“When I was born I was brought back to the big bedroom, but when my sister was born a couple of years later she had the big bedroom so I always felt a little bit put out by that.”
Transcript of Joesph Broadfield Oral History Recording
Good evening. My name is Deborah Norrey. I’m working on the History at Hobsmoor Project. Today is Wednesday the seventh of February 2018 and I’m here with Joe. Joe, can I please ask you to tell me your full name, your date of birth and where you were born?
My name is Joseph John Broadfield. My date of birth is the twenty-fifth of the ninth, 1984 and I was born in Solihull Hospital.
And when you left Solihull Hospital, Joe, where did you go, where were you taken from there?
I was taken home to my parents’ house which is in Hall Green.
Can you share with us, Joe, one of your earliest childhood memories?
One of my earliest memories is of family holidays to Bournemouth, we used to really love going, we used to go there sort of every year, I remember obviously older, er, being a bit older, sort of ten, eleven, but one of my earliest memories is, is just being in Bournemouth on the beach, seeing the, the land train called Dotta [ph], and I think that was probably one of the first words I learnt how to spell, D-O-T-T-A. [Laughs]
And what about, a, about the house you grew up in?
It was just a normal sort of family home, sort of … three bedrooms, upstairs, downstairs, er, had the box room. [Chuckles] When I was, when I was born I was brought back to the big bedroom, but when my sister was born a couple of years later she had the big bedroom so I always felt a little bit put out by that. [Laughing] Being stuck in a box room, but it was, it was a, it was a nice house to grow up in. Big back garden. Play all the sports. [Chuckles]
A, and what school did you go to, Joe?
I initially went to Chilcote Primary School, which is just round the corner, but my dad was actually a head teacher in the local area of Robin Hood, and I eventually ended up there in about year five. [Chuckles] My mum didn’t want me to go and work with my dad to start off with [Laughs] but I was, wasn’t getting on too well at erm, Chilcote, and it was, year five it was time to change, and it really did transform my life actually.
So can you tell us a couple of your child, er school-time memories?
One of my, my [Chuckles] favourite memories was when I was in year four at Chilcote, erm, actually going and playing for my dad’s school, Robin Hood in their school football team [Laughs] i, in a tournament, I, obviously it was, it was for years 5 and 6 but I was quite a talented footballer and my dad said, ‘Ah, you can come and play for, for our school’. And low and behold, in the first match we were drawn against my own school, [Chuckles] we were playing against Chilcote [Laughs] which you know, sort of raised a few eyebrows from the teachers there, but it’s, it was a, it was a good game. [Laughs]
Did you win that game?
And we won. Yeah, we won! [Laughs]
And when you moved, you did move to Robin Hood, did you find that a better school for yourself to be in?
That was much, much better for me. The, the teacher I met in year five, Mr Handy, he transformed my life, as … I went from someone who was lacking in confidence, the, the school had labelled me as somebody who was a, a low attainer, not, he’s not going to achieve much. My dad always had high aspirations for me and wanted me to go to a grammar school, and when he mentioned that to my teacher in year three or year four she said, ‘Oh no, the local comprehensive’ll be fine for a boy like Joe,’ which [Laughs] rubbed my dad up the wrong way. Moved me to … his school in year five, a little bit against my mum’s wishes, [Laughs] but dad won out in the end, and … um the teacher I had in year five and year six, Mr Hand, he was probably the reason why I wanted to be a teacher myself. Really did transform my life, built my confidence, and just for the record I did pass the grammar school test. [Laughs]
So what school did move on to?
I went to Camp Hill, er Grammar School in Kings Heath. [Laughs]
And how did you find that?
Er, it was, it was a challenge, because obviously you’re at primary school, once my confidence built you go from being top of the class and when you’re at a grammar school with lots of other bright children it was …you’re suddenly average, and you’re aware of it! But … I appreciate the environment and the opportunity I had. In, in going to school like that, you are, you’re guaranteed to be successful really. And obviously, erm … the sport there was fantastic. When you, when you go from a primary school, sort of playground, concrete, maybe a tiny little bit of grass at the back, to go a school with a cricket wicket, rugby, playing fields, athletics tracks, swimming pool, all the opportunities you have there, obviously as a, a young boy into sport it was, it was absolutely fantastic. [Chuckles]
So going back to your childhood, your younger childhood, your nan, liv, lives, still lives in Yardley.
So can you tell me what it was like for you to go and visit your nan in Yardley?
I didn’t really visit, I didn’t really sort of pay much attention to the area, but it’s just my nan’s house had special memories. Obviously er, she’s probably told you about the history of the house, and … erm, she came over in the f… well actually my granddad came over first in the fifties, as lots of sort of Caribbean families did, looking for work and … and when he, he’d found work, somewhere to live he sort of s, sent for the, the … the m, my nan, and my mum was just a young baby at the time, to come over. And I’m, I’m a teacher, so I talk to the, the children about history and sort of black history lessons and their sort of family history and, and what they’re shocked about is that you could just arrange something like that through letters and organisation. Nowadays ko, kids, if, if you’re five minutes late you pull out your phone and you text someone saying, ‘Where are you?’ But to manage to, move to the other side of the world … and it wasn’t by aeroplane, it was a boat, and I think the boat voyage took about six weeks [Laughs] so to sort of coordinate that sort of thing, but … that sort of, that always sort of stuck with me as quite remarkable. And in terms of … when my nan came over she was a, first sort of black family on the street, or coloured family as they, they would have said then. And it’s really interesting to see how the area’s changed over time, she, she’s probably one of the, still one of the few black families, but instead of it being predominantly white it’s, predominantly sort of Asian heritage families living there. But what I really sort like about that community is the way they sort of took my nan in and my mum’s family in, ob, erm, obviously at that sort of time when people came over from the Caribbean there was a few raised eyebrows and people weren’t sure about their neighbours and people had heard stories and rumours, and one of the things my mum said was we [5:29] other children used to think that black people at them! [Laughs] And my mum b, kids being kids she played up and says, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a big cooking pot out in at the back,’ [Laughs] not realising that the other children would be that gullible and believe it, and erm, er, er, they’d say or tell, the, the, the English children would say sill things like when it was snowing the sky was falling down because no one from the Caribbean had ever seen snow. So it was just silly little stories like that that I remember [Chuckles].
But obviously the … erm … sort of the oral family history you’ve heard about, the … the, the fire that sort of claimed my granddad’s life and … he was called Joseph and I’m actually named after him, I’m really proud to carry that name. Although I never met him, it’s really nice that my mum … she always said, ‘When I have my first boy, child, it’s going to be a boy,’ the first child was definitely going to be a boy, it wasn’t going to be a girl [Chuckles] and she would say, ‘I’m going to call him Joseph after my dad,’ because a fire broke out and he managed to save his whole sort of family. There was, I think there was … four children, I think one of the cousins was there, this, this, this is the thing with oral history, the story changes from time to time and actually if you look at a newspaper article or something, there’s this … I’ve got three or four different newspaper articles and the stories are all slightly different, even down to my nan’s name’s different in some of them. But he managed to get his, his whole family out, he, er, and save them. Unfortunately he sort of died a couple of days later in hospital due to the smoke inhalation. [Sighs] But it’s, it is just something that you really remember. And what I really like, when I’ve been … as an a, as an adult I’ve sort of seen the newspaper articles and really began to appreciate what they mean. And I, it’s something I’ve shared with my own class in terms of, of looking at immigration topics. He, th, there’s this lovely quote in the erm newspaper from local families saying things like, ‘Ooh, at first we weren’t sure about moving, living next to a coloured family, but we soon realised what wonderful people they are.’ [Tut] And it goes to show that yes, people have opinions, yes people will sort of have prejudices, but once you get to know people they, they can see they’re just like anybody else and … the, there’s stories about my granddad going and helping the other men in the street when they had work to do at home and in turn they would come and help out, do like the handy work. Women would help with like the cooking and the sewing, sort of traditional roles. It was … it was just something that, er, really sort of struck me, that community took my, took my family in at their real time of need. There was things mentioned in the newspaper about people bringing the car round, which again my class laughed at. ‘What do you mean they brought the car round?’ ‘cause they just assume everybody’s got cars, and actually if you go on that road now you can’t get a parking space, it’s that busy. But like the one, the one family who had a car brought the car round to help the family and what was really nice, while the house was out of action … then all the children got to stay with different neighbours. I mean you can’t really imagine it these days. Your neighbours taking your children in and looking after them. Yes, you might know who your next-door neighbours are but … I grew up hearing stories about Missus Rawlins down the Street and the, the Dooleys who lived over the road, people I’ve never met, might not have met, but they all seem real to me because I’ve heard their names and, and when I read the newspaper articles I can see their names and it’s … it’s really, it’s just really nice. [Chuckles]
When you used to go and visit your nan, did you play out on the street yourself at all?
I didn’t used to play on the street, no. I used to play in the garden, next-door-but-one. I can’t even remember the, the lad’s name, but it was a lad who was about my age. So my mum knew his mum and like they’d lived there a while, and we used to play sort of catch across their gardens, and we’d be playing, throwing like Frisbees and tennis balls to each other and we’d, we’d always look, look out for each other. But n, e, but not so much in the street. ‘cause obviously [Chuckles] in the old days when my mum and her, brother used to play in the street, my mum was a keen footballer and she always tells me erm, they, they, they really argue about this, I, I believe my mum but my uncle and his, and my cousin believe differently, but on the day of the World Cup Final in 1966 where England won, my mum was really into football and they went out and had a match in the street. [Chuckles] I mean you couldn’t imagine having a match in the street with all the traffic these days. But apparently my mum won that match, but my … but as a, matter of historical fact my uncle disputes the score. But my mum’s convinced she won the match that day! [Laughs] But as, e, obviously when I was that age we weren’t allowed to play in the street ‘cause it was so busy, but [Chuckles] sort of … local neighbours, sort of across the gardens, that sort of thing, and obviously all the cousins and family would gather at my nan’s house, so we’d sort of, more sort of in the garden and in the house rather than … in the streets.
So can you describe your nan’s house for me?
Er, yeah, just a sort of terraced house, er, in, um, in the middle of quite a, a row of houses. When, when you go in there’s the, the front room and it’s a traditional Caribbean front room, in that you’re not allowed in there. [Laughs] All, all the ornaments are there that, I can remember the record player being in there, erm, traditional ornaments, sort of lots of photos of the family. Er, a sofa that nobody every sits on but still has the plastic cover on to keep it in pristine condition [Laughs]. When you walked in there was a plastic cover on the carpet, so the carpet didn’t get messed up. [Laughs] I remember when we were young she used to have a thing about doilies were in fashion, so there was lots of doilies, and, and, and, all over the, the s, the sofas. She had that, that wallpaper that’s, like a f, like a … I suppose you’d call it like woodchip wallpaper. And when, when it comes time to change it, yeah, y, it, it’s a real big workout getting it off the walls. Bright colours. [Laughs] Just a traditional Caribbean front room really. [Laughs]
And then into the main living room, it’s, that’s where it’s sort of where the, the TV was, a sofa, but she’d also, like it’d be used as a dining area as well. [Laughs] And it, it, it sounds silly but I loved the fact that her, it was a fold-away table and when it was time for dinner we could fold the table and take the… bit like the table I’ve got in here, you can fold the table out. And we’d go there and, experience my nan’s cooking. One of the… the favourite things the, Saturday soup [Laughs]. Sort of, [10:34] soup, chicken soup with all the dumplings and all the vegetables in there. It’d really sort of fill you up and set you up nicely for the day [Laughs].
So … what other dishes did your nan cook?
All sorts, but I used to, we used to love going for breakfast ‘cause [Chuckles] she’d have like Ready Brek and then we’d have scrambled eggs and she’d put little bits of pepper in the scr, the scrambled egg, which is something that [Chuckles], that I, as an adult I try to make now. Obviously sort of … she’d make fried dumplings, as, but, as, ‘cause she Montserrat, Jamaicans call them dumplings but as Montserratians they’re called Johnny cakes apparently [Laughs], so [Laughs], it’s something I haven’t got the hang of yet, but I need to. [Chuckles] I’d love to get the recipe from my nan and I need a lesson from my nan to, to teach me how to do that, ‘cause it’s something I enjoy eating. Obviously sort of chicken, [11:15 IA] aki and salt fish, even though she’d say that, [imitating West Indian accent] ‘That’s Jamaican people food!’ [Laughs] Rather than Montserratian food, but we’d, we’d still it there. [Laughs] She’d go [Imitating West Indian accent], ‘The Jamaicans love their aki and salt fish!’ [Laughs] ‘I can’t see what the fuss is about!’ [Laughs]
So it seems like your nan’s house was a big commun, community hub for your whole family?
Yeah, and ev, even now ‘cause obviously my nan’s sort of less mobile than she was, but he, eh, oh, every weekend there, there’s, there’s sort of four siblings and they all … kind of if three of them are there it’s a party! And they text the other one saying, ‘You’re missing out on the party!’ [Laughs] And they always like go, ‘Oh, it’s not a party if I’m not there.’ But it’s, [Laughs], but my sort of cousins all go and visit her and like, and we get there at the same time it’s alway, it’s always fun. Sometimes when you go to h, to family sort of gatherings it’s all very formal, especially if it’s family you don’t see very often, you’re sitting there, it’s all very prim and proper and you’re, you’re asking polite questions like, ‘How was your journey? How is school?’ But at my nan’s house it’s always music on or a … laughing and joking, taking the micky out of each other. There’s always banter [Chuckles]. And it’s j, just a nice time. [Chuckles] [Sniffs – sounds like a slight cold]
So when you used to go and visit your nan, did you ever go off to the local area, to the local shops? The Swan Centre?
My, used to go to the Swan Centre with my auntie. She, she loves a bargain, she loves shopping and she, [Chuckles] she’d take us round and visit every, every market stall, every shop two or three times, looking for all the different things that she wanted to buy. Different sort of handbags, fashion, those sorts of things [Chuckles]. But I don’t rea, I don’t really remember going to do much with my nan, it was more with my auntie. We’d [Chuckles] go to the Swan Centre.
So can you, you tell me what the Swan Centre was like when you, used to go there?
Erm, I’ve, when I’ve been past it recently it’s more like a, indoor shopping centre, a little bit like Touchwood or the Bull Ring but on a smaller scale, but when I used to go it was, it was, it was like an indoor market, and it was just like the smell, if you remember like there’s the fish counter and, and all different sort of erm … erm material market, so things like Asian heritage erm clothing, er … I remember the little computer game stall there, and my nan would often sort of … be it for my birthday, as a little treat she’d get me a computer game for the Gameboy and that sort of stuff. For my birth, like she’d say, [Imitating West Indian accent] ‘Well spend your birthday money’. [Laughs] Those sort, those sorts of things. But yeah, just, just the smell of the fish really, [Laughs] is what, what stands out [13:25], must have been a fish market there. And actually seeing that, actually like as a child seeing like the fish with the, the heads and the eyes [Chuckles].
But you just touched on the fact that that centre’s now changed.
Do you think it’s improved for the better or do you think that … it was better before?
[Sighs] It depends I think … I don’t know too much about it but before I’d imagine it was local people, having their own sort of businesses, serving the local community, rather than now it’s probably sort of bigger, multinational companies or, er larger-scale companies or franchises, that don’t probably offer that same level of like personal, individual service I think. … I, I, I seem, I remember going, I’m not sure if it’s just one of my … you goes with your auntie and she’d be having banter with the people in the shops, she obviously knew them. Someone would be talking to people and you, you’d have that ability to strike up, that relationship. You might see them in church on a Sunday. You might, you might have gone to school with them thirty-odd years ago. You might know their sister, you might know their nan. That sort of thing and you, you had that sort of personal relationship. [Draws breath] I don’t suppose, I haven’t been to the Swan Centre in recent times but I don’t suppose it would be that same experience now, ‘cause I know there’s things like the, Sports Direct, big sh, big multinational shops like that, it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s, not local people I suppose, but maybe in terms of employment, a big shop like that brings employment to people, local people in the area. But in terms of community I’d say it’s probably, had a detrimental effect [Chuckles].
So actually touching on the community, Joe, you s, you mentioned that when, when your mum was growing up, and when you were growing up, the community on the street where your nan lives is different to what it, is now. So what are the biggest changes on, on there?
Er, eh [Chuckles]
Other than the fact that you can’t park your car?
Well that, that is the main one ‘cause it, it was, it was busy, we weren’t, weren’t allowed to play out when were children, but now when we’re there you literally cannot find a parking space. Er, my nan’s er disabled so she’s got like a disabled bay outside her outside, and luckily when people are giving her lifts they’ve got her, the blue badges and such, but that, that is a real difference. But what s, er, s, what struck me is looking at the newspaper articles, they were the first black family on the street and it was, the rest were, were all white. Now I think there’s maybe a handful of, white families on the street. Er, I know my nan sort of Caribbean heritage, her next-door neighbour, who’s a real … he’s my next-door neighbour, we call him ‘uncle’ Harold … but it’s like, it’s like, he’s not, he’s, he’s not a blood relative but he’s like family to me. When my … granddad died he sort of stepped up and he looked after the family. He sort of gave my mum away at her wedding. When, eh, whenever, n, my mum used to tell me stories about all these terrible cars she used to buy in, a, b, in the old days and you, this thing called bump starting, I don’t know what bump starting is, but apparently [Laughs] he’d help her bump start her car and he’d come and pick her up from anywhere when the car broke down. And, er, still now he’s, he’s well into his eighties but he still helps. He w, he runs the local erm church hall, sort of when it’s hired out to people if they’re locking up at one o’clock, two o’clock on the morning there’s an eighty-eight-year-old man. If neighbours have got a problem he’s there up his ladders fixing windows, fi, er, clearning guttering and, even at his age, it’s remuch, remarkable really. He’ll moan about it. I mean you, you never hear the end of it. He’ll be moaning at, chuntering away, complaining about everybody. He’s pretty cantankerous, but [Laughs] he’s got a heart of gold really [Laughs]. He’s just … and I think again it goes back to what that community is, people just wanna help each other. People know each other, and … my mum was a teacher in the local area, at Waverley School for, for many, many years, and she was actually a pupil there as well when it was a grammar school. But she’s in the local area and she’ll see somebody and say, ‘I taught you.’ And they say, b, ‘Hi Mrs Broadfield.’ And she might not remember the name but she’ll remember, ‘Oh, I remember that child, they went to Waverley, I taught them’ or ‘I taught her sister’ [Chuckles]. And even when she, sort of towards the end of her career, when she was working at Waverley she did a lot of work in the… local primary schools like Blakesley Hall I think it is, and … actually Hobmoor she did a little bit of work doing PE at Hobmoor, so she knows quite a few of that the, the young people in the community. And they all, whenever we drive in to my nan’s house and we get out the car, there’s always somebody saying, ‘Hi Mrs Broadfield, Hi Miss, do you remember me?’ [Laughs] And, or commenting about football. ‘Tottenham lost’ or ‘Tottenham won’ or ‘Man U are better than Tottenham, Miss!’ [Chuckles] ‘cause she’s s, er, she’s just that sort of big character and they know her.
Did … do you feel that … because the community’s changed so much, not just necessarily on your nan’s street but in, in that area as a whole, do you still feel it has that same feeling, the community spirit and that everybody will help everybody out?
I do, yeah. I think, I really do, because that’s the, I had the, the privilege to visit Hob Moor School recently, and Mr Terry was showing me around and he was showing me what fantastic work they’re doing there at the community. Er, I went in and saw a, group of local sort of mums who were, were bettering themselves through sort of education, doing things sort of ranging from sort of GSCE courses all the way up to, I think it was foundation degree level. And when I, when I saw the building, I saw they were… it was, it wasn’t just a couple of people, it was, it was the whole, it was … there was 20, 30, 40 people rolled in that one, enrolled in that one class. And apparently it’s the same [Chuckles] day in, day out. Erm, but they, they train themselves, they come an work in the school, they, the, the skills they’ve learned from working in school they are, they, they might, might just be to make them better parents so they can help their children at home, but actually lots of them go on to work, volunteer in the school or, go out into the wider community. And I think … I think that’s what community’s about. That’s what schools should be about. They’ve got these fantastic buildings that are … might only be used by, the community from nine o’clock till half-past-three, and that’s children, but actually opening it up to the adults in the community, bettering the community, bringing in the community on that journey with the school, I thought was a, a real positive. So no, I don’t think the, the, the makeup of the community might have changed, but I think, I think it’s got that same sort of spirt, that same sort of essence, that same sort of community feel [Chuckles]. [Sniffs]
When you were growing up, visiting your nan or not, did you ever visit anywhere else in Yardley? For example St Edburgha’s Church or Blakesley Hall?
Erm … not really no, no [Laughs]. It’s, it’s, the, the, the, the re, the reason to go to Yardley was to, to sort of visit nan really [Chuckles]. We didn’t, we didn’t sort of see any of the area. I’ve been to Blakesley, I’ve been to Blakesley School as an adult, to, to sort of look round, do a little bit of … erm, meet the head teacher ‘cause she’s worked at our school and, on projects and, and such. And obviously I’ve been to visit Hob Moor, but most of my experience in, in Yardley was, was just going to visit nan really [Laughs].
So we touched on earlier Joe that you, you’re quite … athletic and you enjoy your sports. You got any, any s, stories? Tell us about your sports?
I suppose that’s another connection with Yardley. Although, there used to be a Yardley Grammar School, and they have an, an old boys’ rugby club called Old Yardleians. They’re not based in Yardley anymore. I think they originally were. They’re actually based out in Shirley. But my, he’eh, my dad played for Old Yardley and the rugby club for, for many years, and when I sort of erm came to adulthood but didn’t quite make the grade at Mosley, when I was playing as a sort of … under-aged player, h, had a serious injury to my shoulder, er, was due to go to university, had to have a [Chuckles] gap year to have an operation. Ended up working at my dad’s school, which kind of really turned me onto being a teacher, but as part of my rehab I sort of, went to do sort of fitness training at Old Yardleians, and ended up joining the team. So lots of the, the older members of the team there were actually old boys from Yardley Grammar School. My uncle, my mum’s brother, actually went to the Yardley Grammar School as well. He’s, he’s only five foot … I’d say five foot one, he’ll say five foot seven. [Laughs] but he, he, he, he went to Yardley Grammar School. He’s a, very good footballer but he was, not really much of a rugby player. He was good at running away from people but not into people! [Laughs] But obviously I sort of played a … a few seasons at Old Yardleians which was, again it’s another connection with Yardley.
And, did your team do well?
Er [Laughs] it’s, it’s a good social side to the thing. It wasn’t as, it wasn’t as a serious level as where I was playing previously. Obviously Mosley was sort of like a, sort of second-tier sort of in the national leagues, whereas Old Yardleians were probably sort of sixth or seventh tier at the time. But as a, a young lad, sort of eighteen, nineteen year old playing sort of men’s rugby it was, it was, it was a good experience. We … had sort of relative success, sort of near the top of the league, decent [21:17] but never really, in my time we didn’t win anything as such. But … we were always competitive. We had sort of some good players who went onto sort of play at county level and such.
And do they still play today?
Er, yeah, the, the club’s still going, the club’s still thriving. I think they … last I heard they might be moving their premises, sort of a little bit clo… not, not clo, back into Yardley but a little bit closer, ‘cause I think the farmer who owns the land realised how much the land’s worth. They were sort of renting it for, er, at a reasonable rate for the last fifty, sixty odd years, but I think the sort of development, housing prices, I think he’s, thinking of selling up and turning it into a sort of housing. [Laughs]
And the Yardley Grammar School that you touched on, that your dad went to –
It was my uncle who went to Yardley Grammar School.
Sorry. Erm, where was that?
Er I, I’m not actually sure. I’m not sure. [Laughs]
I’ll have to look that one up.
Have to look that, s, um, er, I, I just remember hearing at Old Yardleians that er sort of the old Yardley old boys, and it was a… a grammar school. [Laughs]
So previously to your injury that made you have to take a year out, was, was sport like the, the road you were gonna down, was that something you wanted to do?
It’s just something I’d always enjoyed. I probably didn’t see myself doing it y, as a career because [Chuckles] at that time especially, rugby players, it was, unless you were very, very top level international player you didn’t really make a living from it. There was like it was sort of, b, because I was at Mosley the pe, er adults who were there were sort of semi-pros. They’d have day jobs but get paid for the sort of evenings er and the weekend sort of stuff. But obviously throughout school I was a keen sportsman. I was, I know looking at me now, looking at my build now, you wouldn’t believe it, but I was a really talented middle-distance and cross-country runner! [Laughs] When I was a, quite a few stone lighter! So at school I’d always like er represent the area in sort of athletics, and I think one year I had the fastest time in the Midlands for the 800 metres, when I was about thirteen, which was something to be proud of. Er, I came second two years in a row in the All Birmingham Cross Country Championships, as a ten and eleven year old, much to my dad’s disappointment, who thought I should have won it! [Laughs] And he still won’t let me forget it! [Laughs] Actually I remember, as a, one of the, you had the, erm South Birmingham Cross Country Lead at our school’d entered and one of the erm … the annual sort of courses was the … was it Hob Moor Park, Hay Mills Park, Hay Mills … Park?
The one at the back of [23:31]
Oakl – yeah, the, I remember the, they had the year five championship, I won the year five championships there I think [ Chuckles]. But I have, still have the nice little medal from that. I’ve got, I must have the medal somewhere [ Chuckles]. Again, that’s another sort of slight connection with the area. [Laughs]
Bet that park’s altered a lot [23:47 IA].
I just remember as a kid it seemed massive. It’s probably be, but if I went to look at it now it probably wouldn’t seem that big, but when you’re … I think they could b, the races were only about 1,000 metres, it’s not, it’s not actually that far, but a, as, as a child it felt like a really long way! [Laughs] But I w, I used to, I used to get terribly stressed about those races, but I used to do well in the end. [Laughs]
So going back again… what would you say were you fondest memories when you, you came to say, to see your nan obviously, you know, I know you touched on your family and, and what a good … you all get together, it’s the hub. Is that your fondest memory of going to your nan’s or do you have another one?
It’s just, just a general memories of thing. It’s, as … you can fall out with anyone and be upset with anyone and have bad feelings towards anything, your parents are unfair, your little sister bugs you, the people at work get on your nerves, but I can honestly, erm, hand on heart, in my … I’ve never, ever felt any ill-feeling or anything negative towards my nan. To me my nan’s my hero, she’s the queen. What she did, coming over to this, country, losing her husband at a young age and, and raising four successful children in that sort of climate is, is, to, to me it’s just remarkable. And … I wasn’t um, I was a, pretty much a good boy at, at when I went to visit my nan [Laughs] but there were times when boys will be boys and they’ll get into trouble, and sometimes when your mum and dad tell you off, that’s not fair! Any time my nan told me off, you know what? I mean you deserve it! [Laughs] She was right and I was wrong! I, I couldn’t hold any, any malice, any grudge, because to me my nan is just perfect! [Laughs]
Oh, that’s lovely!
And in my wh, I really like, used to, when you’re at primary school used to make things, like little desk tidies, and I remember one year making a calendar, and all the children in the class, so the, er, the teacher’s like, ‘You can make this for your mums or your dads at home.’ I said, ‘No, I’m doing mine for my nan.’ And I bet if I go in her bedroom now it’s still there even though I was about five when I made it. It’s got all the different four seasons and I always remember being really proud, even though the calendar’s way, way, years and years out of date, every year I’d go up and it would be there at my nan’s house! [Laughs] Erm, as a, as a child I was erm … I had friends and stuff, but I wasn’t the sort of person who’d like to stay over at a friend’s house. I always used to like to er, er, erm spend the night at home. I was a little bit, I wouldn’t like going away, I’d be a little bit homesick. My nan’s was the only place I would stay overnight [Chuckles], er, and, it’s funny [Sniffs], as young children, me, my nan and my sister would always stay, sleep in the same bed, which is [Laughs], people probably frown upon it these days, but actually in Caribbean families, Asian families it’s a … you d, er, er, young children, they, they, they could share a bed with their grandparents and … what I was really, what, that was luxury at my nan’s house, she had an electric blanket. And we, we weren’t allowed them at home, but like getting into the bed and the bed’s warm and toasty. It’s just [laughs], it’s, it’s a real treat. Even though… my nan lived on her own, she had a three-bedroom house, my nan, me and my sister would always sleep in that same bed because … [Sighs] the, the middle bedroom was too big and, to be honest the back bedroom was haunted. [Laughs] So we’d, we’d never stay in the back bedroom ‘cause [Chuckles] because there was a jumbee, which is Caribbean or Montserratian for, for a ghost, there’s a, a jumbee, Jamaican’s or big island people might call it a duppy but in, in Montserrat it’s a jumbee. And we, we definitely wouldn’t wanna stay in that back bedroom on our own because the, the jumbee would get us. [Laughs] So it, it was safer to sleep with nan, all … crammed up in the bed [Laughs].
What makes you believe that it was haunted?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I bet it was my uncle! [Laughs] I bet it was my uncle. I don’t know. [Chuckles] It’s erm, uh, I’ve, erm, she had like a door at the top of the stairs and the bottom of the stairs and when, when you opened it the door made a noise. It was like a sensor [ph]. Said, ‘Oh, there’s somebody up there. And it sometimes, it would make noise on its own and y, and kids being kids, you’d believe anything. And the, the, but the, the grandparents probably stir it up and my, my uncle’s one for winding us up. I mean when I was going to secondary school he was trying to wind me up about the bigger boys picking on you and this. He said, ‘If anyone asks you to see the blue goldfish, don’t fall for it.’ Apparently when he was at school with the, the bigger boys would ask him, ‘Do you want to see the blue goldfish?’ And it was, in the bathroom and they’d look in the toilet for the blue goldfish and you’d get your, your head flushed down the toilet [Chuckling] back in the day! So you’d like, things like that, as a child you’d be gullible and you’d believe! [Chuckles] So I guess it probably came from there.
Sounds like you had a lot of fun.
Oh definitely. It was always fun, always laughter, it was laughter and jokes, even as adults now. But now I’m a bit bigger and a bit older I can hold my own better against my uncle of course, so he has to, he has to watch what he says! [Laughs]
Right Joe. Is there any, anything else you’d like to share with us?
Not really off the top of my head. But like you said, as soon as the recording goes off I’ll probably think [Laughs] ten things I want to say. [Chuckles]
Well it’s been, it’s lovely hearing about your memories of, particularly of your nan and your nan’s home and how it was. So can I thank you very much for taking part –
It’s a pleasure [Chuckles].
– In the project. Thank you very much.
Oh, just before we go Joe, I just would like to touch on something else with you. [Tut] I, well, as you know, I’ve been to interview your nan and your mum, and obviously being the first black family in … in that street, we did touch a, a little bit on racism, towards your family. So I’ve got what your nan said and what your mum said, and I was just wondering, about, yourself. Have you ever, did you come across that maybe as much as your mum and your nan did?
I don’t think I’d come across it as much. Obviously there was, there’s always, th’s, there’s always aspects of racism, but what I think is the older generation are a lot tougher and they’re a lot more resilient, they’ve got thicker skins. Some of the, the racism, what I call real racism, that they had to go through, people being overtly racist, saying things to them in the street. There’d be, there’d be signs on the doors, ‘No dogs, no spitting, no blacks’ or ‘No dogs, no spitting, no Irish,’ those sort of things. You, you, you couldn’t get away with that nowadays obviously. [Pause] Nowadays it’s, when I was at school obviously people, some people, silly children, would make comments, but, but nothing, nothing major. It was, it was just something to pick on. If I’d had glasses they’d have picked on glasses. If I was overweight they’d have picked on me, you know. It was just, it wasn’t a, a constant thing. It was just … children being children. Nothing, nothing, nothing major, nothing that would sort of greatly affect me. I think the difference in the racism nowadays is … whereas in, sort of my nan’s day and maybe my mum’s day there was overt racism, there’s, the racism now is more subtle. And actually in a way that can be … just as dangerous or even more dangerous than the overt racism. You could be a, applying for a job, you could have all the qualifications, you could, you could be fitted to the job but someone might look at you and think, ‘I don’t want to work with a person like that’ and they won’t, they won’t say it, so there’s no proof of it, but you, in y, in your heart you might think, ‘Yes, there’s racism there’ but .. actually there’s not a lot you can do [Chuckles] about it, because it, there’s, there’s, there’s no proof, no evidence.
One sort of example, I believe I was erm … racially profiled relatively recently. I went to erm, er, er, I’m not gonna say the name of the er, the brand but I went to an opticians and I wanted to look at some … glasses that they perhaps considered expensive glasses, and, and when I walked in the shop they were, they were courteous to a, a white family there, they were holding the door, ‘Hello sir,’ left me waiting for a long time. When eventually somebody said, ‘Do you want any help?’ I said, ‘Oh yes, I’d like to look at these glasses.’ He sort of wandered off behind the counter, took, took their time there getting … and actually just as I looked up, I overheard them saying, ‘You deal with him but stay close to him. Watch him.’ [Laughs] And … [Laughs] I just thought, you know what? I don’t need to spend my money in this shop, and I, and I walked out. Actually as I went a few yards down the street I thought, you know what? I’m turning back, I’m gonna say something ‘ere, ‘cause that’s not on! And I actually went back into the shop and, and confronted ‘em and said, the, wa, the, the, ‘What do you mean “Watch him”? That’s not right.’ [Chuckles] And obviously you can’t throw blatant accusations around because … [Chuckles] I had no proof, but I wanted to make my point known. And I actually, did make an official complaint to the, to the, the manager, and I don’t think the manager dealt with it … particularly well. So it actually got escalated to the, to the regional manager. And although it w, it wasn’t resolved to my liking, ‘cause obviously a company like that aren’t going to ever admit anything or apologise ‘cause they’re scared of all the sort of, liable actions that people might want to take these days, I felt it was important just to have my voice heard, because … I’ve got choices, I can, I can buy glasses wherever I want, so … it didn’t really affect me that much … but I thought that could affect, that could affect somebody else. So I wanted to at least make my voice heard and make the company aware. So that mem, that particular member of staff that maybe, even if they did hold those views, they’d think twice about being so vocal with them or so blatant with them, so it wouldn’t affect … somebody who came along in the future. [Chuckles]
But I hope that’s just an, that’s just an isolated example. It’s not a, a day-to-day experience. It’s, it’s not something that I, I come across too often. But obviously those things happen. What I’m really fortunate is that I’ll, I work in such a, a multicultural, vibrant school. It’s a Church of England school but we sort of celebrate all faiths, and I’ve learnt a lot by working at that school. I’ve learnt a lot about my own heritage. Obviously I’ve got stuff from my parents, but at school … the only black issue I was … ever taught or made aware of, the slave triangle. And obviously that’s not the best role model for, for black people.
And I remember when I was … looking for work, I went to visit the head teacher, who’s erm, of Caribbean heritage, a really inspirational leader, Ava Sturridge-Packer, erm, took over the school in Special Measures, er, turned it into an outstanding school, received a CBE from the Queen, so re, really inspirational person who’s an absolute, she retired recently but absolute privilege to work with somebody of, of that status and, somebody who cares that much about her community. But one of the things that really sort of, struck me when she showed me round the school was two things. One, there was a … they had a celebration assembly where children get certificates for good work, but actually there’s a whole display and a whole award dedicated to children being kind and thoughtful. And they, they, they do good deeds of help people, f, give a coat to a child who’s cold, or if they find money and hand it in and do the right thing … they were, they weren’t just rewarded for their academic stuff, they were rewarded for being kind and thoughtful and good sort of model British citizens. And the other thing that really stood out was er, a display about World War Two and the black and Asian involvement in World War Two. And as an adult I was completely ignorant, I didn’t think black people were in World War Two. I didn’t think Asian people were in World War Two. I didn’t think they, they made a contribution. And actually the fact that our children are exposed to that in our school, to me, is fantastic. To them it’s second nature, they make an, they can real off everything about Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and, and other such s, great sort of heroes in black or Asian history. But to me it was… only things that I was interested in, I’d looked at, or things I’d heard from my parents. Things like that weren’t taught when I was at school, so … soon as I saw those two things I thought, I’m getting a job at this school! I went there as a volunteer! [Laughs] Got my foot in the door and said, ‘I, I’m not leaving.’ [34:15 IA] appointed me as an AGT and sort of a few years later I was prompted to Assistant Head and I’ve been there ever since. I … in that respect I feel really lucky and really privileged to work for a n, a lady like Ava, and work at a school like that. [Chuckles]
Thank you Joe.
[End of Track]
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[5:22 IA] = inaudible section at this time
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