|Sea-Change: Wivenhoe Remembered|
Women and men: at home – Freda Annis
You had to wash up and you had to help – top and tail gooseberries, and shell the peas, you got jobs like that to do. You wouldnt be sitting around with my grandmother! No, we all had our jobs to do. Washing up was the one. One of my aunts she married a Scotsman during the First World War so, of course, she went up to Scotland to live and it was quite a long time before they came home. But afterwards they used to come regularly. And she came home one Christmas, I was married at the time, and we were all there at the Christmas and my uncle said something about Was there any mustard? So Granny said, Ida, get in the mustard. So she looked, she said, Oh no, I dont, Mother, she said. Hes got two arms and two legs and if he doesnt know where to find that now, in this house, its about time he did. She said, You always made us wait on the boys, she said, and I hated it, she said. They never had to wash up. And she said, We always did, she said, And Im not waiting on him! And, of course, we laughed so much we didnt know what to do! Oh, that was so hilarious! But I often thought about that! And I know that was the thing with all the families, the girls did wait on them and they expected it.
Domestic help – Hilda Barrell
My grandparents didnt have live-in help but we always had someone come and do the washing and the cleaning. Which meant that when I was 17 I wasnt doing anything. I used to go for walks. And I had a friend in the Post Office, I used to meet her every afternoon and go home with her, meet her every evening at eight oclock when she finished. But, of course, we didnt have a lot going on like theyve got today. There were dances but I had to creep out! It was very strict, but I did go. So when I got in of a night, I used to stand at the bottom of the stairs and listen. If I could hear him snoring I knew I was safe! I spoke to my grandmother about it and she said, I dont mind what you do, as long as you dont upset your grandfather. And when my auntie married and went to Singapore, when I was 17, Id never done my hair. Shed always washed it and done it every day even when she was in bed not very well. But it isnt good to bring children up like that.
House-husbanding in the Eighties – Janita Lefevre
In 1981 I was living in Wivenhoe and had a full-time job as a Humanities teacher. I stayed in this small two-up/two-down terraced house, which is absolutely lovely, with a bit of garden on the side. Originally it was a piece of British Rail land which they rented to me, and I was a vegan so I grew all my vegetables and used to have a scarecrow, and the local village children used to come down from Millfields School to make stories up about the scarecrow because it was a female scarecrow! We brewed beer and we did everything naturally. And I had a daughter, one daughter, in 1981, and my partner then raised her. So for six years he was one of the only two men in Wivenhoe who took the total child-rearing job and I knew that from the health visitors.
None of us worked – Hilda Barrell
None of us worked. My granddad didnt believe in it. I wanted to train for a teacher. All my friends were teachers Etta (Mrs Dan), Mrs Ellis they were all teachers, and the boys and all, you were all flocked together, and I wanted to be a teacher. She said, You wont like it. I didnt. And my granddad had an older brother who said, Why dont you let Hilda go into a shop? My granddaughters gone to a shop and she likes it. He said, No. I had four daughters and they didnt go out to work, and shes not going.
When I left school I did nothing for a little while. I just stayed with Grandma. Its a pity but thats how things were in those days. My granddad was that sort of man. He thought you ought to be able to make a dumpling, and sew a button on a mans shirt, and you were all right!
Women and men: at work – Ann Quarrie
I came to Colchester because I liked Colchester very much, and also Wivenhoe, and so thats how I came to Wivenhoe. But in the meantime Id got a job with Barratts, selling houses, Id seen them advertise, and the first thing I did when I phoned up was spoke to the Director, Do you have women? because every time Id tried to get a job I was told they didnt have women as though were some kind of monkey! I suppose it was just before the Eighties. So I then worked for Barratts. They were very hard bosses but they were very fair and very good, and when you did well they were really good to you. And I worked for them for five years.
Accepting gayness – Ken Plummer
I think the reaction of Wivenhoe to gayness has always been very positive since Ive been here – which is 30 years and I think thats just got easier and easier. Ive ever had one incident in my entire time in Wivenhoe, of being called a queer. What goes on behind my back may be another matter. But thats my experience. So its a very easy environment for gay people to live in. That’s contrary to all the books, which say, Escape to the city where youll be safe. Dont stay in a village. There’s not a big gay community here as such, but I am saying that quite a number live here, and quite easily.