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When were you born?

The 19th of March 1950.

Where were you born?

In County Armagh, Northern Ireland. And I lived in Keady.

What did your parents or guardians do?

Well, my father, he was unemployed and he was a builder so he came to work in
England to get work. And he came to live in Kettering so he could get work. And my
mother was just a housewife.

Yeah, how many brothers or sisters did you have?

Two brothers and three sisters.

Did any members of your family have a disability or a health condition?

My brother died when he was three weeks old, he had a heart condition. He died in
my arms: I was five years old.

What was your house like?


In Ireland, it was just one room downstairs with a fire and, a like a hob and you
boiled your kettle on a hob. And you went up a ladder upstairs and you just had one
room and you had all bits of, coats on the floor to sleep on.

You had a ladder?

Uh-hu. And we had a well outside what you had to get the water out of. And, but
there was some dead cats in it so you had to get the dead cats out and then erm boil
the water. Which didn’t bother you anyways. So…

What were your parents or guardians attitudes towards your disability?

Very strict, very strict. My mother said – I was a congenital deformity – and they said
when I was born that I would die so they left me in a cot to die in the hospital
because that’s what they did in them days, in 1950, and then if you’d made it through
the night then they’d help you.

Seriously? That’s really harsh.


And then they christened me straight away because if you’re not

christened you can’t be buried in a church, you have to be buried outside in Ireland,
and erm they, they said, they said well, so my mum took me home and they said I
wouldn’t live long and I’d never walk ever. And my mum said no that’s not a word you will walk and you will do everything like anyone else. And the dog taught me to


The dog? How did that..?

Because I loved the dog and I used to follow the dog and then I started holding on to
the dog and walking and then one day I just walked off.

How old were you when you started walking?

Two and a half.

What was the nature of your disability?

Congenital deformity, it’s just a quirk of nature basically, a congenital deformity like,
some parts of people’s bodies develop outside the womb.

And if they develop

outside the womb they don’t get the blood flow to develop the body, the body
properly, so my leg wasn’t developed properly and it was quite short, it was like a
round foot with little tiny buds for your toes. And then my fingers were missing and
my other foot was deformed, just different toes. So I sort of learnt to walk, I learned
to do everything, I learned to run but they built, made me a calliper.

Sorry what’s that?

A calliper, like a metal piece so I could steady my leg and a big boot, it was, it was
awful, absolutely awful.


Was it uncomfortable to wear?

No it just looked awful, I’m a vain person and I can’t bear that. So when I was
fourteen I got friends with a doctor when I came to England and I had a word and we
talked it through and, when I was fourteen I walked into the hospital and said I want
the leg amputating and they did it in 1964 and I never looked back. Took a year to
get a leg but you had a metal leg and I learnt to walk on that and it was the best thing
I ever did because I had a good life and nobody ever knew.

That’s pretty impressive.

Yeah. Nobody ever knew that I had an artificial leg – I used to go dancing, ball
gowns, wear high heels, do whatever I wanted. So you can do anything you want in
life if you really want to.

You’ve just got to put the effort in?

Yes. And my mum would never let me say I was disabled. I left school in 1966, I got
a job in - when I left school I couldn’t read or write, because in the school I went to in
Kettering it was for handicapped people. Three classes for physical handicapped
(coughs), three classes for mentally handicapped. And you had to have lessons in
the morning, go to bed in the afternoon in school.



Yeah. If you were a girl they never bothered with you much because you’d marry
someone and they’d look after you. So they didn’t bother with, you know, your
reading and your writing; you just did a few bits here and there. So I used to go the
library and get books out and try and read them, Janet and John and all sorts of
books and things like that and one of my sisters helped me. And, erm, I aimed to be
a secretary I did so, when I left school I got a job at sixteen in a meat factory. And I
worked from 8 in the morning to 5 at night, Monday to Friday, never had any time off
sick, stood up, did everything, and, sausages, beef burgers, you name it. And took
the machine to bits, everything. And I earned three pounds a week for that. I gave
my mum two pounds and I kept a pound myself. And I thought I want to go to
college and get educated.

So I got a job on Kettering market. 6 o’clock in the

morning till 6 o’clock at night, three pounds for that. So that paid for me to go to
college and get educated. And then I became a secretary when I was nineteen.

When you were working in the factories and things like that were you treated any
differently because of your disability or were you treated the same?

The same. I wouldn’t ever want them to do that, never. In fact the able-bodied
people couldn’t do what I could do. They couldn’t take the machines to bits, put them
back together. Because I taught myself because if you want to get on in life you
must never sit and be pathetic, you must always learn. And people respect you for
that. They do. So it’s never stopped me doing anything.

That’s pretty impressive.


I go up ladders, I clean windows, yeah, I did, well when my roof was leaking one
Christmas I got some tar, got me ladder out Christmas eve – my garage roof, not my
roof up there – put that on it and sealed the leak till I could afford to get a new
garage roof. So, and it took me eight months to decorate my living room, I decorated
it, painted it, did the ceiling, stripped it down. Never, never be, never say you can’t
do anything, always have a go.

What were your sibling’s attitudes towards you? I know you just said your sister
helped you.

I brought them up, no I brought them up.

You did?

Because mum, all my mum kept doing was getting pregnant, because that’s all they
did in Ireland. And mum and dad were always falling out because my dad was 21
years older than my mother. So they argued quite a lot. And also I didn’t realise at
the time but they were running a bomb factory making bombs for the IRA. So at five
years old I knew how to make a petrol bomb.

And I wondered why mum was

smuggling sugar over – when you’re a pregnant woman they never search you. And
we never had a lot of sugar. Because sugar’s the thing that ignites the bomb: put it
in a bottle, you put your petrol in, your sugar, and they’re all coming in and I thought
well these people are my uncles, they were IRA people. So dad wanted to get out,
so we had to get out. There was eleven; there were twenty-two in my dad’s family,
eleven boys and eleven girls, but when dad left when I was twelve mum had a


nervous breakdown so I had to look after her, had to look after all the others. And
she had my sister and of course sister she didn’t want her so I had to bring her up
and look after her so, I had to look after them all so, that’s why I look after people.

Yeah you’re just used to it. Can you tell me something about your early childhood?
Like some fond memory or something?

Oh yes. When I was four and three-quarters, no five actually, we moved, we had to
move from Madden Row because mum was arguing with, with the protestants and
the Catholics, she had my sister christened a protestant, and it was a catholic area,
so they were gonna burn us out that night. So we had to get out and they put us in a
council house in Crossmore in Ireland, in Keady, and I erm made friends with loads
of people there. And we used to play lots of games and I always wanted to be a
nurse so I used to put the patients in hospital and run round and if they ran away I
had to chase them and then one day I fell down a hole and I broke my arm in three
places but I was frightened to tell my mum because I knew she’d clout me for it. It
was agony. So I told her and she clouted me anyway. And she took me to hospital
and erm the nurses I didn’t like because they were bossy so that they were trying to
put me out with the chloroform mask, because that’s what they did in them days,
they put a mask on your face and drip chloroform on, and er so I decked them one. I
remember that because she had a black eye afterward, the nurse, yeah. And you
know, things, it was so, it was just life, wasn’t it, you know. And you just got on with


What sort of house were you brought up in? I know you told us the first house in
Ireland was one-up one-down?

The one we moved to was a council house, it was really posh, it got like a lovely
living room with one of these stoves, Aga stove was in it, all had to black-lead it, and
mum used to go out across the road to see one of my neighbours, and we had a
lovely garden, we had three bedrooms, we had real stairs. And I used to have to
feed them and I was only little and I used to think, she’d put the food in the cupboard
so I used to have to pull the drawers out but use them as a ladder, the kitchen
drawers and go up them as a ladder to get the food out. And then I used to get a little
towel and tie it in a towel and lower it down to the floor, the food, and then I’d jump
from the thing down and scoot along, you know, and if mum put me in my cot at night
I’d get out the cot by tying all my sheets together.

(Laughs) Little bit of a mischief maker? What sort of toys or games did you play

Well I didn’t have any toys until mum wrote off to this chappie on the radio called
Wilfred Pickles and it was “Have A Go Joe” and all this and she used to ring, and
they sent me some lovely toys, they sent me a Princess Anne Doll, a cot to put it in,
and this tortoise that went along when you pressed the thing, it was fun, real fun, I
never played games because I didn’t have time, I was too busy bringing up my
family. I didn’t have time, I used to do all the cooking, sewing, ironing, housecleaning.


So you didn’t really have like a proper childhood then?

No, no no no, so that’s why I don’t have time now to do anything, but I did all this
with my children to give them a life, you know.

What sort of food did you eat and what was your favourite?

I didn’t really have any favourite food, no, I wasn’t a food person (coughs). It was
what we could afford, we used to have a lot of toast, you know, jam and toast, and
erm, and sort of erm, I started to grow vegetables in the garden at five, got some
seeds from one of the neighbours, and I was growing like little cauliflowers and I did
some runner beans and things like that so I could feed the family and potatoes and
they grew very good, but you had to check them for wireworm.

What’s a wireworm?

Wireworm? You get a hole in a potato, and it’s a worm that embeds itself in the
potato, so you have to check because if you don’t that can make you really ill. And I
managed to get someone to give me a couple of chickens so we had our own eggs.
And I used to put all the rubbish from like the peelings from the potatoes, you could
feed the chickens with that and then they would produce eggs for you. Stuff like that.
And I used to make my own bread at, I was five then, make bread, we used to make
blackberry pies, pastry, you know.

You did all that at five?


Yes because I used to go along the hedgerows and get the blackberries off the
hedgerows. And I never put sugar in them because I didn’t like sugar you see. And
rhubarb, I used to make rhubarb pies because people used to give us rhubarb and

Was there anything you watched on television? I’m guessing not?

Didn’t have a telly, didn’t have a telly, we didn’t have a television. When we moved
to Kettering there’s a chappie up the road, erm, he was a bus driver, Derek
somebody-or-other, and he had a television so we all used to walk up there to watch
his television, when dad left, because me dad left, and erm mum became, Gerald
Carr that was it Gerald Carr was his name, and mum and him became friends. And
erm he had a television that you put money in, a slot television, a wooden one, and
you used to put a shilling in it and you could watch a bit of television, and just, you
used to sit and you couldn’t watch if for long because the shilling used to run out.

I’m guessing that the TV programmes back then weren’t so good?

Muffin the Mule and Andy Pandy, and, you know, weird things like that.

What was your Christmas like? What sort of things would you do on Christmas?

The main thing for Christmas was to be together as a family. We used to have,
because we couldn’t afford fruit all year round, so for Christmas we’d have in a


stocking an apple, an orange and a pear and a banana. Because you didn’t have
fruit all year round. And I’d save up and get a chicken. So what I’d do I’d make a
Christmas meal out of that chicken and keep all the other stuff and make a stew for
two or three days out of what was left over, boil it all up, you know. Make a stew out
of it. I sound like I’m a dinosaur don’t I? Came out the dinosaur age (laughs).

What about Easter? Because I know Easter’s quite big in Ireland.

We didn’t celebrate Easter, no no no, couldn’t afford it. It was a commodity that
wasn’t worth bothering about.

What about bonfire night? Things like that?

No we didn’t bother with that, no, we couldn’t afford it so, no no, we don’t, because
we couldn’t afford fireworks and that.

Not like it is today.

No no no no, it’s too commercialised, and we didn’t support it then. And er because
it’s only supported in Ireland is Easter because of the religious side. But mum didn’t
- we were brought up Catholics but we were not practising Catholics because we
didn’t believe in what they did, the way they treat people and go and confess and
then go and do it again. They’re hypocrites actually.

Did you have any childhood illnesses like measles, chicken pox, anything?


I had chicken pox but usually I didn’t have time to have illnesses, I was too busy.

What would happen if you did fall ill though? What would happen with your siblings?

I never fell ill. So I don’t know.

I’ve already asked you about school haven’t we, do you want to talk more about
what’s it like at school?

No, it was alright, you know, it was ok, I hated school, I hated every day of it, it was
so boring.

Because I wanted to do more because I could see that I wasn’t

unintelligent but they were not doing anything with my brainpower that I wanted to

You weren’t being challenged?

No, I just wanted to do things and if you asked they wouldn’t, didn’t want to know.
And in them days you didn’t have a voice, not if you were a girl. Boys were more
important because they were going to be the breadwinners. You were going to
marry somebody. Oh I don’t think so darling.

My granny is quite old-fashioned, that’s what she believes as well.


But they do, it was indoctrinated into the brain, and that’s how people thought
because that’s the way they were brought up. It’s quite sad isn’t it?

Yeah, really sad.

Because life’s not like that, Michelle. We’re all equal in this world, everyone’s as
good as each other and we should all care about each other and help each other.
Nobody’s better than me and I’m no better than nobody else

There’s quite a few questions about school here shall we just move on?

Well you can ask them.

Well how old were you when you started school?


Six. How did you feel on your first day?


Yeah because you didn’t want to?


No it was boring, everybody was like running around and being stupid and I didn’t
want to do that. Because I haven’t been brought up as a child, I’ve been brought up
in, working as an adult and I just didn’t want to be with these immature children.

Yeah. How did you get to school?

A bus picked us up. It picked you up from the house and took you to the school
because it was about two miles away. It was in a housing area, a really posh area
the school, but it was a boring school.

How do you feel about some of your teachers?

There was one I kept in touch with, Mr Baxter, till the day he died. He was a very
very good man, very good indeed, the only thing when I visited him he used to have
a budgie and it always used to poo in my hair (laughs). And I had a bouffant in them

I don’t know what that is.

A bouffant is where you have long hair, you back-comb it really fiercely, and you roll
it under, that’s a bouffant is, yeah. It used to be the height of fashion.

What about your teachers, what were they like? Apart from…?


They had to, they couldn’t do any other, but they had to go by the curriculum, they
were not allowed to bend it or twist it because in them days they were very strict.

Did you have any favourite subjects?

At school? I used to like cooking; I used to love cookery yeah. And English. Well
what we learned of it.

But were they the same sort of lessons that we have today? Like English, Maths,

No you only had basic, like, you’d do cooking because only the girls did cooking
because you had to, you were the cook, the boys didn’t do it. And then we’d do sortof English for an hour; maths, you know just basic maths and history. I used to quite
like History actually it’s quite good.

So that was your favourite, apart from cooking? So did you not do science or

No no, I didn’t do things like that.

What about your friends, what were they like?

They were ok; I’m still friends with some of the girls today. I’m still friends. A lot of
them have died obviously because they had various illnesses, but I’m still friends


with a lot of the girls I went to school with today, some of them live in Corby and we
have Christmas cards and birthday cards, yeah.

That’s really good. Was there any bullying at your school?

Oh yes, a lot, yeah. Oh they dared to try and bully me. I say dare. But erm they just
used to annoy me so I used, I took a pin to school and if anyone bullied me I’d jab it
in them. I know you can’t do that today because they can get lockjaw. But they
soon left me alone. They wouldn’t dare to come near me. And if they annoyed or
bullied other people I used to stand up for them.

How did your disability affect your childhood?

It didn’t really; I never thought about it, I never gave it a moment’s thought.

That’s good. Were you ever in hospital?

When I had my leg amputated, yes, yeah, I was in there for two weeks. I was in
Stoke Mandeville for three months, in 1965, and I didn’t see Jimmy Saville ever

How long were you there for?

Three months, Stoke Mandeville, yeah.


And obviously you just said you had your leg amputated?

That was in Kettering, that was in Kettering. I had my leg amputated in 1964. But I
had fingers all joined together so I wanted them to be separate so I had to go in
Stoke Mandeville and it wouldn’t heal. Because they took skin all off my back and it
wouldn’t take, it all fell off my hand and went green. It healed on its own in the end, I
knew it would. And that was the old Stoke Mandeville that was just one little hut,
with all little huts going down to it. And then they raised all the money to build a new
one. And I, I, the only person I ever saw there was Margot Fonteyn the ballerina.
She was Rudolph Nureyev’s partner. I didn’t know at 15 who she was. Her husband
had, they’d tried to assassinate him, he was an Argentinian dictator, and they shot
him in his spine. They brought him in by helicopter. Because that was the spinal unit
as well. And she was running along beside him. She was so beautiful and elegant,
they said who she was and I thought well I don’t know who that is. And then later I
went to the ballet when I was older and, yeah, I saw her and I thought gosh that’s
that beautiful woman.

What are your feelings about your childhood now?

It was different. You can’t ever change things, and you should never look back in the
past in anger, you must always look to the future and be positive. Never look back in

Just learn from your past?


Learn from it, yeah, and go forward and make a better life for yourself. From all the
things that you think were wrong. And be positive.

Oh I’m interested in this one: what sort of things did you get up to when you became
a teenager?

Oh yeah that’s fun! Yeah! I always remember before they made my leg up I was
bored and I lived a mile and a half from Wicksteed Park so I walked up there on my
crutches with a load of friends, you know, and we walked up there and I hoisted
myself over the railings, it was locked, and I got caught on the railings, my skirt and it
ripped all the back of my skirt off.

And then I got clouted by mum, you know

(laughs). And then I remember going to a dance at, erm, Leicester and I was told I
couldn’t go, so I went, you know.

Why were you told you couldn’t go?

I don’t know, mum said I couldn’t go. I still went. And then on the way back the, it
was snowing and the fellow I was with his car broke down so there was I in a ball
gown and pushing an old, er a mini cooper you know, and this old mini cooper
pushing it up the road at two o’clock in the morning (laughs). Ruined all me stilettos it
did, it’s dreadful. And then I, mum said oh you can’t go to Yarmouth because I went
on a motorbike to Yarmouth. I’d got a lovely beautiful skirt on, white top, and an
anorak that was black and lovely sandals. I went on the beach, all sand got in my
sandals, it was agony to walk. I thought I’m not going to show myself up and it
poured of rain, all the dye in my anorak ran in my t-shirt, my hair was all bedraggled,


and I came back on the motorbike I was completely knackered. It was great fun.
And then when I broke my leg, I broke my knee, because If you’ve got an artificial leg
if you fall you’re leg’s trapped and your knee snapped, my knee snapped, and er, so
I wanted to go up to the working men’s’ club to a dance and this chap I knew that
was a mod, he had a lovely Lambretta scooter, so he came and took me up to the
dance, it was like, erm, the Small Faces were playing. Yeah, oh it was great! So I
thought I’m not missing this, so I got up on the back of his scooter up the road with
my crutches dangling like that, and what they told my mum, I got into trouble over
that (laughs)! And do you know how I broke my knee, because I was, when I had my
leg erm amputated, my first leg I was like I’ve got to learn to walk on it they said right,
so I used to go out in the ambulance and the ambulance drivers always had me in
the front because, you know, and I always used to climb up in the ambulance, it were
dead easy, so I said right I don’t need you I’m going to walk down the side of, I was
walking along and they’d got painting rags down, I went crack, fell over and snapped
my leg, because my leg went crack and I hurt, fell, and it went oh, and they took me
in to hospital but they couldn’t keep me in there. Because I had to have a plaster on
but because I didn’t have foot they couldn’t put you in traction so they sent me home
with a plaster on. Because I was legless you see (laughs). But it mended after six
weeks, I was back to go again.

Did you like reading?

Yes I did.

What sort of books did you read?


I used to like to read history books actually, yeah. And spiritual books, because I’m
a spiritualist, yeah. I’ve been a spiritualist since I was 18 so I used to read a lot of
spiritualist books, so that I could do readings and help people. And I like Roald Dahl.
I used to love reading Roald Dahl, I think he’s fascinating, fantastic. I love them. I
love them all. He’s completely off-the-wall, he was. Brilliant, he was.

Did you watch television or did you go to the cinema or were you just pretty much out
and about?

I’ve never liked television; I don’t watch television now I hate it. If a friend comes
round we put the television on and we always used to sit and talk and that but I
never watch television because people try and interact with me, it’s no good because
I don’t like television. I mean, we used to go to, a lot of us, when at work, the best
seats in the pictures were two-and-six – that’s twelve and a half p to you – and they
were the best seats at the back. We used to go and see like The Flesh-eaters,
Barbarella, we used to go and watch all the latest ones that came out, you know, on
a Friday night, that was our forte. Because I wouldn’t dare get drunk in case I fell
over and I’d be legless. (Laughs)

Literally (laughs).

Literally, quite literally (laughs).

Do you remember any of the big news events from your early childhood?


When JFK got shot. I was sitting downstairs in the house, because we had a threestorey house, and I was listening to Radio Luxembourg and it came on that he’d
been shot, I think it was 1964, the 25th of November or something like that. And,
erm, when Martin Luther King got killed. And I’ll always remember, I was ten years
old when Winston Churchill died. And I remember crying my eyes out because I was
so upset because I thought if there’s a war what are we going to do? Because he
was the best man and I loved Winston Churchill because he was so clever. And he
was dyslexic. Majorly dyslexic, he was. Yet he was a clever man. You don’t ever
have to be, you can be clever in a different way, you don’t have to be academic. If
you’ve got the gift of the gab and you give people plenty of eye-contact and wear
wild eye makeup (laughs) you’ll be ok (laughs).

What about holidays? Did you ever go on holidays?

Not when I was a child, no.

What about your early adulthood?

When I got married I did yeah with the children, we used to go to Yarmouth;
Yorkshire because my husband came from Pontefract. Or to Devon, we used to
take the children on holiday yeah. I hated it though.



I just don’t like holidays. I think they’re boring, because you have to go back home
and you’ve spent a lot of money. So you might as well stay at home and have a day
out somewhere really nice. It’s much cheaper.

So you’d go with your husband and your children?

Yes, yes.

Where did you stay? Like Caravans…?

In a caravan or in sort of a, we used to rent a cottage or somewhere, you know.
Things like that, so we’d go self-catering basically.

And did you enjoy it? No? (laughs.)

No, no no no. The kids did so I never let them know I didn’t because it’s not fair to
do that, you know.

You have to pretend a lot of things with kids don’t you?


Did you ever go abroad at all?


No, never been abroad. I’ve been to Ireland. And I’ve been to Pontefract. That’s
abroad to me (laughs).

Yeah Belfast is abroad to me (laughs.) I don’t understand this, it says did you go

I like going shopping, on my own I usually go.

What sort of shops do you look in?

I usually look at clothes shops – I go shopping every week for food obviously, which
is totally boring. But then I like to go and get bargains I do. Yeah.

Did you have any pocket money to spend?

As a child? Yeah six-pence. Six-pence. And I always remember when my dad left
he said to me – I've still got it to this day – he gave me a thrupenny-piece. And in
Ireland they don’t call it thruppence they call it fippance, and he said here's fippance,
keep this always. And I’ve still got that thrupenny-piece today, that he gave me, I
was twelve years old.

Did you have a bank-account?

When I was married, not until – oh when I left school I did because my wages had to
go in it, when I became a secretary in 1969. When I was a secretary I earnt 50


pounds a month. Which was heck of a lot, that was a damn good wage. That was,
yeah, in 1969, it was a good wage.

What kinds of friends did you have in your early adulthood?

Well, weird ones, normal ones, you know. Off the wall ones, all sorts. I just like
liquorice allsorts, I like everybody. Doesn’t bother me. People are people. If they’re
nice and they’re fair that’s it. I treat everybody the same.

Did you have a boyfriend?


Did you have a girlfriend?

No, I don’t have girlfriends (laughs). No, no no no. My boyfriend, I was fourteen,
and we were going to get married when I was eighteen. But his mother said he
couldn’t marry me because I would be a burden to him all my life. Because of my
disability. You did get a lot of discrimination against disabilities. But I’m still friends
with him to this very day. We meet once a month for coffee, and the biggest regret
of his life is not marrying me because he still loves me. 50-odd years ago, yeah.

Do you still love him?


I don’t know, I don’t know what love is anymore. Love is in different, many forms.
There’s no one love. There’s so many different types of love. There is so you can’t
say. But we’re still friends, I’ve known him since I was five-and-a-half years old.

I can’t believe him mum said that.

Yeah, she did. And it’s the biggest regret he’s had in his life. He married and it only
lasted eighteen months. But by then I’d left Kettering and married my husband. And
he couldn’t find me so…

It’s nice that you’re still in touch with him.

Yeah, we’ll be friends all our life. Because he needs me. Because he’s a burden to
me now. And I’m not a burden to him. Ironic isn’t it? Disability’s not a burden if you
don’t want it to be.

That’s ridiculous that she said that.

Yeah but that’s how people were. They were very much discriminated. Even to this
day you can be, like that woman at work said to me about my writing. And that is
discrimination, you still get it to this day. Because I deal with them all the time, the
people I work with. I treat them like anybody else.

Would you say that there was less discrimination nowadays than there was when
you were younger? Or would you say honestly it’s about the same?


It’s about the same, it’s about the same. It’s changed in some areas but in other
areas it’s not any when I left school you had to have a, you had to be registered
disabled. And you had to have like a green card so you could get a job. And they
would take you on because they would get money off the government. And that was
outlawed in 1990. You got a job on your own merits after that. But to me that was
like having a label on your head saying look at me I’m disabled. But they were
taking you on so you were doing them a favour, and they were getting money off the
government. So there was quite a lot of discrimination. I can do anything anyone
else can do. And so can a lot of other people. There’s no such thing as a disability.
That’s a load of rubbish – it’s an ability. Because it makes that person a different
person and special. A disability is an ability to that person who’s got it because it
makes you different and special doesn’t it?

Yeah, more interesting.

Yeah it does. I think so.

How did your disability affect your life at the time you were a young adult?

It didn’t. Because I wouldn’t allow it. No I can’t allow that, it’s too boring.

So when did you leave school? Sixteen was it?

In 1966.


How old were you then?

Sixteen. It was April 1966, the 12th of April, 1966, yeah.

And did you come out with any qualifications?

No, because you didn’t get any in them days. So I got a job straight away because I
went and got it – they didn’t get me it – in a meat factory. And then I paid, like
myself, to go to college and train as a secretary. And I’m still friends to this day with
my boss, who I was secretary to, Mr Godson, I still see him on a regular basis, he
lives at Brigstock in Kettering.

When did you move out of your family home? How old were you?

I was twenty-two when I got married.

So you left when you got married?


Were you looking after them right up until…?


Yes. And I still tried to help them and I got married in 1972. I was twenty-two. We
moved to Whitton, RAF Whitton, because my husband was in the RAF. So we got a
quarter up there.

Did you like the place you lived in?

Yeah I did it was really nice yeah. Very nice, yeah it was. It was nice to have my
own home and my own space and to be able to do what I wanted to do. And I had to
go home every so often on the bus to Kettering to make sure everybody was alright,
make sure they were all looking after each other.

Why when you left did they start looking after each other then?

They did actually, yeah they did.

What was the area like? Was it nice and quiet or…?

RAF Whitton, it was, yeah it was really nice yeah.

How did you support yourself?

I was married, yeah, so I had a job, you know, in the NAAFI filling up shelves,
stacking shelves, and stuff like that. In the daytime and then when I came home I
used to do the housework and all the cooking and cleaning.


Did you enjoy it?

Yes, yes I did. They was nice people.

What were your wages like?

I used to get about, erm, I think it was 35 pounds a month. I didn’t do long hours,
just basically did the mornings. Which wasn’t bad really.

Could you have supported yourself with those wages?


Were you eligible for any benefits?

You didn’t get benefits in them days. 1970s, no.
benefits, nobody ever really talked about stuff like that.


There was no such thing as