99 by forrests



Interview with Cecil Holness
Interviewer: Alan Dein Date: 10th March 1996

Q. Cecil, Could you tell me where you were born and when you were born?

A. Yes I would be only to pleased to do that. Well, I was born in Jamaica in the parish of Trelawney, Jamaica, West Indies 27th December 1922.

Q. And which town in the parish? A. Oh well the parish…the little village was called Deeside that‟s in the parish of Trelawney because you see in Jamaica, Jamaica is divided into 14 parishes you see. And then you have three counties Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey, names quite familiar to this country you see. The parish where I was born in, now it comes under Cornwall. Trelawney. It is called

So I was born in a little village called Deeside, which is 11 miles from

Falmouth, that is the capital of Trelawney. So see in Deeside, you got Deeside here because you have Deeside up in Scotland where the Queen usually go. And you have it in Wales, even in our next town here in Tooting there‟s a little Deeside there too you see. Yes.

Q. Could you tell me a little bit about your family, your parents, their names and what they did? A. Well actually, well my parents I‟ll tell you, my mother was Rebecca, Rebecca Holness you see. And my father was David. See a lot of us we always have a little biblical name within the family because he was David Samuel Holness, my mother was well, well they call her Sarah Ann Rebecca but everyone just call her Rebecca or Miss Bec you see. And then I have a little touch of the biblical name in me by my middle name is Benjamin, you see I‟m Cecil Benjamin Holness you see. So they were just, just ordinary people you know what we call, well they were in agriculture, which over here you call it a small farmer you see because he never worked for anybody, he self independent man, you see, he plant his own food stuff, his own little farm he used to rear plenty of goats, you see, because that is a big industry out there in the land of animals because our people you know, our goats like

all you rear sheep in this country but he specialise in goat rearing because that‟s all you see, you must hear of West Indians they like their curried goat, it‟s one of their most favourite dishes out there you see, goat like that you see, but they just ordinary people, they were….in the family, well I was the baby , the baby of the family, you see

Q. How many of you were there?

A. Well there were six but I been the baby because I was of like second marriage you see so I‟m the little one, the little baby you know, little spoilt baby (laughs) sometimes you see. So everybody fine, but you got now, is only three of us left, myself, a brother and a sister, three died, well one died very young and then two died… I think they were in their seventies. To tell the truth I don‟t remember their right age, you see that‟s all I could say about them you know.

Q. And as far as the produce, the goats and various other produce, how did your father sell the produce? How did he manage to make a living?

A. Ah yes well you see, well all the different produce now, we grow a little cane, which is a seasonal crop, you know you plant and then you have your contract with the big sugar estate you know and once it‟s crop time it‟s always start from January until June. So they take all your cane and so forth. Well the ordinary like what you call the ground provision like your yams, different type of yams and cocoa and things like that, well we don‟t grow what potatoes what we have in this country we have what we call the sweet potatoes but we are getting some in this country now. See we grow those and then you go to the local market Fridays and Saturdays you see that how you sell your provisions you see. Then also my father he used to do little what you call shingles, you know you do for the roof especially the indoor roof on the houses out there you see, he used to do some form of that you know. Manufacturing you know he have his little special saw and a special machine where you make these shingles and he supply to people, you see, never work for anybody just for his own account that how he managed to help me and send me off to school you see. I don‟t think I should start that now about schooling not yet.

Q. I was going to ask you, what about your grandparents did the farm formerly belong to your grandparents, had it come down through generations?

A. No not through generations because you see after the grandparents I don‟t know any of them at all because you see my father he was from a different parish in Manchester, again named like in this country. He was from Manchester and then he more or less migrated to Trelawney where he met my mother but he started bought his own lands and started up on his own you see so we didn‟t get any inheritance at all.

Q. Do you know why he moved from parish to parish?

A. Well you see some people out there you know they move off to where the jobs are and where they go they have a sort of look around from parish to parish or from district to district to see what‟s going on, what is needed and see whether someone can start his own business and they‟ll do well so I suppose that was one of the reasons why my father came to Trelawney and he never looked back you see, he decide to settle down.

Q. Do you know what date that was?

A. Oh my god, no to tell you the truth no

Q. Are we looking around the first world war period? A bit later?

A. Oh yes. Well it was because the First World War was what 1914, so that was before that that when he came to our district, well before that, you see, that was in the early 90s you see, well it was well before the First World War when he moved into our district well before that you see, but to say the exact date I just couldn‟t think or remember about that.

Q. You were about to start telling me about school?

A. About the schooling yes. You see, we start my schooling then in the elementary school in those days. When we start schooling we first of all we have what you call a little infant school. You don‟t go there till you are five. You see most of our time wasted. Well they have changed that sort of scheme out there, educational scheme the time you go to school. You see we went to a that little school which we have to pay for from five until seven before we are qualified to the, what we call public school, but not in the meaning like public school in this country, far different that‟s the cheap, the school like the elementary where you go free, free school that‟s what we call public school there in those days where

you go there when you are seven, you see.

Now they have changed that time now

because you start at five now because you wasted two years like, you wait till seven. And then we start that now at this elementary school we carry on in the class we have like you call first, second and third division, you go from first class right up to class six, then from there class six now when you nearly…because we go to school till we are fifteen and we start out PT examination you see. What you call, Jamaica pupils examination, you see you take that. But private lessons, you got to pay for that you see those are the annual exams you know, something like the ordinary level here and A levels, well the third year would be classified as the A levels you see, something similar to the Cambridge exam you know you have the junior Cambridge and the senior Cambridge. Well I fall in those days I took my PT, my pupil teachers examination like that, well I was I was lucky I got through all three, first, second and third year.

Q. What were your favourite subjects?

A. Well I tell you. Well I still thought my favourite subject was history especially English History because I can never forget this, when at second year we always get capital letters because you get about, how many subjects?… subjects that you excel in very well they put that in capital letters in the examination results you see when you get it in the what you call the Jamaica Gazette. That comes out in, I think, October or the ending of September and October, that‟s all in the Jamaica Gazette and our main newspaper, which we call the Daily Gleaner, your name published and it‟s all over then if you do exceptionally well in certain subjects you see the letter for that like, history was always, what was that?…I think history was about C or something but published that out and you know feel well. From those days I do like history but my especial English History I was very good, and I was so proud of it too because coming this country and in the forces, the different things we had to go through I was always excelling in history you know, in English history, you see so I didn‟t do too badly which I thank my parents very, very much for that, you know, because though we had to pay, pay for that...well after passing the third year now if you have aptitude you want to do teaching you can apply to go to a teachers training college, you see, which my mother, because in those days all parents they want their boy or girl to be teachers because it is one of the great jobs out there, you know and they say well you have a child and he can pass his exams and to go to the Michael Training College, that was one of the famous teachers college for boys, well girls used to have Bethlem and Shortwood you see, because they believe in those days man, teachers

a great job because once you are a teacher you suppose people look on it that you suppose to know everything (laughs) on every other subject once you a teacher and you are so respected. So they look on it…it‟s a pity that now all that sort of attitude or respect is not there any more, they just look on the teachers as an ordinary person, well I mean the teachers anyway used to live up to what the public expect of them.

Q. What were your teachers like in school?

A. Oh my teachers were very good

Q. Did you have a particular teacher you liked?

A. Well I got a teacher and even the other day I was talking, I say he was the real man for me and all my little upbringing because I passed first year first with him and second what in everything he used to push me along with everything because after a while I became favourite because I was head of different what you call houses, in each school, you got the Kelly Larson House, you got the Wakeland House, you got the Grant House, I was head of one of them. The cricket club, cricket which they have, is run for two years while that teacher was there, that headmaster, you know he used to push me along and everything you see, but my mother she say why don‟t apply, well actually I taught at a probation for three months just a term you know, then the job, because in those days to be a probationer it was only £8 a month which in the early 40s and up to time before I left Jamaica, that was plenty money, because at the end of the month you know we could go to Montego Bay and do our shopping, buy trousers, length shirts everything (laughs) all at the end of the month you see, well anyway I got a normal job that is why mother say oh you must go, but I got this other job was paying £10 a month I said well well, I had my mind set because I‟d been reading so much about going in the Air Force and all that and you get a chance you can study all the things…of course my mother say „Oh you are stupid you know, you are in good job, you going to join the war to get killed, I might not see you again‟ I said „Don‟t be like that mama you‟ll see me back, God will be on my side and save us‟ I said the young people you know, you want a bit of adventure, you want to have a bit of adventure in life you see. But I say well in those days every day I had to remember my mother, remember that its special that teacher you know that pushed me along. I never regretted that I decide to leave and come in the forces never, never regretted. I always say well I had damn good school days and life before I left Jamaica…then because

I be the first one from my district you see, when they start the flow of immigration into this country from my home they always come, they get my address they come to look for me, everybody wants to know because I was the little idol, being the first one from the district, which I was very, very proud of, you see, very, very proud of. Q. Absolutely. Also what I’d be interested to know was there also a big connection between the school and the church? Where you from a religious family?

A. Oh yes. Well the church and the school both of them are connected, because like in my area there was born and schooled there. This school was called the Hastings Baptist school and the Church had a lot to do with it and where some school called like the Government School, you see well the government have most control over it you see, well I‟m from the Hastings Baptist school where they do that you see, well my parents I would say was quite religious. Well my father, he was not what I call the really religious type because he never bothered to go to church but he made sure that every Sunday I‟d go, my mother would make sure that I go to church. When I go to church and come back I must remember what lessons were read, where the text was taken, when I go back I have to tell him all about that, and anything for the church when needs money you know asking funds for this and that, oh he‟s always subscribing willingly, was willingly subscribing to them. But I‟m certain that most that these men they might come you know that argue about scripture, you find most of the local men you know, and they have like in the back yard, you see, they always have a big back yard and you have some little coffee trees along so I would sweep it and clean and Sunday when they come, special when his mate come know there is a bottle there of drinks, they drinking and they have the bible and they arguing scripture, at it all day, but they don‟t go to church, but they argue you see, they don‟t go to church themselves and yet they support anything going on in the church. They support willingly see. Well my mother now she was a regular church-goer she must go to church on Sunday you see, everybody believe they look on you and…because I said that people they only go to church to show off their clothes and all (laughs). You see that‟s all I say they do but it don‟t mean anything really. They have a lot of religion you know, they got all of them like that. Q. How did all the different religious backgrounds get on in your … ?

A. In my part of the country there? Well some of them, the main thing, they always like one preaching against the other, I am doing the right thing for God, you know. They‟d believe your religion is not up to certain standard where to be like when you die to go to heaven you not doing the right things you see…its always a sort of well I wouldn‟t say bickering against them, but there was a doubt…this one you know any time they have a meeting like a public meeting yes you should join the Seventh Day Adventists because the Seventh Day Adventists is that that leave the Baptists. The Baptists oh a lot of them always look on the Baptists to say well we are sort of the „high up‟. Certain type of people, they join the Baptists you see because if you want to move in certain circles then you need you have to join the Baptists because you find all the teachers and most of the professional people, they going in for the Baptists. So you say „I must join Baptist Church because you want to be in certain company‟ (laughs) and the best way to be… you see that‟s how they go…but to me they are put too much of the emphasis in religion, too much. They don‟t bother about the mostly and the material side of life, ….everything is „Oh yes we pray to God, God will help you‟ and well I used to say to people „Do as a young man does there I said look I remember someone said that to me…well my old dad used to say to me „God helps those who help themselves, him said don‟t call to God when you don‟t do anything for yourself because even going to school people say we have a prayer in the morning before you have an exam and say….my dad he say…‟I want you to study your book‟ that‟s what he used to stay „If you read your lesson, read, study your lesson what your teacher give you and forget…prayer can‟t help you unless…because God helps those who help themselves‟ and then I grow up to be a man and to hear Adolf Hitler even Adolf Hitler agree with that saying that God helps those who help themselves. You see.

Q. On that subject, how much were you aware in the 30s as a youngster growing up about the events that were taking place in central Europe? A. Well because the war started when? ‟39 isn‟t it? 39! Well before that, you know, like going to school, well we always think, we always think about one day we would like to be in England, we‟d like to be in England that we can study so and so, become so and so, you see, that‟s the main thing we were, we were thinking about, because that‟s when we know America didn‟t come into my head at all I would want to go there…everything used to be…the accent was so much…and England and the English….well you see in those days too especially the form of, type of English people we have in Jamaica, well they give you that example that England is a wonderful place to be, the way the people…the way they

speak…(coughs)…Sorry…and you know they always dress right…they give you certain standards that you could follow or adopt not like now, things have changed in those ways.

Q. Did you meet many English people in those days? A. At home?…oh yes

Q. Whereabouts would they be? A. Because you see Jamaica is… agriculture was one of the main industry out there, then you find a lot of these plantations…you see sugar cane, coconut, banana they are owned by English people because a lot of them have this massive amount of land you see, then they come, like, overseer like, you call them, they work and they employ the local people you see so we get to meet them and those who when we in school…because most of them they send their children, like, to the public school you know the school where you know the high-ups go but if you do your studies anything like that well you matched with those children. Though sometime their children might get a job quicker than you, though you might pass the exam but they get a job quicker than you out there. So we move, we move around them you see and they were well respected. Well a lot of them, they live their life to that because for you to get respect from certain people or certain whatever it is you yourself should first show some respect to them and you see the type of English people out there in those days they were the caring and loving type of people so they are respected…in those days.

Q. Any people you particularly remember? Any people that stick in your mind? A. Well I don‟t mind…he finished up as an MP because he used to have a property and he was Mr…what was his name…Simmons, Commander Simmons, I think they were from somewhere, I don‟t know if it was Devon, but the father he was a Commander, you know in the navy retired so they bought a big property near our district and my brother, one of my brothers, he was the head man for him, well he used to vary times, he used to drive him around to another head man, he got to like him, and then he used to do a lot of things for him and he was a nice man, he also was encouraging me say, „One day, Cecil you must go to England‟ say one day,…and then he encouraged me to, he died years now, you know he encouraged me to, he say „One day you must go to England‟ and he say that

„You‟ll do well in England if you want to further your studies and all that‟ you know I say well good you see, so after all that you know when the war came along I say well, that‟s my chance, my chance to go to England, to see how the English people live, but sad to say when I arrive in England…I was a bit disappointed a lot…you see I was a bit disappointed…

Q. Why? A. Well the reception wasn‟t too bad but we believe the English people they were on top in everything. You see because to compare those here now with the ones that we have in the West Indies. They entirely different because we see the general behaviour of the other Englishman now, they behave different, different out in the West Indies not like here, like here you hear them, they swear, they do everything that‟s bad so I say my God there is nothing for us to really learn from them, but those that from Jamaica, those…well I don‟t know about the other West Indian islands, I‟m a Jamaican and have an authority to talk about life in Jamaica, I say those they set a real good example you know to like them. But to say we were disappointed with this country because we hear people swear out here you know they…their general behaviour out…one day they go drinking getting drunk and all that there. Well I suppose there was a war on and people, people did things out of the ordinary life way.

Q. I suppose it may have been the way you were educated about Britain obviously I presume it was about historical facts, royalty…you were getting a particular image of Britain that filtering through into Jamaica? A. That‟s right, that‟s correct.

Q. And just as a general question, I suppose its important to understand the relationship between Britain and Jamaica obviously the whole period of the Empire and your connection, for example, can you remember the coronation, how would the coronation have been celebrated in Jamaica, and events like that?

A. Oh I got the vivid memory of how the coronation was celebrated. I mean that George sixth what was it…12th May 19.. what was it „37?…the coronation of George fifth?

Q. Was it ‘36..’36 or ’37 I can’t remember A. 12th may. Well I was so proud then in those days. We all were given our little flag and we given a tin of sweets with the picture of them on this tin, an oblong shaped tin you know full of sweets and the picture of them on…we all given our flag…and it so…and I was proud to say the celebration was held at our school. Four other schools met at our school oh and it was great day man, because now we were the hosts you see at the high school because at that time…when a boy…because at that time…I just passed my first year I think…oh yes I pass my first year ‟37. I think it was the same year so I was on the way up in life then you know having party you feel great you know everybody you walking along the road congratulating you „cause you always get the exam result not everybody can get the Jamaica Gazette you know it one of them posh magazine Jamaica…but in the Gleaner now everybody they get a paper to see one who pass because the examination centre was at our school too you see. But going back to that coronation it was great man great day. Then when we see all these patriotic suits songs and all that it was something great...I can never, never forget that never forget that. I can remember the last…I still have that tin because after we could use it at school to put our pencils in.


Q. So you have still got this tin to this very day? A. I think last time I had a good look that was ‟87 I was looking through something I was there because I had pride in all those things you see. From home you know in those days they used to call me „little royalty‟ „cause I always talk about the King and the Queen and even now I am nicknamed…most of my friends man…I‟m the „little royalty‟.

Q. And what about your parents? Where they too?

A. Oh yes, yes, yes, yes you find most of them, most of the parents, and I know, but my parents they were always like, always like about the England…the English people…you see English people when they describe them. „Cause one of them you know, the Duke of Kent, when he got married he came to Jamaica, at least they came to Jamaica for their honeymoon and they came as near as two miles from me at home and I skip off school

that afternoon „cause where they were at the place which was a little lake at Wakefield and we were living at Deeside, two miles on the main road but through the back lanes, you know back streets and so forth we...a group of us…abscond school just to go and see the royalty…take about a mile you know we go through the bushes to go and to see one, like that you know. „Cause we…anyone of them, of the big royalty…big thing…everybody want to see them, you want to know…say „oh yes I‟ve seen the Duke and Duchess of Kent‟, like that.

Q. So is that how you perceived most British people to be, you know as a youngster? How would you, what was your image of an Englishman?

A. Well, well first of all, because out there now we always believe say the Englishmen are always well dressed „cause when they do well they wear a tie all the time, you see, and my perception of them, you know, come all the same. When we arrive here 1944, June 1944 what you see, I said that seem like….it was not just…it wasn‟t something real it was like a story because we didn‟t see much of it. But again I must say make some allowance there you see, probably because a war was on. You see, I made allowances for that and I don‟t think of them too much, you see.

Q. And going back to what I was asking before about history, as a young teenager, where you following the events in Nazi Europe and in Central Europe? Where you aware of the rise of Hitler?

A. Oh yes, yes we did hear, we did hear that about Hitler when he started, you know. Then when they invaded England we hear about that. And all of us as little schoolboy, you know, because we always get military minded, man, if we get a chance to go to do that Adolf Hitler, that what we used to say amongst ourselves, you see, that why I always used to study all Churchill‟s speech you know, „We‟ll fight them on the beaches‟ and things like that, you see. Oh we used to…everybody…and that why most of us came over to do our little bit in the last war, well some of them is just through the economical strain of the island why they have to come because, I think, 50% of us are came over….but there were not any wage earners, never work or anything because there wasn‟t the employment and that was a wonderful thing too, to come over, because though Hitler was a bad man, but you know surprisingly, when was it?…two weeks ago I was talking to some chaps, we talk and say well you know he let things go for the West Indian but I say, you have to give Hitler a

little thanks as well you know, I say because had it not for him to declare war on England most of us wouldn‟t be here and doing so well because some of us done very, very well financially and otherwise they done very…I say you must not forget Hitler, so they say „Cecil what you getting barmy or what?‟ I say „No, let‟s face reality‟, I say „ well had it not been for the war most of us wouldn‟t be over here and having a good life because especially the returnees now those who are going back home they have a lovely home, have a lovely car and everything because they causing some sort of enmity out there the people them, they don‟t like, there‟s a little prejudice now, you know, amongst the returnees those who going home, you see, „cause they don‟t like this level, they…though some of them, they really showing off when they go home I say that one thing you shouldn‟t do but some have done, done very well, you see, very well.

Q. And back to the war, do you remember where you where when you heard that war had been declared?

A. Well let me see know, I can never forget that, the day when the teacher said to us…what say… that afternoon we went back to school I think it was after lunch when teacher rang the…after assembly, lunch break…lunch used to be between 12 and 1 you see, when we got back he say „something sad‟, I try to remember his exact words, he something sad to say, well „Germany has declared war against England‟ yes, I was…I can never forget that when the teacher say that to us, you see. And from then, at that time I was in the upper standard, then I was sort of the little news...news...news board man, we got the vestry where we have to come through the upper division, what you call the upper division, they go through this vestry to go outside you see so, we have a big news board, well I had to write that up, when the teacher told me he always make a note after reading the Gleaner, you get the Gleaner for the morning and the news about the war then he always put like a little summary of it, giving it „Here you are Cecil do your news board‟. Then as you go, you know, you could read what happen yesterday in the war and all that, you see, I was…I was that….which I was proud to again, you see, with that teacher, he used to have me as a little news man, news board man, writing up and know what happening, happening over the world, you see. „Cause, and another thing too you see, well, you used find a lot of men there was a lot of illiteracy exist in those days because some people they didn‟t get the opportunity to carry on in school and some just didn‟t want to, and you know people never bother to enforce them or anything, you see, and they go….but you see when you get a Gleaner one man he get the Daily Gleaner now and he

come, you might see six other men come and then now he is reading all the news what‟s happened, what‟s happening in the world, over yonder you see another man might come see them sit down, come say….man, so and so what‟s up over there, you know, tell me what the boys doing, you know...and that and that. Then you find that this man might be reading and he might come across a word that he can‟t pronounce, and he read it aloud but at the country they say, „tut big word, big word I will pass‟ you see, (laughs) that‟s how…you see…like you going back to school after lunch you know the man say, you know „your teacher must tell you what happened, what them doing over there, tell me what the Germans doing about this and all that‟ you see, well you have to tell them your little bit, you see. …..Come in (someone else comes into the room)….Sorry….I should have sing out to you first before I say „Come in‟

Q. What about radio? I presume you had a radio as well to listen to the events that were taking place?

A. Not everyone was so lucky to have a radio because in my household we never had a radio, but you have, you have a big Chinaman who have a big shop, you see, big grocers shop on the square, like sometime in the evening, people you might coming home from work and your grown provisions and you coming home he will have the loud speaker on the radio on and you hear news, news time, you see, people just stop and listen then sometime at night they might go out you know after they…you know and sit down and go to have a drink then the radio‟ll be on but not many of us were fortunate enough to have a radio because my household and my immediate friends or relations they never had any, not in those days.

Q. Can you tell me about some of the entertainment that you had in the evenings and the weekends as a youngster, what you would do? A. Let me say now, in the evenings, well that means after school, to tell the truth we didn‟t have much form of entertainment because we finish school at four, well those who preparing for their exam you stay and extra hour left, you don‟t get home until about five or half past five and the time you have a meal. Sometimes there‟s no form of entertainment except if it is a moonlight night, you know, you might sit on the veranda, some people might come and tell you these little stories, what you call, „Anansie‟ story and talk like that you see and they, and they didn‟t know it was bedtime because it‟s dark, so there is not

much form of entertainment especially for a schoolboy and your girls, once you come home from school you have your meal, well you have a little break, if not you might see your friend next door, he might come over, you visit your friend next door have a little chat, laugh and stuff, because you can‟t bother playing marble at that time because its dark, „cause you get, from half past five you see…six o‟clock it get dark outside, you can‟t do anything, you see, you see, so there not that much, and your parents, they don‟t want to see you playing, skylarking about, it like if you be preparing for you exam you must be ground down to the book. You see, only want to see you with your book, oh yes, say no you preparing for your PT exam you got to study….and one thing a lot of people do…they didn‟t want to see you, well you see, they didn‟t want to see you reading any book apart from your school book, your text book, you know because...I can, I can never forget this…because you see when you in school and you pass from one class to the other every year…I think they used to get the new batch in September, you, you move from first to second and third year, you get new lot of text books, you see, because we have to buy all our books and not many parents could afford that. I remember, I remember once the, my headmaster he say „Hey what‟s this book, the Coral Island‟, so he got it say „Cecil read this when you go home‟, you see and my mother say but look, „That wasn‟t the book I asked teacher to buy you I want to see…‟ so I have to explain to you see I said well Ma, I say you know „teacher say we must read other things apart from our school book, teacher say, told us that we should read for what we call, read for information which you use your ordinary text book and you must read for recreation‟, so my mother say „What you mean recreation?‟ I say „Yes you know just read ordinary book to tell you a little story of what happening‟, you see that how they used to go…but going back to the others now like, in the evening, when these men now, they come home from work those who go, hired out and those who have their own cultivation, come home they have their meal and they wash up now, they might get a friend come over and they put their light on the veranda….(break while phone rings) that now their men friend might come over, put up their little table on the veranda, their little light and they play the dominoes and cards you now, other form of entertainment like, you see, but after at that time of night…there is not much entertainment for children, not much, you see, not much.

Q. Well what about the weekend?

A. Well weekends now, you find they run about, the children run about, you know you visit your friend, you go out to your friend or else your mother might go on to market because

those who have their own grown provision to sell they go to market you see, they load the mule or donkeys, you know take the food stuff, but sometime I used to go too my mum to market, you know, I like to go because as I got a friend and his mum is take him so I want to go with the mule, go and then, you see.

Q. Did you have a regular place? Did you have like a regular pitch? Or would you just go there and….?

A. Market? Oh yes there was a proper market.

Q. You had a regular place to go?

A. Yes a proper market, but, used to be two miles away, then you have a little local one, what you call, an open market, but you have the proper market at Wakefield … used to have a proper market, some people go as far as Falmouth market, you know, like an enclosed market in different, different departments. You look forward as a little boy, schoolboy, to go with your mum, you know, you ride the mule loaded up and go you see, you look forward to that you see. Well regarding the entertainment, first like running, we have our own little donkey, we have our little donkey racing like weekends on the common, because we always have plenty land, we used to live near a big property extend to us, so we got plenty of opening you know we could go and race, we meet our friends and then we go and eat plenty, eating and drinking, cane and bananas, you know, we eat all those things, and the young coconut, that‟s how we used to spend like, the weekend, but the adults, you know, these men now most of them they arrange a little cricket match, different, different game they play, play at weekend, so they are always well kept occupied, you see, then, like, Saturday night now, they always have these local dances, you see what you call „boot dances‟ you know, (…?…) so we as youngsters we used to go and watch you know, watch them dance, enjoy themselves, in those days, those things were hard for them economically but people were much happier, and much, more caring for each other than what it is now. See when everybody can afford this and this and that, you see, and some of the men now the weekend now is drinking, they assemble you see. They might go on to Wakefield and there‟s bars and they spend the day, might be drinking and talking about cricket or all the different games what‟s going on, what‟s happening all over in England and all. England has never been out of our vocabulary in Jamaica where we speak, be talking of everything, though it thousands of miles away, but England has

always, always in our thoughts, I don‟t know why, always in our thoughts man, England. You know.

Q. What about a cinema? Where there cinemas at all in your area?

A. Oh yes the nearest cinema was Falmouth, that was 11 miles away. But once a month now you have what you call the…what you call….you have this cinema show that go around, you see, like for all the neighbouring school, like they used to go to Adelphi then that supply now about five school because you used to have our Hastings, Wakefield, Unity, Handen, Adelphi, you see that, that place now where they have these shows, cinema shows you see, used to call them, like that, you have that I say once a month……(interruption…turns off tape) Q What I’d like to ask is after war was declared how different did Jamaica become, you know, like during the war? How much were you aware that there was a war happening?

A. Well, first of all, they start to bring in restrictions a lot of things. Like the things they ration, gasoline, well what we call petrol here, gasoline… petrol and kerosene oil because the other oil imported thing because, well you know, gasoline is petrol so you know what petrol is used for, well the kerosene now that‟s what all of us at home, you know, we have our big glass lamp, you know, so we use the kerosene oil in it you see. That‟s our form of lighting, light especially in the country. Well, even in Kingston and the big towns there is no such thing as electric light, you have that for the business places or probably those who can afford it you got your own little delta plant and you have your own electricity then, but it not like now, because you know, my brother he live in the country, they have electric light, those who can afford it, you see, so we were aware of things that going on, restrictions. Especially if you have a car it must be used, or truck, for essential purposes because you get every…you get your tyres…you got so much tyres for the year, you got a form that you got to fill in, you know, all those things was on ration, because with me know, my bicycle used to ride to work because it come under essential work I was doing, because I was in the office, work for the Agricultural Loan Bank, like that you see, but people, now, there was a drive for food production, local thing you know for the corn, peas and other things people get loan, so I used to be three days in the office and two days I do field work so my bicycle, it was considered essential service so I could get my tyres every six months,

because when I get….you know sometime I pass them on to my friend, change mine „cause I was careful how I ride, you see, and then some my friend they can‟t because their bicycles was only for pleasure so I got to give them….so that was thing, you know, made us aware that well, something, something was wrong, because at the kerosene oil now being sold you got special day you have to go and queue up and you only allowed so much, so much for the week. But you, well you know with the shopkeeper and everything, is alright, you have an extra bottle you give him he keep it in the back, while you break the law, you see, everything, you still get a little backhanded thing, you see, like that. So all those things…we know when something serious was on, you see, something. „Cause we used to import our suits lengths you know, and ….shoes, boots and shoes, „cause all my brothers used to import shoes from…not J D William…what‟s the other company…I know used to get suit lengths from Rosenthal, J Rosenthal, they used to send the suit lengths for out there you know and the shoes from Leonards, Leonards shoes used to get them. Q. From …? A. From England yeah we used to import …well the other thing now, I say well, everything, you couldn‟t get it direct anymore because you get, like you set up an order for suit lengths and then everything completed within…say what…two months. Send the order from there, you see, and come back to Jamaica within two months. Well the time now to go…doubled…the time…because you know they couldn‟t sail direct, they have to wait until everything is all clear and all that…so we know, def…something was on…and getting short of the imported food. So one thing was good, now everybody start to produce their own food stuff you see, because we could, we could produce…and especially like rice…we have the suitable land or soil out there to plant it, but people never bother…but they started…they do it during the war…and after the war everybody get to import rice again, they just neglect it.

Q. So your family were growing rice?

A. No, no, some people were.

Q. So did it affect your own farming? Did you change your farming during the war?

A. No it did not, too bad…we plant more. You see, you could extend your farming. See there always selling.

Q. And was there also collecting for the war effort? Was there a drive, a collecting drive? A. Oh yes, oh yes you always have these functions, …for the war you know, we have these functions, like these big concert…war help...oh yes everybody. They used to have the warden, you know lights out at a certain time, all those…oh my God, it was like we were in England, man. You see, everything was, you know, like, like in England. Everything was restricted…they say you got to cut down on this…you got to cut down on that….cut down on that.

Q. You mentioned that you were working at this time. How old were you when you left school? A. Well our school age is up to 15. You see after that now…15….you have the time to take your PT exam, well you can start it from before, you see, you start that from before…to take your PT exam then come out, but 15 is the time, over here is about 14? No, you can go right up to 16 years isn‟t it?… but you see in Jamaica once you reach that age there is nothing more apart from you now to, to prepare for your exam which you have to pay, you have to buy all the text books, because in those days, even in school that didn‟t have a public library at school, you see, many time here had to explain to schools here, you know because they was…the last school I was connected to was Rutherford, you know Marylebone, because I used to do community study there once a week and the… because they say now „Cecil, why is it they are not interested in reading very much your people anything like that?‟ so I have to explain the reason why I say „Well we don‟t got any free library, there wasn‟t such thing as a library, is only the headmaster he might lend you a book‟. But now I‟m pleased to hear that they have little library now that what I say I‟m hoping to come up on the lottery as in my school I can able to do something out there. But you see, all those things is treats, they didn‟t have that generation….all my type…we never had that, that thing to want to read, read all the time. You see, so…

Q. What did you want to do when you left school?

A. Well I tell you. Most of us when we go to school, all we want, we want to pass out PT exam and then everybody want to go and work in office. White collar job (laughs), white collar job, because there‟s those now who can afford it they can go into a certain profession. Well my mother wants me to be a teacher but I was not, well not interested, because it was a real prestigious profession out there, everyman want his son or daughter to be teachers you know and, well I wasn‟t interested all my mind was set to, say well to come to England but most people now they in job they want white collar job, you see they all go in there. But personally what I always say, I say to my mum I say „Well you know if we could afford it I would like to be a doctor‟ you see I say that. But in those days there was no chance we didn‟t have the money, see we didn‟t have money because when, at school, well I went to Cornwall college but just for the academic year because my father died 1941, 14th January 1941. Just started at Cornwall College in September, well I just got to finish the academic year went back to the country now then I completed my PT exams to go…but you couldn‟t unless you know, you could get a scholarship, because scholarship were rationed, so many for this parish every year or so, then if you don‟t get through well, if your parents can afford it and you pass the entrance exam well you can go for training, that‟s how it was in those days, you see, but most of us…it‟s alright you get a job, especial white collar job you, you alright you see.

Q. How did you get a job in those days?

A. Well to get a job is not so easy. Sometimes you got to know someone, I tell you that job what I got when I left and joined the RAF, well there was a job before it, I had just taken my third year, it was the Friday…there was five of us we had this test, written test, and you know out the five of us I was the only one got all… I think only four question but you do have to do some working out and all this, because you never had calculators or any damn thing, but first of all, when you go to study, though when if you working you use the calculator because when you going on the bike, corn and all that for the people, the government, your government man do that, you use a calculator for quick reckoning, but when you taking a test all that, everything must be done from your head and I was the only one… that what my immediate boss told me, and you know I didn‟t get the job. There was a chap from Kingston the manager at the time he knew the boy Sam, the boy Sam‟s father they all friends and most of all well he has experience anyway, he was working, but he didn‟t have the qualification like me now and yet I didn‟t get the job so the one that I got, now when that job came up now, they want someone, so someone told my brother and he

say apply and if you apply and you don‟t get it they are going to put an article in the local paper about it. And they wrote to me, I did not…they wrote to me and offered me the job, you see, so even in those days there was a little prejudice once more…like this and like that, you see, because like in the banks out there in those days… the girls them all, the clerks like me now they all in the back job, they not in the front, not in the front of the bank to work you know, to deal with the public, they were hidden, you see they were hidden that‟s what used to happen out there.


A. … Keith Vaz you know that MP…

Q. So it was based on skin colour you were saying? A. Yes oh yes, there no doubt about that. Some of these people they won‟t admit it, man. I say they was definitely a little prejudice out there…all prejudice…and then you might be…you had the qualification for certain job but if you don‟t know certain people you get nowhere. Q. So it was family contacts and…. A. ...Friends… Q. …and also the fact that, whiter skin, if you were paler skin …? A. In those days, in those days, because as well I say it‟s who you know, in those…but things have changed a lot. Things have changed a lot because you see in the banks and all some of the girls, them girls they got they black like (laughs) all in the 30s and early 40s no they wouldn‟t employ them, see, in those days but things have changed a lot since, which I am pleased, and, and who start it was this Norman man you know our last minister Michael, his father, Norman. I used to have a photo of him here but since we put up these things the wife took it down but I got to put it up because he was a great man.

Q. In the 30s and as a youngster who, did you have any idols or role models, you know, or heroes as a youngster?

A. You mean local? Q. Local…yeah people you looked up to? A. Oh yes, well, well I always like certain boys at school, you know I say I want to be…like someone was doing well, you know…he got all his exams….I say I want to be like that boy, you see, be like that. And the main thing now…I used to have a man who called Wakeland, he was my idol he was a good man in the district, was doing well for the young people and always encouraging because he was the one that got me to be in the RAF to join, he say „You don‟t want to go to America Cecil, no, no America not for you go to England you get a chance to further your studies and everything‟ you see, always like that, you see. Because even, even when…though we….though that nobody black people in England we used to sort of model them especially in the line of sports you know….want to be like so and so and, you know like a little school boy hero, you know…

Q. Were there any black heroes in those days?

A. Well, in the line of sports now.

Well, apart from the cricketers, you see we like

cricketers because we had a man called George Hedley, we used to describe him and, well I never got the chance to know George Hedley until when I came up in the RAF and went back home on leave, then that the only time I got to meet him, but before that I didn‟t get the chance to, but he was my hero. His grandson now is playing for England, Dean Hedley, you would have would heard about him mention now, he was my hero, man. And then the great Everton Weeks, he was my hero in cricket. I always fancy because I play a lot in the forces and then after I came over play for a club at Mitcham, most of the men them from Mitcham and Tooting, I play them for what…maybe 30 years, and Weeks was my hero and to crown it all I remember when I was in industry, the firm, we used to have an outing to Southend you know and then the inspector there, in engineering department…Weeks used to board with his sister in Lancashire at Bacup when Weeks used to play league cricket and then it so happened that Weeks wasn‟t playing cricket that Saturday, I can never forget that, that was in ‟57 and the West Indies was playing against Middlesex and Weeks wasn‟t playing. So we went to the outing and then this inspector

introduced me, in this pub that I was Everton Weeks it was my day off so…tell them…and everybody, oh my god, the drinks „cause all these holiday makers you know, them drunk and….they say I know you boys like your rum…they used to come 6, 8 drinks on the table…because I was with a friend, the inspector was a friend and another bloke…I think it was a charge hand and his lady friend too…oh we drunk so much from pub to pub so after sitting I say Bill well don‟t do that anymore he say „Well we want free drinks and getting‟…(laughs) So I say well if those people were very observant they would see that Weeks has his parting in the centre of his hair whereas, in those days I used to have a, my little parting, I used to have mine at the side, you see, and they didn‟t care, they met Everton Weeks (laughs) great, you see, real great. But they were my heroes though I wasn‟t athletic. When, when I as at school I fancy myself as a runner but I can‟t remember having that sort a hero, that someone I go to. But I always fancy myself at the 100 yards, which I think I was lucky when we compete against the other, the other school because I say well, we used to have that school, compete with Wakefield…Wakefield, Unity and Hamden you see we always compete against those school, our Hastings like that. But I didn‟t have any…apart form the cricket „cause I really love cricket from those days, I fancy myself like them.

Q. You were talking about work. So what was your job when you left school? What did you actually have to do? A. Yes, well I tell you, the first job I got, to be a census, that was…I forgot what year…as a enumerator that was….oh that lasted for about a fortnight. Then at this man‟s office he was the forest…what do you call them….forest guard, it‟s a government job. I used to work like…like weekend, you see, like Friday and Saturday, I used to go and help out. Then a job was coming up for me, when this job came up at Wakefield well there was two other jobs, there was one to work with him and from there they going to send me to the Jamaica school of agriculture where they do…this was a part of it too you know. But I say well everything will come up like that, so well, I was, I was a clerk in the office there now. I do, three days I am in the office, do clerical work, you see, „cause I was responsible more for the loans. People applying for loans to plant corn, peas and all that you know, because it was a government scheme when they plant more things, make you self supporting, so you get a loan to do that. So I was responsible for that, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I thoroughly enjoy that…..you see, I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy that because it was not

bad job „cause I was paid £10 a month but in those days £10 a month and like up to 1944 to us that was plenty money.

Q. And were you living at home still?

A. Oh yes still living at home, oh yes still living at home. Q. Did you have to give some money back…? A. Oh yes, yes I contribute you know, because the moment…I know some people they spoil their children and don‟t take anything but my mother said good, you see, say you must contribute something, you see, contribute something, but £10…but she likes to know, like in a month now when we were paid monthly that I can go to Montego Bay buy trousers lengths because we always have our…in those days we didn‟t get ready made suit all so we got them all made…you buy your lengths and have them tailored. My mother always used to love that because she was very pleased to see that I am well clad when I am going out, you know, she was very proud that‟s why I did my best for her too. Q. So what…can you remember the suit that you got, can you remember the design, can you remember the fashion? A. Oh well, well mostly our…though we were near to America and that but them times was like just ordinary like English cut, English cut but we used to have specially made material for what you call them, tropical, tropical. But we used to dress just the same, just the same style like over here, but the material was different, not as heavy as what…that‟s how used to go…and we were always fussy about our dress, you see, we were always fussy about that, man, when going out well clad. You see because all jeans and things like that, I have never worn jeans, you see we have, in the mode of dress there you have two types, you have the khaki, you know khaki colour and then you have the jean which is blue. Now, you see to tell you, to show you some form of the prejudice in Jamaica in those days, you have the ordinary person working in the fields and all these men what call them, trench men, they dig, they(…?..)and the land, they wear the blue jeans and we are in offices and other jobs we wear the khaki, so you know there was that distinction, you know, the nice khaki shorts the white shirts and all that you go into offices you jump on your bicycle and you go home because that‟s where I used to talk there you see „cause

many times, you know, in Golonnia(??) & Associates we have little talks you see and we tell them all that, that‟s where the prejudice started, never. So I said to someone, I said well I would never wear jeans, jeans in this country I said no because I never wear jeans at home why should I wear them at all „cause I remember I was laboured by one of my colleagues in the Youth Service that I don‟t dress like a youth worker. I said „What do you mean?‟ I say „I comply to anything if County Hall say that, if a directive from County Hall that I must dress that way‟ I say „I am not going to wear any damn roll neck pullover or wear jean, jean and trainers‟ I say „I am not going to wear that‟ I said „No I‟m not wearing trainers, I wear my proper shoes give them a good clean I‟ll wear like that‟ that‟s how I go. But some….there a lot of prejudice because many times when I say to people from home I say you shouldn‟t make prejudice affect you in this country I say well we started at home we had prejudice started at home so nothing new if you come up and say(…?…) you see I mean you‟re playing to them, you see.

Q. So were you working at the same job until you joined up in the RAF?

A. That correct Q. So tell me, how did you join up, what were you…..?

A. How did I join up in the RAF?

Q. Tell me the whole background, how did you join?

A. Well first of all it was advertised, advertised in the Gleaner, they want boys, men to serve in the RAF.

Q. And how old were you at this time? A. I was, what I was about 19, 20 or something like that because I pass the test ‟43 and the college in ‟44….

Q. So you must have been about 19?

A. Yes about that. And then you be surprised to know, it was stiff test too, you got to be quick, „cause I took my test in Montego Bay and when you go there you have to pass a preliminary test before you can sit what they call the final. And you know there are 360 of us, I never forget that, took the preliminary test. And out of that 360 I think it was…how many was that… two hundred and something pass, pass that you know, the preliminary test then after you fit to take the final now all in the same day, the whole day. And then after that ...and you know how many, how many of us pass the final only 78 and I was so, I was so pleased to say I was one of that 78.

Q. And was this specifically for the RAF or for the forces in general?

A. For the RAF, the RAF test. Q. Where there other…could you have joined the army or could you have joined….?

A. Oh yes, you got the Jamaica Infantry Volunteer and you have, what you call the Home Guard. Once you have a fair education you are all right, you see. But we spent the whole day for this. You pass the preliminary and once you pass that you allowed to go and take the final.

Q. Why did you choose the RAF? A. Well to me the RAF was more like, easygoing. We didn‟t want go in the army because what you see of the army? - big fighting and all, them see, you know, we didn‟t fancy that, that didn‟t appeal to me, see didn‟t appeal to me but, I like the RAF, you see. Because after that too I pass for the air crew too, and after that they decide they were not training any more personnel for the…any more colonial for the air crew and we decide its all right we carry on in the ground crew.

Q. Did you want to be a pilot?

A. I would, I would love to. Somewhere in the air crew business, man, it was good. Because I think it was good, because they talk about discipline…well actually I‟m a disciplinarian myself, you see, so it didn‟t trouble me at all, you see, being on parade and all that, I enjoy that as a matter of fact, I did enjoy that, you see.

Q. And were you accepted…how long did it take from your first exam to being accepted? How long was the process? A. Oh yes. Once you passed then we were waiting to be called. Well we took it…when was it, in October, I think it was October ‟43 and pass all the finals and then write they send and tell you, you on the waiting list for the first batch you know, and after now you have, we have the …what you call it…the medical and then we call in again until March, March ‟44 had us call in, and then I testated you know, that was, I can never forget that, it was St Patrick‟s Day, 17th March, you see…yes that‟s right that St Patrick Day isn‟t it? 17th March, that was the time I was testated then we start do a little training in Kingston where the airport is now, Kingston airport…Have you ever been out there?

Q. Never been to Jamaica. A. No, no Kingston the airport in Kingston, that‟s where we were you see. We used to call it Palisades.

Q. And at that time you had actually left home?

A. Oh we left home yes, yes, because we went up to camp and after 4 weeks in camp we got 10 days embarkation leave to go home then straighten up any little thing we have and the little knots to tie out there and then go back. Then once again we carry on with our initial training but strange enough it was army officers or army NCO‟s you know, they were the instructors for us out there until we came over. Q. Were you told what to expect when you joined the RAF? What you’d expect to do? Where you’d expect to go? Did you…what did you think when you joined? What did you think you were going to become? What did you think you were going to do?

A. Well we were given some idea what the duties consist of, being in the RAF, being as a ground crew, what and what trades you got to be in and so forth. We have an idea. But to say where would you be in the country, because that time was military secret, „cause you can‟t tell everybody I‟m going to this station so and so, so and so all those in the

community, but we were given like what and what regarding the different jobs, duties what there will be and how they‟ll operate, you will, everything you will have tests to go on, what you call trade tests, when you go on before you can go and train because once you finish the initial training, what we call the…was locally known as the „squirrel bashing‟ you see, have to learn every damn thing, learn about the rifle and do every damn thing, the „squirrel bashing‟ that‟s the initial training and after that now you have a proper test now to go, to see what trade you must go then they send you to the training school.

Q. And what was your trade?

A. Well my trade is, man, because I want to go because I have some friend, is motor mechanic, and from that…..but I didn‟t do very well in it, you see because you don‟t…what happen they give you the test once you pass it that‟s all right then I go…I got so many right because you see in the forces they do things in a parrot fashion once you can repeat what you are taught word for word, well I was very good at that I have a very good memory, photographic memory I would say and in the written test I could do very, very well and in the practical because I know of some boys, some English boys, they would do enough apprentice work and all that they know all about motoring but me I never did so well but on my written tests that what got me through I did very well. Well out in the camp now I used to work in the office, you see, because when you in a unit like that, you know, sometime they give you another test if you want to and then you work in the office like. Then also I went back on the fitters course too, that was at Beeton Number 8 School of Technical Training, you see, at Beeton about 6 miles from Blackpool.

Q. So when did you leave Jamaica? What date did you leave? A. Oh my god, you know I did make a note of that….some paper when the last talk I had somewhere.

Q. Was it about 1944, was it?

A. Oh yes we left there May, that was in May, that was in May, earlyMay and then after that we spent 3 weeks in Kirpatrick Henry (??) in Virginia then we came across and then we arrive at Liverpool on 3rd June 1944, you see, you see we arrive on what you call the

Esperance Bay, HMS Esperance Bay, and from Liverpool we went straight to RAF Filey, that‟s in Yorkshire, East Yorkshire.

Q. So what were your first impressions when you arrived in Liverpool when you actually set foot in England?

A. England! First of all to see the buildings, you see what we were told well you now you never see the outside of a building, never look nice but most of those buildings that we see now they look terrible outside but (coughs)...sorry…if you go inside they would be nice and things you know. The buildings they put us off like you know, when we see that, oh god, grimy old buildings them and all…well you see there was a war on, you see, after we were made to understand we say well that‟s what you expect you cant expect anything too much them haven‟t got time to do up the buildings and things like that because everybody gone to the front and those people who left behind they have to be busy doing this doing this to help to support the people, them in the food line and everything you see, so you can‟t see fancy looking buildings also they haven‟t got time, time for that and one thing, one thing I think me see straight away, oh my god, I say, the women were working, well you see…(coughs)…sorry…women with bags, sacks of coal on their shoulder like that loading the coal lorry, me say oh god, seem so strange to us, because they were working hard like anyone those women during the war days here, you see. But I do say, after a while, after a few weeks we got talking, talking and we fully understand, say „well yes, yes these are the things we got to put up, we can‟t expect too much, can‟t expect too much‟, you see. Well with the language there was no difficulty to us because we in Jamaica though we speak our little broken thing like that, but we were made to be understood all right, anybody that we were talking to they could understand us. Q. Were you taught or were you given any sort of, forms of…ways of being able to talk? Did they say you must talk in a certain way, you know? Was there any sort of pressure? A. Where in the forces?….no, no special way. They taught you to speak properly that you can be understood but in the forces people…you put on your own little twang like in the Air Force the air force officer he talk different to an army officer you see, “Hello Chaps. Wizard Prang” and all those things that would be Air Force officer well as the army officer he talk, but no special way, you just acquire that way for yourself but all they…what they make us

do „Make yourself understood when you are speaking to anyone‟. But they didn‟t give you any proper way to say well, they give you the right pronunciation but everybody after a while, you hear a certain officer he talk and you been in the Air Force well you going to say well, „I want to speak like that officer‟ the Air Force man, you see that how, that how they do them talk in the forces. But one thing I noticed you know, they, what they were

expecting of us a lot of people were surprised because for instance the names, I can never forget this at Liverpool, this sergeant who was taking our names and the main officer taking down the names, he put his pen down and said „I can never believe this‟ because he had no difficulty in pronouncing the names or spelling the names because you could find every English, Irish, Scots and English names…some of them Mc this Mc that Mc that and, and everything, well mine now is as English name „cause you got Bob Holness there, you see…and then you have some Mc this Mc….some people you know this man, he said „Oh my god I can never believe it‟ because he was expecting these great long names which he couldn‟t spell or pronounce and that you see. Because that happened now because it‟s what we were told and what we read about that during the slave says when you have these people working as slaves and these big plantation and they owned by English people well people from the United Kingdom in other words, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales that‟s how we used to know them, you see, United Kingdom, you see and all them come out they have these big plantation and all the employed people working for them there naturally, they took there names, you see, so that how we get all these names, all these English names or Welsh or Irish or Scottish names out in Jamaica. You see, that‟s how that, we told him like that, that‟s how it go, you see so they were, they were surprised. Like when you introduce some people they say, „My god look at it, all the way from Jamaica, well look at your name‟, you see, so we had to explain it, you see and now some of the boys they used to get annoyed when people ask them all these questions but I never, I always explain to them I say „Well we are here to teach them what they don‟t know about‟ because we discovered that we knew a lot about England than the English people knew about us because in those days, many people now „Oh yes Jamaica where the rum come from and the sugar come, banana come..‟ that‟s all they know now thing like that. But we knew, how we were brought up in school we got the map of the British Isles. Now when we take in first year that, that is in geography and sometime there is a must in it, in the exam one of the questions – map of British Isles, you got to draw that and then you have to put certain towns they might ask you, you know like certain town….‟cause I remember one year one was….when I pass second year…and then there was the British Isles and then there was a map from the down south you see, at Portsmouth and all them

thing, and it so happened I see the days before that in my revision that was brought up in…that was one question some years ago because the headmaster always have all his exams papers before and he always unwrap then and we go and we have to answer them and my god I have…actually I cut out the thing and I had it and that was one of the examination questions, British….and then all these…got like Bristol that deal with Jamaica with…I say Jesus God man, I say well God was good. I got capital letters for geography that year, like that you see. So we had to do that, map of Europe. We had to be able to draw it from memory, you see, so we know because all, all of them, these people when we talk, they say „How the hell you know all these things about England we don‟t know?‟ I say well those are the things they taught us.

Q. Before you arrived were you given any background information about how you would be…you were likely to be received? The sort of things you were going to see that were maybe different from the education that you had? Were you given any preparation?

A. No not preparation as such. But we were more or less given some sort of warning that a lot of things we might see a bit different, you see, a lot of things but they wasn‟t anything like ….and I tell you account our behaviour


Q. Sorry to start you off again, you got leaflets?

A. Yes, yes we got leaflets and all those things expressing how to behave, what and what we must do and what and what we must not do. Q. Like ….can you remember? A. Like if we, in camp, if we see any little parcels, a fountain pen by the beach don‟t take it up and all those things. And, and with the line, in the line of behaviour and everything they expect you, you got to take your turn, you have to queue up because in those days we never know the term „queue up‟ we used to call it „line up‟ like the Americans, you got to queue up. You see, those all the common things that they say like that. Well, we didn‟t

see any difficulty in that. We adjusted ourselves very well to the situation. You see, we adjusted ourselves very, very well.

Q. Personally, obviously it did come as a bit of a shock to see Britain when you first arrived?


Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, yes, yes.

Well apart from that now, after a while we And then…because we had some

understand, say what, there was a war on…you see.

idea of what, in the line of food, what to expect. They told us that. Because I was shocked, when some…because we arrived on 3 rd June ‟44. We got there. Another batch came in August the same year and then there was also another batch in November and then another batch in March ‟45, and they cause a lot of trouble. I don‟t know if they didn‟t or what happened but I‟m sure they get the same type of briefing but they want to transform things because some of them try for the impossible things what they want in the line of food stuff, whereas we knew because they gave you some idea what and what to expect in the line of food. Q. So…like what? What…were you told what you would be getting?

A. Oh yes they told us that you know the type of food that we would be able to get our food that we accustomed to at home like what…well in the NAAFI out there in the camps out there, whilst you are there, well you get all our, our food stuff. So the warrant officer say well we won‟t be getting that in England. Them they told us like that, you see. But I don‟t know I blame some of the boys because after being warned and yet some of them were rebellious…I don‟t know if the newspaper…because I used to have some clippings, newspaper clippings…I don‟t know what the hell I lost a kit bag once and I had a whole lot of them because…and one camp some of the boys they threw out bacon and eggs, things that was on ration they want swordfish and breadfruit which you know it was impossible. Now you can get all those things here now. You can get your swordfish and you have your bread crust sweet, which was impossible I say well I can‟t understand that because we were, we were more or less given some warning about all those things. We won‟t be able to get all those things so we have to prepare.

Q. And how did you adjust?

A. Well, I tell you, we adjusted very, very well, we adjusted very, very well. And also on the behaviour also, because at Filey, I can never forget this, Wing …Squadron Leader King when he say God, everything from number one wing, man, that‟s the one I was in you know, everything was just right, man, the behaviour, when we go to church people now…and he say until the wretched two wing came along changed. They go all over the place, they want prostitute, they want women, go down the village, Oh Jesus Christ. People invited them some go home and first thing they want is to be friendly, because they don‟t seem to realise people, especially women can be friendly with you but sex and such not in their minds but they say, „fancy more with the women talk with the smile with you‟ all sex in it. They want to make advances and then that show them now they have a lot to say. Because the number of women, because even at Filey I got to the church there Wroughton – W –R-O-U-G- H- T-O-N something like that I expect, this Baptist church, and I met these people they were farmers to these women, you know, oh….were delighted to see how they work or they make the cow a lot invited to their place always going there. True at the church when I go to tell the boy, then you don‟t make the…I say „No not interested‟ I say „Its nice to know, they invite us they all say „whenever we are off duty come in and have a cup of tea with them and chat‟ I say I enjoy that most, you see and then you know they start to make things bad for us, because we were like ambassadors, ambassadors to them man, and then you know people start to…because the thing is you find in those days everybody try to make us feel at home see but some of them we, we sort of, we went above the line, man, too much, we were expecting too much. Q. And what was the difference between wing one, your…and the group that came in after?

A. Oh the behaviour, the behaviour with everything.

Q. Why was the behaviour different? A. Well I don‟t know, because we understanding, I don‟t know if it because we, we were more or less picked like, you see, because most of us, because some of the others you know, those who failed the test, they couldn‟t pass they just cut them back because when…they was so much unemployment out there, you see and the government spoke up and to get them over because some they didn‟t bother take test. They just sign up and they bring them in, you see, the government arrange that for them to ease the

unemployment out there. You see, because we, because I remember my, the teacher now, well I left school then started working but, well the teacher, one of the teacher in my district he say „Cecil I‟m so proud of you‟, you know to pass the test. He say anyway, after he say that what he say „Anyway I expect you to pass it because you have your third year so I expect you to pass it, but I am so proud of you and don‟t let us down‟. Just like that, that what he say to me „And don‟t let us down, man‟. Because we are coming to do our bit to help our mother country and to see what we can learn and what they can learn from us. Because I say well naturally there is something that this country could learn from us.

Q. In those early days obviously you were a young man and it was an adventure but obviously you were far from home. How did that affect you personally? Just being away from your mother and your big family? A. And girlfriends…well, you know sometime I so sad at times, you see say sometimes say „oh wish‟…there are some moments when it came to me that „Oh wish I didn‟t join the Air force‟ because when, when you like you hear so many squadron, so many planes went out and so many people got killed and all that I say „Jesus God, probably I could be one of them and thing‟ I say „wish I didn‟t‟. You see, oh yes there was moments like that, there were definitely moments like that and you miss your girlfriend. But in those days I say, well girlfriend can‟t stay forget about women and all that, say well, there‟s a war on, lets do our bit and ask God to guide and help us along in whatever we are doing. That‟s how I look at it.

Q. So the war lasted just over a year form when you arrived? A. Yes because we arrived 3rd June ‟44, war finished what…that was May ‟45 the exact day I got them, you know I make a note of them things and I should look them up…‟45. You see, but after we get the chance to extend our service. Q. And also we were talking….actually I’ll just ask you to tell me where were you when it was announced the war was coming to an end? A. Ah Yes now that was ‟45…where was I…I think I was near London, I was, I think I was at…we have a little small unit at, Hatfield I think, a place called Mill Green, near Hatfield and…what‟s the other place there?…what in Hertfordshire when I heard the war was over,

you see. That was great, man. That was great news when we heard the war was over, no more war, say it will be, no more war. That was great because, yes, yes it was Hatfield because when they have the big ceremony I remember I came out. I was on leave then and I came out stay all night you know to watch the procession. In those days you have the Lyons Corner House you know at Villiers Street there, when you coming from…what they call the station now?…Embankment, that used to be the Charing Cross then, then you have to use, use Strand station, well that is closed completely then you have the new Charing Cross. We go out there we stay there, stay the whole night there at Strand Corner House, you know you can stay out all night and have the food you know. We were so happy to put our face right by the…because when you know they would be coming round that way by the…what‟s, what‟s the name of the library there, opposite St Martins-inthe-Fields?…that big place there what you call it?….no, no Bush House is further up, that further up the Strand, you know. You know there‟s Trafalgar Square there and Leicester Square coming…then you have St Martin-in-the-Fields the big church there, then you have this museum there…what is it?

Q. Oh the National Gallery? A. Yes, yes, yes I position myself right there you know….yes, yes, we met a couple of girls they were from Wales you know, this chap and myself. We entertained them, they stuck to us all through the time you know because you know like to have a little companion to you then, you know, they stuck to us. Oh that was great, man, oh we saw everything, saw everything. Because, and then we were so proud we have our flashes on, you know because you have that Jamaican, Trinidad and all that we have our flashes. We didn‟t have our medals yet, you see, had to see them to know, to say well, though we didn‟t do much but we know we were in World War II, you see. We were in World War II but that was great, man. But one thing after all that now, one thing we didn‟t like when people asking us now, „When now the war is over when are you going back to your own country?‟. That‟s one thing I didn‟t like much very. I said „God Almighty‟ England won the war and then go to the people „All Right! You came out to help us, you served your mother country well when are you going back to your own country?‟, you see. It… to me it didn‟t show much of an appreciation none at all.

Q. Was that the general mood of people you met in the street or was that also a political mood? Was that a mood in the papers? How did you see that? Was it mainly people that you saw?

A. Well mainly people in the street and then they also they are some newspapers say that too. Because it was bad it was very bad because you see, what we had done and I can see there‟s an example to see how people did appreciate…I remember we used to hitchhike into London and then I was hitchhiking all the way from Tidnam (?) that‟s in Norfolk. We reach…what is it big army unit now in Essex…Colchester …and a bloke came along in a Bentley, he and his wife, you know, give it thumb I say stop he say „Hey Man where you going‟, I say „London Sir‟. He say „jump in‟ and so I jump in and we talking, talking and he congratulated me that we have risked our young lives to come and help England oh and we started, we chatted, we chatted all the way, man. So when we near the first underground station I say „Look Sir if you don‟t mind you could drop me to the nearest underground station in London‟. So him say „Son tell me directly where you are staying‟. I say „Well I‟m staying at Arundel Street‟, you know that‟s between Temple and the Embankment station „cause they had a YMCA there. The man took me right to the door. I said „Thank you very, very much, sir‟. Right to the door and said „Good Luck‟ he say „Good luck when you get back into civilian life‟. Just like that. So what I always say to people, I say, probably that‟s why, that must be why I like, I got a crave for Bentley cars, like that was. But it was good. But most people after they talk, well we done very well but the question would follow because mostly when we talk like to the ordinary person we expect that to come along, that question to come along „when are you going back to your own country?‟. But prior to that people invited you to their homes and you got… because, in many homes I go, because on some camp outside people used to send letter in the camp you know and ask for any, any West Indian servicemen would like to come and have tea with them or dinner on a Sunday or so…oh yes many time they do that.

Q. There were people who were genuinely interested?

A. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes, oh yes. Oh when we arrive first, oh my god they tried to make you feel at home. There were a few of them would you know, but those other people I overlook them, I overlook them, you see. But some people, my god man, the welcome you get. The welcome to their homes and all that, you see. But some of them, because I know on the social side when we go to dances, some people don‟t want to dance with you

because first of all this incident I had at the camp. I go to put it just as how it happened. It was rest (…?..) at that time but although preparing for my forces prelims I used to study a lot and the boys used to say the West Indian boys used to call me „Come on Cecil lets go to this dance‟ because every Thursday you have what you call „liberty run‟ you see. You have these coaches from the RAF they used to go to the nearby village and get the girl and come dances free. So when I went them I notice these four girls and the boys went and asked them for a dance. There was an excuse, oh their feet hurt, feet aching and….well they saw a white airman went up and asked for dance they jump up ready so I say „My god what the hell is that happening‟ so I say „I‟m going to try my luck then‟. Well I go they say „Oh I‟m so sorry I‟m sitting out this one‟. A white airman came along she was up ready. „Oh blast‟ I say „well how long this going to last now?‟ I got so annoyed man, asked for another one „May I have the pleasure of this dance please?‟ „No I‟m not dancing this one… not that much good the last one‟ I said god almighty. So I said to her, I say „Why do you all refuse to dance with the black airmen?‟ I say „Perhaps you don‟t know but if you don‟t mind I can tell you why‟ I say „I‟m going to quote what your boys‟, that mean English white boys them, „told us in the billet‟ and that was true „that most of you girls who come here you come to get a man to shag you after the dance and being as you wouldn‟t shag with a black man that why you wouldn‟t dance with him‟. Oh my god man and these girls one, two of them started to cry well went straight to the cloakroom and got their cloak and went out. I say yes, I say to my boys them I say it serve them right. That‟s what I said to her and it seem as if it was true because the boys you know, they always chat in the billet. You see, like you go out for the night you come back you compare notes you know how you got on and so forth…you see. I say God yes I like…I gave it to them and they never came back. I went back again to the dance. Never seen them, man. Put them like that. I think that was in, near Straddis Hall (?) you see, near…what is little village called…but Straddis Hall now is, is an open prison you know. Lester Piggott was there that prison he was. You see, and we were at dance…the girls won‟t dance with us man, so I went to the manager I said „Well look can I get a chance of saying something to these girls?‟ you know. He say „Yes but try not to do anything offensive‟. I say „No, no I wouldn‟t, I wouldn‟t let you down sir‟. So I tell them I say „Well we come over here, we like dancing. It‟s a form of entertainment for us‟. We used to like our dances at home and then „We can‟t dance alone, we want a partner‟. I say „We, none of us looking for any wives or girlfriends really we just want someone to dance with so why you refuse to dance with us?‟. So I went to the man and say „Please give us our money back‟ and he gave us back the money for the night but we …some of the boys went back again and they danced

with them, you see, they danced with them. I say well we not looking …we want someone to dance with. We can‟t dance on our own, you see, you can‟t dance on your own man. So, so there was a lot of them, you know, those little sort of prejudice.

Q. How different was your experience, or from what you understood, from the black American soldiers who were here? Did you talk to any of the black Americans? What sort of things did you see? Obviously, you know, were there differences?

A. Well, the black Americans they befriended us, you see. First of all we could stay at the Y.M….the...no they didn‟t call it Y.M.C.A….but again I just bring that in first some of our people spoil things because they allow us to stay at their service club but when the West Indians now they go there, they will spend…so many of them in the billiard room, so many of them occupy the table, the Americans men them come in they want to play, they stay, you see, they made go that alright…Sorry (coughs)….the Americans they wouldn‟t say anything, they wouldn‟t say anything. And they make it until after we were restricted on a certain number. And you come and you book in and that number no more, because the Americans, man, they would stand up there and didn‟t say a word because we have to talk to some other boys I say that too much man, you see. But the Americans they befriended us because they say well oh you are all brave you know to go to all these… because if we went anywhere and they see the white American they don‟t even want to go up to the bar to ask for a drink. They are shy „cause many time it was „You come with us. This is our mother country. We will be served in the bar. Don‟t care a damn we don‟t mind‟.

Because there was an incident when we were at, at Wheeton (?) which I tell you near Blackpool we went to a pub in Blackpool and then these Americans you know, because they always have, seem to have a lot of money you know. Buying, buying drinks all over and the girls they could treat them. So what happened, once the boys they were telling me man, these Americans say „You niggers you not supposed to be in here with us‟. So this boy called, Gibbs was his name, he say „What you call us?….We niggers not supposed to be in here. In our mother country. You telling us that we are not supposed to go to the bar….‟ And bang bang he start a fight like hell man, big fight in the pub there. Then when they phoned for the MP, the RAF police, when they arrive and see what going on they sort of hide them, because its something they want to do to the American but you see they got to be very diplomatic they couldn‟t do that because America is their allies so they couldn‟t do that so we….what hell…. Next night when we go out there man, they asking us, Jamaica would you like a drink? Will you have a drink? Like that, oh and we

beat them like hell, man wanted to… said „What in our mother country you tell us we can‟t be served in here‟ oh say like that man. Oh god…. But the black Americans, we, we assisted them very much, because they were shy. You see like going in the pub and if there white Americans they want to leave. Boys them say „No you stay. You are entitled to ask for a drink just like anyone else‟, you see. Because some of them they got so friendly with the West Indian but some of the West Indian boys I would use the term „carried them down‟, you know. They see that they were shy and they had so much money to spend cause sometimes they might say alright they might look at girlfriend say alright we all go dancing and the poor Americans paid everything to go in the dance, you see, and drinks and all that, you see, so they get wise…after a while…they got, they got wise to the Jamaicans, they overdid it man, overdid it. Q. So…are we ok for a little while. How you doing for time? I don’t want to keep you all day. A. No, no alright today. I‟ve no plans for today. I‟m alright its not even 2 yet. Q. So when the war finished how…what did you expect to do? Did you have any idea what you wanted to do after the war?

A. You mean in this country?

Q. Yeah

A. Well there were a lot of courses was going on the ones who wanted to. But I was given a six-month course, you know, but I didn‟t bother with it. I say well, I extend my service then to stay on and carry on in my line as a fitter to go on you see and to try what I could to go further. Well during that time I took my forces prelim, which I got through, got through all right, you know until my time up and when I came out I was in industry. And tell you about something I want to be like in the social service or something to work with young people and because they are not in industry I was doing light engineering. I try the motor business but after a while the man put me into a bed, greasing up and all them damn things. I just didn‟t fancy that so went to university in industry and when I went for this job and this chap asked what I could do I tell him what I could do. He say „can you read blueprints or anything?‟ I say „Yeah well I have some idea I was taught how do to it but I

haven‟t done it since I left the forces‟. So him say „You can read the micrometer or the vern….‟ I say „Well yes, yes‟ like that so right he gave me this piece of metal you know, give me the micrometer. He say „Take the reading of that bit of metal‟. Well we were taught all those things on the course so I took it. So he watch the way how I take up the mic, the micrometer, you know and to well read… „Oh‟ he say „That‟s good you haven‟t operated a millman (?) machine but since you can read the drawings‟ and things like that you see and he start me, start me on the mill until after the section. And I was at that firm for 18 years. Well I finished up as a charge hand in the section I had…there were six women and four boys in my department until…well I wanted to leave to do something, you know, to work with young people but I say well being in a regular job and there for 18 years and I say well I didn‟t want to take the chance. But what gave me the chance now to leave the firm was moving to Wales and they took us to Wales those who would like to join the firm. You spend a weekend down there. That was such a wonderful weekend too because St David‟s Day came on this Saturday…oh god…so we had three coach load of us. So my, my production manager Mr Rivali (?) say well anyway we are sticking to you. I say „Why you stick to me?‟ I say „You are adult people you all should know how to go‟ because it all working men clubs and all that. So this hotel where we stop they put us at the hotel so when I saw one of the women there I didn‟t know what to do. She say „You are Cecil aren‟t you?‟ I say „Yes I am Cecil‟ I say „Where do you know me from?‟ So she say „You remember Sergeant…‟…what‟s his name, Bruce. „You know Sergeant Bruce?‟….Oh my god I say „Yes I know Sergeant Bruce‟ because we used to play in the station cricket team. He was the captain so we used to go into this….the women her say „You know the Woodman‟s?‟ I say „Yes of course that‟s near Welwyn Garden City. So well, oh my god, I say „What a small world‟ All the way down in Wales. So she say what you doing so I told her I am visit down there introduce her to my…she say „Where you going tonight?‟ I say we don‟t know everybody…say look take my ticket here when you decide when you after lunch you go back I will…when you want to go let me know I tell you a club to go to. So…..


A. So he say anywhere you going we sticking to you tonight so when we went to this place they admit us free when I show them this ticket, this card from this lady. We had a whale of a time everybody. The girl had put my leek onto me like that you know, so I say „Well I

have a little touch of Welsh in me you know‟. I say „Well, My mother was Williams which is a Welsh name‟. Oh we had a, and in the morning everyone thought we had the best night. But after that I decide, I say, our manger he had lunch with me, he said „Cecil you go‟ I say „No‟. I say, but he say „Look, do you have urge to buy your own house, but you going to get brand new house and you get a mortgage, you haven‟t got to put any deposit you just start to pay your mortgage‟ I say „No. My wife she got good job‟ he say „Well she get a job‟ I say „No, not when she is in the giving orders she going to now take a job where she have to take orders‟ I said „No, no, no‟ I said „No I‟m sorry but I won‟t be coming‟. So we get paid off and so the wife and I, you know, I had some money come because I was on the staff as well and they start with an insurance policy. So the wife and I we went to America for 3 weeks in America 3 weeks in Jamaica. Go back there I decide to go on this course, this youth workers course. Q. Before we get into that can we go back a bit because we’ve jumped ahead. We are looking at that period after the war can I just go back. When were you actually de-mobbed? When did you actually leave the RAF? A. 10th February 1952

Q. So you went all the way through for about 7 years then?

A. Yes it was 8 years, call it 8 years

Q. You went back to Jamaica after the war?

A. No Q. Didn’t you have a period? A. I went back on leave…I went home on leave you see. I wasn‟t demobbed at all. You see because some of the boys they went back they demobbed and then they came back and rejoined. And some came back didn‟t rejoin at all they just settle down in civvy street to get jobs.

Q. So when did you go back on leave?

A. But the reason why I went out is after we extended our service we were entitled to home leave, 61 days, provided you have at least 3 years left to do. So that‟s how we become qualified for that home leave. So I went back in January 1948 on 61 days leave, you see. And out there now they were waiting because at that time the Windrush out there because so many of us were going out and many, from, on many boats you see because my friend he went out for Christmas I couldn‟t get the chance to go for Christmas you see. I went out January, left here January…forgot what date of January.

Q. And when you went back to Jamaica what sort of questions did people ask you because obviously you had been, you’d been in Britain through the war…? A. Nearly four years because from ‟44 to ‟48 that‟s nearly four years. Well first of all people ask you if you enjoy your life in England. Have you seen any active service? You know well some of them, well I made it sound as if I have seen active service by things that I have read about in the newspaper, about in the war. I just put it on a bit out there and many other things I been talking about is things that I read in the newspaper, you see, but I made it into feel as if I saw it with my own eyes, you see. They ask you out there, „How do you get on with the English people them?‟ That‟s their exact words they say „How do you get on with the English people them?‟ They, they well some of them „How do you get on with the white people them? How the white woman them? You get any friend?‟ Like that, these are the things they ask you. Ask you if you got girl, you know, when you go back home. They say you think you go back? I say „Yes of course I‟m just on leave I have another three years to do‟. They say „I hope you come back come see us‟. That‟s the first thing they say. I say „Yes you will see me‟. Well that‟s one thing that I was hoping to go back home for good because when I went into industry too, you see, I….and then working and after the firm and then I get the chance now to go on this course…after I finished I got a job was to go back to work with the youth development commission but after a while my wife started to show sign of the multiple sclerosis and the specialist told me that the heat out there would just finish her off so I had to write and tell them no and decide to apply for my citizenship and stay in this country. Yes any more on that part? Q. Yeah well I’d like to …. So you were back in Jamaica in ’48 ?

A. From January until May.

Q. Until May and then, you know, when you were there obviously you were seeing family you hadn’t seen. A. Oh yes…many years…old friends and all that you see, because I used to do so much talking „cause the school they had special thing which I had to speak in the church „cause I remember one night they had something…we went out the day in Montego Bay and coming back and we look in you know, and the moment the minister saw me he say well „Come in‟ he say „come in you got to say something tonight there is a part coming up on the programme where you got‟ he say, I say „What part is that‟ he say „Don‟t tell me you don‟t prepare, you got to say something Cecil‟ he say like that. Well I was so pleased for the opportunity anyway but I didn‟t make any notes and well I‟m glad for it you know, you got to do a little putting on, you see, putting on. I say „But minister, I haven‟t prepared‟ he say „You got to say something, you can‟t let me down‟ that‟s why. I was so thrilled to be asked.

Q. Where you wearing uniform?

A. Oh no, no, no once we get home because it was too hot the uniform was too hot. Though we have khaki because they gave us tropical you know. We have shorts to wea, khaki shorts but anyway we were glad to be in civilian clothes out there. Q. So what did you miss most? What did you….you know obviously you missed your family?

A. What you mean when we left Jamaica? Q. When, when you….having been in Britain throughout the war and obviously Britain was rationed still in ’48 and you went back to Jamaica. So what did you miss about Jamaica that time round, you know, when you were going back in ’48?

A. Well first of all what I look forward is the food. Our home food because in those days is not like now when you can go in the market and you buy West Indian food and all. Though I got used to the English food it didn‟t affect me much but I know I was going out man, the

fresh fruit and all that just pick them off the tree and you could eat. I was looking forward to that. And the drinking of the rum „cause it was so cheap, you know. And seeing everybody. And the weather, weather, oh god. „Cause in those days I could bask in the sun by the beach but now I got such a big belly and all that I (laughs)…when I go I don‟t bother with the beach any more because my belly too big, you see. But it was wonderful. When you see all your old friends from school. Everyday someone was, „look‟, a note might come, „would you come here they are having a little do here, would like you come and that you can answer some question about the war and that‟. You see, oh I lapped it up very well man, I love it, love it.

Q. At that time where people saying to you they would like to come to England as well? Did you give them advice when they asked you?

A. Oh yes, yes we talk about that, I talk about that. First of all I tell them, I give them plain with the food stuff. I explain all that, you can‟t get it here in England and one thing with…in this country the people are well disciplined I said, because you waiting for a bus, I say, you have to queue up. They say „what you mean queue up‟, I say „…line, put yourself in a line anywhere and when your turn you‟ll get on it. Everything you got to line up. You go in shop you line up to get your serve. You can‟t go like sometime you go in here people forcing themselves to go ahead of you, no‟. I said one thing I noticed that with the English people, they are very disciplined. They queue up for everything. People die in a queue, in a bus queue, you see. I say well those are the things. When you come you have to adjust the old Jamaica way. And always try to say please and thank you, know most of us do it but, but you find that now I know it getting bad now to it, even some of us who have been here for donkey ages, but they got those words missing from their vocabulary, please and thank you, those they don‟t bother „Gimme this gimme this‟ and demand things, I tell you man, you see. I say over here, try, you know not afraid of the white man, or seem like that. But at times you know, you mustn‟t be too arrogant, arrogant you know, anywhere like that, you see. We tell them you see. And everybody that come and I say well, at the moment, that when we were out there, at the moment now you got money to buy things but you haven‟t got the coupons because everything is on ration you can‟t because you can‟t get‟. I said look at me know since I came out here that I get a few pair of khaki trousers made for me a tailor man in the district there he made them so that when I am going back I just give them away, you see because I only got one suit at the time to go to it you see. I say „everything is on ration. You got your money but your money perish in your

pocket because if you haven‟t got coupons you can‟t get anything, you see so that‟s why if you prepare to come you got to prepare to put up with all those inconveniences‟. That‟s what I say to them.

Q. Did you notice there was an atmosphere of people who wanted to come? There was more and more of an atmosphere?

A. Oh yes, oh yes, yes because those boys some who went out there, went home for good you see, they tell them about the opportunity. They think there are plenty of jobs there, you see, and they stand a good chance, they come. Because some of them, though, you see, therefore they didn‟t get a chance to stay on they would have stayed on but they didn‟t get the chance through, well some of them, through their behaviour in the camp, they were not recommended. You see so they all came back because I think 50% of the first lot of migrants, you know, the…well the ex-servicemen „cause they go out on the little money they got, they just bought their ticket, £28 at the time and then there was so many stowaways because you see they held on to the old uniform and they wore them on the boat, you see, so they didn‟t know which of them and they mingle with us. Because I know a chap on the deck I was in because I got a friend he was a Detective Sergeant at the time he call he say „Look Cecil tell me any one of them you know‟ I say „Well I …‟ I say „…of course I will tell you‟ and to other boys, just like where you are who were listening I say, I say „Oh yes of course man I let…‟ so after he go the boy comes along he say „Cecil you mean‟ I said, I said „Look man him in Jamaica, he‟s alright, a Detective Sergeant, you know soon be inspector‟ I say „You going back to England you don‟t worry about it you safe with me‟. Because they were just like that, like there, I talking to him I say „Yes I let you know‟ but I wouldn‟t do that. Every night on the boat this boy say „Come and have a drink man come and have a drink‟. Well I say I don‟t know how I would feel, you know to say well I would pass those boys on to him, I say no man. And some of them came back over they did very well, did very well, did very, very well, man. Q. So you just happened to…when your leave was over, when you were coming back to Britain, you just so happened to sail on the Windrush.?

A. On the Windrush because they save us a lot of us because some even from December they were due back but the Windrush make it cheaper but…so a lot of us, now had gone back. Because I, I myself also annoyed because when I was going home on leave we

travel on the SS Arragorn (?). We travel First Class. We put our shoes out at night they were clean. Every day we get a clean towel in too like that, you know. When we go to the mess hall we just go and sit down. We start from the top, item one, two on the menu. We were all these high-ups because we spend, we spent three days in Cuba…not Cuba, Trinidad. You know Port of Spain. Then when we travel out to Jamaica, man, oh my, it was great. Coming back now it was the old service life again. We got to queue up for a meal and all that, you now. So we were glad to be back, glad to be back man, get all off that damn Windrush Q. So…but the Windrush obviously we are talking now it’s 50 years on, and its become a…it’s now become quite famous because …..

A. First lot of immigrants, you see.

Q. Yeah, but obviously at that time were you aware of that significance? Were you aware of the significance of the Windrush.? A. What that…like what? Q. Were you aware that this was…you were travelling back to Britain..?

A. And that would be something historical?

Q. Yes

A. Not really. Not really because you see, we were not happy really, travelling on the Windrush. And one thing as I said at the House of Commons, there I said where they were sort of…with some of us, we, we think we a cut above most of the others coming on the Windrush especially the, not the ex-servicemen, the newcomers. We thought we were a cut above them, you know being in the forces, returning from home leave, coming back to England. And there were a lot of this feeling or whatever…is that the right word to use…amongst us, the passengers, you see. But one thing I was happy to do because I got a friend, he‟s an American now, you know he say „Well Cecil why not arrange, why don‟t you have a little meeting with some of the boys because they always coming around asking questions about the possibility of getting jobs and accommodation. I say well, it

work very, very well, which I arranged that on the boat on many occasion. But though some of the boys, all they interested to know it‟s about the girls in England. Because I remember once a boy and he said to me… he never, never asked if it easy to get a job, or easy to get some place to live, all day how do you get a lady (?) there man, exact, these are his exact words, how do you get a lady „cause he like. That‟s all he was interested in so I am sure a boy like him didn‟t get anywhere. But some they ask damn good questions, man.

Q. Like what? A. Like getting…how…the possibility of getting jobs, and how to be, I said „Well I don‟t know much about how to behave in jobs because I say am still in the forces. But I tell you, remember what our folks used to say at home, that when you are in Rome do what the Romans do. I say that‟s one thing you should bear in mind, but I don‟t tell you how to behave in jobs because I‟ve never been in job I still in the forces. I still have another three years to do and I don‟t know about that. But I say, well, I heard about accommodation it is difficult, it is difficult to get suitable accommodation‟. Q. There were quite a few hundred men who unlike yourself hadn’t been in the services, who were coming over. What do you think they…they paid money, most of them had paid good money to come over on the Windrush, what do you think they expected…did they ask you…what did you sense they expected? A. Well some, but some of them…unemployment, unemployment was very, very high out there in Jamaica and a lot of them they say they coming over well, many have spoken to they have given themselves a target to say well, after five or ten years time they will work and get so much money saved that they can go back home and start a business and some might buy a little piece of land and build their own home. Because in those days it was so cheap to but a piece of land and build up a little two apartment or three apartment house. You see, and that‟s why…but some of them they stayed well over that. They did well, you see, did well. And some of them took also, had further education. Those who missed out at school back at home, they didn‟t come in the RAF but they get a chance, they come over and they further their education man, some of them get profession went back home and did very well. So that‟s why when I spoke at the House of Commons, you know, in October, I say well we should use the Windrush that I can put in my own way was the

gateway to success, socially and otherwise to many, many West Indians, its that Windrush, you see. And yet you know some who have done very well because they had to stay at the shelter in Clapham, Clapham South there and so naturally Brixton was the nearest place for them and they go to Leyton Road …and they did very well. You know when you talk to them again you talk about Brixton, they turn up their noses at Brixton and its at Brixton that they started and they make some success. Q. We were talking about the Windrush and the people …who coming over. How long was the journey from Jamaica to Britain? A. Now we left there, you know I got…I keep repeating that you know „cause I know the exact date. I didn‟t know the exact number of days you know. I know its May, what time is there…I think it was….it was over two weeks anyway. It was over two weeks. Q. Was the ship full? Was it full of…? Was it packed? A. Oh yes because you got over…over, well it was packed because there was a lot of us returning from leave plus the, the, well the immigrants or the so-called settlers who coming over to start a new life. Q. What was the term back then because obviously we…terminology changes.

Was there a term for this new generation of people coming over? Was is ‘settlers’ or was there a term at the time? A. Well, well was there no term like when they come. It wasn‟t an organised thing. It was not. But you see at that time people who had been to America to work as farm workers and ammunition workers and they go back home. Well life become distasteful for them, because there was no employment. Unemployment was very, very high, the percentage was very high and they had not much hopes of getting jobs you see and now going to America and things like that and so they got the money to pay the fare to go back. And then England I think I those times were inviting people to come along too you know. Because just after the war they want to rebuild England and some of the people they were so glad to come over because some of the jobs that they do are, were jobs that the English people themselves didn‟t want to do. The little dirty shitty jobs, I shouldn‟t say things like that on the thing, you see, to do and they come and do it. They were only too

pleased because they know they getting a good, a good wage. Because there were some of them £5 a week but in those days it was plenty money. £5 a week was plenty money. And when you think of all the medical service and all that you say oh god man. It was, it was really like paradise to some of the people coming over. See, it was. Q. Did you notice…how did they react when they, it finally arrived? A. What the Windrush? What the, the, the immigrants or…? Q. Yes because obviously yourself you’d been through it before you’d seen it all before.

A. Well, well with me now other than I nearly mad with, one of these interviewers, you know this girl, I told her I say I was returning off leave. She asked me what the prospect of jobs all think about jobs. I say „Look I got another 3 ½ years to do in the forces so I‟m not thinking about jobs‟. Then she goes on „What you think about where you going to live?‟ I said „Look, I‟m going to repeat I got another 3 ½ years to do and I still live on the camp. I say I am just waiting now to catch my train to RAF Sealand, that‟s the camp I belong to. I don‟t think about accommodation or jobs now for 2 ½ years‟, you see. But some of them…because I got my mate, we got him over he say „Well boy I‟m coming back with you‟. He went to America but I say no America was not my…so him say coming back…he‟s in America now. Since he back we got him and there is some people I used to know in Clapham they fix him up through me, fix him up with accommodation he only worked at the railway and then he went, and went to America. Did very well too…did very, very well. But it was a good opening for them, the people, because things were pretty tough for us in those days. Pretty, pretty tough man.

Q. How was your mother getting on for example? Back in Jamaica?

A. Well in those days my mother, oh she was all right, was pretty all right because my mum she used to get what we call 28…. two guineas, well that‟s 42 shillings in those days you know in those days its guineas. Every, every 28 days she get two guineas, that £2.2 today. Which was plenty money because a man will be working five days a week on the sugar plantation and he doesn‟t get 7 shillings some of them just get probably 7shilling for the week. And my mother used to get 42…seven times four…I mean 28…every 28 days

she used to get what 1 and 6, 1 and 6 a day, so that‟s 42 isn‟t it? 28 times 1 and 6 is that 42? 28…1 and 28…6…..6….6shilling…42 shillings…42 shillings in those days which was known as 2 guineas, you see £2.2. So my mother, oh my god, my…got one of those fridges (?) and strange enough I tell you what she did….she say that we have a post office account and when I went home she said „Oh Cecil here is your book‟ I say „What mean my book mamma‟ I say „it yours‟ she say „What?‟ I say „Of course it yours I like that the Air Ministry give you so much and I give you so much that you can get 2 guineas every 28 days, 2 guineas a month, which that was some of the salary for some people and they think it good. A man might have four children and he working on the sugar plantation, he doesn‟t get that much. So I say „It‟s yours mamma‟ and she took one of my nieces, her grand-daughter all the way Montego Bay and they went on a shopping spree she come out what and what she bought I say „Very good mamma‟, I say „very good‟, I say „It‟s all yours‟ she say „You sure?‟ I say „Of course it‟s yours‟, you see, of course. Q. Did your mother expect you to stay in Britain? Did you feel that…. A. No, no she, she did….according to her she say whether I coming back or not. I say „Well mother I have another 3 ½ years to do before my life…‟ She didn‟t say „Well what you going to do you want to stay in England?‟ like that you know. But after a while you keep writing she say „You coming back?‟ I say „I don‟t think I will come back in a hurry mamma. I think I take some courses after my time is up, then I come‟ you see. You see.

Q. Obviously those last few years in the air force, you know, what sort of, what sort of things were you doing? This was 1948 through to ’52. Obviously there was Korea wasn’t there 1950?

A. Oh yes, oh yes, yes

Q. What were your activities?

A. Well in the Air Force then I was attached to what you call embarkation unit. We have an office down the docks, Royal Group docks, Glengall Grove and Poplar. You know they were all group docks…King George V docks, and that, they different docks but our group docks they call them. Well my job as a fitter something to do with motor but what I was…I was in charge of …a couple in charge…anything going overseas for the Air Force always

come there and we check and pass them on to the…(coughs)…sorry…Port of London Authority. So sometimes, somedays I‟m at Tilbury if we have a consignment of vehicles going over, going overseas, I got to go and check them, make sure everything is taken out, prepare them. Remove windscreen wipers, take off the batteries, drain all petrol and all that, that was my…I was in charge of that, you see, that‟s what I was doing, so I‟m busy at all the different docks….

R6/ A. …..I was an acting Sergeant but there wasn‟t the, the vacancy for a full sergeant there at that time. No we don‟t use it the full…the …what the exact term we use?…for me to get my substantive rank, you see. So, when I was leaving in February our commanding officer Wing Commander Barnes, he say „Corporal if you can‟t get by within the 28 days…because you get 28 days leave, you know…what you call demob leave…if you don‟t start…come back before 28 days leave expired. So let you come back and you get your same rank but if you allow 28 days to pass, you have to, you got to start all over again. But providing 28 days not expired you come back you get the same rank, you see. But I say, when I say, well now look, I say well sir its good of you to say that but I am going to try a bit of civilian life. Well I never looked back because I say once a man reaches certain age you should be able to plan your own life and more so when you are married because there wasn‟t a guarantee that I would get married quarters, because first of all I would have to be posted from there to go somewhere before I could get my substantive rank. But I say well I was coming home every night, can‟t we just live in rooms in (?) Street there.

Q. So had you met anyone at this time? Were you single? A. Oh no, no I got married 1949. Oh yes I was in the forces „49

Q. How did you meet your wife?

A. Oh I met her at a dancehall we used to call the Paramount at Tottenham Court Road. Opposite you know, what the underground station there?

Q. Goodge Street

A. No not Goodge Street the next one.

Q. Warren Street A. Warren Street…you know next to this big furniture place…Maples is it?…you know the big furniture place and then the pub. It‟s now called the Empire Rooms that was where I met my wife. You see, that was where I met her, when we met so we talk….I got a picture of her…well I look before you go I show you anyway…and that‟s where, and when she told her dad she met this here man from the, from Jamaica you see, from Trelawney, oh my god he was so …he say Trelawney, he say bring him along, he ok man. I say we went through that already you know. He was so thrilled you know, from Trelawney, a place called Deeside, that‟s what the father said, oh he said bring him along. He used to live at Woolich when he went over first thing he asked „do you know so-and-so, do you know soand-so?‟ and all that. That was great man, great. Q. How…what was your wife’s name?

A. Clara

Q. How long had Clara been in Britain at that time?

A. Oh she was born here. Because just like all we demob here and stay down married and so forth the father as that in the 1914-18 war he settled down. He marry a white woman you see. Like that. Ah Clara was born near to the…what‟s this other place …museum…its in the…what you call it?....near the Houses of Parliament there.

Q. Near Westminster? A. No, like if you travel on the 88 bus you end up, you don‟t live here anyway, going towards Houses of Parliament from this side, from Vauxhall…what you call it?….no, no I‟m going to say no…the one at that….at Trafalgur Square, what you call it that‟s the ….the museum by that way…yes where the wife was born Ponsonby Place, Ponsonby Place, that‟s where she was born.

Q. Ah that’s interesting. So she must have been…there couldn’t have been many women like you wife? A. No there weren‟t many black women in those days.

Q. Who were born in Britain. A. Yes born in Britain in those days you see. And from that, that‟s how the romance started, man. So after, well he went home 1947. He died because he couldn‟t come to our wedding „cause we got married „49, you see we got married in ‟49. See because these people she was brought up with, you know English, English people you see. Because she never knew Jamaica til ‟65. Well I took her to Jamaica three times, three times before she died. Q. So she had never been to Jamaica so she’d only known about it. A. At that time until ‟65. „Cause ‟65 we went to the Worlds Fair because that the time after I get paid up from this firm when they move to….Wales you see, so we went on a tour. We went to America in 1965. Went to the Worlds Fair and see by brother in Albany. Spent three weeks and then we spent three weeks in Jamaica. Well after that I took her out twice. Because my nephew, when he got married, that was the last time she went out, ‟72. Because I help schooling because we have not any children at all so we help school my nephew and when he was getting married 1972 we, she and my niece whose in Can…in America now, we all went out to the wedding. At that time she could just walk with a stick, you see, with the multiple sclerosis, man. Alright, it was wonderful but….you see, I took her out there she loved Jamaica. Really loved…and then when I got the job….you see.

Q. Did she tell you much about her childhood growing up in Britain?

A. Oh yes, well actually she was brought up with some folks because the father got divorced because in those days not many of our people that married a white girl they get on to the end. Like how we married now and we live….44 years before when she died. Many of them divorced. Something always happen. I don‟t know why. You see,

something always happen. But she brought up with some friends because they gave us our reception when we got married. White friends. They are all dead now. At Chelsea, they were living at Chelsea. But she done very well at school at Hammersmith Tech, you know she went there. Then when she started work at Philips she did very well. She was very bright, very bright, very, very bright, man. Q. And what was it like being married while you were still… A. I was still serving… Q. You were still in service. How did that work out? How could you…could you live together? A. No. For a short while we got some rooms. When I was in the forces I used to….what you call live home, you see. We living in Balham where I used to go to work in the morning because being down at the Royal Group Docks. You see, used to go to work in the morning and come home. See we bought our place here in 1956.

Q. The place we are actually sitting in now?

A. Yes when we move in

Q. This is the place you moved in to?

A. Yes because there is sitting tenants upstairs because there a little room there they use it as a sort of kitchen then there was a pipe run out through the bathroom and all that you know. And there were….but after that….because to see how the prejudice exists in here. Because when we were looking over the house and then when we came in the evening and this man I heard him he was putting down. I think it was in the summertime so the…well the problem is because the ceiling that we have here now is a false ceiling you know, because a chap, he put it up for me because I know this English chap. We are very good buddy and when I bought this place he say „Look anything you want done if you haven‟t got any money don‟t bother about it just tell me and we do it when you get the money‟ and he put in the false ceiling, it was an ugly ceiling you know, ugly ceiling so he put this false ceiling in there for me, you know, and all that. So I heard the bloke as if he

was drawing the skylight thing and he said „Oh there is no more bloody niggers taking over in this country now‟ just like that, you know. And he was an ex-RAF chap to, but I didn‟t say that because I was just viewing the place, you see. Just viewing at the time. I didn‟t say a word, you see. So it was him paying next to nothing because we used that room in there as a bedroom, you see and he occupied the two rooms upstairs. It‟s alright one day they will go, you see. But that show the form of prejudice. But I say I this country in the line of prejudice, in recently I was talking somewhere and I say well you know if all immigrants be black people if we would stick to our women there wouldn‟t be so much trouble in this country. But then I tell you all we have one your that and that…the moment you cross you marry a white woman that seems like that, that‟s where it start. Because I can never forget 1948, the same year I came back on the Windrush. So we got, came back with clothes now and everything, and I bought back a couple of dresses because at that time we were just courting. You see, things was really happening now because when I go out there I decide I say well good I shan‟t be…I didn‟t say to my mother I going to get married but I had decided in myself I said I am not coming back to Jamaica I‟m going to marry over in England. So I brought back dresses for her you know, and then…it was a summer suit, I had it tailored with someone at my camp. She was a very nice person. She….because in those days if, how you know the ones with coupons…she always talk very nice, very nice person. I got a nice posh coat man, flannel trousers, nice cream shirt and a tie, oh my god. So you know at the same place at Embankment there, they play the music and these two little old lady behind…we were the only two blacks there and I heard this little woman say to the other one „Aren‟t they looking nice. That‟s how it should be‟. You know and I listen to that thing, say „that how it should be‟. So there black man coming back if you did stick to your own woman, you are a black man you have a black woman. These people wouldn‟t mind that at all but the crossing they definitely do not like that. Q. And that happened…obviously during the time in the RAF you must, you and your colleagues must have met obviously a lot of white women. When we were talking you were saying that primarily if you wanted to have a companion, but it must have gone further.

A Oh yes. Well I got a young girl, at Straddis Hall when I was at Straddis Hall, she took me to her aunty‟s place for tea. So the aunty says „Cecil when are you going back?‟ I say „Well as soon as things…‟. The girl was mad about me when I go she say I thought we were going to get married and you, her uncle could get me a job. I said look, I was

shooting a line, I say look, Flo was her name, I say Flo, I said „No, if I married you I would be completely disinherited from the family line‟. She say „What do you mean?‟. I say „Well its an English word, completely disinherited I be cut off‟. I said „When I go back home after my service there will be a brand new car waiting for me from my purses from the family estate for the time I was away I will miss all that‟. But she say „Oh you‟ll get a job, my uncle will get you a job and you work‟. I say „No its not the same and furthermore my sisters would not like you, though you are such a wonderful girl but my sister wouldn‟t like you at all so I just couldn‟t think of marrying you‟. I put it over to her it was true. But I got involved in a lot of love affair but I can see that…those girls…they didn‟t mean…they wanted you give them a good time that‟s all they were interested in. I said no. Because I know a lot of the boys who got married, friends. After a while the marriage just go on the rocks, like that because you find at home the people they are as prejudice just like the white people here against their white daughter marrying a black man. Black people just the same at home. Because I know a lot of them who came back on the Windrush who went out there to try…but no job and things that they have to do. Go to the place, wash their clothes and all…what ...say no…they all decide to come back. And there are many, many like that who came back, you see. But I say in this country there is definitely some form of prejudice. No one will tell me that there isn‟t prejudice. Say „Oh we are all one‟. I say „No‟. Deep down in their hearts they are prejudice and more so when you cross and get their woman they don‟t like it. Though they tell you „Oh no, no there is no difference‟ but no, no. Sometime many of them say to me „Oh but Cecil you are different the way how you behave you are different‟. I say well I know that, I know that. I‟m not boasting but I say I know that. Because I know….I remember my tutor at college you know, he say to me he say „Cecil look, I can‟t learn anything from you as a black man from Jamaica. What can I learn absolutely nothing because you know every damn thing like what‟s going on in England in your way your attitudes, your lifestyle and everything, just like the Englishman‟ he say well „because you are so disciplined in every damn thing so I would…I can‟t learn anything from you if I‟m doing all the research‟ that‟s what he say….(aside) Help yourself man, have another one. You help yourself….No, no I got, I got, I got more, I got more, help yourself another one. I am so pleased you will find, you find something, you drink up, you drink up, yeah…. That‟s what Terry say to me, you see, that‟s what Terry say to me, but….what were you going to say? Q. While you were….in those years while you were still serving in the forces, did….obviously its Britain in the late ‘40s…Britain itself was going through a

change…the Labour government had come in, there was this idea of a vision of the future….

A. Yes, yes, yes


Did you feel part of that? Did you feel part if this new Britain that was


A. Yes, yes I thought of that, and though well now we got a lot of our people coming over. There is things that they can do to help Britain and the way to recover is it? , that‟s what I should say, and the way back to recover. To put Britain back on top of the world. And Britain, a lot of our immigrants have done a lot to help Britain because some say when it comes to employment, jobs, now the own Englishman there are certain jobs they wouldn‟t want to do. Immigrants do them. Put Britain right up back. A lot of things. Because even simple things you say well in food stuff. People you find people have these big houses, eight apartment for one person who live, nobody. Through the immigrants coming over they say well look you can let rooms to people you can convert that into a flat you get so much. You know they, many, many I know white people because especially…they are dead now. They got a house this couple, a big, big house and from that big house the people that convert it into flats let to people, they can afford a big car. They got these people every time you know and manager he say Cecil had it not for you we wouldn‟t know, we wouldn‟t bother about such things. I got them a couple who live at the place for about ten years until they bought their own place, paying rent. They buy a big car, used to go away for weekends and all that. Then this chap he say to me „Cecil had it not for you we wouldn‟t know about this to do all that‟. I say people want us to live. Then in the line of cooking, to make use of things man, you see. Because we do a lot, we do a lot but some of these English people probably they might not admit that they learn a lot from West Indians, but they did. Q. Obviously at the time you were still, you were in the services but did you….who would you be socialising with , you know when you weren’t at work? Did you socialise with the people you were working with? A. No not a lot of the people…I got a lot of English people. Because how many the influx of the immigrants coming up they say „but Cecil when we invite them‟ but a lot of them die

out now because some of them are people getting on in age when I met them and all they getting on…because I‟m 75 you see, and all…but they say Cecil what happened to our you know all the black people like that and all that. Because I didn‟t really go into my black…though they are black its someone I have to know really from home or something before. Because I don‟t know if I am over-cautious like that, that‟s how I know, I know they wont let me down. They wont let me down because those are the type, but socially because I play for a cricket club at Mitcham and Tooting….about 30 years 1949 when I came out of the forces. Well, when I was still in the forces because I used to play for the station team. On weekends I used to play with them and my god man, and then. Like when we play a match, when we play at home, our ground, home ground was Mitcham and everything, everybody say look Cecil what happened we been getting a few bottles we coming now, I say of course, we come down. It‟s a pity I haven‟t got the photographs to show you, I got a lot of things packed away I should show you, you see. And I get on with them very, very well, very, very well. And when my wife was ill the number of white people that I have come take her out and things like that, oh my god. I say well I haven‟t got any…because I can always put these people in their place, when they try to step over the line, you see. When they try to step over the line I put them in their place

Q. So accommodation when you first moved out of the service life, you moved here to Balham? A. Tooting….Well it was difficult to get suitable, what I call suitable accommodation. Because I can tell you one instance there was this place. I saw the advert. We had just got married and I phoned this lady she say yes come along and see the room. I made myself very clear but she could know my accent that I am a foreigner but she didn‟t know that I was a black foreigner. She thought I was a white foreigner, that‟s how I put it. So then I went she said to come along. I was there dead on time. I rung the bell and this lady when she came out, you know, she was sort of frightened when she saw a black man. I say Madame I was the one who phone you I came about the room. Oh you know, this sugary excuse, oh I am so sorry, if you were here five minutes ago you would have got the room. But I say Madam you told me to come along so you could guarantee what time I would be there and also I am a bit early.

Q. And where was this?

A. In the Tooting area. So when I say „Madam furthermore I am a bit early‟ but I say look I say to her I say „Can you see that telephone booth there?‟ She say „oh yes‟. I say „Look madam that‟s where I was phoning from and I didn‟t see anyone come to your door and yet you going to tell me…‟. I say „Why can‟t you be truthful, tell me you don‟t want…‟ She say „Well to be honest I don‟t want any black person I thought I would upset you if I said‟. I said „No not me it‟s your place, you please yourself who you want as tenant, but with me I like the truth. Yes definitely told me that. I tell you could…she said „I didn‟t know it was a black person because you, you speak properly‟. You see, I say you are a black person, you see. So that‟s what she say to me, you see…Can we just switch off for a minute…you switch on? Oh alright…No, no we talk after….yes, yes where were we now? Q. We were talking about, primarily prejudice in London in the ‘50s about

accommodation. When you made a decision to leave active service, leave the RAF in the early ‘50s….

A. Well I never made the decision but that the time my time up, you see, for the extra time.

Q. Did you, did you have any idea of what you wanted to do? What you felt that you would like to do? A. Well I decide, I say well my trade in the forces was a fitter motor transport, FMT that‟s what we called, a good one trade too you see. I say well to do a job in it. But I work at a garage Peacocks for a while but I didn‟t like it. They give me a job to go and grease up and all that. I mean the course that I have been through went to Wheeton twice I say well I could do more than that, than what they are giving me, you know to do. So I wasn‟t very happy. So I went around, look around for this job. I went to this place up Mitcham. When this job‟s alright. I think I did mention that before. He go to me, he say can you read the blueprints, I say yes I can I am not an expert but I can. Say can you read the micrometer or the Vernier (?) I say yes sure. He took the piece of metal, its alright, take the reading of that piece of metal you know. So he watching me the way how I handle the micrometer and when I turn around he say oh he say „That‟s excellent so alright we teach you how to work in the mill providing you can read your own drawings‟ that‟s all and that‟s how I started on it. But still for a while there, I wasn‟t very, very happy or feel very secured because I would say I was there…until I reached the charge hand because after when this

chap left and the manager he call me because we used to chat when he know I was in the forces you know because when I went there and the other start me…he say but Cecil how you talk to Mr Stark, I say well I don‟t talk to him in any way bad or anything I talk to him as a man. I‟m a man not a little schoolboy and he must not shout at me. I let him know that. Tell him without any swearing or anything. So I say well in my country I was brought up to respect my superior but not to be afraid. Because whenever he comes you know, and you go, everybody quiet and don‟t talk. And I will talk now say Mr Stark so-and-so, so-and-so like that. I talk to him I say I am a bloody man. He is a man also and I can speak his language. Though my colour is different he can understand me. When he go like that. Because everything, sometime he used to call me and „Come Cecil lets have a chat‟ just like that you know, you see. We, we, we, we, we, we‟ll have, have, have a chat. Like that ….I‟ve forgotten my train of thought now. Q. We were talking about the….can I just ask you to jump back.

How did you

personally find it going for all those years in service, working in the forces to civilian life? How did you find the change?

A. Ah I tell you. One good thing is when in the forces, you get the chance, what we call, living home, you see. Because from the time I got married, 1949, I apply for posting. I was at Sealand near Chester you know and then I come to London. So I was living home and then most of the time I was moving a lot as civilian. Because I just go to work in the morning and leaving I‟m back and I am more civilian. And that sort of helped me to prepare for civilian, civilian life, you see. That‟s what helped me. Because the cricket club I used to play for at weekends, I meeting different lot of people. And I know them like that because some of them now, some of them people are wonderful. „Cause from the time I joined the club, „cause some of the young fellows they used say uncle Cecil, some of them and they did very, very little because they just growing up, she‟s a deputy head…..


A. Just go to work in the morning come home at night so you move about civilian people all day. And at weekends to the club that I belong to, cricket club, you see. Play cricket Saturday and Sunday so I move around ordinary people and gradually life become all right

now. So things won‟t be so strange when I actually came out of the forces, you see. That was 1952 when I came out.

Q. During this period from the 50s through into the 60s, how did you see life in Britain? Was there a change as more people came from the Caribbean, the West Indies, over to Britain? Did you notice any change or….because I, I’m just asking you because I am inquisitive I am interested because obviously you were one of the earlier members of…you were one of the earliest but by the late 50s many thousands had arrived.

A. Oh yes, yes oh yes Q. But how did you see your role because in some senses…did you feel different to those who came later on? A. Well, well I‟ll tell you I am not being big-headed but I see my bit a bit different really because and I say well I am in position that I can help some of them because especially how to get on in this country. How to make the necessary adjustment to live alright in this country. I see myself in that. Because first of all a lot of them, the moment they come they start to get married straight away and I used to be a master of ceremonies every week. Oh my god the weddings I used to attend and all that. And I tell you some chaps when they start to work and all, some of the weddings though I am not Master of Ceremonies they invite me there because they have some of their workmates you see, because they have some of the English people, and they are so …well I don‟t know if its to say inquisitive at the West Indian type of marriage, because you know, and they are always invited and they are always turning up and because, I remember there was one case in that they say „Cecil look you know about the English can you come because most of them others get drunk at weddings‟. When they get their English friends there from their work, they work with them and they invite them, say well „Cecil you have to talk with them‟ and all that. You know you can‟t talk without a drink so (laughs) so I was great help to lot of them. Because I remember we have a club what we call the…something Caribbean club…I was the secretary of it which we have some people they were, they believe in Communists, English people them, some of them. A chap even his degree, he had a degree and all, but those beliefs say well being as we are West Indian they would just grab of us and I could see what‟s coming. But before this club, International Caribbean Social

thing, and we used to attend all things at weekends and all that we got the people to go around you know. Oh we used to carry on and have dances up at the, the, the Co-op used to have a big place, the Asians bought it out now, up on the High Street there. And we used to run these things and I...like Sunday afternoon some of these prominent people I might invite them just to come and have a chat you see, to some of the newcomers. That‟s what I used to do with them and all that, you know, be that man…you see Q. So how did you become known for that…you know obviously…how did people know that you were someone…?

A. Well I mean just from mouth to mouth. Some people saying that. Because sometime my wife, you know she say „Oh drat tell them people you are not doing this you not doing that‟ but I feel so happy and I know, I know with my folks from home, I say they need a little help in some way or the other, to go like them, you see.

Q. Do you think of that time Britain could have done more to provide for those coming over in the 50s? A. Yes, yes I think so. I don‟t think they have done a lot because most of the people they have done it for themselves. Because especially in the line of accommodation. Because that was the main job for some of the folks, to get suitable persons…I think…like to give them houses and thing like that.

Q. Back in the 50s it was difficult?

A. Yes it could be, you see. Well regarding jobs. There were no trouble with jobs you know in the 50s for them because Britain was on the way up. There had been a lot of thing as I have said before that some of the jobs what the Britishers, the English people wouldn‟t do, West Indians they don‟t mind a damn. When they coming in, and their motive to say well we got to be…we want…the target is to be in England for ten years after ten years we must, we must have so much money saved and we are going back home to do this or do that. So they didn‟t know anything like that but it just place to live. You see, place to live. I know it was difficult for some of the folks because you see they used to the radio loud, loud at night whereas these English people never like loud radio. You see and a lot of them because I visited, they run on the stair, slam the front door bam, and gone.

Well these English people didn‟t like that. Another English people didn‟t like you standing up in front of the house with your mates and chatting. And that was a common thing for the West Indian to do especially in the summertime, mate come and you all outside and chatting and laughing. You find the English people don‟t do that. And the old English

people are so reserved. Everything you got to go, like in the garden and things. Well West Indian they want to do. Q. So this street in Tooting in the early 50s…how many, how many black families were in this street for example? A. Right Good when we move here in the 14th January 1956 I can tell you exactly how many homes were owned by black people. There was number three. The chap he sold his share to another one who was in America this other one now in France because he married a French girl. He worked on the railway til he retired, he go out there. Number three…good. There is this one down at….Alf and his wife, you see and then this chap who was living here, it was a black man. He married a white woman and that was the one I bought from. So all the others, they were all white people. All white people and then we came here ‟56, you see, all white people. But they all grown up now. Some of them die out you know and the youngsters, they…‟cause we know certain youngsters, and any time they visit…because I have this girl she married to a police officer he used to live at number twenty two. They were Irish but lovely little girl I know from the time she was a little kid there. She used to work at Scotland Yard and then she married an officer there and she introduced her husband to me. And any time like they visit, when they ever visit Tooting…the mother, the mother left, left, went to Wimbledon some fifteen years ago….but any time they visit they are knocking. They call me Uncle Cecil, call me Uncle Cecil…like that. But a lot of them move out now, you see, but you get a lot now coming in, you see. Q. Would things have been…obviously you know…what about life in Brixton or Tottenham obviously there are different sorts of areas where there was much more of a larger community of people from the Caribbean than Tooting although Tooting does have….did you have much contact with sort of Brixton community?

A. Well I, I have quite a lot of contact with the Brixton community from 1970 until 1974 because I was in the youth service down in Brixton, you see. So I have caught a good contact with them.

Q. What were you doing in the youth service?

A. Oh I was a youth worker you know. Oh I finish up as a youth officer. Q. And where were you….what was your remit for your job? What did you have to do?

A. What?

Q. As a youth worker?

A. Well actually at Brixton we, they had a adventure playground.

I was coordinator

because from where I went to college Avery Hill college. That was a teacher training college but it is now called University of Greenwich. Two days a week, you see, that comes under LEA in the London Education Authority. Well I was down there for four years, you see, so that‟s how I know so much about Brixton. Then from there now sent to, I went to Westminster until I retired in 18...1987, you see, but…


And as a youth worker obviously you were seeing the second and third

generation of children. How did you find that? Tell me, can you take me through that period.


Yes you see its one thing I was disappointed with some of the black youngsters

because at Westminster, Brixton I was there well from 5 year olds, different age group right up to 21, but at Westminster the North Westminster Project, you see at Marylebone, Penfold Street was my office, and I used to deal with 15 to 21 age group. Mostly counselling or advice and all that. But I can see that the…a lot of our young people them black, they given too much because they are black they won‟t do this. They are given the same opportunity as the white but the type of people they have with them, these community leaders and some of them they giving them the wrong tuition because they are black and like that. Because I see at Westminster there now there it was open to send them on courses. I bent over backwards to get some of the youngsters on courses

because I used to know a lot of people at Paddington college, but they not interested. They say „What‟s the use going on these courses and when you finished you can‟t get a

job?‟ I said „Look there is nothing better than when you have these courses you have that little piece of paper in you to say you have successfully completed a course in so and so. You better than those who haven‟t done anything at all though you might not be able to get a job‟. And go like that. I was so disappointed. Disappointed in them because they have a different outlook of life according…than the Asians because I talk somewhere once I say I admire the Asians because they are doing so well regarding education and this little Jamaican girl she say „Mr Holness how‟s it you admire the bloody coolie people‟. I say „Please do not say that. Don‟t describe them as coolies they are Asians. Call them Asians‟. I say „They are better than you because you don‟t see any one of them hanging around radio shop, record shop through the day. They gone to school, they gone to go. I say you look in all the government department to see the number of Asians in good jobs here. What happened to our people? Like you and me, they not bothered. They gone to record shop for the day. They turn up back at home in the night at the same time. Then the parents, the school send letters, get them to give the parents, what they do? They read the letters and when they discover that about that about their parents must go they tear up the letter, don‟t tell their parents because teachers told me that‟ you see. So that‟s how I see…they given too much and some of the people who used to usually have (…?…) their teachers are writing but they are not doing that. They stir up all the things because the opportunities are here for you if you want to do them. Because most of them might think, say well they want to achieve this, I want to be so and so, but they are not doing anything positive to achieve that, whereas the Asians they are doing every damn thing man. Because I met quite a few Asians „cause there‟s a shop we used to buy Asian things. When his daughter she was at Chelsea University, college and all that, the girl come home, now she‟s a teacher. They used…the father when I talk…when he used to know I was in the youth service, you know. So once, it was once that I was at the back.

Someone came in who knew me and then, this person was a teacher. Because you know in the Youth Service you up close there with the teachers because in the diary you see we get them the same. I know everything what‟s going on…and we used to mark…so after he gone he say „Cecil you didn‟t tell me‟. I thought how could I come and tell, this Asian man was saying you know because he knew by the first year I used to push my wife in the wheelchair up there. So I say how could I tell you I don‟t know what your wife does I just come and get dinner and we have a little chat. Oh I say yes I am in the Youth Service I say my job you see. I say I was trained at Avery Hill college you know. Things like that man.

Q. So you’ve been here for well over 50 years?

A. Oh yes 1944 to now that 54 years. Q. 54 years. Why do you see…where do you think the problem…you know it seems a problem from what you are describing with the third generation perhaps the fourth generation of children from the West Indies, where do think, where do you see, where did you see the problems?

A. Well first of all they are not disciplined, as our people. And half of that I got to blame it to society. Blame it to the government regarding discipline. Because they don‟t know what discipline is. Because we were brought up with strong discipline. I know with some of our parents at home we go a bit too far in discipline. They did not relax with discipline but over here the black youngsters they are not listening. And they see…some of them the parents try to discipline them in a way. Bit, a bit strong. And when they see their white compatriots or their white peers can do certain and they can‟t do, they rebel, you see. They rebelled. And there are a lot of people because I see at Westminster, North Westminster there, this girl you know because first time they used to have…what they call them school thing, you know….but they different now because they have, these girls, they are social workers but they specialise in…what they call them?…they specialise to do them, like attendance…you know you used to have Attendance Officer went to when they don‟t go to school they get them out…but they have these social workers they specialise in that now…and there was a girl she went over to the Lisson Green Estate and this girl was only 15. Nice little girl too. And she told me she say Cecil because the housing officer say well Cecil…anyway once they start work and they want place, give them a form they fill in that they might be able to get a flat. So this girl now, you see, what you call her…Educational Welfare Officer… you see that what they call them now. In that the attendance had to go. So she come she say Cecil she want a form to fill in. I say for who when he told me I said no. I say I am not giving you…what for? She want to get a flat she can‟t get on with her parents. She‟s only 15! I say when you go fill in how the hell she going to…she doesn‟t finish her schooling yet, so how you expect her to get a flat. I say have you been to see the mother and to find out. I say well you being black and she…I said look at college, I say when I was doing my training they didn‟t train me how to deal with a black child and how to deal with a white child, they train me how to deal with young people. So you should find…I said my god that girl‟s mother she is so caring for her. I

said she not homeless, she got her own room nicely furnished and everything because its on the Lisson Green Estate I say have you ever been…no… I say well go, because I used to know the mother. I say you should find out about that because you see the girl told her, her mother forcing her business the term that she used because she, the mother wants to know what time she coming home…15 you know, want to come home at night. And then she can‟t get up in the morning they mother have trouble, so I went up to see her I sit in the school to see the teacher. She sleeping in the class so when I got there say her mother face forcing on me I say no your mother care about you because the most West Indian I know they wait, they not go to bed until they hear the key in the door. I said during the weekdays it‟s alright you can…I mean weekends…you can get a little time to come in after midnight but I said during weekdays when you at school next morn you must be in a certain time to get your sleep and I say furthermore you are sleeping in class. She say how you know that? I say aren‟t you? I say I‟m not telling you how I know but aren‟t you sleeping in class because the teacher told me. And like that you see so some of these workers they not leading the black youngsters on the right side. They join with them to rebel. You see, join with them to rebel over society. They want too much freedom. Q. Do you see a difference then between your generation and…

A. the present one? Q. …and the present one in the sort of work that you are doing? You know in the sort of work that you were doing in youth work and community work. So you feel that the younger generation in that work have a different attitude?

A. Oh yes, yes definitely, definitely, definitely. And those who get a chance there to get a responsible position, they not showing them the right thing they just join up rebel against society, society must do that because when they call about with us as West Indians, we are not responsible for what happening two-three hundred years ago with the black people. We not responsible but they want to say, we got this to get back from these people and things like that. See that not right, not right at all…..Just switch off I want to go….

Q. Going back a bit from the work situation to sort of changes in the community. When did things start changing as far as the importation of food from Jamaica? When did you start…when were you first able to get Jamaican food in England? A. Oh let me see now. Well you see the thing is I have reached to stage that it didn‟t matter to me much whether I get West Indian food or not because I reach the stage when I could manage. I could eat the English food and enjoy it. So when …I think it was in the….from the 60‟s I think we could get West Indian food in this country.

Q. Where did you get it?

A. In the local market but most things people, especially for us here, most people used to have to go over to Brixton. Brixton you get everything, everything West Indian. But in our Tooting market now you can get most West Indian things there, you see. But I, I, I get the place that I could manage with the English type of food. The way you cook it up that‟s all you see, I wouldn‟t worry whether I can get my banana, green bananas or yams or anything like that. It didn‟t matter much to me. See, it didn‟t matter much.

Q. And as the years went on when you were working in Brixton, did you still think in the back of your mind that you were going to go back to Jamaica?

A. Well that was one of my main objects of staying on in this country because one day I would like to go back and the knowledge and the education that I have acquired in this country that I would go and display amongst my fellow men. Because I was, I was offered a job in the Youth Service to work with the Youth Development Commission in Jamaica. Which I was so pleased but at that time the wife had just started to walk with the stick with the multiple sclerosis and I have consulted the, the specialist and they say well the heat would just finish her off, so I had to just change my mind and then I just become…apply for citizenship of England, of Great Britain….which I was so annoyed that it cost me £37.50p. Whereas I could have had it for 2 shillings and sixpence before we change the coin. Two shillings sixpence. But at that time I have my mind set up so well. I want to go back home to do something for my little Jamaica. Yes

Q. What was the difference between the ideas that you had in the Youth Service here to the Youth Service in Jamaica? What sort of things were….

A. Well, well tell you the truth as far that I know and what of the Youth Service there, there wasn‟t much difference really, not much. But, but I want to do, you know I would feel much happier to know that I have left Jamaica, though I have left Jamaica in the forces but I am going back with something, some knowledge that I have acquired in this country and then I going to impart it to my folks at home. I would fell much happier. But due to that now I got to change my mind and decide I say well I stay on in England then. I become a citizen. Q. And when you went back to Jamaica in the ‘60s and ‘70s…. A. „Cause I been back there nine times now. Q. When you go back do you….how do you feel? Do you still feel...you

know…where…do you still fell Jamaican , do you fell British, you know when you go back to Jamaica after all these years?

A. Yes well, I still look at myself, though I have British passport, but I still look myself as a Jamaican. I do still look at myself as a Jamaican and also British and also the queen is my lady. I look at it that way, you see. I still look at myself as a Jamaican, not because I got British nationality…I never…I am a Jamaican. Q. And how do you feel that you’re received when you go back? When people know that you have been in Britain since the ‘40s. A. Well I don‟t know you see. Its something I‟ve never been through the test with, to know. But I know anytime I visit Jamaica I am always accepted because I move around as, as if I haven‟t left Jamaica. People used to say „but man Cec you haven‟t changed at all‟. But if you have any sense about you, you go back to your homeland. (…?…) I know some of the people them that pretend because I tell you what with some of them damn stupid…because I remember again…we going back now. A chap from my district, we took our exams together. We joined the force...well I joined before him and he came over. He only spend one year because we were enlisted on the duration of the present emergency. Well the present emergency ended in May 1945 and this chap went home. So when I went home in ‟48 some of the local boys they want to have a chat with me and they say this man that…I don‟t recall his name...but mister so and so all he could say to us „Hello

boys and pass‟. They wanted to ask question about his experience for the short while in the forces….never. But they say „Oh man Cecil you are so different‟. See there I am just repeating their words. „But you are so different you talk with us, you drink with us‟ because I got some relation half Chinese they have the bar, they have a private bar so I ask my cousin is it alright to bring those boys…he say „Yes uncle Cec‟…they call me that way you know. „Yes uncle Cec come bring them along‟. Everything so happy. He say „We couldn‟t get the chance to ask Mr so-and-so about his experience in England though his while it seem short because you are just out on leave so you going back complete your service‟. I say „yes‟. I feel so happy you see. Feel so happy man. But somehow our people, just because they come to England, they might go back with some more money, because that‟s one thing now with bank account a lot of them want to know they have a fat bank account but they don‟t enjoy much life because they don‟t have a holiday…and rich like that. Like with me now my previous wife, before she died four years ago, every year we go away somewhere now on holiday. And places we go we are the only black couple.

Q. Where did you go? Like where?

A. Oh most of these holiday camps.

Q. In Britain?

A. In Britain, in Britain. Q. Like Butlins…? A. Yes and all these private ones. And when we go there we treated…I remember once we went to the Isle of Man and all of that. We were the only black. There was over 600 people there but………


A. Every damn thing going on this holiday camp in the Isle of Man. It was wonderful, man. We been to Devon. We been to all other places „cause we never stayed at home.

Because when I say to some of my country, say why oh they can‟t go what be only black people and white people. I say look what happens. You can speak the language and everything. So someone he say „Oh no you different because you here long time‟. That‟s what they say to me…(laughs)…you can go. But we made so many friends and I

remember last time we went to Devon, we met a couple. They took us home here on holiday. We met there and we arrive before them on the table they don‟t know who there going to be when they come introduce themselves. Well this man he was a lecturer at…you know the…the camp there…the army camp there….Sandhurst. You know the military academy. Because Hussein, you know King Hussein man, of…he was….Jordan, you see. The one who married the English girl…say he was his instructor….he just came introduce himself. I introduce myself because at the time I finished all in the forces.

People believe we knew each other. When we were going out, because they have a car, he rented car and take us out all the time. When we were coming back, they live at Guilford but they come all the way drop us in here at Tooting and after we become friends until they die. We visit their place they visit ours, like that and all. Because they are afraid to mix, I don‟t know why. I don‟t show myself on white people but some of our people afraid to. Because once they can speak the language I think that‟s the main thing. Make yourself understood, you see. But going back to Jamaica, well I don‟t know I can‟t say whether they accept me or whatever, but I know whenever I go there always having a damn good time and most time I got to prepare to give a talk at school and once a year at youth clubs anywhere whilst I‟m around. There always a note „Would you like…we are having so-and-so, would you like to come as a special guest, we expect you to talk‟ and so on and so on.

Q. And when you give a talk what do you normally talk about?

A. Well most of the time you know they talk about the social life in this country and compare it with life out there at the moment. These are the main things, because ‟94 I went out. We were, I was on holiday in America well this is the wife, we didn‟t marry yet we just say all right there was some cheap flights going to Jamaica I say oh let‟s pop over for fifteen days. Well in my district they have, there was something on and say oh my god this man come „Cecil you got to say something‟ I say alright and we talk. It‟s always on the social side of things you know, present happenings in England, how things going on with the young blacks all the time. They always…some of them very concerned about the

young blacks because especially they have what you call the returnees, „cause a lot of the immigrants now they going home, you see.

Q. Why do you think they are going home?

A. Well, well, the time, the pension, they retired, they retired so they have a home built they have a car, they have everything they going home there but some of them are not happy.

Q. Going home?


Going back home to settle down because the people out there jealous of them.

Though some of them going with that air of tendency to show off because they might have a nice six apartment house, eight apartment house, they have a very good car. Every end of month you know so much come in the bank and live happily. Because a man go out with full pension, you know, that‟s plenty, plenty money out there. Q. But what of their children and grandchildren who are, were born here and don’t maybe have the same affiliation with Jamaica that your generation has? A. Well when you say affiliation I don‟t know what you mean about that because a lot of them who do live out, they free to go back at any time but only say well a lot of them they are not doing anything for later on if they want to go back, where money would come in all right for them. They wont have anything because a lot of them now they don‟t want to work. They don‟t want to take any form of education so when they go back now they drop out because they don‟t want you. Especially well, well the Prime Minister once he say that, tell you plain, that was Manley before he died, Michael Manley, he say well these youngsters ask to come we say we don‟t want you, unless you have some sort of trade or profession you coming out there. Though your parents were Jamaican but we don‟t want you. He tell them plain which I agree with, because they might say because it depends they want to come out that might expect jobs and all and they have no blasted qualifications nothing like that. So don‟t want them. He say well you must get your education, get qualified and those things then we have you. Yes he didn‟t mince his words, you see, didn‟t mince his words at all.

Q. And talking about politics obviously Jamaican politics changed a lot in the ‘30s and ‘40s you had, beforehand you didn’t actually have political parties did you and then…. A. No not until…a lot of things happen in 1944 you know. I was Jamaica…changes in a lot of things you see since 1944, especially in politics. Because now we sent (..?..) since our last election and we had what the Prime Minister was saying this is the last time they going to do something about which they have the Queen as head of state going to finish with that. So I say „Oh my god I don‟t know I don‟t know what they heading for‟. Because since we have become independent in Jamaica, Jamaica is not a lot better off. Because they still have to be expecting financial help from this country. To me my interpretation of the word independence is when you can look after yourself completely you don‟t want any help from anybody. But Jamaica we are resorting in a lot of things and no we say that now no more from the Queen. It going to cost a hell of a thing out there. Because first of all you see, all these people who are knighted by the Queen, especially what you call the Governor General out there, is our representative of the Queen out there in Jamaica. He‟s a sir. I know the man very well „cause strange enough he was a headmaster, school headmaster. He was a lecturer at my training college for teachers until he enter politics. He did very, very well. I mean men like those now they going to lose all the big position. Well he‟s already knighted, but others to come, hoping that they be knighted, they get, there will be no such chance. They going to say well blast the Prime Minister and all that. They going to miss out in all those privileges, man. Because there great privilege and you can leave then you are Sir so and so you come to England, you see.

Q. And why do you always hear, obviously being here, did you follow politics back in Jamaica in the ‘60s and ‘70s? Particularly in the Manley / Seaga years which were very…?

A Well I just talk, what and I always read the paper and converse with people. I say well if I was out there to vote I would vote PNP the Peoples National Party. That was Manley and the other things, you see. I would vote for them. I would join their party. „Cause I am not for the labour government out there, you see. That‟s the only way I get involved in politics. But whenever I am on a visit out there I don‟t talk anything political. One has to be very, very careful when you on a visit if you are a Jamaican. I mean as an outsider like an Englishman I don‟t know if you born in this country were you?

Q. Yeah

A. Well you classed as an Englishman you see, you go out there now. When you talk about Jamaica it doesn‟t affect them some…but if you are a Jamaican and born here you going you got to be careful which party you talk about. So I think to me the best is to be neutral and that‟s what I do when I visit there. Neutral, I don‟t talk anything at all about Jamaican politics until when I return to England because they bump you off. You get bumped off quite literally. Q. Why is that? What happened in Jamaica that created such a…such partisan feeling? A. Well I just don‟t know. I just don‟t know how to put it. Just don‟t know. Just don‟t know. Because we having the opportunity to come to this country I think our eyes are opened at most things and to see things that they are doing not right and then we are so independent where we can afford to speak out. We are the people them there a lot of them they just can‟t speak out because especially they‟re in a job anything they might find, like in a government job and you going to speak out before long you‟ll find you are out of a job. You don‟t know but you are out of a job, you see. So when you return, them go back they say oh well they are independent people they get their money so they can speak up, speak up for anything not going right. They don‟t like you for that. They don‟t like you for that. You see they just don‟t like you for that. To know that you are too independent for them. Too independent. Because like, all the returnees now that‟s what they called. People who retired going home getting their pension. Now you know what the government wanted them much to do, want this government to do. The pension, to send it to them out there and they in turn pay it to the people out there. So the former and the associates they said „No‟ they protested. Because I remember I was out there in 1987 and ….is this outside what we supposed to be talking about is it? Q. Well we’ll finish this bit. A. You see. And when I go Mrs Thatcher was out there, Mrs Thatcher you know, she‟s a good woman, though I‟m not keen on her party, but she‟s a clever woman and when I put it forward to her…Mrs Thatcher she say „Well I will look into it when I go back to England‟

and she did look into it and did the right thing because people getting their pension, they not complain what the blasted hell the government want them to send to them and them in turn because first of all now they would have to set up some new jobs for people because its something they are not going to do free. Someone going to drink white rum or whisky that they drink out there it…this whisky there…Johnnie Walker, Johnnie Walker Black Label, you see that the top whisky, top whisky out there you know. The civil servants and the high-ups they drink. They going to smoke big cigar drink black label whisky and all that. But Mrs Thatcher say „I will look into it‟ and she did. Everybody when they go now they sign up with a bank or a building society them check money send you right in they draw it through the bank. They don‟t like that out there in Jamaica. They envy them, envy them man….. So what can we finish up with now something good, interesting? Q. Well you know, how do you feel now about the sort of…you know its 50 years since the Windrush, so it’s a big anniversary of a period in Caribbean history. How do you see the future? How do you see the future of those who came to Britain in, not only in ’48 but in the ‘50s you know from your experience, your own….

A. Well I say most of those people now they are retired people. So and being retired people their future is already determined, you see, the future is already determined. But I know that posterity, those that I left behind how are they going to finish up. You see, so what I would say straight into them that they still must do better. They are bound to be some changes in their life and I would advise them to put the accent more on education, learn something. Don‟t follow what some people say „Well you are in England…‟ Learn something. Make best of education to help them on. Because the time will come when a lot of them will want to go to Jamaica and even some of them who are not retired yet, its not too late to make some amends at their life because they won‟t have any pension or anything following them, because what can I say, some of us have as many as four pensions. Three plus the state pension. I won‟t disclose how many I got but thank god because, you see, they based on when they used to go from jobs to job because this job can do over time they get so much they leave and when they go, when they come out some of them now they have to rely on what Income Support and that like that. They don‟t great full state pension so they can‟t think of going back home. I tell them to tell the younger ones „Make best of the little school days that left for them and learn something.‟

Q. And what about, you know when we were talking earlier about the prejudice in this country? What do you see now 50 years on, over 50 years when you arrived? How do you see… from what you experienced back in the ‘40s?

A. Well I tell you, I am a bit surprised. I was expecting to see things a little better in the line of prejudice from what it is now. To me things and the plans still not working out well. And I think it goes fifty-fifty with the immigrants and the British settlers as well because you see some of our people now they come over here they forget…what‟s it there? (someone comes into room)….you see what I say with some of them our people, some of our people are not prepared to make any real adjustment, you know, but that what I would say to them we used to grow up and our parents used to say when you are in Rome do what the Romans do but some of them they coming over they want England to transform, everything to suit them. And that them make some amendment to suit England. I don‟t want to be subservient to anyone in this country but we could do a bit better to get some form of harmony with the English people. See because when you see this country put up with a lot from us. Plenty, plenty other countries wouldn‟t because as far as I understand how things go in America, America say alright look get out and that‟s it, get out. But this country they put up with a lot they are very, very sympathetic and kind to some of our people and they can‟t see it, they can‟t see it. Everything they blame, but they never once say reconcile themselves and blame themselves. No, according to them they are always right they now, now. No No.

Q. Do you yourself see a distance perhaps between your generation and you know children who were born in this country…. A. …of West Indian parents? Q. Yeah…who are now in their teenage years? Or born in the ‘70s their parents came over in the ‘50s whatever. Do you know from those children to you there is a very big difference…a different experience? A. Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes there‟s no doubt about that. No doubt about that at all but they different and the sort of doctrine they are getting from even some of our community workers that coming to lead us. This sort of doctrine that they getting from them, that what causing them to rebel. But they got to make some amendments.

Q. But where is that doctrine coming from? Why…

A. Some of our community workers, man, because they say well this country owe them that, owe them this, owe them that. I can‟t see. Because what our people suffered three hundred, four hundred years ago as slaves, it nothing to do with the present generation we have to deal with in this country now. See, it shouldn‟t. Because… „We won‟t do this, we have to get this because our people were exploited our people were that and that‟. Man our people dead and gone two, three hundred years ago. Start now on your own. And apportion the people in a different way. Say well we are decent people. We are human. We want, we deserve so and so and point it out to them. That what I say.

Q. Do you think many agree with you from the young generation?

A. Not many Q. If you are sitting in a room of 14 to….

A. No, not many would because I know from the, the young blacks that I have to deal with in my work as a youth worker, no. A lot of them used to go. Though one thing some of them used to do quite a bit „oh you are just like my bloody father‟ you know. The guys father might say no its not right you mustn‟t do that and that because they want to go with full out for everything. „Oh you just like my bloody father with certain things.‟ Though some of them they give me some good name, good words. „Cause I remember one boy, one day I was coming from the passport office you know at…what do you call it….near Westminster there…you know where they have the English passport office there…I was walking up to Victoria and I saw these two chaps a white chap and a black chap. I look and there, the black, the boy was smart you know he had a grey suit man, black shoes, well shiny, the briefcase he and this other English chap. So when I pass I say he looks like someone I ought to know but I just couldn‟t remember. So when I heard the voice say „Cecil don‟t pass me like that‟. Oh god I look at him I say „Robbie‟. Oh my, he so nice. He look so….he say „well I have to thank you for that because you always tell us about that‟. Oh I felt so thrilled man, and the lady I was with you know we were…Petty, Petty, Petty France you know near St James‟ Station there…and the lady…I say…oh I feel so happy, man. He say well I have to thank you for that because that one thing you used to drive

into us. Because many of them you know, when they start work like them going out on a Friday because sometime, my time was flexible time you know I work out late they pass them come back they going out, they come and they look …you know I put on new suit because I was wide boy,(?) put brand new suit, look nice tie, white shirt and everything and like the shoes were dirty so he didn‟t like it. He came to me and say „Cecil how do I look‟ so I, I just went to him like that and put my foot….and then he say oh my god he say, he say look I didn‟t...I say yes go in there inside there you see. There‟s a piece of rock(?), open that box you see a piece of rock I say go. He look so smart with his shoes and he came out say alright, I say yes that‟s fine. I feel so happy, with some of them you know, and when the parents thanked me, thank me so much in Youth Service. When some of them getting married always an invitation to them which I feel very, very happy for some of them, you see. Because I been real with them, I didn‟t hide anything from them. I say well I let them know that the things they were doing was right.

Q. And when you met some of these young people, in what capacity? What were they doing? What was their position at that time when you met them? A. Well most, most of them…I say what you doing…some in jobs but some of them not working, „we can‟t get jobs „cause as you know because we are black‟. I say „Look don‟t say that to me. I say „I know what‟s going on regarding jobs so you haven‟t got to spell it out like that to me‟. But some of them it‟s just through their own self. But some do done very, very well. Very well, there‟s a girl I have she finish up as a school teacher and culture has so much…I finish… on her forms them wanting to say I did that I encourage her when she used to do little part time, what, session work in my office. She go and train. I was so pleased. Her parents thanked me so much. Pleased with my efforts with them man.

Q. Now you have been retired for ten years? A. Yes ‟87.

Q. How do you keep active today?

A. Well most of the time, well sometime once a week you know I go down to the exServicemen Association which I am one of the founder members. I do a little counselling

there, you know, go down there. Otherwise I don‟t do much. I do little sometime people pop in with little paperwork for me I do for them you know. Things that I can do and just taking it easy, you see, just taking it easy, like that, like that. Q Right well I think we’ve covered a lot.

A. Good, good I hope you make some good sense when you go through it, when you got through it. There‟s a lot eh? How many tapes?

Q. Thank you, thank you.

A. You are welcome, man, you are welcome

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