Tape 186. Miss Elfreda Griggs, sides 2 and 3

Tape 186

Miss Elfreda Griggs was born c 1909. She was interviewed on 25 April 1999, when she lived at Beverley, Chalks Road, Witham.

She also appears on tapes 183 and 188.

For more information about her, see Griggs, Elfreda, in the People category.

The original recording of this interview is held at the Essex Sound and Video Archive. To listen to the recording, please contact them at ero.enquiry@essex.gov.uk or 033301 32500.

[???] shows words that are not clear enough to interpret and so have had to be omitted.
[?] after a word shows that its interpretation is not certain.
Later explanatory additions by JG or the transcriber are in square brackets [e.g. explaining locations etc.]

Side 2

Q:    Mr Bartlett that [???] said you’d a letter from Windsor Castle?

Miss G:    Yes.

Q:    That was lovely wasn’t it.

Miss G:    It’s on the mantlepiece in there.

Q:    You stay still. [pause]. Was that a surprise to you?

Miss G:    That’s it.

Q:    Isn’t that lovely. Royal Collection Enterprises. As a young girl you had a painting accepted for display in Queen Mary’s dollshouse, when you were twelve.

Miss G:    I had a picture in the dollshouse, you see.

Q:    And the dollshouse is still there. Isn’t that wonderful. I am wishing you a happy birthday. Good good.

Miss G:    I didn’t know. And when Lisa came to get me up, she said you’ve got a royal letter.

Q:    Isn’t that wonderful?

Miss G:    I’ve got four, I think. I think when the Queen said she’s going to fill her dollshouse with miniatures (Q: Right). So I said to my mother, I said, I think I could manage that. Course that wasn’t for me, that was for all the celebrities. But I sent one, of a dog laying on a bed.

[chat about sandwiches, not noted]

Yes, a doggy on a bed, with a dirty great bone on the best bed. And I called the picture ‘Naughty Fido’. And that’s what I sent to the Queen.

Q:    And was it very small then?

Miss G:    Yes. (Q: How lovely.) And a man from, that was in all the papers, not the Essex papers, but all the dailies. A man from Derbyshire wrote to me and he said I’m going to draw a picture for the Queen. If you can send me a picture, a photo of that picture, I hadn’t got a photo, I’ll do it again. So I sent it to him, and he said I’ll send you a miniature of the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm, written on the size of a threepenny piece, and he did, and I’ve still got it. And then when I sent mine I think the Duke of Windsor had a fall, and he was very ill at the time, on a horse, and I said to the Queen, I hope the Duke of Windsor will have a speedy recovery. And she said Oh yes he’s getting on well. That was of course the Queen Mary. Not Elizabeth, Mary.

Q:    Yes. And you had a letter back from them. Well isn’t that lovely. You must have been really pleased when you got this. You must have been really thrilled when you got the letter, then.

Miss G:    Yes, when I got the letter. And then I, I’ve got three letters I think. I’ve got one from Queen Mary, written by herself. (Q: Really, wonderful.) Thanking all the people that had sent things for it. I don’t think she asked for them. Oh she must have done or she wouldn’t have got them. Well, in any case, that’s how that happened.

Q:    I didn’t know you did painting as well as music.

Miss G:    Oh yes, I did then. I used to paint animals. But when I, you see I did my Grade V piano, it was the first Grade I took, the fifth, and I was about, I don’t know what, how old I was then, well [???] it’s in there. I started then and went on to Grade 8 and then on to the Guildhall School of Music.

And well, it goes on and on. I mean I used to do concerts. What it started was, I told her, I was playing some hymns at school, morning hymns. ‘New every morning is …’ And the teacher told me she couldn’t really play it. So she [???] with her fingers. I didn’t say anything, cause I didn’t want her to hear me play, so after she did that, she said that she, I could do it, oh she said she didn’t think she could finish playing it. So, I was next door to her, and I said ‘I can play it’. She said ‘I shall tell’. I said ‘You dare’. She said ‘Nobody’s going to own up who spoke then. Stay in at twelve’. And my friend next door said ‘I’m not staying in at twelve, I shall tell’. And she did. She said ‘she could play it’. ‘She’d better come out here and do it then’. And from there on I never got let off from anything at school. (Q: What, playing, you mean.) Boys’ School, Infants, Babies, they all kept coming in and wanting me to come and play the piano for dancing, or for something else.

Q:    Before you did that, they didn’t know? They didn’t know you could play before that happened, then?

Miss G:    No. They didn’t know anything about playing.

Q:    You kept it quiet.

Miss G:    But we used to always draw. We used to have Sundays, was a kitchen table, and there was three of us, my two brothers and myself, and I was the oldest, and we used to have all pictures out of the big Bible and copy them, yes. My brother, he was the cleverest of all. But he wouldn’t do it, and he wouldn’t do the piano. He was like Philip. Was it Philip? I was trying to think of his name. (Q: You’ve done well.) It was Philip, wasn’t it. And my mother used to put him in, one, the drawing room sort of it was, [???] out of the kitchen, with the stairs. She used to pitch him up the stairs, said, get your practice done. But when she went up he was laying on the bed reading [laugh]. He could play by ear, so he wasn’t bothered. People who can play by ear, they like to put it in as they do.

Q:    Which brother was that. Which brother?

Miss G:    The one that’s just died.

Q:    That was the one who wouldn’t play.

Miss G:    He was fifteen months younger than me. All three of us were born in three and a half years. Three of us. And my mother’d had her breast off, my father died the next year, so we all [???], we had to fight for what we did. No money.

Q:    Were you at the shop then? [48 Church Street]

Miss G:    Mm. So that was tough. My brothers used to do the jobs, houseboys and that. I used to do anything.

Q:    What sort of things, what did you do?

Miss G:    Dressmaking, everything. When I was at the Guildhall I was still, made my own dresses and things. I’ve got a picture that long of the Guildhall staff, with, my professor had two pairs of glasses, and he really, he had a pair of pince nez, and a room[?] pair, very forbidding when I first saw him. Seven floors up. At the Guildhall. Course that’s not there, it’s the, what do they call it now. (Q: Oh it’s moved now, at the Barbican) Barbican.

Q:    So how old were you when you went to the Guildhall?

Miss G:    When I went to the Guildhall? About twenty. I done all the other exams first, and when I got there I thought I was going to do the Diploma, they said ‘Oh no, you don’t do the Diploma till you’ve done three years playing, experience, then you can do it’. And that’s where that picture is. I was about twenty-three then.

Q:    You lived at home?

Miss G:    Oh yes I, there wasn’t anywhere you could, you had to travel backwards and forwards. I suppose I went about three days a week. And had to come home and do my practice here. To the annoyance of the neighbours. (Q: Really, you sure?) They never used to grumble. I know one lady, lived over the road, and she used to come over to me, she said ‘You doing some playing tonight, Miss Griggs?’. ‘Oh, I expect I shall have to keep playing up to midnight, I’ve a lot to do. Specially when you weren’t there every day, you see.’ ‘Cause they didn’t have any place to put you up. You could have got lodgings I suppose outside. But I had to come cause I’d got my ma, and she wasn’t well, you see. And this lady used to come, she said ‘Are you practising tonight’. I said ‘Oh yes, I shall have to do some practice I shall get the sack’. So she said ‘Cause my husband, he wants to know, he said he’s going upstairs, and open all the windows if you’re going to do some practice’. Mrs Bird. (Q: How lovely.) His name was Dickie Bird (Q: And he wanted to hear you?). He used to lay upstairs on the bed and hear me practising.

Q:    Lovely. Where did you live then? Which house were you in then?

Miss G:    I was here then.

Q:    Somewhere across the road here?

Miss G:    I’ve done all sorts of things, dear, gardens, decorating. I sort of had a go at anything that came along. ‘Cause I always got to reckon I could do it better than anybody else.

Q:     Well, I think you could. Cause when you were little, at home, you did a lot as well, when you were a little girl, did you do a lot of different things then? When you were a little girl at home, you helped a lot? What did you do then?

Miss G:    Everything my mother done, or did, I used to do. We had the kitchen table in halves, I had half, she had the other half. And what she did, I did. Christmas cakes and everything. Used to copy. Now that was lovely. We had a very happy childhood. My ma was wonderful, she really was. And my dad was, well, he was like an angel. I mean he had to do a lot. I always had rheumatism which was bad, my mother had it, her brother died with it, so that’s in the family. That’s what I have now, more than anything.

[chat about falling over etc., not noted]

It’s no fun being ninety, dear.

Q:    Everybody else, we all enjoy having you here, it’s fun for us, to talk to you. Do you still have any pupils come?

Miss G:    I have one or two cause I like the company. Friends, mostly.

Q:    Tell me again about when you started teaching. How did you start teaching?

Miss G:    Oh, about eight. The baker. We lived at the shop then. And when the baker came with the bread, I was practising. I know I was eight. And he said ‘Who’s playing the piano?’ My mum said ‘That’s Freda’. So he said ‘I wish I could play like that.’ I’d only been learning a few weeks. I said ‘Why don’t you come in, I’ll give you a lesson’. [laugh] He put his basket on the counter, ‘Oh yes’ he said ‘I’d like to be able to play’. He came in and ‘Puss in Boots’ and ‘Wonderland’, and sort of showed him how to do it. He said ‘I shall call again tomorrow at this time, I want to learn a new piece’. [laugh] And then they did, you see, they … (Q: Wonderful.) And then that, I gave a concert I think, what time. Cause all the aristocracies of Witham at that time, and at Christmas time, they always used to do carol service or something. But they said ‘Now you can play the piano. Perhaps we could do an operetta’. I didn’t know what an operetta was, but, she said, I said ‘What is an operetta?’. She said it’s like ‘Puss in Boots’ or ‘Cinderella’. We could do ‘Cinderella’. And they said ‘All the children can sing Cinderella and you could play. Well I thought that’d be a good idea, and I used to have a friend that lived next door practically, who was a bit of an ‘Ah la’, sort, lived in London, and he used bring me magazines, often with a spare sheet of music in, and I usually said, ‘There you are, something to play.’ And when I thought that, when I had, one day there was a piece called the Storm, and I thought ‘That’d be good’, there was a [???] there and there was the lightening and thunder and … I enjoyed doing that, and I thought, I told my mother, I said ‘When I play for that concert I’m going to put the introduction with that Storm. Course they all raved about that. They were all outside the school gate when I’d finished. If I’d teach them how to play their [???] or Mary, like that, they’d have me as a teacher instead of Miss Eldred. And pay you just the same, I think it was a bob. But one lady up the road, thought I ought to have one and six, and she paid me one and six.

Q:    How old were you then about? About how old were you when you played at the concert?

Miss G:    When I had that concert, about ten.

Q:    Really, goodness.

Miss G:    My mother was a singer, and my dad was a violinist. And my mother would sing every minute she got. (Q: Really?) If she was brushing the stairs, or anything, singing. And she had a brother, who sang alone[?] with five thousand, lovely voice. But he died at thirty-three with rheumatic fever. And he’d got two little girls, and they were born so that their hands and knees were locked, locked together with this fever. I had it when I was nineteen. My mother had it, and he died with it. Hereditary, you see, must have been. Now you can’t do much about it. [???] had that pain. But when I was four, if I went out with my mum and dad they used to have to rub my legs, massage my legs, cause they were such, so painful. So that was [???] and I suffer with that more now than anything.

[chat about health and doctor, not noted]

Q:    Did your mother ever sing in public?

Miss G:    Oh yes, she did quite a bit.

Q:    In Witham?

Miss G:    And my dad was still learning when he married, the violin.

Q:    Cause they were in Hatfield in Peverel, were they? Were they in Hatfield Peverel then?

Miss G:    Yes. Yes, we were in Hatfield.

Q:    So where did they used to play? Where did they used to perform, your mum and dad? Where did they play?

Miss G:    Well, chapels, and mostly that sort of thing. I suppose they played otherwise. But you see my dad died, my dad died at thirty-six, and I wasn’t born till, till he, 1909, and so we were all tiny then together. They used to play the, we used to have a run round in the drawing room at night, strip us, then we used to crawl, and that was the final of the day, Sunday. Then they used to go upstairs and play the violin and sing, that’s what we used to have.

Q:    So did you all play together sometimes?

Miss G:    So we’ve been at this music business for a long while. Not with the idea of doing it as a career. Cause I was not old enough. As I said, my brothers were younger than me. We used to have a concert, my brother used to write the play, and I was always the Queen, only one woman, you see, so I had to be the Queen. I was the Queen. And we used to, I can’t remember what else. We used to draw and paint, we used to win a newspaper competition every Sunday, cause in the Sunday paper there was an open drawing, just that, and you’d got to send a painting, send [or sent?] a half crown postal order. Every Monday we used to get one of us. (Q: Really, you were a clever lot.) And my younger brother, who was the baby of the lot, I forget, have I showed you the picture of us?

[chat about finding photo, not noted]

Miss G:    Oh, that’s one of my evacuees. I had her five years, and her sister. And her father was in that Zeebrugge boat, in the toilet, and got drowned. (Q: Oh, oh.) He’d just gone in the toilet and that door slammed you see. Now there’s the one. (Q: Isn’t that nice) [looking at photo M738?] There’s my baby brother, and Rex, that’s the one who’s just died, the artist, there’s me, my mum, my dad, and my granddad.

Q:    That’s lovely, isn’t it. I don’t think I knew about your grandad? I don’t think I’ve heard anything about your grandad. Where did he live?

Miss G:    Oh they had a big nursery, Walthamstow. There’s the two evacuees [photo M740]. We had them when they were six and seven for five years.

Q:    Five years?

Miss G:     Oh yes, when we first had it – that’s me and my brother [photo M739]. (Q: What, the little one?) We had that done up. The thing was, my mother was so ill after the baby was born that we had to have a maid live with us. To help look after us. And so she really suffered all her life, I don’t know what went wrong. So Emily, the girl we’d got living with us, she said, you don’t, they said ‘You’re looking so miserable’. So we said ‘Ah well, we’ll do a different one’, so we put some paper hats on, and went down and had it done.

Q:    Is that the same time as that? (Miss G: Yes.) Oh I see. Isn’t that lovely.

Miss G:    That’s a better picture. At the same time. It was a time when they used to come round with cameras and take you in the houses. (Q: That’s beautiful isn’t it. You look more cheerful there.) Yes, only cause we’ve got those hats on. Only the man said when he took us with a tripod, he said ‘I want you to watch for the dickie bird’. Well we was concentrating on the dickie bird and we didn’t know what do down there. They said ‘You can’t have that’. Miserable creature. So Emily said ‘Go down and have it done again, with a hat on’. (Q: That’s lovely isn’t it.) That’s why there’s got so many of them.

Q:    So they came round did they? The people who took the photos.

Miss G:    They used to come to the door. With a big camera. Standing.

Q:    You must be pleased you had it done. Cause people didn’t have their own cameras then the same, did they. Which garden is this?

Miss G:    The garden at Hatfield.

Q:    At Hatfield, yes. You came here when you were … was your father still alive when you came to Witham?

Miss G:    Oh yes. Oh, he must have been. Cause he worked for the Prudential, and they only paid him nine pounds nine shillings a week, and when Freemans, the people that are still called Freemans, they called one day and asked if he could sell some remnants for them, as he was Prudential. He said yes he could take them on his bike. And he used to take the remnants, and what he didn’t sell he could take back. Well that seemed a good idea. Well that was till the Prudential got to hear of it, and they said ‘Oh know you can’t do both, if you had your shop you can …’ and we were this shop, you see, we were renting it, and Hasler, the pork butcher opposite, soon as my dad died, within a week, he went over to Mary Grape’s and wanted to sell that shop, our shop, and Hasler, the chap on the pork butcher, bought it, gave my mother notice to get out, and doubled the rent. Within a fortnight of his funeral. So you see dear, I more or less took over. My mother couldn’t, my brothers were too small, that’s all there was. That’s why I’ve done so much, cause I took over everything. I’ve got a ledger now, you could see it, where he’d got ‘So and so bought this’ and ‘Somebody bought that’, another one to send back, another one to send back, all the people’s names. And on this ledger that was, my dad died in November, and on the Christmas, I got some red ink and green ink and all round that ledger there’s holly, I drew holly all round the ledger. He’d only been dead about a fortnight. I mean we did such daft things. How would we do things like that? I said no I said, I’d trim it up it up a bit.

Q:    So what happened to you all? You left the shop did you?

Miss G:    Well we stuck it for three years. (Q: After your dad died?) He couldn’t, he could really get us out, but we used to take in, it was just at the end of the First World War. And people were coming home from the army, husbands and wives, got nowhere to live. So we, we’d got about fourteen rooms at that shop at that time. And we had the cottage next door. And we used to put them up. So we got a bit of money like that. My dad never left any money. My mother had got nothing. We were really penniless. But we did that sort of thing. Had in lodgers.

Q:    And you took charge, and you were ten then were you? You’re incredible aren’t you.

Miss G:    And when they put, eventually he divided his shop with the doors, and said ‘Now you go in there, we’ll nail the doors up. So we had to have one bedroom for me and ma, and one bedroom for my brothers. And the one bedroom was about as big as a closet. It was wicked really.

Q:    So he closed that part of it, you mean, so you couldn’t use it all?

Miss G:    I know people used to say, when the Co-op came, they said, called to mother ‘They’ll cut his [???] missis’. Cause the Co-op was starting, you see. [probably Braintree Road] And it did, I reckon he didn’t get any more [???] trade. But we never made a fuss. Got on with it.

Q:    So what happened to the shop? When you were at school and everything. You still had to go to school, so what …

Miss G:    We came here because the school was next door, my dad thought that would be better. Cause at Hatfield Peverel when we first went, boys with knives used to come out and frighten us. There’s always been wicked people about, dear.

Q:    And were you in a shop at Hatfield as well?

Miss G:    Yes, we left that. Well we went, we had to come out and go where he put us. See, they had all our stuff, that we’d got in the shop, and there was all out in the garden, all got soaked. Great big pictures of my grandad, and written addresses, all out in the garden, all lost.

Q:    At this was at Hatfield? At Hatfield this happened, did it?

Miss G:    Yes. No, here. (Q: That was here?) In the garden down here. I don’t know how my mother took it, she never grumbled, she never let us children there was anything wrong. And nothing was right. And when I started teaching, course I used to count the shillings like gold, got nothing else. Amazing really. It is amazing what was done. And they started building these houses [Chalks Road]. My dad had insured me while he was insurance for an endowment for thirty pounds, when I was about fourteen I suppose. And I, when they put that, funny thing, like that letter might be. The day they put the board for sale, thirty pound down, I said to my ma, ‘Look, thirty pound down, I’ve got it here.’ Went to Adams and Mortimer’s, nobody believes this. I’d got three pound in my purse [???] and I said, they said ‘What do you want, Miss Griggs?’. I said ‘I want one of those houses.’ They said ‘Can you pay the deposit?’ I said ‘I can pay you three pound’. ‘Three pound deposit on a house’. They didn’t laugh at me, dear, they said ‘Well we don’t know whether they’ll let a lady buy a house, without a husband.’ ‘Oh, I said, I can find one of them I expect’ [laugh] Must have a husband.

And I, we went, first the bill was up in the window ‘Sold’. And then they said no, the Building Society wouldn’t allow it. It wasn’t till the Council said they would help me, but they’d want sixty pound deposit, ‘Oh’ I said ‘Don’t know about that, can’t do that’. So we had a young man that works at [???] from Earls Colne. He was one that came and lodged with us during that time. But he was only there about one week, he had scarlet fever, and so did my young brother, cause he helped him, with his meals. And he said ‘Look, [???]’ Mr Lee it was, he said ‘Look Miss Griggs,’ he said, ‘You’re going to have the house if I know it’. He worked [???] he was a draughtsman I think there. So he said ‘We’ll try everybody in Witham’, to see if they’ll guarantee it. Hadn’t got to pay anything. Not unless I didn’t, but then they’d have a new house, so there wasn’t much to fear. However, he said he’d pay that extra thirty pounds, he’d lend it to me. And I took it back to him ten bob a time, every Monday morning, till I paid him. [laugh] I mean it’s fantastic really, nobody’d ever dream such a thing. I did the most impossible things you’d ever dream of. (Q: Brave, weren’t you.) But I did pay him back. And he said ‘I’ve got three children’. He said ‘They can all come and learn the piano.’ So they all came, a girl and two boys. So we’ve hung on, like hanging on a spiders’ web, never knowing when we were going to fall off.

Q:    Cause you lived in the house, after you left the shop, you lived in the house on the corner for a bit? [54 Church Street?] Was that Mr Hasler’s as well?

Miss G:    That was a pork butcher.

Q:    I see.

Miss G:    They used to make all the lard and stuff. They’d got a damned great cooker in that house, big enough for a house itself, where they used to make the lard. I don’t know what else they did.

Q:    Did you live anywhere else between being at the shop and coming here?

Miss G:    No.

Q:    You came from the shop to here?

Miss G:    Yes. No, I came to the shop, and then to his house, (Q: You went to his house?) It’s more like a bird cage.

Q:    Really? And that was at, his house was the one on the corner was it?

Miss G:    It’s a store room really. A complete storey[?], dear.

Q:    So he made, when you finally left the shop, did he make you leave?

Miss G:    Oh, he had a bungalow built, up at Rickstones, and I, she was worse than him, and that was his sister, and he’d only got one leg, a cripple, what he wanted a bigger place for … but I think she egged him on. They had a bungalow up there and I used to have to go and pay them the rent. They charged me seven and six a week for the shop that had been bashed into two pieces, and a bedroom and a half, and that was a lot of money, seven and six.

Q:    And was this the shop where you started, the same shop where you started out was it, that one. (Miss G: Yes.) And then you moved to his house.

Miss G:    So when I saw that board, with the sheep in the meadow, cause there was a farmhouse at the top … (Q: You thought ‘Good’) Ah, never took no, didn’t turn a hair, dear. (Q: Well done.) That’s how you’ve got to be, haven’t you. (Q: Yes.) If you can. [???] And I know she said to me, Fred his name was, ‘Fancy, Fred’ she said, we worked all these years for this little bungalow, and now she’s got a proper house.’ [laugh] Yes, that’s all. I said, ‘Yes’. ‘Don’t seem to have proper[?] [???]’, she said, that you’ve got your own house’.

‘No’ I said, ‘I don’t suppose it does’. He wasn’t, he’d tell her to shut up, so I think she was the worst. Dorcas.

Q:    That was his wife. (Miss G: Yes.) [actually his sister?] Did he have any children.

Miss G:     No, they were brother and sister.

Q:    Oh I see, they were brother and sister. Mm. So Dorcas was the sister.

Miss G:    Yes. They died eventually. That was the end of them. And I’m still alive. [laugh] I know I’m only half alive, but I am alive.

Q:    Virtue has its reward, they say, don’t they. So really, when you were ten, when you were ten, you took it all over and did the shop as well, did you? [actually probably evicted from shop then]

Miss G:    We used to sell everything. We went there during the War [First] you see.

Q:    I see, yes.

Miss G:    Really, so that we could have that school, go to that school, cause at Hatfield we had to walk a mile nearly to go to school, and these boys were chasing us, with these knives. There. I know we were only, I think I was six, I didn’t go to school cause I was six, so I was always a year below the others, which I didn’t conceive fair. They gave me a card with a bootlace when I first went, with a thread. I thought ‘What a silly thing to do.’ I used to make lace, crochet lace, to go round tablecloths, with ordinary cotton.

Q:    That was when you were little?

Miss G:    My mother taught me how to crochet. We were in bed[?]. That’s what I did. And then when I went to school, they had to do knitting. Never done any knitting, my mother never knitted. And they gave me these two needles, and a ball of wool, I thought ‘What do I do now?’ Stuck the pins in, I didn’t do anything. So I watched the other girls, what they were doing, see they put them in, and then they went round somewhere, and course it ended in a cobweb. [laugh] ‘Oh Elfreda’ they said, ‘What have you done?’ So first I went in the infants to try and get it right, then I went in somewhere else, and in the end a boy had to teach me how to knit. And then when I got him, he was a lovely boy, in fact the boy, was the mother what gave me the one six[?], his mother gave me [???]. And when I got the knitting going, after a long time, cause we hadn’t got any books or anything you see, and my mother could only show, well she could knit, she did knit. But crochet anything. And then I wasn’t satisfied with knitting cause I see another girl was doing backwards. I said ‘How do you do knitting backwards?’ Purl. So I tried it, course … ‘Now what have you done, just you were just getting on.’ Doing backward knitting, they said ‘You can’t do backward knitting.’ Oh, lovely dear. I said to my mother, I said ‘Why didn’t you teach me proper knitting, they tell me I’ve got to do it backwards, and Eileen Little, Ian’s sister, she knew I couldn’t knit and she just laughed at me, I can remember that. (Q: Ah.) She said ‘Can’t you knit?’ ‘No’ I said. ‘Oh well’, she said, ‘you can’t help it, can you’. [laugh] ‘No’, I said, ‘I’ve got nobody to show me’. And this boy, Leslie Howes, I said to the teacher, ‘If somebody could show me I’d be all right. ‘Well’, she said, ‘Leslie will show her, won’t you Leslie’. ‘Yes’.

He was about six foot tall and his father was a policeman, big boy. And he showed me how to do it dear, and in about five minutes I was going. He was a good teacher.

Q:    Good.

Miss G:    I’d like to meet him now. I expect he was killed in the War. May not have been. In the Second one.

Q:    So was that at this little school or at the big school. Was that at the little school or the big school?

Miss G:    Little school.

Q:    At Chipping Hill?

Miss G:    Yes. Chipping Hill. That was there then.

Q:    That was where you learnt to knit. Cause when you finished there, you had to go to the big school, did you?

Miss G:    Well I couldn’t go, my brother had a scholarship at ten, I had pneumonia, so I couldn’t take it, but they said if I had some private teaching when he went to Braintree, they could teach me privately, cause I wanted to be a teacher, you see, then I could go at fourteen. But I never went, because when I went to ask the headmaster if I could take the Scholar-, special test, I’d had special coaching, ‘Oh’ he said ‘no’, he said, ‘Not with that music’, he said, ‘You don’t want to go to Braintree High School’, he said ‘You carry on with your music’. Then I had to find a teacher to take me for the music. Howlett. Organist here then. ‘No’ he said ‘I don’t teach anybody for exams. They can do the music but I don’t put them in’. No, cause he couldn’t. I think Canon Galpin had found out he had half a dozen letters to his name he ought not to have. [laugh].

Side 3

Miss G:    Once I got, one of the head teachers of some school took me for special coaching. Then of course I went to the Guildhall.

Q:    So you did get your music teaching done.

Miss G:    And I had, the lady said she’d take me and pay every week. Her father was a head, chief examiner of the Guildhall. So they took me and they used to go there for suppers and teas, and that, they lived in Springfield. Hanley[?] Lodge, Springfield Hill, next to Bishop.

Q:    And you were still teaching people yourself, when you were younger, when you were at school, were you?

Miss G:    Oh yes, all the time. I wouldn’t tell anybody cause I thought they’d laugh at me. (Q: Really?) I couldn’t bear being laughed at.

Q: Of course not. So you didn’t tell your friends, you didn’t tell the other girls, you mean.

Miss G:    No. I didn’t tell them. I didn’t tell them dear. And I’ve done all the gardening, planting trees, digging them up, putting them back. I don’t know anything I haven’t done. As I considered, I thought there’s only me could do it. Oh I said ‘There’s no good you doing it, you won’t get it right’. [laugh]

Q:    Well, you might have been right about that.

Miss G:    You see I’d got the confidence then. That’s how I did. I learnt to drive. No car or anything. In about three months.

Q:    How did you do that?

Miss G:    That was through [???] about in the car. Oh there’s some funny stories then.

Q:    About the car?

Miss G:    You’ll have to have a volume. You’ll have the Forsyte Saga.

[chat about leaving and coming back again etc.]

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