When our teaching holidays started in the summer of 1964 when Lucy was three months old. I did a large shop at Crooks and Lancasters a high class grocers in IItchen Southampton. when the shop assisant heard we were off to The isle of wight in a boat camping miles from any road on the mouth of the Newport estuary, with four small children she was surprised.... and concerned about the baby I saId she was the least of my worries as i was breast feeding her. We did every thing by boat and i bathed Lucy in the rockpools.
In the 1980s when I had the banners in London one Sunday I joined the artists who displayed their work on Green Park railings. I was next to a man who painted super Pub signs. His small samples were inspiring, portraits, landscapes and much more He told me he knew and admired my banners and loved their regular irregularity. In Canada at a banner work shop in Vancouver with WILPF members a young man was extremely helpful but measured every part of the banner to the last half centimeter. I had prepared an applique portrait of their founder and we made a decorative border..When I made the Banner in Honour of Petra Kelly with my German girl on a European work scheme she insisted in working in centimeters . I normally used inches if I measured any thing.Her colour sense was much simpler and we had interesting discussions on colours to use. She disapproved of some of my choices,.
During our winters in Malta a favourite snack was their butter beans in a dressing of garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, lemon juice and masses of strong chopped parsley with a pinch of chilli. The deep fried fig biscuits from the stall by the bus station were a great treat too. The local stalls selling fresh vegetables and friut made for tasty lively suppers. often with fresh fish Our picnics in the sunny country side and by the sparkling sea were magic, fresh salad amazing tooth breaking crunchy bread and figs olives and goats cheese or salami.
Food on the Russian train to the the international UN conference in beijing was fresh food taken on at intervals during the three week journey, sacks of vegetables and fruit ,fresh eggs cheeses and fresh bread. the young male chefs were exhausted by the two restaurant cars to feed with two sittings for every meal. they could be seen sleeping in the restaurant cars in their brief breaks.and preparing moutains of vegetables in the cooler flexible gaps between the carriages. We had asked for a vegetarian emphmasis for our menu...The borscht and smoked eels and blinis were delicious. Another bad thing we brought them from the west was chorley wood steambaked bread....after we crossed the chinsse border in the wild isolated mountains many more delegates became vegetarian worried about the unusual items that they might be given to eat.
In Scarborough between 1967 - 1973 we went to all the party political conferences, conservative, liberal , labour and the international socialists. This was before the Brighton bomb and security being tightened . At the Conservative Womens' Conference in front of a gigantic suntanned photo of himself I heard Ted Heaths Speech where he told the delegates
When we get back into power we will put o...ur people back where they belong and it will take the labour party fifteen years to put things right
We had paid and parked our landrover at the entrance to the Spa venue covered with labour posters. The police asked us to move it . We refused. The children were playing on the beach in front of the spa.
At the International socialists Conference we went to the talent contest , songs, poetry, and dances from around the world. We spent the evening with Ken Loach. Six foot tall Men from USA Black Power Movement in black bowler hats walked tall on the South Cliff through the forget-me-nots and pink tulips of the Italian Gardens. A surreal happening seeing the reactions of the rich retired Ladies of Leeds and Bradford with their blue rinse hair and pet poodles on leads.
I raised money to go to Chicago to the Peace Museum to collect some peace ribbons for an exhibition in the House of Commons facilitated By Joan Ruddock MP. I was hosted and looked after by people who had protested against the Vietnam War and present day peace activists.\I was invited to speak in S. Chicago in Hyde Park , Great hilarity about the Place name!! For my safety in the Mayor Daley's segr...egated city , great blocks of run down flats in the orange sodium lights....|I was driven there and back. We saw a Frank Lloyd house and a Henry Moore Sculpture commemorating the first atomic pile..The Sculpture was an enormous bronze Skull/Mushroom cloud. A most chilling work of art ..My hosts told me of their spectacular protests for example dying the big river in Chicago red like blood. I chose ribbon pieces for the exhibition from photographs and they were to be sent on later. Another story
On Charles and Diana's Wedding Day in 1981 with my mother we went to watch the ceremony on TV with two elderly welsh women who lived in their unmodernised farm house surrounded by caravan sites which used to be their farm. We had tea and cakes with newspaper for a table cloth which brought back such happy childhood memories for my mother in a very difficult old age. The kettle was boiled hanging over the coal fire. One sister was a passionate royalist and wanted to see every nuance of the wedding and the other a republican and could bare hold back her anger and desire to switch off the TV, Our presence lowered the tension in that old farmhouse. Lucy Were you With US?
In 1994 before starting the cooperative exhibition I did four banner workshops in Oldham with schools colleges and community groups. In Oldham their Registered Childminders had four days of training, road safety , pet safety, food safety and home safety.
During our seven years in Scarborough 1967-1974 some of our students when they finished school and college rented a farm house just south of Whitby. It became known as a commune. We used to visit them to see they were OK. There was a marriage in Whitby register office, a dance thro the streets to pipes and guitars, a feast on the cliff top with a purple wedding cake and soon a new baby. The farmhouse was unmodernised. I was concerned for the women who became Earth Mothers with a life of hard physical work whilst the sex role stereo types were still in full swing. On one visit we ran out of petrol for our landrover. The local garage owner refused to sell us any as we had visited the much disapproved of hippies. The Whitby police came out and brought us some petrol.
An advertisement from The Scarborough Evening News in the late 1960s.
Jobs Vacant - Cook required at Local School.
Wages £13.00 per week for a man
£9.00 for a woman. Tel number.
I cut this out to keep it and hoping for no such future adverts. In 1974 the Equal Pay Act came in. I worked in the private sector and in the state sector as a part time teacher for less than half pay for many years.
My four children were all born between 1960 and 1966. they all could have been thalidomide children. I was regularly offered it by my doctors. With my lingering vegetarian, no drugs family inheritance I refused it on every occassion. I was teaching at the time and had awful morning sickness some times barely able to stay on my feet but I am so glad I did not take thalidomide
At the end of the 1980s we made a few big national and regional silk banners for trade unions. Silk was not easy to find so we ended up in a small shop in Soho buying ends of rolls. I was in a red tel box trying to find suppliers keeping an elderly man waiting . I apologised and shared what I had been doing. We had a long conversation. He was dressmaker to the queen, we discussed sewing with silk. He said you must use silk machine thread to sew silk other threads are not compatible. He gave me an address in Switzerland. I spent £46 on a large box of glowing silk threads, very difficult to find in UK. He later visited us in Borth to see what we were sewing and we showed him a large banner for the TGWU.
When we were making banners in the 1980s we used to get bulk fabric in the northern cities especially Manchester. There were were streets of semi basement shops / warehouses. often jewish owned, full of ends of rolls, often graduated in colour as the dye took on the roll. There was cotton, satin, corset satin, poly cottons, repps, linings and lots of old heavy complex fringing,tapes and braids. We use to fill up the back of the volvo estate or the camper. These bolts of cloth were very heavy.The materials often inspired banners. Sometimes we had a design and looked for colours we needed. i was familiar with cloth because of my fathers shop.
In the 1960s in Southampton we decided to take in students. The university accomodation officer visited and asked if we would take black students. I said yes. We never saw a white student. We had a United Nations in our house, sitting around our table with our children. They were supposed to have bedsits and look after themselves but I became mum to them all, Nigerians, muslims christians, a trainee ships architect from what was Ceylon. We did suffer racism from our neighbours and the street and Ian's mother was horrified.
In Malta in 2000 outside Medina, The Sllent City we met a veteran 0f WW2. He was carrying around heavy plastic bags of post cards from all around the world. His friends were the tourists.. He asked us to read them ... He told us could not read or write. All his contemporaries had been killed manning the guns on Fort At Angelo. He had spent his life as a hospital porter. We met him again when Lucy and the children were with us in Malta
As a group of women artists we met regularly in the 1970s. We shared our art works. I remember a neat bright checkerboard painting by a young mother with three repeated icons , an oxo cube, her small Volkswagon car and Rupert Bear she said this represented her life at that time. Another memorable painting was a classical nude on one side of the canvas surrounded by representations of art, poetry, sculpture, and medcine architecture etc and on the other side a vacuous painted up sex object. We met in a basement of a big house off Regents Park.
Whilst at Matlock Training College in Derbyshire in the 1950s I studied art with music as a subsiduary subject , we learnt religious music often in latin. We used folk songs to learn sight singing, one french and one english."Tremp ton pain Marie dans la sauce" and "go and tell aunt Nancy the old grey goose is dead" this was the only secular music we did. I remember these songs well but have forgotten the religious material. I got into trouble with the head at my first school in Nottingham for teaching the children bad manners with the french song.
Yes it was a great day at the LLafur Peoples History Conference. I met up with old friends. The Temple of Peace and Health is a grand building with an inspiring library. The City Hall was shut but I could see the back of the bronze greenham woman thro a window on my way to the station. I met a fellow Pembroke
inhabitant whose family knew Ian's family. He very kindly came with me and carried my case back to the station... A devon dumpling.
In the early 1980s before the schisms after the peace convey had attacked the fence with sledge hammers women were still trying to decide what was violence. they came around to the suffragettes view that violence to people was wrong but property was ok. At the yellow gate a man parked closeby and walked across. He was the supplier of fences and told us of the specification of the metal inside the posts and the concrete. Whe said rock the posts and they would snap a good deal for him if we followed his advice, The fence finally looked like un ravelled knitting...eaten by moths
In 1981 Dora Russell was the speaker at our inaugural Arts for Labour meeting. She held up a piece of paper and told us it was the 1921 Labour manifesto. Dora said she had been a young delegate at her first conference. She read the 1921 womens demands which amazingly were the same as in the current 1981 manifesto. In her nineties with great feeling she said women had been waiting 60 years for their agenda to be implemented. She inspired me to share this with other delegates , We had an old painted electricans banner , William Morris ?,set up behind her with the angel of light.
In the early 1980s there was a large lobby of parliament by women with their children and babies in pushchairs. Twelve women in the central lobby cornered Sir Hugh Rossi M.P. and questioned him about disarmament and nuclear weapons. He got fed up and distressed but we kept him cornered. He went pink and broke out in a sweat and the questions continued. Finally he exploded telling us angrily it was all womens fault and nuclear weapons were needed because of original sin . We were so shocked at this response we let him escape. A few minutes later there was a scence with Sir Anthony Buck.
As The R. C. MP Sir Hugh Rossi scuttled into the inaccesible bowels of the House Of Commons we turned around to see sir Anthony Buck expensively suited, bottocks clenched, head up striding across the the central lobby. Children crawled and nappies were being changed on the floor . He Instructed the police Sergeant clear these children out of my way or I will crush them underfoot
Sergeant If you do Sir I will arrest you
Young mothers had used an offer of Cheap Rail Tickets on Kelloggs corn flakes packets to travel to London to lobby their MPS