What kind of career’s advice did you get as a young woman?
I didn’t really have any career advice as a young woman, I was too busy skiving, smoking and shoplifting with my friends in town. I sat very few exams but got a job in the local KFC because my friend worked there, I didn’t last long when I caught the manager stealing chicken, she sacked me, and it was a dumb job anyhow, we would get leeched at by drunk men.
What did you want to be when you left education?
I wanted to be an artist, it was one of the few lesson I turned up to, I even turned up to the art lunch club, I would make a special effort to go to school on those days. I drew all the time, in my math’s books and English books and on the school toilet walls, the little two tone men from the
Specials, they locked the toilets up in the end at lunch time but that didn’t matter, we were skiving in them at lesson time..
Did your mother work?
My mum had various jobs mainly housekeeping jobs, she was a single parent, I think life was hard for her.
Love & Relationships:
Do you think getting married is important?
I don’t think marriage is necessarily a good thing or important, it’s only humans that get married, something we made up. 3 couple I know who had been together for years, had children and got married later in the relationship: 2 were divorced in the year and I worry about the third. I don’t know if it’s that official commitment that changes the relationship or your relationship becoming accountable to the law maybe the financial debt that also comes with a wedding. 2 of the weddings were in the region of about £18000. Maybe it’s just western marriages that do this?
What did you dream your future partner would be like when you were a little girl?
I think probably Elvis or Donny Osmond, I was a real Tom boy but I had a boyfriend, we used to play football all the time and hold hands in the street, I thought that was true romance. He was one of the cool kids at school because he was from London and the hardest kid on the estate (for his age range). I had to fight him and his sister when we first moved there, at least once a week, the street was a cul-de-sac and there was only one way out but he liked my football skills and the fact that I could climb a tree and would fight if I had to. The estate was full of large families from the London overspill and very territorial, you soon learned. We actually stayed together for a couple of years, he was really handsome and had twinkly blue eyes like Paul Newman. Probably someone like my childhood sweet-heart, he could accept me for who I was, didn’t expect anything too feminine and enjoyed my boyish ways with me. I still have the bracelet he bought me in my jewelry box, we must have been about 9 or 10 years old.
Is your relationship with your partner the same as your parents’ relationship?
I have chosen not to have a partner, all my relationships have been crap and I have little respect for men but I don’t hate them, they are just time consuming and generally selfish, however I do have lots of really close male friends, I like their company. I have found groups of women difficult but I am getting better at this but men as partners can’t be trusted, it seem such a big risk.
So I suppose my relationships is the same as my mum’s because she stayed single too, thinking about it both my Grandmothers were single from around their 30s, and my sister is also single. We are quite a bunch of independent women, both my grandparents lost their husbands early in life, one did remarry. My father has a long term partner
How like your mother are you?
I am told I look like my dad, not too much like my mother, but I am like her in many ways: I have got my love of nature, the countryside and interest in folklore from my mother, we were bought up to believe in Faeries as we were originally from the countryside, I can still remember the magic of being in the woods. We missed the countryside when we had to move but the council had been considerate enough to give us a house that backed onto fields.
I also have her slightly twisted sense of humour, we cry with laughter sometimes, I have her matter of factness, I don’t’ suffer fools lightly and have little tolerance for bullshit, I struggle with small talk. I like to be outside and I like solitude, we like the same programmes, history and I think I get my swearing from her, and apparently the women on her side of the family don t go grey, so here’s to hoping!
What are your hopes for any daughters or young women you know?
I have an 11 year old daughter, I had her later in life, so she tends to be with a lot of adults, her brothers are10 and 16 years older than her. I worry about what I have bought her into, the world seems to of gone mad, my Nan told me this would happen, she told me not to have children because the world would be a bad place. But I think I may have bred Boudica, My girl is like me but I have been able to give her more opportunity than I had as a child. I have moved from the estate and I have taken her out of school as I saw how the pressure was affecting her, academically and socially, she is a tomboy and was struggling with the Barbie culture. This is the best thing that I did as it has steered her away from sheep mentality and towards independent thinking. She has real determination and a socially critical mind, I have always been a very political person and this has influenced my daughter, I hope she will be a strong independent bossy woman and will lead the revolution.
Do you bring your son up the same way as your daughter?
I had a dream once that my experience of having children would be just like the, “pampers”advert. It wasn’t. I have 2 sons who are 28 and 21, when they were younger my circumstances were different and so are all my children. I had to battle on behalf of my sons against outside influences. I was poor when the boys were younger and still on the estate, it was easy for them to become involved in criminal activities and the associated risks, boys have to deal with such bravado and masculine expectations, they were harder to protect.
Do you think boys and girls should be brought up differently?
I think you bring a child up as a child and every child is different as is every year. All my children have been different and suffered their own issues, I have been very poor and this has also influenced the opportunities available for my children, as a parent all I can do is support them to make the right decisions in life, I think circumstances dictate more than gender as to how a child is bought up, but the opportunities and risks are different through cultural and peer pressure, this fucks children up.
Expectations and Dreams:
Who are your heroines and why?
My Nan is my Heroine, she looked after me when I was in my naughty phase and was always there for me, she would swear at me in Welsh so I didn’t know what she had said. She would get out the photos and always get me to draw pictures for her, she got me to draw her a picture of my Grandad. He was showing a little boy how to box, there were loads of kids stood round watching them, they were the boys from the children’s home she ran in the war, he had got his satchel on and was laughing. She use to tell me about the photos and Wales, she lost her son in a car accident on his way back from his interview at Art School, I was named after his fiancé. Nan’s summerhouse was full of my uncle’s paintings I used to tidy it up and hang the pictures like in an art gallery and look after her garden, she knew what I really liked to do.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Walking out of my job, I hated my job. I had the best job in the world before that, I was a youth worker on the estate I came from, I ended up loving that place and still do, we had our service cut and could take redundancy or have a job in the new service. I had a mortgage and 3 children, I had no choice but to take the stinking job. I think I was one of the most awkward employees they had, I had a history of going on strike and arguing with management and was already a marked woman by my employees, I don’t think they would ever give me a job again. I handed my notice in one evening with no job to go to and a lot of responsibilities. It was the best thing I had done in a long time, I felt like I had taken real control of my life and things have just got better ever since, I feel more confident in taking risks, it’s not always good to take the safe option, that will grind you down, there is no adventure or control in one’s life when you do that.
What drives you?
My car, occasionally a bus. My community drives me, we have lost many young men in our community through drugs, violence and mental health issues, and we have had to battle for our sons to get help. These are the next generation from the estate, I have been to their funerals, I cried with their friends, it breaks my heart. There is a shared connection with these people, especially the women, we don’t really know each other but we have so much in common that we can say we love each other, these are the people that I live for and love. They know the oppression of being a poor woman and often in these cases a single parent, there is a real bond that is built among the oppression of women, it is in our hearts, we know, you can see it in their faces if you know what you are looking for, that’s what drives me.
What are your values?
I guess the same as most people, family, friends all the lovely things in life, but I’m not materialistic, I have learnt over time to be careful with my resources and in return I have learnt to be resourceful. I would rather do things than have things which is possibly why i value my time more than anything materialistic.
Life has been a struggle and it wasn’t until now that I have been able to think about what I want to do, the struggle scrambles your brain and makes life pass quickly, it’s a battle and if you don’t escape ,suddenly your time is up.. Time is what I value now and the freedom that it brings and a sense of hope , without hope you have nothing.
What is your biggest achievement?
Getting an education. Life had been one long sentence and now I have put a full stop at the end, I was fortunate to walk into my job, as a volunteer Youth Worker and soon became employed, after 10 years in the job I was forced to get the qualification. I had resisted this offer, education had left a bad taste in my mouth.
It actually took me 8 years to complete my degree, due to life throwing shit in my direction but I did complete it. It was an amazing journey, I still don’t know what a verb or adjective is but I did realise that my issues with authority and institutions as a young person in the 80’s and even up until today were justified. When you go through life being told you are wrong about oppression and the institutions are right:To be told you are right and they are wrong is a massive shock, that was a big realization for me, up until this point in life I thought it was my fault life was shit. Now I have some control, education is a massive eye opener, it actually made my brain hurt, I love writing now and researching the world instead of fighting it.
How old are you?
What has been your favorite age to be and why?
I would be the age I am now, I look back on myself and see someone who is blinkered and has been swallowed up. I feel like I am having a second chance at life with a more stable footing and I am looking forward to the spring and being outside. I think because of my age somehow the days and world seems brighter.
Do you think it’s better to be young now than when you were young? (Or better now than when your parents were young?)
The world is not a good place now for young people, we know the bite of Thatcherism as young people in the 80’s but today it has moved to another level. Technology has bought new predators to young people and more danger. I still work with young people and technology has switched their brains off, and allows them to unintentionally exploit themselves, which is terrifying.
What are the pros and cons of being a woman?
Not many pros to being a woman these days, patriarchy is back big time but I hope one day it will change I think women have more of a voice but what bothers me is women in power, like Thatcher and May they don’t bring in a woman’s perspective, generally a little more compassionate, they just try and act like a man. Do you know I am really struggling to think of a pro for women today, that’s a bit worrying? Actually I think it will be women who change the world and make it beautiful again.
What have been the biggest challenges in your life?
Getting out of the poverty trap, with poverty comes the cycle of crime, which inevitably brings disapir. My ex ended up as a dealer and a thief, I didn’t want this for my children, we use to get raided by the police, one time a guy knocked on my door and said the ex-owed £ 6,000 to some dealers from London and they were going to come to my house, if I didn’t get the money. I packed the kids up and left home for a while until they were paid. My sons inevitably became involved in this lifestyle and that was my biggest challenge to stop them, I think I did it, you have to ride these things through, and we lose so many of the young men in this town to drug related issues.
Self-image – Body or Looks:
Why do you dress the way that you do?
I dress down I suppose, I have a bad habit in the winter of wearing my pyjamas under my clothes and being told by various people to brush my hair. I never use to be like this but life gets in the way. When I was younger I did attract male attention quite a lot which I would find very uncomfortable. I have never really dressed up or wore makeup until recently, I have to make an effort now, makes me feel better, and can’t remember the last time I wore a skirt. I remember watching Dixon of Doc Green with my Nan and the female police officer was climbing over a fence with great difficulty, I think the men had given chase by the time she had adjusted herself, she was in a skirt and tights, it was at that moment I thought to myself, skirts are a really stupid idea.
What would be your musical soundtrack?
Nightmare Before Christmas.
Do you have a life’s motto?
Believe nothing and question everything and “why?” you can always win an argument and irritate people with that word, they usually give up if you say it enough.