Alexander Broodie. Windrush Cymru: Our Voices, Our Stories, Our History 2019

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A transcription of an oral history interview with Alexander Broodie in Cardiff, discussing his experience of growing up within a family which migrated from the Caribbean during the 1950s.

Interviewee: Alexander Uriah Broodie
Interviewer: Dr Adeola Dewis
length of interview: 01:44:41

[Full name] Alexander Broodie, [D.O.B.] 12/1/25 [Born] Antigua
[Parents’ Names] My Mother’s name Ina Carty and my Father name Jimmy Adams.
Well my Father he was a policeman, he was born in Antigua and if you’re born in Antigua or any other country, you don’t operate in that country, they send you to another country, because you know who you go to school you got favours you might passed over like so your duty is in another country, so I was born in Antigua, my Father was born in Antigua, my Mother was born in Antigua, but they went to St Kitts, he was working there. He had a brother, the two of them was a policeman, this one now my Fathers brother, he was a Corporal, so he sent in the one that under him like you know, and they went to raid a place where they gamble, so he send in the small boys in, to arrest who they caught like, but then they never catch anyone, and when they come out, my Uncle who stayed outside, he grabbed four of them. They went in, say we’re a gang of you in here, where the people who was gambling in there, but they all rush out, so they caught none and he stayed outside and he had four, and they call him ‘hold four’ [laughs] that was his nickname, and I used to get away with that, with the other boys then, because when they want to take advantage of me, you know I small then innit, you better leave him alone because he got an Uncle they call ‘hold four’.
But the two of them were policemen, the two brothers. Sometime I live with him, sometime I live with my mother, because after they leave Antigua and went to St Kitts then, they all separated, so one go their way and the other one go the their way like so.  Sometime I go and live with my father, sometime when they are ready like I just gone back up by my mother, and live with my mother.  A little distant like because if I feel upset, something they done me something wrong anyone of them, I gone to the other one and left one house and gone to the other house like.
[Brothers and Sisters]

Brothers no, I had a cousin, like my Mothers sister child, name was Elridge I think Elridge, but I left them back home there, because when I left to come over here, my cousin, he went to Antigua, and he went his way and I went my way, and that's the last time we saw each other like you know,  I think because he turned off, I thought, I’m not quite sure, I was sure he went to look for a job to be a policeman, that's was in Antigua like you know, because work was very hard, and you never use to work for nothing much, To make ends meet, I used to cut hair like a barber, used to work aboard a steamer, like when the ship come in, they stay like a distance out like,  the land is here and they’ll be out say in Newport Rd like, anchor off there, and the boats, have to left from near the shore and go to the boat, and they will pick up the cargo and drop it in the boat and we take it ashore and after we unload that then you go back for another, and so the ships they come there, in St Kitts they come for the sugar.

Because that time what we used to produce is sugar and cotton then, cotton; and then they stopped the, say after I came over here, they stopped the sugar, because they was getting the sugar from the beetroot, so then they lost that employment. Cotton, they stopped the, [thinking] to make the cotton to make your clothes, they stopped that an all because, they were getting the wool from the sheep. So instead of you building up, you build, nothing there to build, because you got nothing there, so then the year the door had to open then in 1950 round there 1950, then I left home at 1955.
About two [when I left Antigua] when I grew up, my mother used to send me backwards and forwards, because I was born in Antigua, so she wanted me to know the place, because I hardly there, I was mostly brought up in St Kitts like. I was in St Kitts most of the time, say every year she sent me up there, to see which part I was born and everything.
School, when I goes, we all kids innit, say all of us is kids then. Anybody come to take advantage of me or touch me or, to pick a fight, or anything, you know what kids does, they will say to him “you better leave him, because you know he got an Uncle who called hold four” [laughs], and so they got to keep away from me then, because ‘hold four’ they know as a policeman. I was supposed to call him ‘Uncle’, he was my fathers brother, but the two of them, they train in Antigua, and if you train, it’s a little country, then you can go round St Kitts and Antigua, [this is a small country]. three four times in one day.
We never seen nothing like snow, we got a mountain, it had a mountain, but some of these little countries, they look like a little rock in the sea, everybody knows everybody, everybody know what they’re like, innit.

No, [I never wanted to be a policeman] No, no, no, well, at that time I never had no idea, about such, because what I was thinking then, I going to stay small all the time, I not going to grow up and never thinking, that never come across me, about growing up and go out on your own, until I get say a teenage. you know, then, that time like, then you start to think further, my Father, my Mother start to push me in that direction, because I go out to work, whatever money I get, I give it to my Mother and she gave me my food, she gave me my clothes, she never took [a penny]…. any of my children they can tell you, the same thing my Mother done to me, I give it back to them, she never take a penny from my wages, call it wages, but what it was call it, five shillings a week, used to get, apprentice you call it over here now.
I never look forward, say growing up, I just think to myself then, that going to stay little all the time and my parents age group they going to stay big all the time, my Mother she was very good, and what she done to me, all I did pass it on to my children, they all can tell you.  When I start to work I had five shillings I think a week, to weed the road, because we never had drains like they got here, they got a drain really, but people weeding the grass from there so that the water can land you know, come off the road like you know; but it was very, very tough like.
She [Mother] husband was a fisherman and goes to  catch the fish, and when he come ashore, they had their own business like you know, she take the fish, and go in the country and she sell, and sometime they swap, fish for food [laughs] she give them the fish and they give her….what you call.. money was scarce then innit. That was call it the farthing days, that was the lowest money is ‘farthing’ and four farthing make a penny, and that’s where we started up from, so when anybody see a dollar, they not letting that go because, it’s a long time coming;  it was very, very, very hard.
Came over here now, tried to come over, and this what happened now, one of the politician came to St Kitts and he tell the people, the people who was running the country them.  That’s in...[thinking] it started from say 1948 sometime around there, the war finish in say 45, and then half the people who went to the war never come back, so the door was open then, open wide, for whoever who want to come in, like us;  the West Indian especially, we come from slavery days, this is how they do it, slave, then they take the chain off us, and then ‘Broodie’ the Broodie name, the slave master he name was Broodie and in those days, like I’m your slave master, you now, my child or somebodies else child when you grow up, even [if] you take your parents name it don’t count.  You take your parents name, like say my Father then was ‘Adams’ but through my Father never married my Mother, I don’t carry his name, his name gone and out through the window.
I came over and I send him some money, right and he said  water came from his eyes, you know, because he think I were going to carry his name, but I couldn’t carry his name because he never married my Mother, that’s the way it was then, you know today like it you can take any name you choose, if you got a name, and you don’t like it you can go and change it if you want to, but it wasn’t like that, in those days.
After the war, because woman had to [reflecting back] make the war materials, then that’s why woman get the power, but it was all, say when I was born before the war because I born in [19]25, and the war never start until, you could say it begin in 1933, and then the main part about it, when it come worldwide it’s 1939 and they finish 1945.  Then 45, the war finish, they want people… because what happened over here then, before the war and in-between the war, is woman have to take the place of a man, like make the bombs, but before then, that was a mans work, but the man wasn’t there the man have to go and fight the war, so the woman then take over; but after the war finish 1945, everything started to come back to normal, the man came over from here they wanted people, you know do the work, because much didn’t come back from war, we made a song up about that as well [laughs], we made a song up about that:

“White man make their war in France,
 Black man went and joined him,
 Some came back with a medal on,
 Some come back with their backside leaning”
A song from the war, and that was facts of life, they call it after ‘Calypso’ it’s Calypso like you know, so that’s what really have happened, but with my children then, that’s what my Mother taught me that’s pass it on to them.
Who was the first one...Gwen, she went to work and when I come home, she said “Father” [I say] “Yeah” she didn’t wait for. what you call them, career officer, when they came to the house, she gone, looking for a job, she gets job to pack nuts, five shillings a week, and I think I was working 2 till 10 then, all other children wait for a career officer to come out and put them in the right direction, what suit them like, corresponding with their learning and things like that, but then Gwen come home and she went, after sign off from school now she went and look a job, packing nuts, five shillings a week she was getting, and when I come home now, she say to  me “Father” “Yeah”, “I got a job” she never wait for career officer, she went and look at jobs, ‘Snack Pack’, something that they call it then, five shillings a week. When I came home I was working afternoons, I can remember that like it happened today (come home) “she said” Father,” I said yes”, I’ve have a job, in which I know on that weekend like she had some money, five shillings a week.

[Images of Britain]

No, I never say where we were going, I know we’re going to Britain like that’s all, but say like my friend, he went out and all the boys then from the same place and from Jamaica and from Barbados, cos it go all around the Caribbean and pick up, and all of us there talking, some of them know because they might know people over here, because there is a chap wasn’t living far from me called (Proccup?) my friend went and he, got in conversation, he say “Oh, my brother is in Cardiff” and my friend come back and say “We’re going to Cardiff” that’s when I know I’m coming to Cardiff, because he heard, we just left home blind, like blindfolded, you going into a land of nowhere you don’t know where you going, wherever the wind blew, you happy with it, so when my friend come and say “Oh we’re going to Cardiff” because somebody was living there is living in  Cardiff and somebody was on the boat, which was in the conversation.  He said this (Proccup?) he’s in Cardiff and then my friend come and say “Oh, we’re going to Cardiff”.

That was in 1955, I think I was 19, I left home when? [thinking] 1955, I born 1925, [Children] yeah, how many did I have, I had 6 [looking at a photograph] that’s them there. I left them home in 1955 and that’s my wife by the picture see I got a pipe in my mouth there, Mildred now that’s my wife there, she got the children to put a pipe in their mouth, say “have a pipe in your mouth like your father” that time I was over here then. When I come over, there’s one thing I never had no bills or [like] most people had to borrow money, from wherever  they can get it to come to this country, but I never had to borrow money, because my Mother, I told you a while ago, if I go to  work and I get five shillings, give my mother  the five shillings, she give me my food, she give me my clothes and the five shillings still put there for when the wet weather come [rainy day].  The same thing I pass it on to my children and I advise anyone like your generation, or my children them children to do the same to their children. Because it’s like the prodigal son, he take his share and he went away and he squandered it all off and he find himself eating the pig food, and he said ‘look at me, what am I doing, I’m eating pig food, while the servant of my parents is eating better than me, I going back and apologise’ and he went back and the Father knows he going to come back before he even come back, and the Father went out and open his hands out wide, gather him in and keep a  party for him an all, and his brother was there never went nowhere, working, because they had a farm something like that, working, working, and he take his share of money and went away and squandered and he come back, and they keeping a party for him.

That’s a story you got to tell your children then, you got to be careful with money, and most of the people then now my age group, maybe three quarter of them they gone to sleep.
That’s my friend, he was the one, yeah, who told me then yeah.  He was the one who told me “Let’s go to England”. So then I had my money, I had the money, it’s $365 to pay, well I only got the $365, he was working on the ship, my friend, so he not there to give me his $365, I got my $365 for my fare; what I did, I went down to the people then  and I put down me and him name, because I had the money, I expect him to have his money, he never had a copper, he never had a penny, and I take my money, divided it into two half for him and half for me, when he come ashore, because he’s the one who tell me “Let’s go to England” [laughs]. He’s the one who told me “Let’s go to England” so I expect him to get his money, you know, you just think everybody was alike, if you got a penny or got a penny, and use a halfpenny, and put a halfpenny away, and that’s your penny, you think everybody is doing that like.

I believe that he is the one who told me, you’re going to tell someone “Let’s go to England” and you don’t have no money, you can’t swim it, and I paid the money for him.  When he come ashore now I tell him I booked our  passage, my money, so then you go down there now to the agent like, and give him the other half, you know, his money to cover both of us, because I expect him to go… at the time he used to work in a factory, he had more jobs than I had, with one job couldn’t keep you, not like over here like, as I told you before, when this bloke come in, the door open wide now for we to come to England.  The bloke come over and it’s a poor little country, a poor little country, you know what he done? he’s supposed to, from Britain, he’s supposed to give the country, that I was in and say the West Indies them, the West Indians people, they don’t have the money to come here, because they never had the work, to say have the money, and he said, inviting us over here, because at that time, women was doing the work that the men them was doing in the war, and the war finished now.
Half the people and more than half, maybe three quarters of the people, that want to the war haven’t come back, so woman, woman now was doing the men’s work, while they away. Well now, they couldn’t fulfil the gap that  the hole that the war left, so this man come and he started invite us, tell the people who was running the country back home, to come and work.
You know what he did? this country [England] was a rich country, the country that I was in the West Indian,  not only me, he tell our Government to lend us the money to come over here, if you haven’t got it. He want us to come over here, he’s supposed to give them the money like, he said he would  give us the money to come over here and when we work, he will see to it, he’ll see to it, that the money come back to the Government. It don’t happen like that.  When we come over and we working, I mean he could be right in a sense, because not everybody come to work, some, you know everybody going their different ways, and some might never, but he put the responsibility on the Government in whatever country you come from, all over, but they wouldn’t put the money so.
You know what the politician done? He come back over, [to Britain] now coming back to this country and he’s broadcast [to] the people of this country who was here then, that the West Indian are coming over, not only we, the whole West Indian, because the gap or the hole that this country was in, there was nobody there to fulfil the hole like; and this country [England] was a rich country, because they got the riches from the slavery days, in which you know.  Who could afford it, they come over, who couldn’t afford it, they borrow the money from the Government, the point I’m trying to make is, this Government here should have, it’s a rich country, and they need us to do the work, but they didn’t take that risk, they didn’t want that responsibility, and the Government back home there give them the money and when they come over and they work, they will see to it that they send the money back to the Government [in West Indies] back home and that was wrong; the person who invite us over here, he come back and over and tell the people then of this country, “the West Indian” mean me and you like “is coming over here”, and take all the good jobs and left the donkey work for we when we come over. That’s a different story like, he didn’t sound like he begging us, to come over to fulfil the gap, but at that time a woman was doing the work.

[Job in Britain]
When I came, you know what my first job was? Carrying iron, on my shoulder, to put in the furnace, to make anything, you know they melt it and they pound it and….I left from there I went to a timber yard, right I started to carry, …these are the worst jobs, as I said, the job that the white people don’t want, we had work to take at the time, because you know you got nothing and it’s heavy work, what I was getting, £8 a week, and out of £8, you know what we used to do? With the £8, I got £8 there, I save £5 out of £8 right. £3 left, [thinking] £2 for my rent, no £1 for my rent another pound for my pocket money and another £1 for my food, and £5 left, I put it down there [savings] and every month, that time I left 9 children back  over there, I’m here on my own.

I was sleeping, wake up in the morning and look at the clock, the hand gone different to me, half  past three o’clock, I’m down in work, thinking it was half past six in the morning I supposed to be working 6 till 2, and I run out then, catch this thing, take me to a place where I catch the bus.
Buses never running yet, what I went on the milk , what was just coming out taking the milk, they used to put the milk down there by you door, and what you do, you know the down and out people, they just go take the milk and drink them.
[Children in St Kitts]

With the five pounds I send home, my wife she’s a better saver than I am, because she wasn’t relying on the money I sent her, so when I send the £5,you know what she do with it in the bank and that’s how I able to….if I wanted to go back home, I wanted them to come, rely on the money...I didn’t have it, you know my Mother and she was like that [close], and they used to go out and sell fish, you know buy it for 5 pence and then sell it for 10 pence.

So when I send the money home, my wife never waiting, and she just take the £5, the £20 that I send, in the bank; and when I ready to send for them, to come over I didn’t have to send the money, if they were still waiting for me to send money, they’d still be over there, because I didn’t have it. I advise anyone to do their children, to put them on the right pathway, by teaching them to save their money.

Well the next year [wife came over and joined him], she came on she own and she didn’t bring the children, and then she went to work, and I going to work, and then we fetched the children over, two by two, three by three [laughs], we fetched them over according like.  My mother.. I left six children with her, and she send them two by two, and she send those that she don’t like much [laughs] first, and those who she like she keep them for last.
.[It was not according to age] No, those children there, she loved Deloris, and when Deloris came over (she said) I am the only one who went to private school, because all them was home together, but they come over two by two, and make sure I got somewhere to put them, before I send for them, when the first two come over, after about a month or two I bought a house, I put down the deposit on a house, that time the wife, she went to work then, and she never had no children. I couldn’t fetch them over unless I had somewhere to put them, that’s number one, because they could kick me out and  I send for them and on their way over… the last one born 1960, and when I went and bought the house it was 1957...58, I bought the house because, the wife come over and when she come she joined me and went to work, she used to work in St Davids (hospital), so we put one payment aside and the other payment to keep us going like and fulfil any more children and buy a house. These people say to me “Alex!” I say “All right”, he said “Where you going?” I say “I’m going to work” he said “You going to work with all those children you got!” [laughs].  Other people done it, because they got these children and they get this amount, family allowance first, plus your allowance, you know what you’re getting like you know, they can live off that, but they’re living a poor life like. I would advise anyone  you young ones, the  younger generation, put the children first, because they know what's out there for them, for their children, because they is on their way out in a little hole and when they’re gone, they want to leave them well fortified.

[Dealing with the cold in Wales]

When I was down the docks, on my own then innit, go to bed, look at me in those days, you couldn’t afford,…. we never had central heating, all we had was the coal fire, sit by the coal fire, go up to bed, I’m in bed, on my own before children come over, I got a lamp right at the foot of my bed there, when I wake up in the morning, if I had a couple of more hours, it would have caught on fire; because you downstairs by the coal fire, but now you go up to bed now, well up there is a cold place innit you know, times was hard.  I went to sleep, wake up, look at the clock. I was using different hands like, the long hand for the short hand, I think I bloom-in late for work.
Oh, when it was really cold, in bed, get up in the morning 6 till 2, I was working, come downstairs, turn the tap on, and before that, things were so hard, say we are all here, live in different rooms, you stay in your little coop, and you want hot water, you wouldn’t get up, he go downstairs and he turn the thing on, that time we only used to put a penny in the gas, and

everybody come down with a kettle for the hot water, and the penny or the twopence so much you put in it gone.

Everybody coming down they want hot water but they wouldn’t put the penny in, if I go you, put a penny in to get the hot water, everybody coming down and when it gone off, everybody go back up. That’s how it used to be.
[One time] I wake up, I came down turn the tap on, I show you the condition, central heating wasn’t on, all we had then was the coal fire, and when you go bed, you got so many blanket and you gone under these blanket, army blankets they used to call them, and they had a kind of a something to heat the place up, and it nearly catch the sheets on fire.
When I turn the tap on no water come out of it, the water was frozen up in the, because the water was frozen up in there, it’s terrible.
 If I had the money then, I would have gone back.  What kept me here, I went in a place ‘Super Oil Seals’ Steel, Western Avenue, down Western Avenue, and white people come in there, come for a job, they send them in to look, and they just have look and they start sweating, they start sweating before they start to work, they just gone there don’t come back. They didn’t come back at all; but with me, when I goes in there, off with my top and it’s like back home and everybody just come in from all over the factory, and just watching me. I was physically fit, so fit you know what I mean, Wingrove could tell you, they ask “how you got such a good body?” Wingrove could tell you, he said “my father never used to take no exercise”. 
What I think is the hard work I done, because, I can’t rest, because you got to provide, at the time providing for nine children, like those at home yeah, with all them children there, and when I come over here and the condition over here, because back home there you never see snow.  In the morning you get up you see some, call it dew on the grass, when you walk you wet your feet, you know, that’s all we see.  Maybe he had snow up on the mountain….
The amount of money, you working, £8, I think that was the top wages, anybody come in the pub, who will come in the pub, just the seaman; and they pull out a £10 note, everybody around, [laughs] £10 look like a million pound, everybody around for half, especially the woman when the husband come home with his wages and he gives the wife the money, you know what the wife done? She don’t pay no rent, she don’t buy no food, she gone into the pub, half of cider, until the money done.  Everybody got their own different habit anything that they love like.

[Feeling British]

We don’t think them sort of way, we know we are British, because we know, they send for the people, they’re in a hole…the whole of the West Indies, belongs to...[thinking] Britain, and if you go to my country any time, it’s as big as that [small], that’s what my country was like. Oh yeah [I felt British] British that’s all we know.  I didn’t feel no different because I wasn’t  under no pressure, because I wasn’t an outgoing person, because I couldn’t afford, because my children they are number one, even before me, I put them in front of me personally right.
[Doing the horses]

I can remember one time, I used to get my little help from the horses, I used to do the horses, well then if my luck wasn’t in then, I go to somebody who I know and borrow money from them and then go back on the horses and then I get the money back but I pay back the person, because the reason that the person got money for me, when they were back home, they used to work in the monthly circle, every month they get pay, so every week they work weekly and they put the rent money aside, so if I go there, and I short, I ask them to lend me something, they lend me, because they know, they got four weeks to go before they have to hand the rent money in, because they pay it monthly, and I used to take money from them.  I remember one time we went from the docks and we used to go play dominoes, they still do it now, they play dominoes and things like that. A friend of mine his name Arnold, we went Ascot I think it was, Ascot racecourse, and he said “you know how to do horses” me and you were friends like, “give me £2” and I put £2, we put £4 on this horse to win, and the horse win a 100 to 6, and when we on the way back now we went to the pub, go to the bar, get down a bottle of whisky, all the boys and we countrymen who come over together, sit at the same table, bottle of whisky on the table, everybody into the whisky, the whisky finished now, everybody there looking now, they’re not looking to me because, my friend Arnold his name was, he had the same as me, and because I had my winnings I buy a bottle, so they looking for him to next in line, Arnold say “Who them? They’re not getting my bloom-in money” [laughs] they all sit down there after the bottle finish they expect Arnold to buy, he wouldn’t [laughs]. He says they’re not getting my money, he used to be in charge of a place down the docks.
[The welcome in Butetown]

Oh well, you know who’s got the money? This is what the community used to do, just getting £8 a week like me, they put the money down on the table for the housekeeping for the week, and by the time I put the money down, the wife gone into the pub a half a cider.

[Buying a property]

Well I was in Butetown and I left Butetown, when I goes up in Cathays, I bought the house like you know, I had the house, with the children then and [the community] was alright, it was alright.
I tell you another story again, one of my daughter, she named Sylvia, when she went to school, there was a little girl, smaller than her, she was crying, Sylvia was crying and the girl carrying her, a white girl, live in the same street and the girl carrying on like a little baby; what I’m on about is the weather the coldness have her crying Sylvia, you want to see her now, she goes around just like you; It was hard, but you can make it hard for yourself, but if you live the right way, because why I went and bought the house, the reason why I think that way, I add up about £1.50 a week for rent and you put that there four times, it’s the same, you are paying  monthly for the house and one day you will be owning it, that’s how you look at it like, you know.  The same money now you are paying for rent, if you got a deposit and put it down, you pay the same money and if you live long enough, one day the house will be yours like and that’s it. 
When I do that it don’t work out that way at all, because look how you sit down with pen and paper and put down there and try to operate that way, it don’t work out right, it work out on pen and paper, but it don’t work out right, when you do it on your own by yourself like. [It worked out] harder, it was alright, it might have been alright, or partly alright, because say something might step in, say your gas bill or lights bill and you may go and go over the top like, so then you’re left in a hole like, so you got to try  and fill up that hole, unless is a gambling person, you know and you get a big win.
[Going back home]

No, I couldn’t afford, I help them to go home, but me myself, much more important, they are much more important than me going back home.  Oh, my wife she’s goes back home, because she got the money, you know, when I give her...say we sit down, we work out how much for food for the week, bang yeah, how much for this, put it all together and give her that money, right, that money it don’t work out right, you sit down with pen and paper in your house and said, well you going to spend so much and so much to come to that figure, right you got to add up day after day, but when you go actual facts, like doing now, it don’t come out that way at all, you gone into arrears because sometime you might go, oh I’ll borrow this or whatever, you borrow it but you don’t put it back, and then you find yourself sinking, sinking, down, down, down all the time like, you know.  With me I used to have a get out plan and my get out plan is, if I drop myself in a hole, the horses they take me out [laughs].
I tell you a little joke now. I went in a betting shop that time, and this woman said “Alex” I said “Hello” “Here's 10p put it on Lester Piggot” she said, I took the paper, there’s Lester Piggot down there and I come across, and I think then, that was Lester Piggot but it wasn’t, [laughs] it was something else so when I go look back now, I see I put down the wrong horse for the woman, so I say, I don’t want to get myself in any trouble, she asked me to back Lester Piggot and I backed something else and Lester Piggot win, so I went back, it was only 10pence it wasn’t much and I put down Lester Piggot, the one the real one. The one that I made a mistake with I gave her the ticket first, he won 33-1 [laughs] he won 33-1, and now I gave her the ticket first, then I went back and I did Lester Piggot, because I didn’t want to be in no trouble, that didn’t come nowhere, the woman say “Alex!” I say “yeah” “I won 33-1” [laughs] that’s the mistake one and it happened to me more than once.  I put it down to providence guiding you hand, like something, you go out there now and a man tell you ‘go right’ you say oh! No, I go left and you go left, if you had truly gone left something happen, if you gone right, nothing will happen innit, providence seem like it guiding my hand, it happened to me lots, lots, lots, I going to do something and instead of doing that what I wanted to do, I go down a bit and the one I going to bet with, the one that I wanted to do come nowhere and the one that I come up with, got a really good price, it always happen to me; and I think I wouldn’t be able to manage if I never had the mind that I have.  My daughter, the one over there in Newport Gwen, anytime she family you know, got a baby, you pick up your child and come down to Cardiff, she live in Newport to look for me, because she know when she see me, whatever I got in my pocket, I’m going to take it out and give the baby [laughs]. So, you know if it wasn’t for the baby, I wouldn’t see her.
[Children, six in St Kitts] three [over here], when I left home I had nine and when the wife came over we had three more [laughs]. That’s why they say to me ‘where you going?’ I say ‘I going to work’, all those children you got. Because I don’t like pity you know, I like to work, to try to be independent, if you get nothing out of it because of the children it’s alright, if you get something out of it because of the children, it’s still alright.  I done well, I done very well I think, but it’s not me and my own, there is something up there, like me, guidance from somewhere up there [laughs] because fancy, like I said to you, I go to write something down and I write something different, and the different that I write, it made a big, big difference, so it must be something, somebody up there like me, because the direction, that I go in Ah Ha! the trouble is I think what’s to do with it, this is what I think, that things come your way, say you can call it luck come your way, because you are going to do the right thing with the money, that’s why God give it to you, but if you squander it, something wrong with it, you know you don’t get that lucky, and that’s how I put it down, when I said I make mistake with Lester Piggot and write this one underneath and the one that I write on Lester Piggot, didn’t come nowhere, so that’s down to providence. You can ask Wingrove and Randolph [his son] if it ever happen to them, like they go to do something and they make a mistake.

There’s only one thing happen to me in the pictures, I used to go pictures in those days, to the pictures in those days, see the pictures twice innit.  So I sit down there, the picture finish now, then picture started over again, so I fell asleep then, when I [woke up] two man was there, they must get up, I don’t know, they got to get up, they went and two person come, and one sit down there and one sit down there [either side] and what were they doing, one got his hand on my leg, one on the other side, he got his hand rubbing on my leg, wake me up I guess [laughing], get me to move, because I just walk out the place, that’s life you know, goes up and down, so you have to take it as it comes and with my luck, the lucky part I was telling you about,  he [God] knows what you going to do even before, long, long before, he knows what you going do tomorrow, you don’t know what you’re going do tomorrow, he knows every movement you going make, even before you know it.
So when the change come along, it’s a part of that like, you thinking, oh! I walking this way and then something come along, don’t walk that way, walk that way [different direction] and maybe you walk that way and maybe you get killed, [whereas] maybe the Lord take you from that side and put you on that side, the safe side.
I went to pictures, paid 6 pence, to go to see pictures, when I get in there, there was this girl, sitting there like you’re sitting there now, and you holding a seat for your boyfriend, him to come, I say, that time  I’m young and strong then, no woman don’t hold no seat in here, and that was ‘pit’ you call it ‘pit, you know the last part [the stalls ].  Sitting there she holding a seat for the boyfriend, because her boyfriend must be was late, she put her hat there like innit…  There’s a seat there they said to me, they said she holding it for she boyfriend, I say no woman don’t hold no seat in here, and I went and I sit down there, and when I sit down there, she knows she boyfriend is coming. When you look she start to dig me, want to make me get up from there like, I not begging, she boyfriend come now and Labadee and his girlfriend there now and Labadee he left handed, so he coming in this way, instead of come to the front way, he go after the back way, because he left handed, and when he come in, she jook me with some needle or something she got there like, you know, and I only trying to stop her, and he come on the left side, because he left handed, and he lashed me one, with his fist, and he just went like that and I come back and I grab him and I put him down there, and while I grab him and got him down there, you know what she was doing? She took off she shoes [laughing] and you want to hear them, everybody in the pictures, they got the circle high like that and they all getting up, every time she come with she hand like that you hear “Ah, Ah, Ah!”; she doing my head like a piano, she do my head like playing a piano, she’s doing my head like a piano. You know what happened after, she went and summonsed me, she taking me to court, to say beating her up and things like that like; and I was after them, because I never finish with she boyfriend, I never finish with him, we all live the same place, we know each other. I used to in the night time, go to his place and sit by step waiting for him to come home, he wouldn’t come home, and he end up caught me on the quiet time like, and he said, we all live in the same place like and we shouldn’t be fighting each other, and we call it a day like and just forget it like.

King Kong, yeah, when I was home there [St Kitts] every time you see a picture come out, something on there, that we don’t see much, because it small little country, know what I mean, say like over here, you  see a film and somebody, big and strong, put you in mind of a person, they just, ‘oh he strong like so and so’(my physical strength), and there you stuck with a name.  I used to lay down on my back with my hand there and my foot there and as many people, to stand on me, while I’m there they get on me. I was strong.
[Cardiff Changes]

Well I don’t go with the tide, put it that way, I don’t go with the tide. I hear the news and I feel sorry for what happened.

[Every Child Is Your First One]

Say you got a set of children like I had, if I go here, and I make a set here, every first one is the first, every first one [child] by each partner is the first…not only me do this, everybody with a partner who got, say two or three [children] but they were your number one, but then say you fall out you may, but say you may look after the first lot [children] because that’s your first love innit; that’s the way life goes like, it’s no good turning your back on any you got to try and treat them all the same. Twelve [children in total].

 With the first one, when I was born my mother she never like little boys, so I [was] like her enemy, because she always used to say “Uri” [Uriah is my  birth name in the West Indies] that’s what she used to call me, “Uri you should have a died”, the little girl born first, and the girl die, because she liked little girls, she don’t like boys, but there’s one of them that she loved that’s Vernon [Grandson], his name was Vernon and he died, and she actually don’t like boys, because boys is too rude, that’s she excuse, to say that she don’t like little boys. Then when I do anything that she don’t like she said “Uri, you done so and so, when I hold you, its going to be a day by  itself”  Well she got it down there, it haven’t gone nowhere, it down there, and then I do something else again, in which she don’t like, she got them all billed up, and when she do hold me, when she is ready to empty out all that she got inside of her, all my clothes off, naked as I born, down on the floor. In those days then, cat O nine tails, you could beat your children.

Well my mother she let it build up, and she make me take all my clothes off and while I’m down there, she tied my two hands was and when she finished with me, she dumped me in the sea water. At the time every lash I get from my mother it leave a mark there until it get better. 
That’s what they used to do in the slavery days, so you got the children and your children are named after the slave driver.  That’s how slavery goes see [Grandfather was enslaved] Yes, he got his name from slave, that’s where they named him from and with the beating and ‘cat O nine tails’ came from slavery days, that came out of slavery.  The town itself, he [Son Randolph] went back home, and asked “could you tell me where the Broodie’ s are?” place call in free town they said “the Broodie’s?” everybody who lives there is a Broodie, [ after slavery was over].  It’s a Broodie Town. Broodie Village.
When they phoned me down, and they say there a Broodie gone missing [trying to trace ancestors], and they want to know, it’s only because his name was Broodie, because the Broodie in Scotland they got their own army [Castle]. So they want to know if I related, so I tell then No I’m not related, I get the name from slavery days, because if I’m a slave master, me and you have a baby, the baby got the surname of the slave driver there. I tell him my name come from the slavery days, because in slavery you be named after [the slave master]. Back home you could only get your parents name if they were married, and some people over here who is it? Wingrove I think married one and they wouldn’t have his name. I say I wouldn’t marry the woman, and if she want me she got to want my name, if she don’t want my name she don’t want me.

[01:22:17 ]
[The gift of children]      
The wife had nine, because every year, I got a present coming, every year I got a present! She only just had one, after three months, she in the ‘babies way’ again!!!

[01:22:40 ]
[Naming the Children]

Teen and Rita then your sister Gwen and after Gwen, Randolph, because Gwen born, [19]49 and Randolph born 50, [next] Vernon I think, Sylvia, Wingrove and Delores, the baby left in the West Indies]. [The three born here in Wales] Margaret then Selwyn and you [Lane] is the last one.
If Teen go out and you know the family and Teen maybe doing something wrong, and they give her a little warning like, my Mother take them to court, mustn’t chastise Teen, Teen don’t do nothing wrong, not in my mothers sight, because as I said before, my Mother was saying, I should have died, she like little girl like.
 [Grandmother in St Kitts] She could have ask to send just a little tiny one, I tell her “you had them all” she had them all, if she want one to stay with her, then keep them innit, and if she going to keep anyone then, it’s the favourite, it’s Delores. Delores was the favourite, Delores is second best to Teen, Teen was her number one. If you go and you see Teen doing something wrong and you talk to her about it, my mother take you to court, she don’t do nothing wrong.
[Looking at photographs] That’s my mother there, them in the two first one there, Teen and Rita and Leroy [and Vernon]. I was surprised to hear she say she likes Vernon, was her favourite, [looking at wedding photograph] and the other one is down here somewhere, that’s when I left home as well, we went to those shops, [with a photo booth] that’s in [19]55 we took that, and that one there as well 55 we took that.


Well I do think to myself if I never had the children I wouldn’t be here and I mightn’t been alive because, it might be different, according to the country you’re in, because you can ,… germs free over here, because over there in the West Indies, you got to,… cause flies and things that carry germs around, and certain times you see the flies them about and other times you can’t see them because of the weather over here.
[Missing St Kitts]

I’d like to go back really, but I don’t got it, and the trouble there now is sickness come into it like, because I got you know, what you call it Dementia, sometime I can’t find my way here. Say if I was back home then, I wouldn’t have been talking as I’m talking now, I might have gone to sleep, I would have gone to bye bye, because it would have been different then, because there is a lot of people, younger than me and maybe my age group, or maybe older than I am, they’re gone! just sleep like you know, but that’s the benefit for this country and especially me, I wouldn’t go to the extreme, to say if am going out, I’d have to be warm, thick clothes on to go out there, because the weather I don’t like it all, up to now.
I wouldn’t have been alive I think, my mate the fella who come over here who I told you about, when I put his money down and know what I mean, he’s gone now, he’s gone to bed, he’s gone to bye bye and I left him up there and which part I was working, through he had the problem, when he was carrying timber on his shoulder, so you got the coal on your shoulder, plus you got to hold it with your hand  and then put it in the lorry to take to various places, he told me that his fingers were like that, he couldn’t bend them, they’d frozen out there and you know what they did? They get the frost off the timber and rub it on his hand like that, and he started crying like a little baby, he was crying like a little baby, when he told me that, I know what it was like innit, I went to the woman where I was working and asked for a job for him, she said “Oh no, I’m not having him he’s too old”, I said he's not old, he must be a year or two older than I am, his name was Aaron. 


[Did he get the job]

When he told me that, I went I get the job I ask the woman, me and she was very good, she’d said “Who? I’m not having him, he’s too old!”, but anytime I come face to face with her, I ask her and she get fed up of me asking, and she say “Oh, bring him, bring him” and I bring him, and he worked there until he retire, because she was saying he’s too old, he was a year older than me, he came and he worked there until he die. He was living, I don’t think you will know, my children may not know her, Betty Campbell, [the first black head mistress in Cardiff].  [Aaron’s son and Alex's Grandson graduated at the same place]

[01:32 :10]
When you get to my age you don’t need a passport, …they give you, like a postcard, say when you get to 90 or close to 90 or to 88 or something like that you don’t get a passport, they give you something like a postcard, just open and shut case, and it’s a different colour because you can’t be a terrorist. 
Some people lucky, to get through the system without any stumbling  block in the way, but they try to block you from rising up, there’s a bloke down there, what we call him ‘Happy Puppy’ his name is Foster, he was very intelligent, the reason why he was so intelligent, because his Father used to work for a judge, so with his Father working for a judge he got access to all the books then, and he was reading them growing up and reading the books won him a scholarship and when I went to [work], he was the one who teach me how to do the first job that I had, and I was surprised to see him there, because we used to call him a ‘Happy Puppy’, because he had all the books down there, because his Father used to work for the judge, and working for a judge all the books them there, he can pick up any sort of book and read, and he won a scholarship.  He come over here and he was working doing the sort of work I was doing, he wanted to go for Higher Education, he could have if he had the money to support himself, but where he was working they got to allow him…I got to see Delores, you can ask Delores as she can get in touch with Neville (Cousin in Antiqua) daughter.
Some people, because of their education they put a block on them from going anywhere, you got to got the money, because one bloke, I can’t remember [name], we was in school together, his parents I know where they was living, but his Father was up there on the top shelf, and he come over here, in London, he’s a judge in London, some people can’t make a step up the ladder and some people you know…  There’s something again, there’s a fella friend of mine he went to South Africa he was a sailor on a ship, you know, him on a ship that time you know the law of South Africa, so he and his friend then they all from Trinidad, sitting together, and [another person said] “Hey you, you’re not supposed to sit with them” this bloke now

he name John he was from Trinidad and he’s white, and he sitting with the people who he go school with, and who he play with, and who he knows, he said “These are my friends, you can’t tell me who to sit ….” and he wouldn’t move; but they want him to go, where white supposed to sit there and black supposed to sit there, but he said “These are the people who I go to school with.


I would have prefer to say those days that I spend over here just spend them over there, but when you look at it, it’s kind of all different, the disease, you gather it quicker in the West Indies than you get it over here, I don’t know why, I think it’s with the coldness. [Medical Care] You got to pay, you got to pay for whatever you want, look at me now, I went to them, to cut my toe nail and I had to pay £14, I say “At my age”, its only blooming money, I give the money and she give me some things like, because she know that I’m 90 [94] at my age 90, I’m not supposed to be paying for nothing. 
[Hopes and dreams on arrival]


I didn’t have any, I couldn’t afford to have any, I got to take it, you know if the wind blowing you from east to west, you got to go with the wind, I go with the tide and hope for the best, all you’re doing you’re thinking about hope.

Yes [Gone back to see Mother] and Proccup [best friend in St Kitts] that’s this family, that’s how we come over here, a fella name Proccup, he lived next door, but he was a girls man [laughs]. When we see Saturday, a weekend come, you see all the different girls coming in with the basket, his father gave him a shop to run, he bloom-in give it away, everybody come in with the basket and he fill them up with food like, yeah Proccup. [Looking at photograph] that’s not the Proccup who you know, that’s his cousin.
[Bring Mother over]

I don’t know, I am concerned, I’m thinking whatever my problem, not my mother problem, it’s my problem, I couldn’t keep her out, you know parents when they got good mind, they want to be in it good, bad or indifference. That’s how I see life and that’s how I accept life to be, right, hoping for the best, if it don’t come, if it come I’m happy, if it don’t come I’m still happy.  My mother she could have asked anyone for help, because she helped them first they can’t refuse her, because she help a woman named Miss Clarice, and I went up, she wrote to me and she tell me Teen, my first daughter, over here with Miss Clarice, she lend Miss Clarice money for her son, to come over, he come over he went in the Army, he send back the money to my Mother, Miss Clarice borrow it, borrow the same money back and come over, and send it back, and tell her to lend she daughter, [Miss Clarice’s] daughter the same money to come over, the daughter send back the money and Miss Clarice have another daughter, send for her children off the same money but she paid back when she come over, that’s why she could get it again.  Because you couldn’t manage in those days, you couldn’t manage
[Mother’s savings]

What she did then, you got a can, and she cut a little hole like that, and every time she get to half-crown she shove it in the little hole there, and when I look she...I went one time, because my Father in law he teach me, when I was a little boy, put me on his shoulder, tell me, go in, not in my mother house, my mother used to look after a preacher house where he always in the country, so she put she money in a little can, right you cut a little hole in it and you put in whatever. His name Lee, Lee come down here, come down by my place, and you know them bag, shopping bag, look in there, look in the shopping bag, it full right up, any note you can call, it full right up with money.  That time they must just get married or something, the two of them had just got married.