught himself to be an electrician and he got a job as an electrician and he did a warehouse and they paid him for it, he was a very quick learner.


[00:04:27]

He was from here, he was British and Irish, from here. My mother in law, she was cockney, blonde, blue eyes, cockney they were, and his sisters they were fair. I don’t remember much about St Kitts but I remember my grandmother who taught me a lot. I’m a widow now, my husband got killed. We went Friday to a wedding from St Kitts and my husband, you know they say the Caribbean people are not ones for time, and he hates not to be on time. He said “so what I’ll do,” we were going to London, he said “I’ll go to Cardiff I’ll bring your parents up, they can stay here, so we all travel up early then rather than waiting on them”, I said “okay”. So he was on his way to Cardiff and an articulated lorry hit the driver’s side and killed him outright. So I’ve been a widow with two children, a boy and a girl, I’ve been widowed ever since, 40 odd years, I’ve been in Newport now for 50 odd years, long time isn’t it, very, very long time. When I met him it was my very first time out because I’d never been in a club before, and my friends they felt sorry for me because I’d never even been to the park, they didn’t even let us go to the park, not even to the park, never been to the picture house before, ever. You’d think I’d just come from abroad.

Parents didn’t let us out, they were very strict. My friend came up with this story, she said make sure you’re ready when I come for you, I said “okay” because she knew when we were in the house we had clothes which is for the house and then when we were going out we’d change, for our best clothes, it was like that in those days. So when she came I’d already had a bath and put my best clothes on underneath and my old clothes on top of it, so when she came she said “Mr Broodie” and she was begging him and he said to her “Gwen cannot come, Gwen’s a Christian” and I heard him and I said “oh but I want to go” and he said “Gwen, you can’t have God in one hand and the devil in the other” I said “oh but I want to go”, so to come to the point he said yes so I went, and it was that night that I met my husband.

And he said to me, I was telling him about God, and he said to me “oof now I don’t know what you’re on about” and he invited me to the flicks, I said “yes”, I didn’t know what the flicks was, that’s the pictures, and I asked my father can I go I said “can I go and meet?” and he said “meet who?” and I said “a friend”, he said “what friend?” I said “a friend”, he said “what sort of a friend?” I couldn’t say the word boyfriend so I was mumbling “mm mm boyfriend” he said “I’ll tell you what, go and meet him, bring him here first, and then you can go out with him”. So I met him and I brought him back to the house in Cardiff, Cathays, and there my father asked him how old he was, what his job was, what were his intentions, all that.


[00:07:55]

He couldn’t get over it, he was laughing his head off, telling his friends about it, and they were in stitches over it. He said “I thought I was going back in time” he said, in there with them. I met him at 16 and got married at 17, and he said to me “Gwen I’ll be very lucky if I live to be 28” and I went what?, I thought ooh is something wrong with him? I don’t want him no more now! But there was nothing wrong with him, he just felt it all along. I can remember saying to him “Tony you’re 28 and you’re still alive”, and he said to me “Gwen, I’d hate to leave you with nothing, I want you to take out an insurance” I had to take out an insurance for him, so I took it out and I felt so pleased, I went to Cardiff and said to my father “Tony told me to take out an insurance, if anything happens to him, I’ll have so much”, my father told me off, he said “you’re after a dead man’s money” and that played on my mind, and I told Tony what he said, Tony said to me “take no notice of him, that’s silly West Indian nonsense, take no notice of him”. Well the insurance, I let it lapse and when I let it lapse I told him and he said “retake it out again” so I took it out again, but it played on my mind, what my father said, but when it happened I didn’t have no insurance.

But you work for medical and surgical exhibition and a chap from his work came to see me at the time, all in my house discussing “oh she’s got not insurance, all of us needed the church (?)” and he couldn’t get over it, so he went back to his boss and he told him what was going on, and the boss they paid for the funeral costs, everything for me, so God was good either way, I was still provided for, God was good.
I can’t remember going to school in St Kitts, I’ve been wracking my brains about that because I can’t remember any, I can’t remember the experience in school at all, I can’t remember that at all. In school in Britain, here the children had pocket money and they’d buy crisps and things like that but we never had pocket money, never, and they’d all have crisps and they’d give me one always offer so that you’d have one, but I never had no money to go buy sweets, nothing like that, but they all did, every day you’d see them all, I think they felt sorry for me and that’s why they’d offer.

I’m the eldest of nine siblings, they didn’t have pocket money at all either. We came over to Britain two at a time, the later ones were ? Ringrove and them, I was the second lot, I should have been the first but I said no at the time I think. I said no because I think my grandmother wanted me and didn’t want me to go, they said they wanted me to come but I said I wouldn’t be the first.

 

[00:11:55]

I didn’t like learning but I was happy at school. (When I was younger) I wanted to be a typist, watching them type on the telly (typing noises). So when my husband died I was in John Frost Square in Newport and this blonde lady came up to me and she said “excuse me” I said “yes?” she said “are you working?” I said “no”, she said “do you have a job?”, I said “no”, she said “would you like one?” I said “yes please” and she said “ what qualifications have you got?” I said “nothing” she goes “nothing?” I goes “absolutely nothing, I haven’t got no qualifications whatsoever” she goes “nothing?” she goes “try” I said “well I do have Pittmans”. I’d done Pittmans, have you heard of Pittmans? That’s typing, it was typing and shorthand in those days, that’s a good qualification. She goes “Pittmans, of course you’ve got qualifications!” and she goes “because I’m looking for people to work at the business ?typist office” that you pass when you come into here, I worked there for 25 years.
 
There I had a lot of racism there because it wasn’t blatant, they were all nice to me and friendly but when they were marking my report it was always I didn’t realise the difference, rather than give me fitted, it was always likely to be fitted lightly and one of the supervisors, she had an accident and broke her leg and she couldn’t attend, so the one who was next in line they asked them to go into the computing room to learn that, no one wanted to do it because if you make a mistake the whole thing would crash, if you missed out a comma or anything like that. So the first two if you saw, I was next in line, third in line, so they asked me if I wanted to do it and I said yes. So when I went in there I remember the speed was very fast, my speed was 19000, we were all very fast. So I thought to myself, I’ll go fast, stop and I’ll check twice before I press, so that’s what I did. The old boss she saw me stop and check and she goes “Gwen if they saw you there like that it won’t look very professional, be a bit quicker” she just wanted me to, I know what she was up to but I just totally ignored her and I just carried on because they all wanted me to make a mistake, I know they did. But anyway they did call me and they said to me “you’re doing very good in there” because I was in there for six months and no accidents at all and they didn’t like it, you could see they didn’t like it. But when I had my report they put “likely to be fitted” which means you’re not good enough for promotion. Likely meant, there was either ‘you’re good’, ‘likely’ or ‘no good’, they always gave me the middle.

But anyway I wanted to go in for, I wanted to graduate higher, the next level, and to have the next level I put in for it, and when I put in for it, as it happened when I was walking through in the corridor one of their bosses stopped me and said “Gwen I hear you’re going for the position” I said yes, “well I’m one of the bosses who will be interviewing you, I’ll give you a tip, first I’ll look at your shoes, if the heel is scuffed it goes against you, and if it’s worn down” so he gave me those tips which were good, but anyway he said one of the questions would be on drugs. Going down to the meeting then for my interview, I turned the radio on and guess what they were talking about? Drugs. Someone was being interviewed so I remembered everything they said and I used all that in mine and they told me and then they wrote I’d passed, I’d passed so I was qualified for the next level but then they said to me “Gwen we couldn’t give it to you because they put ‘likely to be fitted’ and said “I don’t have to tell you, you know you did well” I just smiled, they said “but we couldn’t give you if because it said likely to be fitted, why do you have likely to be fitted?” I said “they always give you likely, they always gave me likely to be fitted” he said “well if they feel you’re not good enough, to go on” he said “what does it take to get you up to that level, they should have brought you up to that level if they thought you…” the next minute I had the union men on my side and I knew some of the union men, they were ever so good and helped me, and they sort of took it up with them.

But later on with everything in hindsight you could have pushed it further, but I didn’t. And then they said “had we given it to you, they would have questioned why we gave it to you who had ‘likely to be fitted’ and there were some who had done just as well as you who had ‘fitted’, so it would have caused a lot of problems” but anyway, when I went back they called me into the office to say “Gwen they’ve got an excellent write up on you, how well you did at the interview, and how you’d passed but they couldn’t give it to you because I only had ‘likely to be fitted’” and that was it. I had all that experience, it was terrible. I was there for over 25 years and never got promoted, but God is good though because when that lady, I said to you, that blonde woman and I got the job, they only needed, I think there was only a vacancy, a permanent vacancy for one, and they called me, I was one of them, from I think about a dozen, and I was the only one who got the job. So I got the job and kept it, there was never no promotion, but never mind, there we go, there’s lots of things.

I got my dream job as a child but you know what, how I did it, it wasn’t just quite typing it was like, it wasn’t just typing, it was all holes like braids, holes in the paper, you had to read them, the holes. I’ve got them here somewhere, I can’t find it, and I think how on Earth did I learn to, how could I read it with all holes, you know you’re punching holes, how? I couldn’t understand how did I manage to learn all those? I was taught how to do it and all that.


[00:19:15]

When I left primary school I went to Bishop of Llandaff, that’s high school, at 11, I was 11 years old and Princess? Marianne and Lord ?Snow opened the school at the time, it was a big thing. At 11 plus you had to have your exams at the time to get into a school like that, I had to pass the eleven plus. A lot of people failed the eleven plus at the time, I failed it first time but I passed it after, but it’s only through studying, I surprised myself because in those days you had to memorise the things remember, when you’re doing your exams, I used to have the paper all the time, rehearsing to myself, all the time and studying, and I memorised it so it proves that you could do it, so I managed that. Then I got to Bishop Llandaff, there was a prefect there as well, that was good. I thought I didn’t have no qualifications but with that I did. At Bishop of Llandaff it’s time to leave school then at 15, you left school at 15 then, then they just brought in, they changed it, you could stay until you’re 16 but I didn’t want to stay until I was 16, I wanted to leave.

My father said 15 was young to leave school, my friend came, she got me a job, it was just in the factory, doing just packing peanuts that’s all and I said “ooh” she goes “do you want it?” I said “yes”, I told my father and he said “no, you’re too young to go to work” I said “all my friends work and I want to go with her”, and I remember my first wages were £8, £8 a month, so I came home and I said to my mother, because my friend told me she used to give her mother keep, you know board and lodge, so I said to my mother “here’s £2 for my board and lodge” and I told my father that I gave my mother £2 for board and lodge, and he said “well go to her and ask her to give you the £2 back because I’m still paying your keep for everyone and that will reduce the money so ask her for it back” so I said to her “father said you’ve got to give me the money back” I said “but I don’t really want it because that’s your keep anyway” so I let her keep it and he said to me “I tell you what” because I said to him I had £2 for my bus fare, and he said “with that £2 you go to the bank and you save £2, every month”, so I thought £2 for my bus fare, £2 to save for my clothes, to buy clothes, and £2 for savings, 2, 4, 6, and the £2 was for.. oh I don’t know, it was all worked out, savings, £2 for buying clothes, £2 for my mother, I still gave him £2 without him knowing because my friends were paying so I should have to pay as well. My mother was a saver, not my father, it was my mother when they were over here, she was saying I need to save so they can buy a house and they bought a house in Cathays, they bought it. If it wasn’t for my mother because she was a saver, my father wasn’t a saver.

In the house nothing reminded me of St Kitts, all I can remember is that they used to have a gramophone and they used to have the playing the records all the time, and the French room, which you heard about the French room didn’t you, the French room experience. The French room is where, in the French room you had all brand new fitted carpets, three piece suite, it was for when the minister comes, you go in there, but the children weren’t allowed, they’d keep it locked for special occasions. There was a program on the TV about the French room, they done a play of it. It was the best room then, it was for best, it was lovely. You had your gramophone, TV, everything was all nice, but children wasn’t allowed in that room, only guests. You’d take them in there, you’d give them a cup of tea on a tray, biscuits or whatever, you treat them nice.


[00:24:55]

My mother cooked West Indian food, every Sunday we’d have red beans and rice with the meat, on a Saturday it was always soup, it was like, was it shoulder? I’ve forgotten  what meat my mother used to buy. On a Friday it was fish.

At school the experience was, I can’t remember what happened but I had a row with this girl and she called me ‘black beauty’, that was a way of bringing colour into it really wasn’t it, but apart from that there was nothing, and we were friends after anyway. I didn’t find racism in Cardiff, I found it in Newport. I came to Newport when I got married, when I was 17. I found the people very, very different. My friend, if she went to church they’d move her out of her seat because in Cardiff the reason the West Indians started their own church is because they weren’t welcome in the churches anywhere in this country. There’s a film on telly it’s called, don’t know if you saw it, not a film, it’s a series, where the chap said to the girl, because she was black he called her, he called her exotic, he was in the church preaching to them all, he said “I see we have here an exotic, people in our midst” and he said “but it doesn’t matter, God will allow you in as well”. That was the mentality, because they do not see you as equal, they don’t even see you as a human being, they don’t see you as equal to them, in Newport they’re like that.

Personally I can remember when I started, my fiancé started that I was marrying him, one of his mother’s friends came round and she said to me “I wouldn’t mind having one of you, I’d give one of you a room in my house” I didn’t know what she meant by that, because in Newport I said to you how racist they were then. She meant to rent me a room, then when I said that to Tony he knew what she meant, and he said to me “do you remember when he was little? That one of his mother’s friends said to him, I had one like you, a mixed race child she was saying. He was mixed race, in school they called him coco, because they thought he was really black, they used to think half-cast was the blackest you could get, they didn’t really see any darker skin and he was like see my granddaughter down there, can you see her with me? He was like that but the class passed him off as white. What I think, and knowing what I know now, when they’re born they’re like white and she told him that it was a hot day and she’d forgot him out in the sun. Because I’ve heard them describe a mixed race child as black as night. The undercurrent is still there now to this day, they think they’re more superior, they don’t think that, especially when they’re showing all this program all the time with Africa and the children and the water, always showing all that. I had to say to them, they keep showing that all the time but who’s putting all these images, who’s profiting from it, and they keep saying, “oh in Africa they’re very corrupt,” that’s what they all say, they’re so corrupt, you can’t trust them with money, and they’re backhander, and if you give them the money they’ll spend it, I said but then, because I went to Africa, and I said to them when I came back ‘you’re lucky if 10% leaves this country to go to Africa’ because it’s charity is more business, it’s a big business and it pays the wages, that’s what it’s all about. It’s terrible. A friend of mine, she came here and she was white and she couldn’t believe it, she went to Swansea and she saw all these chains around their neck and their arms like that, she couldn’t believe it was in the museum showing you what it was like in slavery days, she couldn’t believe. She found out after that that’s how they treated human beings, I said that’s because the bible says the heart of man is deceitfully…
 
Rhan 2 [Hyd cyfweliad: 00:16:22]

[00:00:00]
 
Interviewer: Okay so continuing.
 
Gwen: My son Christopher, during school he played rugby and he was the winger and he came home and he was so excited, he said to me he had a try, well I didn't have a clue what- and I said, well try harder next time, I didn't realise what he meant.
 
Interviewer: So culture on both sides trying to understand.
 
Gwen: Then he was saying his friend, each day he’d laugh and each day something would happen to them and I thought we’ll It's a dangerous game and when he was chosen to go abroad, to America I said, no you’re not going and he goes, why? I said, no you’ve been telling me the injuries you've been having, you're not going definitely not! And he says to me, look I missed my chance I could have been a millionaire something like that and thanks to you, you spoiled my chances now. That's what he used to say to me, I said yes you might not have your ear missing and all this, I used to say to him.
 
In my culture and with my father, the attitude was the boys had to work and things like that, so I had a bit of my parents’ attitude, because my daughter she actually did very well in school, I didn’t realise how well she was doing, I know she passed her O-levels and things like that, but how well you know I could push her on, you know to go to University. During school they have the Graduation and things like that, I never knew about that. So since they were in school, you know my parents never once came to parents meetings or anything like that.
 
Interviewer: So basically you only knew what you experienced.
 
Gwen: Yes and that experience is what you put onto your children. Because in my experience there was always racism in school. My son, I remember when he was little, in junior, where we lived, say I live here and the school was just down across the road and I walked through and he’d be there, I could see him standing outside in the Window, so I asked him what are you doing out there? The teachers send him home, I said what for, he said because he asked to go to the toilet and they wouldn’t let him go, they told him if you want to go to the toilet you should have done it in break time, they wouldn’t let him and that he wet himself and they kept him. So I went to school, I complained to the headmaster about it and he wanted to see us, so with his teacher, me and the headmaster. So I said to him, I asked my son and he told me that you were saying to him, that they- well not just him, the whole class that if you want to go to the toilet go at break time. But you know they’re little boys, you know boys like to play first before they come in and you’re just punishing him and make him wet himself and kept him there. You do it all the time, it was painful. So I said to them, I asked my son and he told me exactly what happened, I said and I know my son, I'm not the sort of person to say my son wouldn’t do this or do that, I said you know him and he wouldn't tell lies, I said but you seem to be the type of person you’re very quick to push a child down and make them out to be the liar. Then the headmaster said, ladies, ladies please let’s not antagonise one another. At that time I noticed it then, but then when he went on to do in school, they put on a report on the child and they made it a terrible report on him. Because we went to the other school then, the teacher he had was awful, he wasn’t being taught English, I can't remember how I found out, but then I phoned the school, I went up to see the headmaster and as it happened I knew the headmaster because he attended the same church, we were in the same church. So I said to him, I kept on phoning him but I didn't get nowhere, I actually put it in writing, I had a reply the following day asking me to come in, then I said to him, she’s refusing to teach him English, I asked why and he told me, someone like your son is very good at maths and when they’re good at maths they’re no good at English, I said that’s the reason he’s been coming to school is to learn isn’t it? And the headmaster said, don't worry Mrs Hester leave it with me, but what she did, because he insisted she had to teach him, she went off sick rather than teach him. But he said don’t worry about him, i'll make sure he will be okay but he did make sure he was okay, he set him a programme which he passed and sent him to college and when he went to college they gave him a programme that he passed, put him through to university, so he kept his word that way.
 
It was terrible, the school was racist then so when I met this chap he told me he was from Africa and I said to him that in Newport they’re very racist, there’s no teachers there, black teachers so I said to him, because he took over a place called GEMS: Gwent Minority Support Services, something like that, it was the first of its kind in Newport and I said well you’ve got the building, if you can train- if I get a group of people together, get someone to train them up to a level so they can go to school and teach. So he said, right what I’ll do, I’ll apply to the European for funding and I've got the space there and you just bring me the people. So I did, I got quite a few, about 12 Caribbean people, I was one, we were taught English, we got someone from London, she was excellent, her name was Cal, oh she was an excellent teacher, she really was excellent. She went through everything and she was so patient, if you wanted help with anything you know, don’t be afraid to ask, you know but she got us through it and whilst she taught us we had to go into various schools, colleges as well and we’d be assessed by it and marked as well by the teacher so we’d done all that, we all passed.
 
But while we were doing it, what I found out was a lot of Asians were coming there and in a school you find there are more Asians there, rather than, we were taught English as a second language because I explained, as Carribean you learn to speak English is like pigeon English you know and when you’re writing the grammar is not the same, whereas with the Asians going to school, they’re getting the help, that one to one, that’s why they do better than us.
 
And there was a sir that came around and asked, do we need that extra help? And I said, yes we needed it, in the community and there was nobody speaking English it was ridiculous and they pulled it and it went by the wayside and that was the end of that. But they do need it, they definitely definitely need it. Definitely.


[00:07:45]
 
Interviewer: The extra support...
 
Gwen: They do yeah. Because when you’re writing it doesn’t flow so easily. You know, to get your thoughts into chronological order. You do need that support, definitely.
 
Interviewer: How important is it, do you think for the next generation to hear and to know the stories of people like you and your parents and that kind of thing?
 
Gwen: I think it’s very important that, definitely and I think that they need that support in school as well. They really do because it will help a lot, that support you know, in the reading and the writing.
 
Interviewer: Why is it important?
 
Gwen: It’s important for them to achieve later on in their adulthood, to get good jobs you know and things like that and to be able to express themselves. Be their own voice as well. They need a voice don’t they.
 
And they need someone to look up to as well in school and so there’s no one they can look up to and whose a voice for them in the community, there’s nothing here in Newport, nothing at all you know, where they can go and meet and support. It’s like friends as well, there’s nothing within the local support you know. They need the link go as far back as their countries, I think with their high commission supporting them over here. That’s a good thing. Because with the age, when they bang all these properties they can link it up with their government so they are linked to the government back home and everything.  
 
Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like to say about Britain, about being British, about feeling British or not feeling British? Do you feel more British or more Carribean?
 
Gwen: The both.
 
Interviewer: So you describe yourself as what? Ethnicity wise?
 
Gwen: I would say Black British. No matter where I go I walk my path, oh you’re from Wales or you’re from Saint Kitts. One day, this white girl came up to me, she said to me, how do the people accept you here? You know, with your accent as a Welsh speaking person? They always say that to me, always. On the train you know they go, oh here goes Shirley Bassey. That’s what they always say the moment I open my mouth.
 
Interviewer: Do you feel more Welsh or more British? Do you think there’s a difference between being Welsh and being British?
 
Gwen: The Welsh are very racist, very very racist.
 
But it’s only now I realise, because when I was younger, I went to my friends house before and she didn’t let me in. I said why haven’t you invited me in? I invited you in straight away. But she closed the door. I wasn’t an issue that she wasn’t allowed to invite me in and I realised then. I didn’t at the time it was only later on, when you’re grown up you realise these things.
 
Interviewer: Her parents didn’t allow you, they didn’t want you around?
 
Gwen: They didn’t want her to let me in you know. Like how I said, I realised growing up but not at that time. Racism is not in school, it starts within the home, that’s 100% the parents you know.
 
Interviewer: Is there any hope? Is there anything we can do about that?
 
Gwen: I think the scene in the school is all just you know, white faces, the same mixture. That would help aswell because when I was teaching a school aswell, I couldn’t believe it the teacher was doing something, she used the letter N, she chose the letter and told the class, name something beginning with N and they went nigger. I was so- I couldn’t believe it but the teacher didn’t even blink, she acted as if- the children acted as if it was something normal so obviously it was terrible. So I came back home and I reported them.
 
But they were worried because this chap came to see me who was from the council, he said to me they’re worried that you might take it further and all this and I said I’ve got no intention of taking it further. The person that I want, I would like her [the teacher] to go, I’d like her to go on a course, you know and I’d like to be around to see to make sure she did go on it, but they said I couldn’t be there and all this nonsense. So it was GEMS you know.
 
But then, because that happened, what I didn’t realise was, in school there was this blonde girl with blue eyes, she was my husbands niece, she called me aunty Gwen and I didn’t realise we were related. So she started picking up [inaudible] she said, oh she seems to be tired in school, do you think she’s getting me to be negative? But I just ignored her because in the school during the breaks they talked about this child and I can remember him, this little boy, this mixed race boy and he was very bright and clever and then because he was mixed race they would always put him down, they kept him down so it’s got a lot to do with your background and they judge you, in school the teachers they judge you alot, I noticed.


[00:14:30]
 
Interviewer: It seems that, if you are a person of colour, if you’re non white, the system is already against you, so to make it, you have to work extra hard I guess.
 
Gwen: It’s the mentality, it's institutionalised isn’t it, every one of them.
 
Interviewer: Oh Gwen, I will leave you to have your lunch and I think this is it. Do you have anything else you want to say?
 
Gwen: Oh please don’t forget to get in touch with the embassy for Saint Kitts, the high commissioner for the flag please.
 
Interviewer: Okay.
 
Gwen: For the flag to go against my father, you know my mother was from Saint Kitts as well.
 
Interviewer: Thank you, thank you for your time Gwen.
 
Gwen: I did a play on the French room, it was very so good. The chap I did it with, he was a Jamaican chap, he’d never- when he came over here, he didn’t know about the French room because he came over late, he came over in the late 60’s and he never even had a French room, he never even owned a house, so everything I told him is what I did and the names of my sisters as well I gave and we wrote it together but he took it all and took the play. Oh I was so annoyed with him.
 
Interviewer: Do you have any of those things still? Like the grammar phone and all those kinds of things? Do you own anything like that?
 
Gwen: No, I never owned anything like that.

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