Franklyn Parris. Windrush Cymru: Ein Lleisiau, Ein Straeon, Ein Hanes, 2019

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Trawsgrifiad o gyfweliad hanes llafar gyda Franklyn Parris, yn trafod ei brofiad o dyfu i fyny o fewn teulu a ymfudodd o'r Caribî yn ystod y 1950au. Ganed Franklyn Parris yn St Kitts yn 1947. Pan oedd yn naw oed gadawodd ei dad am Brydain ac aeth Franklyn i fyw at ei nain.


Dyddiad cyfweliad: 26th Medi 2019
Hyd cyfweliad: 29:06

Rhan 1 of 3


My full name is Franklyn Adolphus Parris.
My parent’s names were Agnes Grace and Charles Wilmer Parris. I was born on 24th of July 1947.
My dad was a butcher in the West Indies, and when he came here he worked in the coal cuttings up in Nantgarw. I don't really know what my mother did because my mum and dad divorced when I was really young, so she went her own way. They were divorced in Nevis.
I was born in St Kitts. I remember growing up there. I had one brother and two sisters. Growing up there was good, sometimes sad, like any other child I should imagine now, because I was being brought up at my grandmother and my father. My younger brother died when he was two, he was given the wrong doses of medicine by the chemist and it killed him. I was about four. I think that was the last I saw my mother before I came to this country.
When I was about six till it was about nine, I went to the market every Friday night with my dad to kill the animals to sell in the market on a Saturday. By the time I was nine, I was able, but then I was I was seven, I was able to kill an animal and skin it and get ready to eat. I’ve always been involved with that.


When I was nine we moved from St Nevis to St Kitts but we still carried on with the meat but it was sent down by boats and I went to the port to pay to pick it up and bring it back to the house and we’d sell the meat in the garage – until I was 13 and then I came here.
My dad came to England that’s why we moved to St Kitts with my grandmother. Somebody kill the animals in Nevis, it was sent down and she carried on selling the meat in St Nevis. My dad had left when I was nine.
Losing my mother and father so close my grandmother helped me. When we moved to St Kitts my two sisters lived with my auntie. We could have all lived with her, but she wanted me to call her mother because she had no children, but I couldn't, call her mother so I refuse to, so she only took my two sisters and I was brought up in my grandmother.
The reason I came here was my grandmother was taken was ill and my auntie had told me that she would not look after me if my grandmother died, so my grandmother wrote to my dad and said you’d better send for him because he'd be on his own if anything happens to me. So I came here. Otherwise I probably would not have come here. My sisters stayed in St Kitts til they grew up, one was a teacher, one worked in a bank and then they emigrated to Canada later on in life.
I remember going to school. I was like all kids you had fun. From what I can remember it was okay. I liked school, it was very strict and I could remember once being sent up to the headmaster and I had six lashes of my back and when I was coming down I laughed and he called me back and I continued to laugh so he gave me six times – thirty-six lashes, but the next time I went down, I was stubborn and I wasn’t gonna cry. Instead of going to the class, the class went outside because we had lessons under the trees, so he didn't see me otherwise he would probably have called me up again. But that’s the way it was.
When I was young, I wanted to grow up to be a minister in church. Church was a big part of life, especially from my time as a child went to church nearly every day, evenings and nights. We’d have church lessons in the house when we wake up first thing, then we’d go and do our chores. Take the animals to the pasture, stuff like that. We’d go to school, come back. Get back the animals from the pasture, do your chores, go out to play with your friends for a while. But then you have to be by a certain time, stuff like that. You had to be in to attend church service in the house, or get ready to go to prayer meeting, or some Bible studies. Has that stayed with me? Yes and no. Cos when I came here at thirteen it was like a bird to being let out of the cage you know, and all of a sudden things you couldn’t do at home, like going to the cinema. So I probably did a bit more than I should have.


Britain was your Mother Country, streets were paved with gold, it was milk and honey, you could more or less can walk in the street and pick money up, that type of thing. Education back home was so unreal compared to what it was here. Couldn’t believe it when I got here. I landed in Southampton and my dad came up on the train to pick me up. It was April when the weather was wet and cold, it was different. I really can’t remember what I was wearing but I know it wasn't warm. I may have had short pants on I think.
St Kitts and was still a colony then, we’ve only had our independence thirty-six years, last week or the week before.
When I landed, we came back to Cardiff, got the train to the station and then caught the tram from the station down here. They used to have the old trams in those days. I remember we got off in Bute Street and it was something else. Obviously, it was different from home, and it was cold and wet and just like a different world altogether something else. When you’re in a country that’s warm all the time, you were in short pants and top and then all of a sudden you wet and cold and shivering, it was something else.
My first impressions were really about the weather and then you've got something set in your mind, something you read in a fairy book and it wasn't. You soon got to realise that everything that you been told as a child back home was not true. People had to work hard just to survive.

When I first came here Bute Town was different, inasmuch as I was an outsider but I was easily made to feel welcome, but I still the new person in town. My first day to school I had to have a fight, down at that part they just used to be able to walk down to catch the bus to school. When I got to school I had to fight the main kid in the class just to be able to sit in the class, and that type of thing you know. Been on my own, and always had to fight my way to get through. Eventually got used to it. You had your bullies, the boys who were born here, but I didn't really get accepted in the docks until in my 20s really, when I was about 26. I was only in school eighteen months and then I was ill, I went to hospital was in there for six months. Then when I came out, I started an apprenticeship as an engineer. I did that for five years and when that finished a friend of mine, my friend’s father. Mr Pyne bought two American companies to join the Navy as an engineer. I was successful and went in the Navy as an engineer. That was in 1968. Flew to New York, joined the ship and from there we went to Vietnam, we flew from Hong Kong with the soldiers because the war was on. I was away for eight months and it was quite an experience especially when we went to Vietnam, three times, different places - really an experience. Seen suffering, seen dead bodies, really shocking. But something you see, experience and you realise that human rights is not worth anything really, in those days, it’s sad to see.  That’s what it seemed like you know.


My father’s brother came to Cardiff first, my uncle. He was here about a year or two, not quite sure, and then my father came to join him. But why my uncle came to Cardiff I’m not really sure about that. I think maybe because other people had come to Cardiff, I’m not sure, but that’s how we came here. After being around Britain I wouldn’t live anywhere else but Cardiff. It’s got its problems like any other city but you’re made to feel more welcome here, you’re part of the system rather than a complete outsider.

Music for me was Calypso and that always stuck with me even today. But the only thing I remember was I missed my grandmother more than anything else. That was the main thing.  My dad was married to his second wife and things wasn’t too good. So it reminded me of St Kitts because my auntie said that if my grandmother passed away I’d be on my own. I came over here like out of the frying pan into the fire. My dad wasn't well at the time and she said the same thing because they had no children. You know you better pray your dad lives because you’re on your own so it was … so I’ve always been sort of alone all of my life.

After that I had a girlfriend in Cardiff, and she was pregnant so I came home and we got married bought a house in Grangetown and I gave up the Navy and went to work in the dry docks. Then when I was about 26 or 27, we were having a drink in a local pub and I didn't really know anything about rugby. Although there was a rugby club here no one sort of tried to get me into it, no one invited me, but we were sitting in the pub and the boys were there and they were playing for the local team, but they didn't feel they were having a fair share of the games, so they said why don't we start a new club, which was called Bute Town club so I got talking and they said would I like to get involved with the next administration side a little bit, so I said yes, which I did. So, then I started training with them and so I run the club. I loved it. I ran the club them for about 3 to 4 years but in the end you know, not a lot of them was pulling their weight. So, things came to a head and another club came forward and asked me to come and play for them, which is a higher club in the league and I did and within three months of me leaving the club folded because nobody else would carry it on. We had some terrific boys there. I think they all regret it now, because it could have been a very, very strong side, because we really had some good players but we had strong headed guys involved who was determined not to see you succeed that type of thing you know. It had to be their way or no way, so that’s why it folded. Then I went up to Taffs Well to play and I played there for 14 years and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Then when I finished playing, I went to assess referees and I did that for quite a few years, then I was on in the district committee for Cardiff, and I did that a few years up to last year. It was last year of the district committee, after hundred and 25 years it folded and was taken over by the WRU so I’m not involved in the district any more, I still go to the meetings but I’m not official. I was vice-chairman for that thought, for quite a few years though. I really love it and still involved, I’m preside of the local rugby club and I’m a lifetime member of the Welsh rugby society.

One of the main challenges for me was to make sure my kids were never alone. I was always there for them, even though my married failed afterwards - 15 years I was married but I was still there for them. My daughter is 50 now, my boys, 46, we had two children and then later on I got married a second time and in all, I had five children. I’ve got five grandchildren, five grandsons. And so I’m there for them even now. There was nobody there for me except my grandmother. Even though me and my wife split up we both there for them. I still get on with her now, and her
My father didn't pass away when he was ill, he did eventually pass away, 23 years ago. He only met four of my children. Last time he met, the younger son, the last but one, she was only a couple weeks or old. I've got a photograph of him in the hospital with her.
I’ve got two flags up in my house, St Kitts and Nevis flag and the Welsh flag. I feel more Welsh than British if that makes sense, and so I would say more Welsh than English, but I am British is that makes sense. I still feel St Kittian. When I go home, I think of going home. I still think of it as home even though I've been here 58 years, I still think of St Kitts and Nevis as home… but yet this is my home. I’ve been back a few times. First time I went back was in 96 and since then I’ve been back five times and I’m going back again this December. I never really did think about where I would retire. I always thought I would go back home once I got older but the stress of life and living is very difficult because my immediate family’s here. So what would I do? Take them back to me? But they’re Welsh and they wouldn't want to go back, their friends and their lives are here and their mother is Welsh, it would be very difficult. I think I’d go back on holidays but never really thought of going back home. Maybe after I retired, I thought I'd thought about it but I’m retired now and I would never think of going back home to live. All the people I knew have passed away or moved to different pastures like going to America, Canada, or departed the West Indies. I got relations there, but their relations by being children of the people I used to know but the people I used to know aren’t there. So no, I wouldn't go back home to live.


This is my home, my kids my grandkids. It’s where I made roots, bought properties here, in as much as my first house, my second house even though they gone now and I’m in a flat, it’s still were I lay my bed. Home is where you lay your bed. There have been testing times in the past, but there've been more good times than testing. People have made me feel more welcome. I got a tremendous amount of friends. I still feels lonely but I got friends, but it’s a loneliness that has been with me all my life and which will never go away. Even with my children I still feel like I'm on my own. Always have been no matter what I do. It’s just a feeling what’s inside. Like I work in clubs in Cardiff for 35 years on and off and the amount people I know is unbelievable. And children of people – I used to be called Uncle Frank in Bute town. They said I’m so-and-so’s daughter or I’m so-and-so’s son and you know the families. I love people, I do.
I have experienced racism. I’ve had many a fight. Racism isn’t good. Over the years you just take it. Something you can't stop people from doing. You can have a fight and give them a good hiding but it’s still there. But I've been pretty lucky, I find that I haven’t had as many people pushing into my face as some other people. Probably because of the things I've done. I’m not racist because my wife was white and my kids are half white so I don't believe in racism. You take people on merit. If somebody upset me no matter what colour they are one isn’t softer than the other one because he's white and he’s black. You get the same lashes.

Dyddiad cyfweliad: 26th Medi 2019
Hyd cyfweliad: 9:57

Rhan 2 of 3

[Has Wales changed?]

Hmm … obviously its changed from when I first came here. It’s grown up. It has changed for the better I think it's been. I think it's more caring for the subjects in Wales, people in Wales than it was before. And also I think that you have a better chance of succeeding in whatever you want to achieve in Wales than most in other parts of the country. But I can only speak for Wales, Cardiff. I'm only speaking by what I read or what I hear from other places, but I think you've got a good chance of succeeding in Wales if you want to do something. I think you get a lot of help if you truly believe in what you doing. I think a lot of people don't take the opportunities that’s there. They'd rather say, ‘well, I can do this cos I’m black or cos I live here or there, but they don’t fight hard enough for what’s there for us. A good example is our people they say we should have had so much and we haven’t got it. But that’s because we give up too quickly in what we want to achieve. I’m probably guilty of that as well. I really believe that, there's a lot more. We don't stick together and fight for it. When I say the drive, they don't stick together, they don't, and if you try to do it, they just sort of …  when you realise that they're not interested I think we give up too quickly and something that we could see is there to be achieved.  Because nobody else is interested, that type of thing. It’s just in our nature, I think.


My experience in being involved with the clubs and being involved in different things, people never see that you do something because you want to, because you believe in it or because you want help. They always think that there gotta be something in it for you, to do it, even though you are using your own money spending it on what you trying to do. They still think there’s gotta be something. People just don't believe that there’s goodness in people to be able to do something for the sake of doing it rather than there’s something in it for themselves. That’s our biggest downfall.
What advice would I give the young Franklin? I say when you first get here try and mix a bit more, even though nobody is coming forward to encourage you. Try get involved, get involved in some sports as the way forward to actually meeting people, do something, study hard in school. Education is such matter of whether you take it. I think mixing and getting involved in local sports is about the best as opportunities are there for everybody and take advantage of it. that’s about it really. And when you find out about it wear long pants and coat or warm jacket.
I never really thought about being different when I first came here. When I was in the West Indies you mix with your own young crowd. You had your white sections and the white schools which couldn't go to. The squares that you couldn't go in because there was white kids playing there. And to come here and everybody wasn’t the same - it was uplifting to see that. We didn’t have mixed schools, the whites didn’t go to the same school. They had like convent schools, and high schools where we just had the local government schools. To go to school where it’s mixed it was quite different. The two guys I had to fight were white boys, both of them are friends of mine now, but at the time I was just a young kid. I don’t even think they disliked me, they just had to prove … it was just an initiating thing. But at the time you had to stick up for yourself at all times. I think if I had run away, I wouldn’t have been … that was the culture then. It’s not so much now.

Yes, I’ve had regrets on the journey so far. I do wonder sometimes if I had stayed in the West Indies would my life have been different. You never know, but a lot of thee people I knew there have done something in their lives. Would I have come here, would I have gone to Canada, would I have gone to America? That was the way forward for youngsters growing up. But I can’t complain. It could have been worse, it could have been better, but I don't know, so you accept what you’ve got. Would I still be alive? It sounds daft but because in the West Indies now there’s so much crime and gang things going on. People being shot. Would life have been different? You’d don’t know. At my age now having a family, watching my grandkids growing up and being involved in the community, this building, and the rugby. In a way I’ve been blessed. The dream of becoming a minister, that went out the window unfortunately. Maybe if I'd stayed home in the West Indies it may have happened because that's all I knew then, the Church. So I’m not sure.

Dyddiad cyfweliad: 26th Medi 2019
Hyd cyfweliad: 3:47

Rhan 3 of 3
I came over on a French ship called Marcos de Camalos (sp?) and it took us two weeks to get here. We left St Kitts and the first stop was in Jamaica where the passengers came out to join the ship, it was anchored and to be honest I can’t remember the other islands that we stopped at, there was many. I remember it took two weeks before we landed in Southampton. I don’t remember much of the journey.
I know my cousin said I never kept still. Running around the ship. Maybe that's why I ended up going in the Navy, because of the journey. I enjoyed it.
I don’t remember much about the community when I first came over, later on in life … I mean there were people on the boat, on the same ship coming over that I never found out that they were on that same ship. For many years after. Just by conversation, talking and somebody would say when did you came here and I’d say 1961, and they’d say oh, I came in 61. Where did you land? Southampton. Yeah, I came to Southampton and eventually found out that they were on the same boat as me, but I didn't know. And my family knew them, but I didn't know them. My best friend, his wife and mum came over on the same ship as me. That’s the one’s I’m going to stay with in St Kitts, he was just here. A cousin of mine come here, she went to live in Ipswich. My friend Jasmine and her mother they came here because she was born here and lots of other people went to other parts of the world. Once or twice I’d meet somebody who came over on the same boat. Like when we go to the Leeds carnival and you’re talking to different West Indian people. Conversation come up and ‘oh, I came over on that boat’. Obviously, didn’t know each other. Lots of people meeting different families, you’d just disperse and go your own way. At that age I wasn’t taking notice of the grown-ups. There were a few children on there and we just played. Once you got off the boat you forget about … except the people you came with. You forget about everybody else. I saw Jasmine's mum and my cousin I met her up in St Kitts again the last time I was there about four, five years ago.

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