Brett Pruce was born in Highfields in 1955.
Helen Edwards interviewing Mr Pruce for Highfields Remembered.
Now could you tell me your name, age and place of birth please?
Yes, my name is Brett Pruce, I'm 39, and I was born in the front room of number 7, Stoughton Street in Highfields, Leicester.
Right, can you tell me about your family background, where your parents came from and that sort of thing?
Yes, my father was a Londoner, my mum's family originated in Cosby. They met during the war, or just before the war I should say. They married and the family ensued really. There were five children, my eldest sister is Gaynor, then came my brother Stephen, my sister Nina, then myself, and my younger sister Tracey.
That's just the nuclear family, have you got aunts, uncles, and grandparents in the area?
Oh yes, well, both sets of grandparents. My grandparents are dead now. My mother's grandparents were from Cosby. My dad's parents were both Londoners, but they've been dead for many years now, and my mother and father are dead too. Aunties and uncles on my mum's side; there's a sister who lives in America, and a brother lives in Enderby. On my dad's side; he has a brother and sister still alive, they both live in London.
Do you know why your parents went to live in Highfields?
At the time it was a very prestigious area. I think they moved there in 1946, it was a very prestigious address if you like. I mean, it was akin to winning the pools to get a house in Highfields! They were big houses with plenty of space. It was a very, very nice area in those days.
Do you remember the house?
Very much. It's still there now.
Can you describe it?
Yes. It was a terraced house, number 7 Stoughton Street. I think it's called Stoughton Street South now. One side of the road is gone, it's part of the St Peter's Estate now. The house was a terraced house with an entry. You entered quite a large hallway which dog-legged down to the kitchen and scullery and another washing room down at the bottom. There were two reception rooms: a front room which I was born in, and the living room at the back. There was an outside shed and toilet and a bit of a back garden, a back yard if you like. The floor was blue brick.
For most of my childhood, at least until I was thirteen, our family didn't have a bathroom, but there was four bedrooms. When I was thirteen the landlord converted one of the bedrooms, (the back bedroom). He chopped it in half and created a bathroom, which again was like winning the pools, because when you're thirteen and sitting in a tin bath in front of an open fire it's a bit embarrassing!
Yes it is. So,
can you remember what your mother had in the kitchen at that time?
Yes, It was very basic stuff if you like. I mean, I know she liked gadgets, my mum. When they came out, she had a mixer, and we had a big boiler type of washing machine.
With the mangle on the top?
Yes, with the mangle on the top. A very basic gas cooker, and that was it. A bridge when they became available, but yeah, they were very basic. We had a big wooden table in the middle of the kitchen , because it was quite a big square kitchen, and that was it. That was the basic utensils.
What about heating? Did you have open fires?
Open fires. There was never any central heating in the house. We dabbled with paraffin heaters upstairs.
When it was really cold?
Yeah, and things like that, but my mum was never keen on them because of the safety side of things, and we could never get on with the smell. Yeah, basically it was two open fires, one in each of the living rooms. I remember there were open fires upstairs for a while. I think we stopped using them quite early on in my life. I was born in 1955.
So in the winter you got dressed downstairs in front of the fire?
Oh, very much so, or in bed. Yes, I did that. I would take my underclothes to bed with me. Actually, under the covers you would reach out, grab your clothes and get in, just to get dressed in bed.
With the frost flowers on the windows!
Oh yeah, I mean I sometimes try and pull my children up now and say, "Look, don't moan too much." But you know, they call them the "good old days" don't they?!
What about the street outside? I suppose at that time they'd be well-lit and quite safe?
I remember when I was very young, there were still gas lights. I've got this memory in my mind of the gas man coming along putting the lights on and off. I must have been very young then, because after that they sort of increased the lighting over the years. There seemed to be just one electric light. When the electric lights came in, there was one at one end and one at the other. We always classed our Stoughton Street as our piece of the street. It was really in three segments with other roads going across. A bit further down Stoughton Street was the big Rank-Taylor Hobson factory where they made optical lenses. My mum worked there during the war, or for part of the war. And then the road went down Stoughton Street and ended up on the Melbourne Road near the Moat Boys' School.
Did your mother work when you were smaller?
Yes, from what I can remember. I couldn't really tell you whether she worked when I was really small, but when I was at school, yeah, she actually worked at Highfields Infants' School on Sparkenhoe Street. She actually did a spell as a lollipop lady there as well for a few years.
She must have been one of the first lollipop ladies?
Oh yeah, very much so. Yes, I am going back well into the Fifties.
What about your dad?
My dad was a miner when he came out of the army, and then he had an accident. He worked at Coalville. Then he worked as a Shunter on the trains at London Road Station.
Did he travel from Highfields to Coalville, then?
Oh yeah, he had a little motorbike or whatever it was. I can't remember what it was
now. I know when I was younger he travelled as the family grew, he wanted to get around a bit, so he bought a motorbike and sidecar. He invested in that so that he could get more of us on.
All four of you?
Yes, well no. He couldn't get the whole family on. No, my dad had a bike with a seat on it, and we used to take it in turns. That's right, yes. Then he worked at CES on the corner of Stoughton Street, the electrical shop. That was probably in the late Sixties I would have thought. He was there for about five or six years.
Can you remember anything much before school?
Not really no, apart from the fact that we were just running round, being able to run around the streets.
You played out in the streets?
Yeah, a lot of the time.
What about the traffic?
Well, at times, when we were aged eight, nine or ten, there'd be three or four games of football in our street, and the odd cry would come up, you know, "car!" We'd grab the ball and stand on the kerb, you'd perhaps be able to play for another half an hour before another car came along.
I actually went to the nursery school opposite Highfields Infants' School.
How old would you have been then?
Two or three I would have thought, because I started at Highfields Infants' School when I was five, then I moved from there to St Peter's Junior School in Gopsall Street. From there I was really supposed to go to Moat Boys' School, but my mum thought it was beginning to get a bit of a reputation. My brother had been there, so my mum insisted that I go to Crown Hills which was a hell of a trek you know. I mean the buses came once a week, but there wasn't a bus that went all the way to Crown Hills at the time, so I used to have to get a bus to the Evington Cinema and then walk from there. In the end my mam saved up enough money and bought me a bike. I went there and back on the bike every day.
Do you remember first starting school, who you went with, the size of the class?
I remember Highfields Infants' school. At the junior, the nursery school I mean, I wore glasses at the time. I was very anti-glasses, I used to bury them in the sandpit all the while.
I bet your mum loved that!
Well, it wasn't so much my mum, it was the teachers. I used to have to dig the sandpit out because I used to alter the place where I buried them every time. I've got quite vivid memories of Highfields Infants' School. It wasn't very regimented but they used to make us lie down on a canvas or a canvas camp bed in the afternoon for a sleep.
Is that in the Junior School?
No, that's in the Infants' School. I'm not sure what it is now. I don't know whether it's a temple or what. It's on the corner of Saxby Street and Sparkenhoe Street . The nursery school was dead opposite, a pre-fabricated type of building.
How old were you then, when you were lying down in the afternoon?
I would have been four, five or six. From there I'm trying to think where I would have gone to. . . yeah, it would have been to St Peters. We didn't do that there obviously. There was no grass, just two concrete playgrounds. I have very good memories of that, a lovely school. We had a West Indian headmaster, a Mr Robinson if I remember rightly, which was a rarity if you like in those days. But a super little school, two floors. The upper floor was a big hall which used to be segregated off into classrooms by a concertina door which was, you know what I mean, about twenty five feet high so there was a feeling of space if you like.
Did they open out for school concerts ?
Oh yeah. You sometimes had to do PE inside if the weather was really atrocious.
Was there a dinner hall as well, or was that separate?
Yes it was. The dinner hall was downstairs, but it was a similar sort of thing. It had concertina doors, and then there was little classrooms off it.
So when you finished the classroom did you have to clear everything away?
Oh yes, we did. Yeah.
Do you remember the teachers, were they strict?
Yeah, very strict. I think you know, it's all relevant isn't it? You know I mean, I wish some of the teachers now had got the same sort of values. I've got children now going through the education system which I'm not overly enamoured with. Yeah, that's a different story, things move with the times. But yeah, I think I never felt scared. I mean you were always in awe if you like, of your teachers. And they were fair. But I mean there was obviously the odd one you didn't think was quite fair, you know. But that's life. I'm glad I went through school at that time and not now. Very glad. Having seen what my children are having to put up with, and not put up with so to speak.
Did you stay at school for the dinners?
No. I went home for dinner. I did for a spell when I went to Crownhills, but I never got on with it, so I ended up push-biking to and from home, four times a day.
Were they that bad? !!!
Well, it were just a different atmosphere. Obviously senior school was a different kettle of fish to junior school. Junior school was a bit closeted and very nice, yeah. A bit protected, and obviously, when you go to senior school you go there as an eleven year old, and there are seventeen year old men there you know, so.
So was the playground a bit rough at times when you were very small?
Not so much at Gopsall Street. We had our scrapes. Don't get me wrong, we had our own little gangs if you like to call them, but we tended to be a bit territorial.
Were they the same people that you played with in the street?
Yeah, I think it was good that we all went to school together as well, but I think we had the lads in Stoughton Street and then you had Evington Street and Oxenden Street lads, and you know, every now and again you'd play football against each other, and the bulk of the time you got on well. But every now and again you got rid of your frustrations and there was a bit of a punch up, but nothing serious, nothing of the violence you get today. It was a bit of a twenty-second punch up and then that was it. You'd all be mates and playing football again.
Did the girls play, or were they out playing skipping games and things like that?
Yeah, to a certain extent. I have to admit it was not segregated but, "Go and play with your dolls", or whatever. I think I have to admit that was the case.
And, you know, we had a boys' and a girls' playground you see at St Peters, so of course, it was never the twain shall meet anyway. I mean, you were under pain of death if you were caught in a girls' playground and vice-versa. So, you were probably encouraged not to play together.
Was Crownhills a boys' school at that time?
Yes, it was a boys' school, but I think it was two years before I went there that they changed it into a co-ed. So there were lots of girls at our school. There were quite a few of us who went there and because their parents had the same sort of view of Moat Boys' and Moat Girls' School at the time, I suppose you can say things were deteriorating.
It wasn't such a fun place by that time, especially when we got to the late Sixties. As I said before, I want tell you the bad points as well as the good points, but by that time things were deteriorating quite badly.
How did that affect you?
Well, it was an all encompassing thing because it affected everything you did. You couldn't play out so much.
Is that because there were cars or were you threatened?
Well, yeah, there were cars, there were also drinking clubs springing up. One opened up on the corner of Stoughton Street which was the John F. Kennedy Club. We experienced a lot of problems there, and there were houses of ill repute. Two sprang up more or less dead opposite to us, which obviously posed their own sort of problems. You know we witnessed quite a bit of violence there. My brother and I had the front bedroom, my mum and dad had the other front bedroom, but then we had to move and share and segregate the middle bedroom at the back of the house because of car doors slamming all night.
Keeping you awake?
Yeah, a car would scream up, two doors would slam, the front door would open, the front door would slam! Ten, fifteen minutes would elapse, the front door would open, the front door would slam, the car would start up and then roar off down the street. And this was going on all night!
And how old were you then?
Well, this is in the mid-Sixties from 1966 to 1967 onwards. Probably that's when I started to notice it. I think it was at the same time as the John F. Kennedy Club opened, and most mornings there would be somebody asleep in our entry. Or at best they would have relieved themselves in the entry! But physically having to step over people when you're going to school doesn't set you off in the right frame of mind. My dad worked and he had always gone so my mum would perhaps deal with it.
So how would you get rid of somebody .
Just wait for them to wake up and make their way home.
Was that people who lived in Highfields, or people coming into Highfields?
Yeah, if they were walking I would assume they lived in Highfields, drinking clubs like that were a bit of a rarity at the time, so I would have thought people would have travelled in to the area to go to their places.
The thing that really destroyed my mam and dad was, we had a West Indian family next door to us at number 9, they were lovely. I played with their son who was the same age as me. They moved out in 1968, or 1969 I believe. Then another West Indian family moved in, and it turned out they were not of the best character, let's put it like that. We ended up with parties next door to us at number 9. I mean, they had disco speakers six feet high, literally! If I said to you that it physically rattled the plates off the wall, you probably wouldn't believe it! These parties would go on till three and four in the morning. Then they would just sweep the cans and whatever into the street in the morning. It got really, really nasty.
What happened with the police and the council at that point?
Well, the police were there every other night, and there were fights. Yeah, my brother and I thought it were a little bit exciting you know, because we used to hang over the wall and they'd all sit round a big table in the garden smoking whatever they smoked. It was all a bit sort of risquŽ especially in those days at beginning of the Sixties. You know, this is a bit a bit exciting. But it nearly killed my mum and dad. Going from how tranquil and how friendly it was when I was in sort of pre-teen years. I remember all the front doors were open. You know, you used to just wander in and, I know it sounds stupid, but my mam used to leave the milk money on the table. The milkman used to come in down the entry, go into the kitchen, put the milk on the table, take his money and go. You just can't do that now. My mum used to polish the steps to the front door and the little shoe grate where you cleaned the mud of your shoes and whatever. That sort of thing. Everybody did it in the street and it really was a nice atmosphere.
By that time, had quite a few of the people that you'd played with as children moved out of the district?
Moved on? Yes they had. We were one of the last ones to go really. Well, not one of the last to go, but there seemed to be a mass exodus because it deteriorated quite quickly. The start of it really was the John F. Kennedy Club opening up. Then the brothels opening. It seemed to happen all at once. It changed the atmosphere in the space of a couple of years. It went from being the sort of nice place where you could wander out and go where you like, to being where you can't go out.
So after this time, did you play out in the street very much?
Well no, we had passed that by at that time.
When we were teenagers we used to use the Spinney Hill Park. It was a toss up between Spinney Hill Park or Victoria Park, and depending on the mood we would go and play on one of those parks. We were all football fanatics. We would rush in, have a bite to eat and then go out and play football. I'm not saying it was boring, but there wasn't particularly anything else to do.
Did you not go into Leicester much?
Oh, yeah, we walked into town quite a lot and went round, but there wasn't a lot of money to throw around. I used to swim a lot at Vestry Street Baths. We could walk there in ten minutes, straight down over Swain Street bridge. We used to use Vestry Street a lot, and that's where my brother taught me to swim. Going into Leicester, we used to go down to some of the pictures in the town. But generally we used to use the flea pit, you know, Evington Cinema, which had a youngsters club there on a Saturday morning. Or we used to come out here to the Troc because it was a bit more upmarket ! We used to come out here and give the local lads round here some grief! But, not nasty, just rivalry that's what it was. I think that, I don't like calling them gangs, because, but I don't know if there's a better way of describing them, but we were just like a group of people who were very close.
It upset me when we moved to Braunstone. I didn't know where Braunstone was. It could've been on the moon for as far as I was concerned.
Did they all move to similar places, or were they scattered?
A lot of them went to council estates, moving out of the inner city onto places like the large Braunstone, Netherhall estates. To be honest, these houses were new then. And then again, it was that next step up, with Highfields sort of deteriorating so much, it was a good move for a lot of people. My mam and dad eventually moved from there to Rowletts Hill to a two bedroomed flat on Rowletts Hill. Again, it was a palace, central heating, proper bathroom and views of grass in front of you.
Well, it was a flat so it didn't have gardens but I mean, there was plenty of grass and trees outside and whatever. It was a fabulous move for them. Quiet, peaceful.
Obviously it's not a good estate now, Rowletts Hill has deteriorated, and it's not such a nice place. But it's still a lot better than where they'd come from.
So how old were you when you left Highfields?
I was twenty.
Were you working then?
Yeah. I had got an apprenticeship at Jelsons on the Loughborough Road at one of the biggest builders in Leicester. I was a wood machinist. We used to make all the windows and doors and stairs for all the Jelson houses. I used a pushbike from Stoughton Street to Loughborough Road most days. From there my mum and dad moved to Rowletts Hill. I went up into Belgrave and got a flat to be nearer to Jelsons. It was actually called Belgrave Avenue, which was off the Loughborough Road near Checketts Road. So as soon as my mum and dad moved out I went the same way. I kept the house for nine months.
And you lived there on your own?
Yeah. Then we said we had to get out because it was getting dangerous. I mean the year before we moved out there was two murders and half a dozen stabbings in our street. It was really nasty. It got to the point where my wife wouldn't go out of the house after six o'clock in the evening.
What was it like during the day?
Not so threatening, but you had to be aware because there was a lot of drug selling going on. There was a lot of prostitution. I think it's a lot better now than it was though.
the late Sixties, early Seventies were a nasty time. I remember going to the youth club at St Peter's Church. I was a choir boy there for most of my youth and for the life of me, I can't remember what the church down at the bottom of Stoughton Street was now, but I was involved in the youth club there as well. But they all sort of disbanded when there were big fights, and drugs were being touted around so they both went, so there wasn't a lot to do. Well, I was in the Scouts. I was in the 23rd Leicester, which was on Egginton Street near the Evington Cinema. I was also in the Cubs. I've got a photo here of me in Stoughton Street in about 1960. I've got photos of the back of my house but nothing really that shows the area very well. At the back of our garden we had a bit of grass and our house backed onto a builders, Fox's Builders, who was in Evington Street. My brother and I used to go and jump over the wall and pinch wood to make sledges and things like that!
Was there a big church community?
Yeah, well there was at the time. You used to get quite big congregations on a Sunday. I don't think you get those anymore.
Harvest suppers and women's clubs?
Oh, yeah. But I didn't get involved in that!
Did your mother?
I have to be very honest with you, I don't think she was a big church goer, not as such. I think she was a good christian.
Did you have a lot of holidays?
when we were younger, my mum and dad didn't have a lot of money, so we did camping holidays for several years. Mainly caravan holidays. They hated the east coast so we always tended to go down to either Wales or Devon or Cornwall. They really loved the Torquay area, and we tended to go to Paignton or Brixham for a week or two weeks whatever.
Did you go on the train?
Yeah most of the time. A couple of times we went by car. My dad never had a car, or not until- Oh, I think they were both over fifty when they passed their tests. So my dad had a motorbike and sidecar. I remember going all the way to Torquay in my dad's sidecar once. We had a lot of fun. Took a couple of weeks to get over it. They were firm believers in holidays and tried to get us a holiday a year. I know they scrimped and saved to make it a bit of a special event for us. We did go to the east coast a couple of times. A friend of my dad had a caravan in Hunstanton, and he let us use that two years running. It's not the same atmosphere or, it's just not as nice as going down to Devon or wherever.
What about day trips?
Day trips. I remember going to Bradgate Park when I was as young as eight or nine, with my pals. I mean you could never do that now.
Well my son goes on his bike.
Yeah, I don't think I'd let my eleven year old go on his own. But it was just an idyllic place, you know.
Did you go on your bike?
Yeah, or on a bus. We used to get a bus down to the bus station. Then there was a bus that went out in a morning, then one that came back in the afternoon and we used to pile on that. But there'd be a gang of us, of about eight or nine. You know, the Stoughton Street Lads, if you like! When I see the Bash Street Kids I always think it was too close for comfort because we were rough and ready, and we got into scrapes. There were the odd broken window, but nothing malicious. It was just a different atmosphere .
What about summer holidays from school? Did you all sort of go for long walks out this way?
We never came out this way. I don't know why. Mum and dad liked Bradgate Park. I suppose they were a bit set in their ways. We used to go up there. I mean that were like going to see the other side of the world. But you know, it was a great place to go and have a day out. And we did make a day of it. You know my mum would take sandwiches and all the bits and bobs and we'd go. Take my children. Their concentration span is about 45 seconds! We went to Foxton Locks and we hadn't been there ten minutes when it was, "Are we going home yet?" Life's a little bit quicker than that now. It's a shame but I'm not saying it's a bad thing or a good thing, it's just different. But yeah, whatever we did tended to be set piece things, if you like.
You'd decide to go somewhere for the day?
Yeah, and that would be it. We just got up and went with them and that was it. Wicksteed Park was the odd trip, but they were only odd trips but they were special treats. You know I got quite a lot out of the Cubs and Scouts. I remember going to Dover with them and to Scarborough, and also to Conway in North Wales, which was a bit of a Godsend for my mum and dad. If in a year they hadn't got a lot of money, at least, you know, I got a holiday.
So did your brothers and sisters both join Scouts, Guides?
The trouble with our family is it's a very, very extended family. My eldest sister is fifty-seven now, and my youngest sister is only just thirty. My eldest sister's daughter is older than my sister, because my mum was forty-five when she had my youngest sister, which is unheard of nowadays. I don't think it did her health any good at all, but that's history really. But there was such a big gap.
There were eight years between my brother and myself, and I was always a bit of a problem to him, because in the Sixties I was just a young sprog and of course, he was into motorbikes. Yeah, he was one of the rockers , I suppose you'd call them now. You know I was too young for the mods and rockers thing. He was always out on the motorbike in the leather jacket and all the bits. A bit of a god to me, you know.
Was that a group in Highfields? Did he have a similar group to you?
Yeah, all his mates. Again they were all Moat boys. They were all the same age and all had the same interests. There used to be a row of motorbikes outside our house, and of course the younger lads would all be saying, "Look at that", you know, "Let's have a sit on it", or whatever and they were like gods to us because they were doing everything that we couldn't. There were all sorts of fights, but we never saw any of that. Never seemed to happen round our way.
So he had the same sort of friends that you had?
Yeah, oh very much so. It was very community based if you like. You didn't stray much outside your patch.
What about your sisters? Did they have some ?
Yeah, they had friends. I'll have to be dead honest with you. I didn't take a lot of notice of their friends. Again, Nina is five years older than I am. So she was that little bit more detached than me. Tracey is ten years younger.
Being ten years younger, did she find the same atmosphere that you found as a child?
No, I don't think so. Not for a minute.
Had it changed?
Very much so I think. I suppose her best times were when my mam and dad moved to Rowletts Hill. But, yeah, I mean she had her friends. I think we all did, but it tended to be in own our street if you like, or perhaps the next street. We wouldn't sort of pal up with somebody of Mere Road.
And when you were at secondary school?
at secondary school because obviously when I was at secondary school, we were the minority at Crown Hills, the Highfields lads, probably only half a dozen of us, probably less than that in our class. There used to be four or five of us who would walk to school, or ride to school or go on the bus to school from where we were. But of course everybody else from there were coming from Goodwood and Evington, and Coleman Road. And it opened up new friends to you, you know, I've got pictures in there when we all went to Wembley from School. I could tell you where they all lived, there's nobody from Highfields there. There's one, Phil Chapman. He lived on Donington Street. But yeah, it was a tight knit community I have to admit. That creates its own problems. At times, you can be too tight knit, can't you? Everybody knows everybody else's business.
Was there much gossip?
Oh I think so, yeah. You would hear the expression "Over the garden fence". Well obviously we didn't have garden fences, we had six foot high walls in the back garden. So it was always on the front doorstep. The big gaggle of ladies. I'm not saying it was just ladies. Perhaps if a guy was fiddling with his car or a motorbike there'd be, you know, you'd have a gossip or whatever.
Did you get women tending to sit out, you know, on a hot day, take a chair out, sit on the street and talk?
Yeah, they would sit on the front, do the knitting and whatever. They didn't need to be supervised. I mean your mum would be in, cooking, washing, doing whatever she did, and you were playing outside. I never felt threatened or scared. With my kids, I'm always on edge. I'm always wondering where are they, what are they doing? Is he OK? This house is quite nice here because we overlook the green which is quite safe. We can see what our kids are doing from the safety of our own house. Just look out the window and you can see they were safe. It's not a through route here, you see. You know, it was.
Cars started in the mid-Sixties really, up at the Highfields. I can't remember if there was a metal working factory on the same side as us. I think that it later turned into an alarm company called Able Alarms. Then there was CES Electrics on the other side so cars parking there tended to creep down towards our house. We were only number 7. We were like the third or fourth house in from when the houses started. The factory units were great because they had big doors that we could play football against. One of them was goal size. Perfect. Absolutely perfect. As things got busier the cars, the parking, encroached all the way down.
Spoilt your games?
Well they did, because when you kicked the ball against their car they got mad. That's when we tended to go up to the Spinney Hill Park.
What about the Fairs on the park? Did you go to those?
I don't remember. I don't remember any on the Spinney Hill Park as such. There was one on Victoria Park once a year I think. Then there was always the big one down at Abbey Park. Yeah, it's just an overall sort of memory of it being such a nice place, such a friendly place which went wrong. I mean I have to admit that was scared you know. I could look after myself , we can all do bits and bobs. But at the end it was out of control.
Have you been back to Highfields recently?
I drive up there quite regularly. I go through Highfields on my way to work in the morning.
We have a final question that we are asking everybody, and that's how does Highfields today compare with how Highfields as you remember?
Well, it's scary. I don't like stopping the car. My house really saddens me because I see the house now. It's filthy. There's a big speaker above the front door, and the windows are filthy. I don't know whether they're curtains or blankets that have been just hung up there. I mean it looks filthy. It really, really saddens me because I think everybody then took an interest in their house. I always remember it as being spotless. The front door and the brasses being polished and even the step being red, cardinal waxed and whatever. And to see it now. I was born in the front room there, but it just really saddens me. And the whole way it's gone now, with capped off streets and, you know, I mean. They obviously capped all the streets off to stop the kerb crawlers and whatever, and it segregates it. Whereas we could go anywhere.
Do you feel that's not just the road markings but the atmosphere as well?
Oh, the atmosphere is very aggressive, it's fear I think. I think people are scared you know for one reason or another. I mean you pick the Leicester Mercury up every night and there's people been on Melbourne Road or Saxby Street or Sparkenhoe Street who have been attacked and had money took off them or worse. It always seems to be that area if you like. OK, I mean I think somebody's created that for some reason, for it to have gone from the area it was to the area it is. You know, somebody's got to look at their heart and say, "Well, we've done something wrong somewhere." I mean I'm not sort of knocking Highfields. All the people there are working and trying to get things back to how it was. I'm not sure whether that can be achieved or not, because I don't think people have got the willingness to do that. I mean, who's going to leave their front door open nowadays?
This area here has got a community. It's what I like about this area, there's a community feel about this area. OK, Thurnby Lodge is getting problems. There's one or two things creeping in. It's a bit like deja vu. I've seen this happen once before. You know there's the odd family moving in who want to sort of misbehave and disrupt things for other people. Then drugs start floating about and that starts the violence that goes hand in hand with that sort of thing. Once you start making your house a fortress then it's not a community anymore.
At the end, up at Highfields we just you know, we daren't go out. But I mean, you can't take away the fact that we had twenty odd fabulous years up there and five or six horrible ones.
But your memories are basically fairly good?
Oh, very good, yeah. I mean, especially the people. And the community. I really, really miss that. I remember my mam being poorly, very poorly. People were bringing you dinners in because they knew my mum weren't fit to cook and my dad still had to go to work. Somebody would come in with two plates. "Here you are, get that down your neck!" and things like that. I mean, I'd love to think that that could happen again, I'm not sure that we've not turned ourselves into too selfish a bunch. But I really miss that.
I think, I mean, you talk to anybody. I suppose there's same at Belgrave and any of the inner city areas, or any of the close knit communities. I mean, obviously,
I think transport now is, and people having cars. I mean this estate was designed with narrow roads because nobody had a car thirty odd years ago, or the odd family. Now every family has got two. So consequently you can't move on this estate for cars, because they weren't built for it. But, you, it just makes you more mobile. You haven't got to stay in your own community. You know, if you've got a pal who lives in Glen Parva you're fifteen minutes away from it. I think people are scared, you know, for one reason or another. You know, are you safe to walk. I mean you pick the Leicester Mercury up every night and there's people been on Melbourne Road or Saxby Street or Sparkenhoe Street who have been attacked and had money took off them or worse. You know and it always seems to be that area if you like. OK, I think somebody's created that for some reason, for it to have gone from the area it was to the area it is. You know, somebody's got to look at their heart and say, well, we've done something wrong somewhere. I'm not knocking Highfields. All the people there are working and trying to get things back to how it was. I'm not sure whether that can be achieved or not, because I don't think people have got the willingness to do that. I mean, who's going to leave their front door open nowadays. You know, there's a joke, isn't there? You know, if you don't want to watch the telly, leave your front door open for five minutes.
This area here has got a community. It's what I like about this area, but there's a community feel about this area. OK, Thurnby Lodge is. Again it's getting it's problems. There's one or two things creeping in that. And it's a bit like deja vu. I think, well, I've seen this happen once before. You know there's the odd family moving in who, you know, want to sort of misbehave and disrupt things for other people. And then drugs start floating about and, you know, that starts the violence that is, is, sort of, that goes hand in hand with that sort of thing. Starts creeping in, and fear starts again, and people, you know, once you start making your house a fortress then it's not a community anymore.
At the end, up at Highfields we just, you know, we daren't go out. But, I mean, you can't take away the fact that we had twenty odd fabulous years up there and five or six horrible ones, you know.