Miss Alma Knight was born in Highfields in 1923.
This is Lindsay Casselden recording an interview with Miss Alma Knight on Thursday 2nd September 1994.
First of all Miss Knight, could you tell me where you were born, and if you like, how old you are now.
Yes, I was born at 52 Gopsall Street, 6th of January 1923. Do you want to know anything about the house or how long I was there?
It was our parents' first home. I lived there with them until I was about three years old, and then we moved to 13 St Peters Road to live with my grandparents. My baby sister was born there but unfortunately she only lived a few weeks. I started to school while we lived there, and then we moved to 45 Gopsall Street. My other sister who is the youngest in the family, was born the year before the war started. Not actually in the house, at a nursing home.
Do you want to know any more about the house there?
Yes. Did you have electric light?
Yes, we did which was quite unusual. There were quite a lot of houses in Gopsall Street that had electric light. I don't think the small houses had electric light, I think they had the gas lights you know. They were quite small I believe, I can't remember them awfully well, they were taken down in the 1960s or 1970s, when the tower blocks were built. The little school and the day nursery were put there then. But on the corner of Oxendon Street and Melbourne Road were some really beautiful houses, I think they were called Yeomandale Villas. They were like the mock Tudor style with front gardens. They were very beautiful, people were quite sorry when they went. Our house was considered quite modern, but it didn't have a bathroom which of course it was the Thirties, and then the war started and you couldn't get work done like that. Of course my sister was at school by then, so as soon as we could possibly get it done, our parents had a bathroom put in with hot water, which we thought was absolutely lovely. Of course, when you've not known such a luxury then you do appreciate it you know, a lot. Then we had various alterations and bits of work done. It was quite a nice house, but I can't remember if it had electricity.
They have cellars which is very nice, and at 13 St Peters Road of course, I was only there perhaps 2 and a half years. At that time there was no health service, there was a public dispensary, which is quite an interesting thing from the health point. This is another subject, I don't know if you'd like to know any more about that, or I'll leave that and go on to something else...?
Well let's go back to when you were little, what sort of work did your father do?
Oh, when I was born he was on long distance driving, well I say long distance. Like a hire car, where they took mostly business people to places like Skegness, Blackpool or St Annes. They had the use of the car for a week you see, he was like a chauffeur. He also used to go up to St Annes or Blackpool, to the big hotels there. I don't remember because I wasn't born, but he used to talk about it and tell how he used to stay in the part where the hotel staff stayed and eat his meals with them. He wrote letters to my mother about how lovely it was.
After I was born he didn't want to be away a lot, so he applied to be a driver on City Transport which he loved. Then he was an instructor, but he then went back to driving during the war years. He had to leave for health reasons, it was about the only time he was ill. I think he was on the sick for about a year. Then he worked at Corahs. He did clerical work which he also loved, you know, he was a lovely man. I won't say he was as outgoing as my mother, but when you got to know him he was very friendly, he got on well with people, which of course you have to do in all those jobs, don't you? He was still working after retirement age. Unfortunately he passed away with cancer in 1976. But both our parents were absolutely lovely. My grandfather died while we were at St Peters Road. My grandma then came to live with us, she would have been about 88 or 89 when she passed away in 1943.
My grandmother was here during the air raids and she was marvelous. She used to go in the Anderson Shelter, you know she was really wonderful. She didn't turn a hair. Would you like me to talk any more about those years?
Tell me about when you went to school, were you about 5?
Yes, in those days, it was Medway Street. I can't remember whether Dorothy was there of course, the name was Cooper then. I remember her parents living on Sparkenhoe Street. Our parents, well I know a lot of parents were very caring round here, they would collect the children and take them home. Mothers used to wait for you when you came out because you were at school a bit later then. I think it was about 4pm or 4.15pm, something like that. In the dark winter evenings they all used to meet outside and have a little chat, it was the same with my sister who was there as well. She was at the junior school during the war years, and then she left age 15, she was at Crown Hills.
Did you have very big classes?
Oh yes! I'm sure they were well into the 40s. My mother kept my school reports. We took what was called the Scholarship exam, which meant you could go to grammar school if you passed. The majority of our class passed. You had a choice of attending You didn't have to go to grammar school. I mean that was what I would have done, but it would have been the beginning of the war you see.
There was more unemployment I should think at that time, well going up to the outbreak of war I think things were getting a bit better here. My father and mother used to say the Twenties and the early Thirties were very bad, but I think when you're about 5 years old and you've got good parents and they buy you things, you don't remember that aspect. You know it's love and good parents and a united family, that's what you remember.
So did you go on to another school after Medway?
Yes, I did. I passed the Scholarship but for some reason, we didn't have the confidence the children have today. My mother took me to look at Wyggeston Grammar School, or it might have been Newarke or Alderman Newton. The nearest one was Collegiate School, but you know, my mother and father said as I had won a scholarship I could go if I wanted to. But it was still quite expensive, you had to buy your books and your uniform. Some of my friends were going to Moat Road, which was intermediate. So if you'd won a scholarship you went into the top form and you learnt French and more advanced biology and science. But you left at 14. I absolutely loved schooldays, it was beautiful, yes.
Mother passed away in 1983. Just before that, a lovely teacher (who I kept in touch with) died. We used to go and visit her, she lived on the road facing Spinney Hill Park. She was an Art teacher. Her house was absolutely beautiful, paintings and things like that. But yes, I really loved schooldays.
Did you have a uniform?
Yes we did, but you weren't as restricted as if you were at a grammar school. You were supposed to wear a navy tunic and red jumper for winter, white blouses for autumn and spring, and this is very interesting because we did a lot of sewing in those days, you learnt how to look after a sewing machine and that! You made your own summer uniform. We were divided into four different houses like Bradgate, GraceDieu Swithland and Ulverscroft, and we all had handbroidered emblems and flowers. It was really beautiful, that was the Art teacher's idea. But of course, our mums used to help us a bit getting them done in time, but it was really very nice. There was a very nice arrangement, it was very discreet, and, possibly at that time, which was the middle Thirties, there were a few girls whose fathers didn't have much work. The headmistress and head teacher would arrange an exchange scheme where if you grew out of your tunic, you could take them to the Domestic Science teacher who would just give them a little clean and press if they needed it. Although in those days children were very clean. I think it's not like that today. If parents wanted to see the headmistress, the little girl could go in the lunch hour and try one on, so nobody knew, it was all very discreet, you know, and beautifully done. I think really there is a lot to be learnt from that, but you know, I suppose its throwaway society today, isn't it!
But, I really loved schooldays. I liked Science very much, plus Biology and Art. I loved Art. But the job I had when I left school strangely enough, was as a shop assistant where they sold uniforms for grammar schools!
Very strange! So some of the customers who came in with their daughters were actually older than me you see. They were 15 and 16 you know. But that was a very happy experience, I enjoyed that very much.
That was in Leicester?
In Leicester, yes. The firm is in Stamford Street now, it's called Grahame Gardner Ltd.
Yes, they had a showroom in Granby Street, that's near the shoe shop, and just round the corner from Wellington Street, they had things manufactured there and then they also had the showroom.
Later on, I went into the office there, but I enjoyed the showroom very much, yes it was lovely. We worked till about 6.30pm, a bit later on a Saturday, but not as late as some. But Granby Street was beautiful in those days, you know, lovely shops and that. Then of course there's the Gopsall Street school, that was a church school. We went to Sunday School there.
Oh...which church did you go to?
St Peter's church. Then I went to St Hilda's Church for a time, but it is closed now so I'm back at St Peter's. However it has changed quite a lot from the old days. My sister and I were baptised into the church. You do have to keep an open mind today on religion, and that's why I think the multi-faith is very interesting in this city. I believe there are one or two white people who have adopted the Moslem faith isn't there? They don't take it completely, but for a time, when they've got children they say it's a good influence on them. I think particularly with a view to science and space discoveries, you have to keep an open mind today, I don't believe in being too rigid on religion, you know, and you can do just as good without being particularly religious, don't you think?
I mean helping with things like this is very interesting.
So you went to Sunday School?
Did you enjoy that?
Yes I did.
Did you have treats?
Oh we did! There was a very nice lady who lived in Evington Street. She was a missionary in Burma. I can remember her coming quite vividly. I'd only just started there I think, I was quite tiny. She bought these beautiful clothes that the little orphan girls made, hand sewn. There was a little sarong and a sort of blouse. I was so tiny she picked me out. I had these clothes tried on and I stood on the headmistress's desk as the model. Oh, I thought it was absolutely lovely you know, but... yes, she was a very nice lady, she lived there till about the 1960s I believe.
What did you do with the rest of your spare time? Did you go to the pictures?
Oh yes we did. But in those days, I think children had specialised programmes. We did go to see 'A' and 'U' categories, the 'A' was "Adult", but really today they would be considered very mild, in fact sometimes I would go with friends in Oxenden Street. Oh, that's another story I can tell you about, very interesting! Sometimes I'd go with my friend's parents, or she would come with me and my parents, or, I'd probably go to stay with her auntie and uncle in the West End and we'd go to the cinema there. There were a lot of comedies and Shirley Temple films, and also, 'Our Gang' or something like that. There were some grown up films which were suitable for children, like 'Mutiny on the Bounty' and 'Tale of Two Cities' which we went to see. But, even the milder adult movies where there is an affair with the secretary (!), it was very discreet you know, I didn't come to any harm watching it! But yes, we used to go there, and possibly to the Pantomime, and also to the City of Leicester show, that was always lovely, and of course my grandma used to come with us a lot as she was living with us, she'd be in her seventies by then and was a very active lady.
Yes. Did you have public shelters?
Yes, we did. They were the brick ones. Mostly at the junction of two or three roads, so if people were out and the sirens started, they could go straight in. Gopsall Street school was also a shelter, and people used to go there. But a lot of people did have their own Anderson Shelters. But unfortunately it was the winter, and the water seeped in a bit. But we were lucky in this city, I was only about 15. It was quite frightening. I'd gone to the library with my father, to the old Garendon Street library, (those old streets are all gone now) and there were flares and incendiaries. Oh, I was absolutely petrified, you know! We dived into an entry, and was sort of dashing home when we got to Guthlaxton Street. It was about 8 o'clock and everyone had just bought their pints! So of course they all had to come out!
We just got to Gopsall Street, my mother was just peeping round the door. She'd picked my sister up and we just got into the shelter. There was a dear little black kitten which must have got lost and it went in after us, so we took him in the shelter but he only stayed about 2 days. He was lucky, you know, but I don't really know if he survived. I suppose it was frightening being close to it like that. And where Dorothy lived on Sparkenhoe Street, that was quite badly hit as well. There was some very nice shops down there, grocers shops and a fish shop and a watch repair shop they had these sort of places where you were supposed to put waste food, that was for pig food you see, because our relatives in the country used to buy a share in a pig! It sounds a bit funny, doesn't it! They did it through the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. In those days you had an allowance to buy food and you fed them on scraps, then when the poor things died, it was all shared out, you see! You were encouraged to grow your own food, you see.
And were you sort of much affected by the rationing? Was it difficult to get things?
Yes, it was in a way, and of course I was in my early teens and that's the time you do miss good food. Milk was also rationed, we didn't get very much. I volunteered for essential work so we had 10 extra coupons to go towards bread and starch type food which I didn't eat a lot of really. My mother usually kept the meat ration for the weekend. Of course there are a lot of books that have been updated on this now. Things like liver and kidneys, you registered with the butcher, you were all on a rota and you could buy those which was off ration you see. My mother and grandma were very very good cooks. They'd preserve food in these glass jars, they made jam, and we had an uncle who had a market garden and he had lots of fruit bushes, blackcurrants and that. But of course, you used your sugar ration up you see, and we all loved sugar. But I mean that was a minor detail, we all came through it.
It makes you realise that even if there was another petrol rationing and food holdup, you can survive on tinned and dried foods you know.
They didn't suggest evacuating?
No, we had evacuees here.
Oh, they actually sent people to Leicester?
Yes, and there was a lot of Jewish people came up from London, from Clapton especially, they were bombed very badly there.
Oh. And that was actually in Highfields?
Yes, yes. And then another very interesting thing was, I think it was 1940, the fall of France, the troops were all evacuated you know, and they were brought up to the Midlands to be billeted here. So we had 5 in the house, and we had 3 soldiers with nowhere for them sleep.
So the billeting officer brought them and said, "Oh, if you've got a spare room, or a spare quilt or pillows they'll sleep on the floor."
So you had 3 strange men in your house?
Yes, they were absolutely lovely. They looked so desperately tired, some had just got plimsolls on, and a singlet with the battle top. A few had got their haversacks, and one or two had got little bits of rations they just brought across, they'd come over the Channel you see, landed at Dover or wherever and come up to the Midlands.
So how long did you have them for?
Well, they had to report on Victoria Park at a lovely Victorian pavilion. That was the headquarters where they all reported, and where they were all sent out to other places. One was sent out to North Africa, he was taken prisoner of war there. Two of them were moved on fairly quickly, one stayed a bit longer, and then we had perhaps another three stay. But they always came round with the billeting officer, and it was all documented properly, you see. They were very very nice, they'd come from lovely homes some of them, and the one who was in North Africa, he was Welsh. He had a little time to go back on leave. His parents had a lovely garden and he brought us some Aster plants, things like that. He took to my granny ever so well, well all of us really, we've got a lot of memories of them.
This was seen as a safe area, then, presumably?
Oh, it was. Strangely enough, that would be the summer of 1940, it was the November of that year when we got the raids. Of all the Midlands, I believe Derby and Coventry were hit the most. Coventry was very bad. I've got an auntie-in-law and who was bombed 3 times. She had a sick husband you know, and she worked very long hours in an aircraft factory, so it was a hard life, but she's still here bless her, hale and hearty! You know, she's a dear lady, I must go and see her.
And you were working throughout the war?
Oh yes. I was at the same firm. They had to give up the uniforms of course, I was in the office at that time, and they had war contracts to do. There was PT wear for the army, the uniforms for the ATS, tropical kit for wrens, WAAFs. A gentleman came from London, I don't know whether he was evacuated up here, (he was deaf) but it was the first time I'd ever seen it in Leicester, he had an electric cutter which cut layers and layers of fabric, he'd been in the tailoring trade. He laid his cloth out, marked the patterns and then cut them with his cutter! Of course they had a lot of extra people, outdoor staff, and I insurance cards and income tax was all taken out of the wages. The contracts for materials was quite a big, you see. I had a girl a little bit younger helping me. But, it wouldn't have been what you called a reserved occupation, after 19 or 20, so I made enquiries and went to work on more essential work. That was inspection for radios for aircraft, which of course, was all right for the war.
Did you enjoy that?
I liked it very much, yes.
And that was in Leicester?
Yes, but a lot of relatives did that sort of work, one or two were nursing, it was sort of assistant nurse then in those days, of course a lot were in the forces, but my father was still on city transport.
Did the buses keep going through the war?
Oh yes, and we had some very bad winters. The snow congested on the roads, the snowploughs wouldn't touch them, but they had one or two buses that did have the snowplough on, you see. So it was very bad, you know, my father often had to get up early to walk to Abbey Park depot, get the bus out and clear the roads. There was round the clock working for factories in those days, 24 hour working. Sometimes he had quite a long working day and didn't come home at the proper time.
After the war, were you still a teenager or in your early twenties?
I was in my twenties then, yes.
What did you do then?
Well now where was I then? Yes, I was still in the same job, that was Gent and Company. But yes, it was very interesting work, quite exacting, you know. Then there was a changeover to civilian work, and a lot of people did had to go. At the time I had a long spell of very poor health. It may have been due to growing up in the war years, working long hours along with the poor diet. It was mostly due to an illness I had when I was a teenager, I was in and out of hospital quite a bit with various illnesses. But then I worked at another very nice firm, Davenset, Partridge Wilson. They were very kind if you were genuinely ill. I did loads of different jobs there. My sister worked at various jobs since she'd left school. She worked at one or two firms. She went to Gent and Company. They needed somebody in the purchasing office, so she said, "Oh, you know, I'll ask for you", so I applied and got the job. I was there until I was made redundant. I didn't actually retire you know, it was sort that I was redundant before retirement. Like a lot of people. I think the last few years was, possibly not quite so good, it was taken over with different staff coming in and very fragmented, you know.
In the old days it was just like a big happy family. You had your Christmas dances and parties, it was a really lovely experience. But funnily enough, the last year I was there was the happiest. I worked at another branch, and then I went back to the main branch for the last year and it was very nice there. But unfortunately they closed the department down and even the manager went.
What year was that?
Yes, that was during all the redundancies in the 80s, yes. But I still find lots to do, committees and helping people and adult education, I'm back again tomorrow! Oh I love it there, it's absolutely lovely. It's at Wellington Street. I see they're expanding out into these sort of lunchtime things, where there are talks on different subjects. You don't have to book it. If you've got a free lunchtime you can go in you see, which is a lovely idea.
So really you've taken up education again.
Yes, I'm very interested in it, so if you know of anybody in education who'd like a bit more information about the old days, but just on a local level, you know.
So you've stayed in the last house you moved into?
Yes, my sister comes to stay. She was here recently, she'd have loved coming in, you know. Yes, she's married and lives in Cheshire.
Oh, so she's gone quite a distance away.
Yes. But you can get here quite quickly, they'd like me to go and stay for a week, you know.
But you've never wanted to move from here?
No, no I love it, yes. But, I'm afraid I do get a little bit upset about the smears that this area gets.
You know, it's from people who don't even know you. I'll perhaps just go and have a cup of tea somewhere, and I'll say, "It's a bit breezy, I've walked into town." They say, "Oh, and where do you live then?" "Highfields," "Oh, you mean Highfields! Nobody respectable lives there, why on earth do you live there?"
Well if anyone should know about it, it should be you!
Of course! Yes! I mean we've always had lovely people there.
But going back a few years, there was a bit of trouble with people drinking too much, it used to cause bits of arguments, but of course it was in the house then you see. I mean, they were the loveliest people when they'd not had a drink! That was the thing in those days.
So how would you say Highfields has changed over the time that you've lived there?
There's a lot of Asian people taken over the shops, and the newsagents is lovely. I think that is gorgeous, that newsagents. I mean, even from when white people had it, it's never changed a bit. It's really welcome to go in there, friends go in and have a little chat, and look what's on the front of the Mercury you know, and they say that if you're going to be a bit late they'll save things for you. They are lovely people in there, so that has never changed a bit, you know. But as I'm in town a lot I do quite a lot of grocery shopping in town. But the little corner shops are very nice in Gopsall Street, that's always been a grocery shop.
But you've lost things like Charnwood Street.
Oh, yes! When we had the survey for the improvements, a lot of us put, "Wish Charnwood Street would come back."
And strangely enough, that year I mentioned, the last year I was at the firm, which was a very happy year, there were about 6 or 7 gentlemen and a girl, well she'd be in her late twenties, she was West Indian, she was awfully nice to work with, she might perhaps have been 30, she remembered Charnwood, her mother taking her! So you see, she was a real Caribbean girl, and she loved what we loved. The families who've settled here, that came in the Fifties, really don't know much different from us, the family atmosphere has gone on. When the West Indians came mind you, you never felt threatened, it was just the music. That was their way of life you see. I will say that as far as I can remember there was no crime. And strangely enough, now the house next to me is for sale, it's been student lodgings for years, I'm very sorry it's being sold, because I've thoroughly enjoyed the students being there. Some of the girls have come from quite good homes. Perhaps, it's been a real experience to come somewhere like this. One girl actually cried when she went back! There was this place in Gopsall Street called Jim's Place at the time, and they used to have these parties. I don't think there was anything much you know. They used to have drinks and the music going and she thought it was fantastic. Her mother said to us, "Oh, she used to write and tell us about parties at Jim's Place!" They really enjoyed it. We did have some who were a little bit much one year, but they weren't university students. I feel a bit sorry really because they were always very nice, and my parents enjoyed them being here, they always made them feel at home. We looked after the bins for them, or the post. Some have kept in touch. I do think there's a big need for accommodation for young people like that.
Yes, I feel sorry for the people who need somewhere to live, but there's an awful lot of them who go in and wreck the homes. They have these irresponsible young people in and they just wreck it. I mean I've seen it with my own eyes. They ought to have a probationary period where they see if the house is all right. I suppose it'll get sorted out in time, that's the problem of today.
There seem to be less businesses and factories in the area, is that right?
Yes. I think there's a little Asian business in Oxenden Street, there were two firms there. I think there was a piano tuner there once, and a French Polisher. Nelsons, yes, they were there. Then on the other side of Oxenden Street there were one or two sweet shops, I can't remember them very well and I don't think they did an awful lot of trade.
So your feeling is that really things haven't changed all that much?
No, it's different, I do feel it's such a pity it gets downgraded so much.
I know the new housing on Sparkenhoe Street, that's recently been done but the other housing was very substandard, that wouldn't give Highfields a good image. I believe they wanted to make it into a housing scheme for private flats and things like that and I don't think anybody would take it on.
So it was the council run scheme, you see, with the prefab things made no doubt it was done with good intent, but it didn't work.
I'm sure it was meant well, you know. Put like that I do think a lot of these schemes get cried down a lot, but often they're done with very good intentions. I suppose there's always some who don't want them to work, it's in their interests to put it like that, you know! That's something you have to watch today, very much, I think. But, as I say if we've had trouble with tenants, which is an universal thing, all over the country and I mean other parts of Leicester and the county.
But, we found that the office at Highfields Street was very good, they worked with the police and did what they could, nobody could do any more, they're all understaffed aren't they? So, I mean we value very much what they did, and you don't like to think anybody's deprived of a house, do you? But when you think how they just come in and you know just smash them to pieces, absolutely like pigsties. And yet, the time my parents bought the house even in the Fifties you see a lot of the West Indians and Asians, they had jobs here and they bought the property. I mean it took some saving up then, and they valued them very much.
Your parents bought the house?
Yes. But St Peters Road was rented. No doubt because of the health thing. I was just about old enough to remember what it was like.
Because of course after the war you had the Health Service?
Yes, that was in 1948 or 1949, but up until then, there was various little private insurance things, you went to your doctor and they gave you a form which you sent to the insurance and they would pay it for you out of what you'd paid in. Or if you weren't in. I mean there were some very poor people in those days. I hadn't started school, I was only about 3. The front room downstairs was a waiting room and these poor dear people used to come in with their coughs and colds, of course there was a lot of fog in those days. They used to sit there with the little card like that for the prescription. But of course my mother and my grandma, they had to look after it you see. They were up at the crack of dawn, cleaning the floor and cleaning everywhere out, and of course it was all under lock and key. My mother used to say the dispenser was a very nice lady, she'd unlock the door and my mother would go in with a cup of coffee for her. I was allowed to go in you know, I sat on this high stool.
Where did they get their prescriptions from then?
They all went to a special doctor.
I know you had to actually pay the doctor, didn't you?
Yes, you did but as I say, through these little health schemes. Of course, you see, I can remember up to 1948 it was still that scheme up to then.
Were you covered by a scheme yourself?
It was the Health Service then, W/I did have to go in the infirmary during the war, now I really can't think how that would be paid for.....I had a nose and throat operation, and I was in a week. I had to take my gas mask and ration book, if the sirens went they pushed all the beds to the middle of the ward and brought you an extra blanket, you know! Of course, as it was my throat I couldn't eat much, so they had one weeks rations for nothing!
I can't really remember how that would be funded you know. There was the children's clinic at Richmond House, I suppose that was run by the city and what you could afford to pay, you would pay. There a scale set, but I know my mother and father were always very satisfied. Of course, my sister had her tonsils out on that scheme as well, she went to another clinic as it was during the war. She had to wait a bit longer though, they were very small clinics then. I don't know what they used Richmond House for, there wasn't all the transplants and the technology then, but you had the personal touch. There were more staff, and the nurses worked very hard. I know they do today. I feel so sorry for them about their pay rise. I mean I won't go into it too much, but there's some aspects of the caring which is not quite as good as it might be. You know, the personal thing, when you're bereaved I know they haven't always got the time, but going back to the time I was in and somebody died, the staff were so caring. I was in a side ward, I knew of a lady was very ill, and this little nurse, she just put her arms round the lady's daughter and hugged her, they arranged for her to stay. I'm afraid in some cases it's just not like that now. I know they haven't got the staff, but they have social workers! But there you are. I've found the Casualty department of the Infirmary are marvelous. I've had one or two accidents and they have been really kind. They really deserve every penny they get, you know, they're lovely.
Well you're a good advert, I mean you've lived here all your life..
Ooh, thank you very much!
And you've been happy here?
I'd recommend it to people, I would. But talking of crime, I have been a victim of crime three times. Now they are a lovely group, do you know any of them? Victim Support. Oh, they are fantastic, they are lovely. And Laura, one of the founders, she's just moved from Leicester, I must write to her, I'll tell her what I've done, you know, she's a dear lady, you know.
It's great that you can see it like that.
Yes...but, the first time it was a very frightening experience, and there again the police were so good, you know, and so were my neighbours who are Asian people, they were really good samaritans you know, I wasn't on the phone at the time, and I managed to stagger across to them and they got the police, they were really so kind. But, there again this family, they've had problems themselves with the children, they have had videos taken, break-ins, there's not many places who haven't really, it's the way of life. But he always says, "Oh, you know, we must look to things being better, you know," and there again I've got a wonderful family. I've got a fantastic sister and family.
But yes, I've got a friend I meet sometimes, she lived with her parents, there was her and her mum, they went to live in a flat. She's still living there, and we often meet for a cup of tea and talk about neighbours. She still sees a few of them you know. Her mum used to say, "wherever she's going the sun always shines." But she's a lovely person and if you've any trouble she's ever so sweet, she's really understanding. But, I say, a lot of the ethnic people, they've a wonderful sense of humour. Yes, they really have.
Yes, so your feelings about Highfields are positive.
Definitely, yes. I'm quite interested in arts and crafts and these things, and I think that place on St Stephens Road, is lovely. I've got a young relative, a second cousin, he did part of his training there, he did the fabric printing and things like that. I believe that is prospering very well. There's another place on Gotham Street, a little Arts Centre, you know, if we could bring back the things like that it would be great, but again it's the funding. We are supposed to be helping these small businesses, but we know jolly well that they're going downhill fast, aren't they? I think if a little bit more was done, but with the city as a whole, there are a lot of schemes being done, isn't there, really. Money will only stretch so far won't it?
If we don't have personal memories, our parents talk to us a lot about where family and friends worked, there was Wolsey, I had friends who worked at Pex and Corahs when my father was there it was a huge place, you know. Yes, I had happy memories of being there.