Memories of growing up in 1970s and 80s. Moving home a lot. Of being comfortable with playing on her own; that she liked her own company and of having big chunks of time when she could be on own. Of joining things on her own and than others following her. Later Susan talks about being an art student and clothes she wore in 1980s and clubs she visited in Croydon. Coming right up to her present day leisure activities.
Free Time Oral History summary
Susan’s first real memory is living in Blandford, living behind White Hart pub. She remembers playing in alleyway with balls – throwing balls down the allay and there is a main road at the end of the alleyway and her younger brother running up and down the alleyway trying to catch the ball.
Susan remembers almost always playing outside, mostly building dens on rough ground or amongst trees. Playing marbles, she remembers her house being full of marbles as she was rather good at marbles. Did lots of cycling, lots of skipping. Spending a lot of time on her own, when she lived at Wareham she remembers going for walks a lot on her own. There’s no real reason for going for walks on her own as she had lots of friends. She was she seven, eight, nine when she lived at Wareham. When she was younger and lived at Blandford she played in the garden a lot. Remembers leaving things at different places and then had to go back for them or go back afterwards and firing her stuff, “oh l forgot about this”.
At Wareham she remembers really getting into making things and making dolls clothes. This might be 1977. She remembers a lot of her summer holidays just making dolls clothes. She spent a lot of time out of school in clubs, she was in the Guides, she did judo, she went to church three times a week. These were totally self-motivated, she just found out about things and joined in.
She remembers helping her younger brother with things, helping with his homework. She played mini mum to her brother. Her brother was really into boardgames and Susan wasn’t, she had a short attention span with boardgames and if she played with her brother it would often end up in a fight.
Says she remembers the radio being on all the time in the background, Radio One. She remembers watching Morecambe and Wise altogether as a family and that they all found it was hysterically funny. Watch programmes like Star Trek, Magic Roundabout and Doctor Who.
Susan talks about being in a choir and having lessons for this. This was at St Mary’s Church in Wareham. She got paid for singing at weddings. She also got a monthly fee for attending Sunday service. It was quite away from where she lived and should have to walk there, quite a hike from her home to the church. Susan did judo lessons at senior school. She didn’t like Guides really.
Susan often went to these clubs on her own and then her friend would follow. Also she would make friends at the clubs.
Talks about playing marbles on drains and about two different Marble games she played, ones with a whole and one was over a drain cover. Hopscotch she remembers being very very popular. This was at infants and Jr School. She doesn’t remember any games particularly at secondary school. This was a girls school and she just didn’t play games here, it was far more serious. The girls school was right next door to a boys school and she can remember the boys playing games, football and cricket. But all she remembers doing is sitting around chatting and going to the library. Remembers messing about locking friends in cupboards or in the toilet when the teachers weren’t around.
Susan is always liked books, in Wareham there was a book van and she’d always go out hunting books. Spent a lot of time reading. The older she got the more she read. When she lived at Salisbury she lived on Salisbury Plain and all her friends lived on the overside of town, so wouldn’t see them much. So would spend a lot of time reading.
As a teenager sit around listening to records. And then there was always the fair, they’d meet up at Debenhams and go to the fair, or go to events, or to the cinema. Leisure time become a bit more organised, arranging to meet up, getting dressed up, sneaking into pubs. She was 14 but looked older. Her friends parents wouldn’t let their friends out on their own, but would with Susan as she was seen as more grown-up. They wouldn’t get drunk when they went to the pub, they’d maybe have one drink and then go to the cinema.
When she was younger she remembers going to Wareham forest and she was not supposed to go to the forest on her own. She liked the isolation, the space that didn’t have anyone there. The forrest backed on to where they lived at the time so it was very easy to go to. Susan didn’t have any kind of fear about the place. She just wanted big chunks of time when she could be on own.
When she lived in London and went to Epsom School of Art and design she was often accused of being a Goth. Talks about living in London, being a young adult and experimenting with her identity. This was in the 80s, it was quite a tense time and she can remember being banned from going into pubs just because of what she looked like. Talks about her hairstyle and clothes she wore. talks about street culture of the time.
Talks about seeing bands and travelling around London and how inexpensive all this was. This was the days of the GLC. There was a good club in Croydon called the Underground, a very small club with sticky carpets.
Talks about decision of going to art college. She started off doing fashion, which she absolutely hated, it was so uncreative. The only bit she enjoyed was the life drawing, which she loved. Also loved going into the dye room and making fabric. But most of what she enjoyed she had to do when the teachers weren’t looking. Loved the party aspect of being a student, it was really exciting, and of freedom she had leaving home.
As an adult, Susan finds a lot of her work creeps into her leisure. She very rarely watches telly, and does so mainly to join in with the rest of the family – to watch telly together. She occasionally goes to the cinema and really goes to keep her husband and son happy, who really enjoy going. Susan likes her work, she likes painting, she likes making things. Susan is not at the moment reading as much, she finds this comes in phases.
Susan does a lot of social media stuff, she does instagram and some of this is leisure and some of this is work, again it all merges. She cycles a lot and she does Pilates and yoga classes. These classes are very much for her, rather than things she does for her family.
Susan talked about her painting, of finding the space to be creative within family life. She now listens to the radio quite a lot, tends to be radio4. Usually listens while she works.