Oral History Interviews

Memories of Free Time in Scotland

From age of 4 to 10 Gillian lived in wick, near John O’Groats in Scotland. It was very cold there and she doesn’t remember the summers at all. When she did play outside she tended to kick a ball around, ride bikes and something like a scooter (she can’t remember exactly what it was and thinks it was made for her). She was an only child, she had a feverish imagination and loved dressing up. She wasn’t a dolly person but remembers having a black doll. She would be in her own world a lot of the time. Her clearest memories as a young child is of the snow, there was a lot of snow and she remembers going out more in the winter then she can in the summer. A lot of just messing about in the snow, throwing snowballs. She went to school when she was four and walked across the town on her own and remembers walking between walls of snow and playing snowball in the playground.

3.35 Her mother was a very good sports person and was very determined that Gillian learn to swim. During winter she taught Gillian all the strokes on a poof and then that summer just threw Gillian into the sea and got her to swim. Every summer holiday she went to Aberdeen. She can’t remember an indoor pool in Aberdeen but can remember going swimming in sea there. She did enjoy swimming even though it was very very cold. She used to swim in the rain, in any condition. She remembers being encouraged to jump off the harbour wall in Wick.

5.20 Gillian remembers skipping and a game that interviewer calls ‘IT’, Gillian couldn’t remember what they used to call it. They used to sing songs while skipping, one potato two potato. ballgames was always a good thing and playing marbles.

7.11 Gillian remembers playing Cowboys and Indians. That might be when she was a bit older though. She moved when she was 10 and sees this as a definite dividing line in her life.

7.45 The weekends they, the family, always went for a run in the car. They’d go to places like the beaches, which were fantastic, and they’d be all wrapped up and play cricket or rounders. Sometimes though they go to really boring houses, to National Trust properties (now she is a member but as a child she found it boring).

9.05 Her mother was a sun worshipper and whenever the sun come out would take Gillian out-of-school and to the beach.

10.05 We discuss whether Gillian took her children to stately homes.

12.35 Talk about her young experience at Wick, which had a big community feel to it and her parents were quite involved in the community. That was she remembers there was a big Christmas party for all the children.

14.05 When she was 10, she’d swim once a week, as she got older she swam as often as she could and also took up tennis. She never minded her own company. She would spend hours with tennis racket banging a ball against a wall, just hit a ball against a wall for hours and hours and hours. She lived near the park and go there with a ball, there was also swings in the park.

Up to the age of 10 she was mainly on her own inside, though she had a dog which she had to walk and played with it a lot. Probably dressed it up as well, as she dressed everything. Gillian had a vivid imagination. She remembers going to Brownies in Wick.

18.10 With the move her whole life changed. She had one year in a new primary school and remembers getting top marks in a couple of classes and the teacher telling off the other children for allowing a child from the country to get better marks than them. She went to Guides for little bit, but this clashed with swimming so she didn’t go for a long. Sport dominated Gillian’s life from now on, she was very competitive. She swam for two clubs and played tennis for a club close to where she lived. Gillian went to a very sporty school when she did swimming, tennis and hockey and this took up every Saturday as she was always playing a match. The school on the sports field was very close to where she lived, she could see it from a bedroom window. Her parents would always know where she was. As she got older there were strict deadlines she had to be in by.

22.27 Gillian loves reading. She remembers listening to radio on Saturday night. There were plays the family listen to together. Gillian’s father would buy chocolate and they would sit down and listen to a half-hour show together.

24.16 Gillian remembers playing Drafts, Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. And also Happy Families card games and canasta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canasta).

25.15 When she used to knock tennis ball against a wall for hours on end she would go up the road to where there was an old tram shed and she didn’t disturb anybody.

26.10 Gillian doesn’t remember ever having to do any chores. In fact her mother would have paid her to do the sport as she was so keen on it. Her father had been a rugby player. So they were more than happy to see her play.

27.10 We then move on to her life as a teenager. She went to dances on a Friday night. Gillian never went to youth club.

29.50 Gillian loved dancing, she thinks she was 15, though she might have been 14. The other leisure time activity was coffee bars, these were all new. Gillian remembers going to cinema every Saturday morning, there was usually a cowboy film, plus another one. Gillian remembers one time on the tram home and they were dancing on the bus home and they were asked to get off, this was after seeing the film, Rock Around the Clock. “You have to remember they had no television so it was a real occasion to go to the cinema.”

33.50 Gillian had an idyllic childhood.

34.20 Gillian remembers lying to her parents very rarely. On one occasion she wanted to see a film her father told her she couldn’t see, so she told them she was to see a different film, when she got home her father asked her about the film and she couldn’t tell him anything about it. Also she never told her mum that they used a hitch and Gillian would hitch a ride to a nice beach with a friend. her mother would have not liked this.

36.46 We go on to talk about how should arrange to meet her friends. They had a telephone i the house and she could phone up her friends (she remembers at least one friend having a telephone). However she thinks she probably arranged to meet her friends while at school. The coffee bar you would always see people there, but she wouldn’t go there on her own, but would meet up with a friend first and go there together.

38.58 She kept up with fashions, but she never really joined a youth movement like the Teddy boys.

40.16 As a young adult her leisure time doesn’t really change. Gillian chooses to do sport at University. Gillian danced and played tennis and hockey and swam and joined teams and had a great time. Also took up skiing. University was like a big sports club. Gillian got married within a year of graduating. On leaving university Gillian and her husband had no money and this impacted on their leisure time. They took up bridge and they played golf. There was an time for leisure as such, work took up a lot of time. Gillian didn’t stop playing tennis though, she played this till she was 55.

42.50 we talk about leisure facilities that employers offered their workers. Husband was in the works rugby club and Gillian was in the hockey club. The main thing was that employers offered a subsidised bar. To attract staff, employees had to offer something to employees.

46.50 Children impinge on your life, well they do and they don’t. There’s no better way of making friends then with children, through places like antenatal clinics and nurseries. A little later once your children start walking to school on their own you can become socially isolated and not see people, you have to really make an effort. Gillian did make an effort, and she volunteered for places like the church.

48.50 When the children become older, Gillian went back to work and then there was no time at all for leisure.

50.20 When Gillian and husband were both working, leisure would be going to a restaurant and this partly be the fact that they could both afford it now.

51.10 Gillian’s leisure time as an older adult was bridge, golf, reading, book groups, volunteering for RNLI and air ambulance.

52.40 As a retired person, Gillian enjoys writing, book groups, walking groups, and she is in the WI, in Humanists Association. She has two grandchildren which take up a lot of her time. If she had the money travel is one thing Gillian would do more of.

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