3rd Interviewee- Marigold
Marigold is an 85 years old lady who was my neighbor who lives in Whitefield. She’s a ‘dragon lady’, she has a big collection of dragon that all over her house. She also collect brooches. She was a teacher in her whole career. When she was young, she plays cricket, tennis and the mixed tennis match. She has lots of movement when she was young; this made her upset more than anything as she feels lots of tiredness and she got leg problems now. Before she got her health problems, she used to travel and go out a lot, she plays Rubber Bridge in Bury Bridge club, and she is very sociable. But recently, she can only stay at home because she is difficult to move freely. The wartime was a big part in her life, because she was evacuated with her two brothers to Blackpool when she was eight.
Below is what she shared with me, I also did a recording which attach it at the end.
Marigold: 0:20 I’m born in 1931 and I was the first of four children, I am the oldest and the only girl, daughter, and my mother has three more boys. I became the little mother to my brothers who were four years younger, and then my brother who was nine years younger; I look after them because my mother was working. I have a very happy childhood, we haven’t got enough of money, things worked difficult, and then the war came in 1939, I was evacuated to Blackpool with my two middle brothers, one was eight and one was nine, I was eight. We when to Blackpool and we lived in different people houses, one was very good, but they didn’t take three of us, because they said it was too many. My eldest brother went into a very nice family who had no children. I went with my younger brother, the family wasn’t very nice; we had half an egg each for tea, and I had to go to bed early where their own children were well look after. So after a year, I came back to Manchester, in the mean time, my mother has visited with me, my father then joined the army in 1941. Actually he was a tailor, there was a very important commander who visited the camp and he wanted to make the soldier looks smart, so they discovered my father and ordered him a lot of uniform. Things were rough in the war, we managed, things were rationed, we have two Oz of sweets a month, and we had so much butter and very little milk. In fact, I went to my grandma who has chicken, so we had bunch of eggs. And then, when I was eleven, I passed the grammar school and in those days, children left school at fourteen, and they work, and most of them didn’t go into an education. But my father who wanted us to stay at grammar school, he has ten older sisters, they thought they spoiled him, but they didn’t. Mum and dad wanted us to be educated, so I was the first one. When I was eighteen, I was going to a collage. But what happened was I needed money, so I taught for a year unqualified at the Royal Manchester School of the deaf, they give me a class of profoundly deaf children who isn’t sign and they were all weak in reading. I used to take some of them home to my mother for afternoon tea, because some of them never had any visitor.
And then I went to collage, I went for two years and I went to Coventry, which is the Warwick University. It was two years training, I wanted to teach because I didn’t realize my youngest brother who was nine years younger then me, I taught him to read, I taught him to write, and I decided I am going to be a teacher. It was that all anthropology, I wanted to do work with people, so I did this course, which was in Coventry, and it was very enjoyable. And when I finished the course, I went to a school, called King David in Cheetham Hill. I stayed there for thirty-nine years and it was very interesting. My parent was very keen on education, and in those day my friends left school at fourteen, and went to work, they got married when they were young, they got children, but I wanted an education. So, after my time at collage, I met my husband in a rambling club, I used to walk miles and miles. I met him in 1953. I qualified in 1952. We got married in 1956 because we couldn’t afford to get married and than in those days, it wasn’t partners, it just can’t with anybody; it’s different today. It doesn’t bother me at all; in fact quite a lot of elderly lady’s have partners after being old. But that’s not me; I believe in marriage, I’m a bit old fashion. But with the Youngers, I understand, that’s the way life is. So, most of my friend have children when they were 18–22. I don’t have much to tell until I was 28, it was a bit dramatic, because she was born in 1960 and she was born in one hand that was very very difficult. It was just one of those thing when children were born without limps, but people were silly. One person said to me, “Oh, look at plenty of money, because you were giving compensation.” She wasn’t happy because people didn’t want to hold her hand. In the mean time, mother-in-law came to live with me, so I could continue teaching. My husband decided to change his carrier; he was going to be an accountant, he almost qualified and he decided he didn’t want that, he wanted an out door life. Then he became a traveler, so money was tight, I have to teach. And there was no nursery than, not like now, I supposed there were private nursery, but I didn’t really go into it. My mother-in-law lived with me for eleven years; she was a difficult women, she was very bossy. She was very kind in many ways, but I found it difficult. And when my daughter is eleven, she went to live at a flat on her own, well, she left.
Now come the sad part. In 1978, my husband decided he didn’t want to work anymore. He decided when his daughter was eighteen; he wanted to go to Angle Sea. So he went, and I became very ill, I was very poorly and had a operation. Because it was very stressful, and then so I have to sat up; I didn’t get any money from him, I went to live with my mother for a year. And then I bought this flat. In the mean time, my three brothers became professional. The one, who was 15 months younger than me, became a solicitor; my middle brother was educational and he became a PH. D, a doctor in education, and my youngest brother eventually became a QC and a judge. Although we were from a background where it was very difficult. Financially, we all made our success in our career. So, in 1979, we were divorced. Eventually he came back, he wanted to get back with me, I didn’t want to. And then he married somebody else when he was in his mid fifty’s. What made him go to Angle Sea was what we called a mid-life crisis. In forty years old, he gloomed his hair and changed his image and he didn’t like being informed, so that’s why he did what he did. But when he was in fifty-nine, he has a massive heart attack, and he died. That was a bit sad, although I wasn’t married to him, we didn’t really get on very well. I mean we did it for our daughter, but I love him you know. I mean when I married him I loved him.
In the mean time, my daughter grown up, she went to university and she got a degree. Although she doesn’t want to do a full law degree, my brother wanted her to. She did a Law Philosophy degree. Later on, she wrote articles, she didn’t like it. Then she did a Master degree in Management Science at Manchester. She got married; she has a baby, Alex. But he died when he was sixteen months old; which was very tragic for me, it was a sudden death. I used to have him every weekend. I was driving then, she lives with her husband in South Manchester. Finically, thing weren’t very good, she I used to help them. I used to take Alex and bring him here every Friday and my mother who lived nearby. The only thing that was pleased and not please about is that he didn’t die in my flat. Because I felt that my daughter wouldn’t forgive me. My daughter has her first married, he was seven years older than her, he was 14, he was 21, at that time I am still very my husband and we both objected to it. Eventually, he did his own thing, he never married, and they got married. Few years later, they have my grandson who is now nearly 21 and he’s in university doing the medical course. It’s not doctor, it’s something in the medical thing.
My life…Well, for a long time, I was on the single scene. I met some gentlemen, but weren’t for me at all. I didn’t want to be involved with them; a lot of them had problems, financial problems. The only one that was has time to consider was a vetoer. But he didn’t want a divorcee, because in those days divorcee was not very nice.
In 1993, I went on a holiday and I met Seed who was a vetoer. He lived in Colchester, we got married a year afterward. Four years into the marriage, he got Parkinson’s. It was alright for few years, we have a lovely time together, my first husband won’t go aboard, he said we can’t afford it; two of my brothers went to live in America, one in Miami and one in Los Angeles. I never visited them, because he said if you meant to have wings, you would fly. You know, something silly although he was in the RAF; he was a very fun man, he was very funny. Seed was quiet, a nice and quiet gentleman. He was all right, he passed away seven years ago, next month, that’s made it 2009, doesn’t it? We got married in 1994. The last two years of his life, he needed to go to a nursing home, because he has diabetes, very badly. And his son unfortunately was blind, partly sided, and he has a guide door, three girls and a grandson. We are in touch, in fact, in Mother’s Day, he sent me flowers; he doesn’t come over anymore, we used to go to coaches quite a lot. Seed and I have lots of holidays all over the Great Britain and Europe. His son said if he hasn’t been with me, he would have passed away. By then, one of my brothers came back to Manchester.
And now, for the last few years, I’m on my own, again! I’m used to it. When I retired at sixty, can’t decided what I’m going to do with myself, I didn’t know I’m going to be married. I thought well, I went to holidays on my own, I did an eight-year supply; I went to different school; I went to particular road that near the prison, where there the children were decry, that kind of child I taught. Where I was before more on the academic, so it was a very different kind of teaching, I enjoyed.
I met some lady friends and I decided to learn bridge, I play Rubber Bridge. I got to know a lot of people. I still in touch with people from school, but it’s a new life now. I used play what it called social bridge. Then about eight, nine years later, a friend of mine asked why don’t you come to Bury Bridge club, which is competitive bridge; I go there twice a week, on Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon. I have a social bridge game in a house bound lady house in Tuesday night; I go to my daughter’s home at weekend for a meal. I stop driving a few years ago; my friend take me to Morrison’s and do shopping, and then I get a Taxi home. I go shopping with my son in law on Friday, we go to Tesco and Costa, so we do a go shop then.
And now recently, I was very poor last year, I was in hospital for three weeks and then I went to a nursing home for a month since it was pretty bad. But then I recovered, then in the summer, my daughter and I went on a two weeks’ cruise, that was very nice and good. I have a lady who comes once a week, she cleans for me and she changes the bed, because I can’t do it. But other than that, I am self-efficient, I do everything myself. I don’t cook as much as I did. I should do, but you see, my first husband, he was a vegetarian, my mother in law didn’t eat meat, only eat fish. When I married Seed, he was very difficult, won’t eat vegetable, only eat soup, the only soup he has was chicken soup. He won’t have sauces, he won’t have pasta, and he won’t have rice. And he was diabetes; it was very difficult for me. I used to make him meal on and off, quite frequently, sardine on toast, he likes meat, so I made him steak, he like to eat things that he shouldn’t. It was difficult but I didn’t mind, so when he went to the nursing home, I’m afraid I don’t do as much as cooking I did. I used to bake, I made him cake without sugar, pies, he liked that. I like soup, I wanted to make soup, but he didn’t like it, “No, no.” no this, no that, no salad. That’s why his son said, if he hasn’t been with me, he would have passed away quicker, he had been a very happy married man. 25:53
26:11 I’m on my own now, I do my own thing. I have light meals; I don’t want to have much that I should and I used to. I put on weight; I used to be very slim. I’m not active anymore, I could just about walk up the stairs, I don’t want to use the stairs-life. Now, I have a lady takes me to Bury once a month; I go to the bank with her, because last year after being in hospital, I fell and I bumped my head and it was really bad, so I lost my confidence now. I have got my walking frame, but I don’t go out on my own anymore. I have a hair-dresser for thirty years, he is eighty this coming year; he used to come to the flat, but he got a bad back, so I go to him; I take taxi and he brings me back, he done my hair every Friday.27:34
29:03 What’s like being old? Being old or elderly, I prefer elderly; it’s horrible. I said to my doctor, I don’t like being old; he said I don’t blame you, because I was such an active person. And I wanted to stay in my flat as long as I can 29:28.
38 I don’t read a lot because my eyes aren’t very good; I do my own washing and cook a little; I watch TV a lot that I shouldn’t; I like dramas, I like history channel and things like that, I like opera. One time until the last two years, I used to go out a lot, take myself off and go to somewhere. 38:58
48:04 There’re more people worst then I am; I’m comfortable, I have my own pension. In fact I don’t need to worry financially at all, the flat’s mine. I like to decorate, but it’s the bother, I like to have a new curtain but it’s too much work. I was going to do that last year, in fact I got a decorator to come, but then I took ill. So, it put me off. 48:43
57:55 Being evacuated is awful, we went from the school with a dust mask and a carrier bag with food. We walked from the school to Victoria Station, got the train to Blackpool; no mothers, we were kind of have to find places, we were three of us; we were the last to find places. I can’t remember being deprived of food, in the war. Even though, maybe was good, we have so many Oz of cheese, so many Oz of butter, and so many Oz of meat. And then we have the black market where people used to buy stuff very expensive. And then what they had, they had eggs powder, and you added water in it to make an omelet. My grandmother has chicken, so we have fresh eggs.
The reason that I don’t ride holiday so much now is hard work with taking out the clothes and packing and unpacking. 1:01:34
Although she was my neighbour for a year, I didn’t know much about her before I had a long talk with her. I realized she is a funny and optimistic elderly; she told me “If I do have money younger, I will have a face left.” and when she is facing her leg problems, she said “ Your body just breaks down but what can you do? Some people have it worst, some people have it better”. From what I saw in her bedroom, there are many soft toys and full of pink, I can see that although she is old, she still got a young mind. Also, I think keep the mind positive will help a lot in daily mood. After a long talk with Marigold, listened to her story is just like attended a lecture, a life lecture. Not only the situation in the world war, but also her attitudes when she faced difficulties in adversity.
I’m so thankful that she told me so much details of herself. I know that share personal things to a stranger is not easy, this is one of the weaknesses and threats for a documentary photographer when sometime we would be refused by people.
Contact sheets and sound clips
Sound clip: http://vocaroo.com/i/s0FCVjGlSRAU