Introduction by interviewer, Michael Thompson.

Graham Bettridge was born in Derby, on 15th November 1939.

He was 5 years old when War ended in 1945.

This interview records his memories as a child during the War and following the War, with particular reference to the effects of the War on him and his immediate family.

The transcript and the video are about 46 minutes long.

Recorded in Long Preston, North Yorkshire on 4th April 2017.

[Pauses indicated by ….]

Time codes on film indicated by Hour:Minute:Second for ease of reference between transcript and film on YouTube.

Wartime Memories of Graham Bettridge

Transcript

Graham: My earliest memories …. I can’t really remember being born but we lived in Derby.

My mother got married to my father on the 5th of November 1938 because of the War and he was destined to be called up …. and they knew that then …. and I was born the following November, November the 15th 1939.

And then things get a little bit hazy because …. Derby, as I learnt later, was the primary target for …. for bombers with Rolls Royce and the railways, and everything centralising on there, and so, we found our way into a little town outside called Hilton and we lived there for about, I am led to believe, about 6 or 7 months whilst father went to Cardington and did his basic training, and then occasionally apparently came home.

And it wasn’t a happy arrangement because we were in the house of his …. his brother-in-law, and he was in a reserved occupation and I think, I am only speculating, but there was a bit of friction, and so, it wasn’t going to last long …. any longer than that …. we were …. the next thing, we were moved one way or another ….

We found ourselves in a little tiny village in …. called Boylestone and …. in a little tiny cottage, next to another little tiny cottage and the first one was where I remember my first memories and that was called ‘The Hollow’ at Boylestone, and a lovely little spot, and I can remember things there ….

I can recall very earliest memories of being carried by a chap in a very big coat and my mother was alongside with her hat on, but I can’t remember very much except I think possibly the smell of tobacco, but that was the earliest memory of this gentleman who I wasn’t to see very often. And I speculated about who it might be, when he did appear, and it was on very rare occasions …. and the first …. concrete memories really are of Mum and I …. Mum and I when I was about 18 months, 2 years old …. Mum …. part of the rental process of the house, of the cottage was that she was to work at the Rectory …. and the cottage was actually in the Church yard …. and my most …. wonderful memory is of trailing around in this enormous walled garden of the Rectory at Boylestone with this very frightening black coated figure who was the Rector, and the smell of Box hedges because it was all parterred with Box hedges …. the smell of Box in a walled garden just winds me back to my earliest days and that’s why I put Box in wherever I have been, I have put a Box hedge in.

The things that I recollect there was the fact that they had to draw water from an enormous well and it was a big big wheel and my mother found it very difficult to get going …. I could see that and she would wind it down and down and down, and then it, by some force or other, it came winding itself back up and water came out into a bucket.

I don’t think she really enjoyed the sort of …. the tidy, washing and cleaning that she had to do in their house, but it was a job, I guess, and we were content in a way, and …. and her pal who I came to know as Aunty Phyll …. and Aunty Phyll and my Mum …. seemed to have quite a happy time.

And, in the garden, we had got damson trees and apple trees, and from time to time, Mum and Aunty Phyll would fill these bathtubs with damsons and apples, and people in vans would come around from Derby or the surrounding towns …. towns and …. and barter and buy these and they …. they were always jolly happy times, I …. I could discern.

There was a sort of feeling …. I felt …. that I didn’t really understand why my mother always got me to come in out of the garden when the paraffin man came …. or when the rent collector came …. or when any other man came passing by to chat to Mum …. but I do understand later …. but I didn’t, at the time, I was a sort of …. I was a little safeguard, I suppose.

One of the times, my father, who I didn’t know as father …. came home …. I remember the brass buttons, he was very smart and …. and I admired …. I admired him but I just waited for him to go back, really.

The …. the times that he was there were both unusual and not very frequent. One thing that I can see to this day, is when they were going back, we had to walk from the village for round about …. 4 or 5 miles …. to what was known as Five Lane Ends …. and it’s still there in my mind, because it was the next …. it was the way to get to the main road between Sudbury and Derby where, I presume, that’s where he’d pick a lift up and the road bent round this little lane of ours.

And …. there was a tree stump there …. and Mum and Dad and I would be walking until we got to the tree stump, and then Mum said “You sit there quietly and wait” …. and so, with my little …. sit quietly there …. and wait …. and then eventually Mum would come back and we’d walk back home, and she was always a bit quieter then.

I had a tin hat …. I remember her screaming because I was running around the table with the tin hat on …. and I cut …. it fell and …. I have got the cut to this day …. it cut my lip and it bled, and she threw that hat as far as she could, way over the …. the orchard …. and I knew something was wrong, she was frightened but I just didn’t know what it was just a lot of blood.

The …. this sort of seemed to continue until …. the …. moment happened when I was sent away …. and I was sent away because my mother was having another baby …. and I went to stay with my Grandmother …. and I found that quite difficult, but …. I had been spoilt, this Mum and I and Aunty Phyll and …. I was a little boy and everything was wonderful.

The …. the arrival of my father’s two brothers …. two brothers were in the Navy, one brother was in the Army, and Dad was in the RAF …. the arrival of these two, home on leave …. was scary …. and …. I had to have a bath and I was about three and a half ….

Yea …. I had to have a bath in the nude, obviously, in front of the fire in the only living room that Grandma had and my Dad’s brothers were taking the mickey out of me and teasing me ….

I remember swearing at them …. and …. I think it was Uncle Gordon got a bar of soap and made me wash my mouth out with this bar of soap and …. frightening ….

I don’t really know what this is …. I am telling you about the war but Michael, this is my experiences and, these two Naval guys became later my bit of heroes, you know …. they did things in submarines and …. but at, then, they were scary …. and they would go to the pub and come in late ….

00:09:50

And my Aunty Marge, who was my Dad’s sister was a wonderful companion …. and she could play the piano without music, and she entertained …. she was always laughing …. and she …. I can remember her doing a sort of shimmy in a …. petticoat, and …. and …. and I can see her do it to this day …. and she used to take me for walks, and one of the little walks was we walked out of Longford Marsh, that’s where it was …. 8 miles from Boylestone …. and you walked down a little lane, across a little bridge and then go up a bank and if we …. she said “Go carefully …. go quietly ….” …. We go very quietly and then she said “Right, jump up ….” and we jumped up and clap and the rabbits, because the place was full of rabbits, the rabbits disappeared just in the twinkling of an eye. They never failed to amuse me.

We used to hide under the table with its long damask sides when we heard thunder and when we heard airplanes.

One day, we were out in the …. in the garden when this, it must have been a stray airplane came over, not really sounding very healthy, but Grandma, I can remember, waved her brush at it and …. and was quite angry, and that sort of convinced me that Grandma was quite a difficult person ….

And …. you couldn’t sit back, you had to sit up on the sofas because the cushions were not to be leant on …. you know, you mustn’t print your little …. it was altogether a bit of a bizarre experience, and Aunty Marge was my saving grace, and Mr Maskrey next door who was a wheelwright. I knew he was a wheelwright because he used to make these …. he’d got a big iron thing in his yard …. and he would make …. he would put …. wheels …. he would make wheels with stays and then he put this iron ring round it, which was red hot and then it would shrink …. and I used to …. I watched him …. the smell of wood with hot metal on it ….

He made me a little wheel barrow pained with lead paint …. outside, it was bright red and inside, it was green and it was a lovely old thing …. and then, that came to a conclusion and I returned home and I found that I had a sister and I wasn’t too sure what she was or how long she’d stay …. and it didn’t seem to get back to quite Mum, Aunty Phyll and I.

About that time, which must have been about 1943, my sister was born …. to 44 …. things began to impinge really …. I can remember a lot more …. going down for the milk, walked down the …. because you didn’t have to go onto the road ….

Where we lived was the Church …. there was the Church, there was the school, there was our little cottage and the Rectory and the farm was at the end …. so, you just walked down the school …. churchyard, then the schoolyard …. and I would go down there and get the milk every morning, a little pint tin and take it back. I remember doing that regularly …. and the farmer’s boy said to me “Do you want to grow because you are only a little thing?” So, I said “Yes ….” and he filled my wellies with cow manure and said, “That will make you grow!” And my mother was very angry when I got home ….

The …. it featured very largely in my life, the village life, and when the …. contractor came with his steam engine to do the threshing, that was a great village event and we, everybody was there and …. I can remember …. the little dogs would be running round because as the stack got lower and lower and lower …. people putting the sheaves [of corn] into the machine, the rats that were living in there obviously had less and less places to hide, and by the end a big, big, great cheer went up when the young …. you know, the young men, really …. and I was just a watcher …. would get their sticks and their dogs and who could get the most rats ….

And it was very interesting and very …. that and the Church …. I went to Sunday School and from when it started …. when I could walk …. and …. I remember the Rector sent me home because I hadn’t got a tie on …. I must have been about 5 by then and my mother sent me back and she said “You tell him that God doesn’t mind ….” which was a mighty thing to say to the very dark figure …. who I later learnt was W.S. Penley who had been the original Charley’s Aunt, which answered the question, when we went to the pantomime every year, why he was called on stage at the Derby Hippodrome.

[Graham wrote afterwards “W S Penley was a close relative of his remembered Rector Rev N S Penley, sufficiently close to be recognised by the Theatricals of the time.”]

He was called upon stage and everyone cheered him. I thought cheering that rather mean frightened person ….

About the same, 44-ish …. the …. I saw these people marching down the hollow which was the road above which the cottages sat and they had big yellow ‘DP’ on their back [Displaced Person] and they were quite cheery and they marched and they were in blue uniforms or overalls …. overalls, I think, and they would have a chat to Aunty Phyll and Mum and they would have a chat with me and ruffle your hair and this sort of thing. And then one day, they gave me a toy …. and it was a tennis bat really …. I suppose, tennis bat with chickens on it, and they got little weights under the chickens on strings …. and …. angled it like that, then the chickens would peck, and it was a fantastic toy ….

They also gave me …. made a little kaleidoscope thing which I didn’t really know …. I still don’t really know the mechanics of kaleidoscopes to this day but it was ….

Just now and again, my father would appear and that was very difficult …. and I feel …. I feel a bit disloyal saying this now because I loved my father dearly but …. he was intrusive ….

Things seemed to stop when he came, and he would make me do things …. I didn’t want to put these shoes on, and my mother had got new shoes …. I can remember kicking them across the floor, and it must have been dreadful for this chap who was away …. I think he was in the Orkneys then and didn’t get home very often, and …. it was painful and that …. it was painful for him and it was quite painful for me …. and living and growing together …. from nineteen fort…. he didn’t come out until late ’45, ’46 ….

That was traumatic …. we …. we didn’t know really what was happening …. and they came home in dribs and drabs, but when the biggest …. the largest bulk of people had come back …. there must have been about 20 out of village went because it was agricultural, so people were in reserved occupations, and there were lots and lots who didn’t go, and there was some feeling between those who did and those who didn’t ….

They had a football match …. a big football match …. that was meant to bring everyone together again and I knew it was …. there was something not right about it …. It didn’t feel right …. it didn’t feel that all the people who were back …. wanted to mix with all the people who had not gone, and …. and …. I was …. I felt …. to this day, I feel ashamed of myself ….

Dad had no football boots, in fact, hardly any of them had football boots …. and …. Dad wore his big …. big boots …. big black things with studs in …. How they managed, and it wasn’t a very interesting thing to happen …. from my point of view …. and it didn’t …. it didn’t seem to help things. Then father went away again on, I think it was, a resettlement course, and I thought he had gone again, and so, I quite relaxed then …. and then, of course, in about 6 weeks, he came back, having been on this resettlement course that the Government had laid on …. and I think …. if there’s one thing about the …. the war from …. in my life …. it was that it …. it damaged relationships between Mum …. Mum always took my side …. she always took my side …. right up until I became about, I suppose about 16 really …. and realised what …. what was …. the balance was all wrong …. and …. that’s when it began to dawn on me, but it was a long time ….

00:20:10

You can’t really visualise it now …. but it was dreadful, my father loved me and then went I went on …. with my chosen profession, he …. he would never, would never really …. say how much he admired me, but he admired the fact I’d …. got in to become a clergyman …. and …. but he never felt at ease sitting in front of me when I was preaching …. and …. I don’t know whether these things really go back to all those …. emotions and things that happened when you …. you’re little …. and he was coming home, hoping to find a loving son ….and ….

It was …. it wasn’t like that, and my mother really didn’t help the matter …. because …. she …. she always would sort of caution him about his …. his …. his attitude to me, and, as I say, that featured for a long long number of years ….

And so, whilst my war …. my war, I suppose, didn’t finish then when he came back, but my influences of war …. and they struggled to send me to Derby to school, and …. I was 10½ when I went to Derby, and that meant getting on my bike …. to Sudbury …. to the main road Sudbury to Derby and then getting the bus into Derby and that’s when I saw utter devastation of …. when I …. where the school was, under the railway bridge at Friar Gate, it is called, and, some big houses up there, and there is the big railway …. and …. but the big houses …. lots of them were bombed …. bombed out, and that seemed to be always there with me all the time that I was in Derby ….

I had a …. my mother had a guardian because she …. her father died in the First World War …. and her mother disowned …. something happened …. but she had a guardian who was a …. a lovely lady, actually …. and …. undertook to help my …. my education …. and that’s how I was able to get out of the village really ….

In …. in the village school …. when I was 5 …. 5 and 6 …. we …. the dump …. there was a dump at Sudbury …. There was a big army camp there with loads of lorries, and they all came back and were stationed there …. and there was a big dump for ammunition, and that went up, and that was something like 8 or 10 miles from the school …. I remember the school …. the pipes …. the radiator pipes we were sitting on, resonated and nearly came away from the wall.

We had holidays to dig the potatoes …. because, still, all the men hadn’t come back.

There were things like …. there was the …. once, once a month, the cinema would come in a van from Tutbury, which is not too far away either and the van would come to the village hall at Alkmonton …. we would walk there, Aunty Phyll, me and Mum, and we would walk there and sit and watch these films ….

Quite often you would get the first reel coming last and quite often they would be put on backwards …. but that seemed to be …. much more enjoyable than seeing them straightforward ….

And …. apart from those days with …. with the visitors from Derby getting the fruit …. the men obviously were looking around to see these single parents, as it were …. ladies …. you know, I can remember that one chap used to come quite often and Mum always had me in there and one disastrous activity when I was 2½ …. it must be because we were in the little cottage …. we moved from the little cottage when Gill was born up to the larger cottage, called Church Cottage which was in the churchyard …. I lit a fire in the cubbyhole under the stairs and …. I frightened myself and then, I tried to cover it up by putting more paper on, and more paper on, and my mother came in from outside and that was …. I can remember …. because she screamed and ran and got water, and I obviously had done something quite terrible …..

When we moved up to the Church Cottage, it was two little cottages made into one, and that was almost more freedom and more space …. and because in the churchyard, I would go out and pick flowers from the graves to bring to my Mum …. and she …. until she told me to put them back and asked me where I got them from ….

The other thing that I remember was the grave digger …. would …. would be digging graves and I’d watch him, and …. and we’d talk and I understood how to dig a grave when I was four, and you get this framework and …. you’d clean the sides up and then you’d do the grave before …. the day before the funeral, and then you had to put a candle in it, and cover that candle with a …. a bit of a cloth …. and that was scary at night, but it was to stop people walking home from the pub falling in it, and the pub was down at the other end of the village and there was one farmer who went on his horse every night about my time when going to bed …. he’d …. I’d hear the hooves coming up the …. up the hill …. up the hollow and when he got to our house, it got a bit steeper. He always cracked his whip and I used to listen for Mr Moore …. and then when he cracked his whip, I knew the world was going to be all right, and everything was …. continuing …. it was …. I don’t really think …. well, I’m not the best to evaluate this, but ….

A lot of other people have said to me how they had a difficult relationship …. with a father not being present and …. a lot of wives, of course …. were not the same when their husbands came back …. I mean, they …. my Mum and Dad were still very much in love and you could see that, and that’s what I resented, I suppose but, it was …. it was idyllic but it was a strange time ….

I’ve probably just about drawn any, almost sensible things together, Michael …. and, I …. and I don’t know whether there is anything you think I ought to go back to ….

Michael: I think it is an absolutely fascinating story you’ve told and it just shows how war can influence even children …. when one perhaps doesn’t realise it …. but it’s …. you know …. war affects everyone, one way or another …. essentially ….

Graham: Yes, yes it does …

00:28:25

Michael: Could …. just to tidy up a little bit, I am not sure that we …. we got exactly where you were living at that time …. I know it was in Derbyshire, did you have a village? Obviously, you did have a village, but ….

Graham: Yes, the village was Boylestone …. and the part of the village we lived in was the central island if you like …. with the School, the Rectory, the Church …. two Church cottages, and …. we were surrounded by roads …. these little lanes, rather …. and the lane down there led to the little stream, the pub and the Post Office …. then it went up the hill, and the one thing I haven’t mentioned, of course, thinking of that hill …. was Dad came back, ’46 …. ’47 …. and we had no fuel, and …. the winter was severe …. and so, the farmer said to Dad “You can have this tree provided you chop it up ….” and the tree was about …. in Alkmonton, which is another village, a very tiny place about 3 miles away, and so, we ….

I set off with him, and an axe and a saw and a bag …. at 5½ …. 6 …. and I …. hated it …. it was so cold and I’ve never been so cold …. and so, by the time we got to the tree, walking on the hedges because the snow was …. you didn’t know where the road or the hedge was …. it was really, really tremendous ….

By the time we got there, and drank the little bit of tea we’d brought …. I was …. I was crying, and I was no use to him really …. It was very miserable …. and he managed to get some wood in a sack and we took some back …. and we had to go and visit that tree, every Saturday, I think, when …. when …. as long as the winter lasted …. and it did last a long, long time.

People got …. lost animals, people lost their horses, people lost …. the bus …. was covered on …. from the Ashbourne Road …. which is the other road …. Ashbourne to Derby Road …. that was so heavily snowed in, no one went through …. I don’t know, about 2 months before you could get right through again ….

And the Italian Prisoners of War …. I think …. came from Sudbury, and I think they must have been brought in early in the morning, and then they marched down to the farm …. fields that they were working in …. and …. where my Granny lived, it was Longford [Marsh] …. Longford [Marsh] is on the other road …. into …. on the outskirts of Derby …. and we had to bike over the hills to get to it ….

And my grandmother was a fearsome lady, but I can understand, you know, she had four sons …. all went to war, she had lost her husband in the First World War …. and I can see his spurs either side of the fireplace …. and I …. brought my Grandmother’s parlour to life …. so often …. I could paint it now …. I could see it now …. and it was an active, active zone really …. there was a piano …. there was a big table, and there was a mantelshelf with the fall, you know, that damask fall, and big pot dogs either side …. a Buddha sitting on a Bible in the hearth …. and a couple of First World War shells with spills in, and that …. that …. I could go back there now and live it, just as it was, and …. but I wouldn’t have got there hadn’t there been a war and my …. my father …. my uncles wouldn’t have been who they were so …. for better for worse, as you said, war forms us all, doesn’t it?

And it goes into the next generation ….

So, Ron Thirsk, when I went to be Rector of Kirkby Lonsdale …. my Church Warden was a wonderful chap.

[Putting on an accent] “Hello, there! What?” …. And it was Wing Commander Ron Thirsk, and Ron Thirsk was an absolute wonderful, treasure of a man …. He’d been, after the war, he’d come out of the RAF and he’d been in charge of all the GPO in London. He’d been the top man of all communications in London …. and by the time he had retired up to Kirkby Lonsdale …. he was still incredibly capable and his war was much more ….

My father’s war was secret really, but I didn’t know much about it …. he was based in Orkney, my Dad, but …. and he was doing something secret up there before the …. before the hostilities really got going, I think …. but Ron …. flew Lancasters, he was a pilot, and in the Middle East Airforce and …. the …. the excursions that he had and his crew, they …. he had written a book, I have got it there …. It is called “Wings of War”, and people have written in about Ron Thirsk, and he was much be-medalled, but never spoke about it.

And he had to …. they had to bail out …. and they bailed out on to some prickly thorns that were poisonous …. and this was …. just a side issue really, but it made him become in later life …. he’d got this poisonous thing …. whatever it was …. It meant he got paralysis and he had to have a wheelchair and …. because the Civil Service were very good at protecting their own …. they fought for years after the war to get him compensation, and about 8 years before he died, he got compensation …. really multi …. multi …. multi-pounds of compensation for all the crew that were still alive, and that enabled him to do lots and lots of things with his dear wife Vera that he hadn’t been able to do …. and he was disabled but …. you know, it did help his disability ….

He was regimental with his moustache …. and ….

It was in a sense, after my father died …. and I was 40 when Dad died …. he became another father, in a way …. and I treated him a bit like that …. but they were …. and so, we had lots of …. lots of happy memories ….

We formed a little group and it didn’t matter about the ages of the group, and Carol and I were the younger end …. the Rector and his wife …. but they …. we all went out monthly and lots of these things were involved with talking about what had been ….

So, in a way, whilst the war makes people what they are, it wasn’t all bad, there was some very ….

My uncle Reg, who came back from the Desert Rats …. where he’d a tough old war …. but he was a wily man …. and he’d …. he’d worked …. he’d worked well, you see …. he was in charge of trans…. MOT …. Motorised Transport.

They missed though …. all of them missed …. the companionship ….

One day, my father, mother, Gill and I were …. Dad said “We are going to see this pal of mine …. good pal ….” And so, we drove all the way to Leicester …. and …. I remember the greeting was quite cold, and I sensed that it had all gone wrong …. and felt very sorry …. and …. we didn’t stay …. we turned …. we left and came home …. it was almost as if the camaraderie …. of a lot …. between a lot of people didn’t last …. couldn’t last long …. in Civvy Street ….

That’s another interesting and sad thing, isn’t it? You can’t recapture what you had under pressure ….

00:37:51

Michael: Very different circumstances and …. that had different influences on people, I guess …. I mean, there are groups of people who can forever get together and ….

Graham: Yes, there are ….

Michael: Start where they finished off last time …. but that doesn’t apply to everyone ….

Graham: No …. I think it’s a …. it’s a fair part of humanity …. a part of humanity …. it’s the whole …. business of living, isn’t it, and …. you know …. a weary world and …. But thank you very much for your patience, Michael …. you’ve been incredibly kind and patient ….

Michael: We might not have finished yet …. I mean, I think there are a few things we could probably delve into …. You’ve talked about your father and your mother and what they did …. What …. did you have any direct experience at all with the war from the point of view of …. I mean your mother …. You said your Grandmother used to swear when the aircraft went over …. Did you …. were you at any time involved in any, sort of, direct hostilities?

Graham: Well, the only …. no, not really, the only thing I have a vague memory of …. vague …. very vague …. we …. we were in Derby …. and …. my father was in uniform and my mother …. with her hat …. and I …. I think I must have been in a pram …. and the buses …. double decker buses …. full of wounded soldiers …. and people were spitting at my father, or insulting him or some blokes on the buses were shouting, and it was something to do …. later he found out …. it was the evacuation of Dunkirk which was when I was very tiny …. but by the time, I suppose …. and the RAF apparently were not there for …. common …. common thought ….

Michael: Yes, I mean, it was boats that did most of the evacuation, wasn’t it?

Graham: I don’t know whether the RAF protected anybody but …. apart from that and the immediate …. The feeling of blackout and there was a group in the village called “The Gay Thirteen”, which was a girls and boys …. Mum was in it, and Aunty Phyll, and there’s a little singing …. You know, it’s mostly “Whip Crack Away” and all that sort of stuff …. There was a …. there was a community feel that didn’t seem to last too long, either …. I recall that …. and I didn’t really understand, I do now ….

My bicycle needed …. I had only got a little bike and it needed mending and my father said, “Go and see ‘So and So’ …. and tell him I will buy him a pint when I see him ….” and this bloke mended my bike and he wasn’t very friendly and I don’t think my father was very friendly with him ….

I think there was …. there were some things occurred in villages and in villages, you can’t hide because …. you’re …. you all know each other …. Yea, it was an interesting time … I didn’t ….

Coming home on the bike was interesting because …. everywhere, people were in uniform, and people were hitch hiking all the time, everywhere …. and I remember biking from the main road home, and we …. one or two …. people were a bit worse for wear of drink …. I remember that, that was frightening …. I didn’t really …. understand …. and I didn’t understand what was wrong with them …. but they’d been in the pub …. and they were well ….

That was …. these are odd things but whether they’re …. you know, they’re not to do with the war …. I mean, every child …. every child has a memory like that …. wouldn’t they?

Michael: I mean the fact is that the war will have had a major influence on the behaviour of a lot of people …. Some will have turned to drink, some will have had mental problems, and so on, and I guess we have all seen that sort of thing happening and it goes on for quite a while afterwards perhaps ….

Graham: I …. we can see it today can’t we in the post-Falklands, the post-Iraq ….

Michael: It only emphasises that war is not a good thing, if you can possibly avoid it but ….

Graham: No, no, even …. even for the victor, if there is such a thing as a victor …. no ….

Michael: Yes ….

Graham: So, I think …. Derby was the town I was born in …. Derby is where I feel still, I have a …. have a root …. and Boylestone was the village that I went to school in ….

I remember going to school in raggedy pants because my mother couldn’t sew …. and …. she couldn’t sew, but she was a wonderful knitter …. and she knitted the patch in my trousers, and that would have been better if she had left it out, left it bare …. because that became a sort of straight ridicule …. and I …. there was ….

There was something there about the boys whose fathers didn’t go …. and the boys whose fathers were farmers and farm labourers …. and there was something about that generation as well, which was strange ….

Oh, and the venom with which Germans were treated and thought about. The names of shops and …. even Brown & Muff which is a very big shop in Bradford …. even, by the time I got into Kirkby Lonsdale and Burley in Wharfedale and all round this lovely part of the world where I worked, they had to change their names, and of course the Royal Family did, didn’t they …..

Michael: Yes, that’s right ….

Graham: So, thank you very much Michael …. I don’t know whether I have got any more things to pin it down …. I’ve tried to …. the devastation, that football match, the winter of ’46/’47 was a strange winter …. you will remember that, won’t you? I mean, how old are you?

Michael: Well, 1946, I was only a year old so …. I am well aware of the bad winter that occurred ….

Graham: Your sister would know it well ….

Michael: Oh, yes ….

Graham: And Gill being born and Gill, poor Gill …. she was always, always the second fiddle …. Somehow or another, you know, I had taken the stage and I have been guilty about that, you know, and I wish …. you can’t say things once the time has gone …. but you can still …. my sister is still with …. you know, chirping away …. There is still time to talk ….

Michael: There is every possibility she might see this ….

Graham: That would be lovely, wouldn’t it, if she did …. yes ….

Recorded by Michael Thompson, Hardy Productions UK, Manchester.

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