Interview with Eileen Pickering

Title

Interview with Eileen Pickering

Description

Eileen Pickering, from Sheffield, was conscripted in to the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She was posted to Grantham and after working in the Orderly Room she re-mustered to work on the teleprinters. She was in post on D-Day when she describes how busy they were. She was then posted to Bletchley Park.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-04-22

Contributor

Julie Williams

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

00:36:28 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

APickeringE160422, PPickeringE1701

Coverage

Transcription

HH: Let’s start with your story. So just, just so that we know who we’re talking to here I’d like to thank you very much Eileen Pickering for agreeing to talk to us today. And it’s the 22nd of April and it’s a Friday. And we’re sitting in Eileen’s home in [deleted] Skegness. Thank you Eileen and I, just for the purposes of the tape I’m just giving my name is Heather Hughes on behalf of the Bomber Command Project. Eileen, thanks again for agreeing to talk to us and it’s lovely to be here with you at last to meet you. I wonder if you could begin by just talking a little bit about some of the surprises of your early life.
EP: Well, the first surprise was when I were born.
HH: Tell us when that was.
EP: In 1922. My brother was born and that was it. But then twenty minutes later I was born. And I was unexpected and not really wanted because my father was out of work. Because those days steel workers you know time off and time on and those days you had to pay a guinea per baby. So the doc, she had to pay the doctor another guinea which was a bit much when you’re out of work. We didn’t get benefits in those days. Nothing at all. And they were living in, with me mum’s brother, brothers. My father’s brother’s house. So they were a bit, you know, cramped. I never felt particularly wanted.
HH: Where were you born Eileen?
EP: I was born in Sheffield. At twenty past six. Because those days when you had twins you’d got to put the date and time on because of, you know inheritance and stuff like that. And that were that. But they did eventually get a house. Somebody took pity on her when they went. She heard about a house being for rent and she went after it. And somebody took pity on her because she got these two babies with her. So we got the house but they had a lot of work to do on it. And that’s it.
HH: And did you grow up in Sheffield then?
EP: Yeah. Right up to getting, coming here. Yeah.
HH: So did, so when, when war broke out in 1939.
EP: Yeah. I was seventeen.
HH: You were seventeen. And how did you react?
EP: Well, we were in church when it happened. It was announced on the, from the pulpit about 11 o’clock in the morning. And everybody, you know, we half expected it really somehow or other because we, you know, you sense these things don’t you? And it had no sooner been announced then we had the sirens but everybody just sat there. Nobody really knew what to do. And that was the beginning of the war.
HH: And how did you decide to join up to become a WAAF?
EP: Well, I was conscripted. My boss kept me back for a year. You know. Because he wanted me to be at work.
HH: What work were you doing?
EP: I was a short hand typist. But as I say it went on for a year and then I was conscripted. So he might as well have let me go in the first place. In my opinion anyway. And I was fortunate to get what I wanted because if you were conscripted you couldn’t choose what you were going to be doing or even what you were going in. And if you wanted to go in the WAAFs you had to be five foot. And I was just five foot. If you were less than five foot you had to go in the army. And I don’t know why. That was weird wasn’t it? And I got the, you know. We’d no choice of what we were going to be doing. And we were posted down to Innsworth for our, you know, square bashing. I was going to tell you something and I’ve forgotten what it was. Can you eliminate any of this?
HH: Ahum.
EP: Well, that’s good. We were all posted. Well, most of us. About thirty I would think of us were posted to Whitley Bay in Northumberland. To the Ritz Hotel. That was their station headquarters. And the WAAF officer didn’t know what to do with us so they lined us all up on the corridor and we had to go in one at a time to see her. And each girl came out doing, going to be doing the job she was doing in Civilian Street. The WAAF officer just said, ‘What did you do in Civilian Street?’ [pause] ‘Right. That’s what you’re going to do then.’ Of course when it come to me they sent me in to the orderly room. And I worked in the orderly room and then I worked in the, what was it called? It was another little office where they, you know where you did all the Gestetners and stuff like that. And then I was transferred to the adjutant’s office. And I used to do all the private correspondence for the officers, etcetera. And I was still only being paid as an ACHDD. And then after so many weeks you were allowed to re-muster. And when it was my turn to go in to see her she said, ‘Oh hello.’ She says, ‘I’ve put you down for an, a clerk g.d.’ And I looked at her and I said, ‘But I don’t want to be a clerk g.d.’ I wanted to be with a friend that I’d made and she was going in safety equipment. You know like parachute packing. So she said no way was she going to let me do that. Now, whether it was something to do with your IQ or not because we’d had IQ tests and stuff. And she said, ‘I’ll have you scrubbing the cookhouse floor first.’ She wasn’t a very nice woman actually. This officer. And then I started to play a bit ignorant and I said, ‘What other jobs are there?’ And of course she said teleprinter. I didn’t know what a teleprinter was but it was obviously something to do with printing wasn’t it? And I played a little bit thick and let her explain it all to me. And she agreed that I could go. And I was sent to Cranwell on the radio course.
HH: And how long was the radio course?
EP: Ten weeks. And it was on shifts. We had to work 6 o’clock in the morning until, was it two in the afternoon? And then 2 o’clock until ten at night. And there we were working on these machines but they were like, they were done like a teleprinter but they were a typewriter really. And they had a covering so that you couldn’t see the keyboard at all. And you, you just —
HH: You had to learn to touch type.
EP: Yes. Yeah. But every fortnight we were tested. Orally and everything else. And if you didn’t pass the test and you were, they thought that you might be good enough they’d keep you back a week to do that last fortnight again. But if you did alright you went on to the next one until, you know the whole thing was over. And then gradually, half way through I think it was we were moved on to teleprinters and we used to have to do it to the tannoy. To the sound. You know, do the typing to a sound so everybody was doing it alike. And right up to the last minute. You know. If you were no good that were it and you were sent to be, be made a cook.
HH: And how many words a minute did you get up to?
EP: Eighty to ninety.
HH: That’s pretty good.
EP: Yeah. I know on my, on my last trade test I think I got ninety something in my exam. But there’s a story attached to that one. But I mean then we were sent, at the end of that we were sent home and we had to wait for a telegram to where we’d been posted. So off we went. And we’d got all our kit. Everything we’d to cart with us. And off I went home and then waited for this telegram. And eventually it came and I was posted to 9th TCC. That’s all it said on the telegram. Grantham. Nothing else. But I went. I set off and I went to the RTO at the station at Grantham and he hadn’t a clue what to do with me. So he took me outside the station and he pointed to a church and he said, ‘Do you see that church? Well, there’s a lane at the side of it. Go down that lane, turn right and carry on walking.’ And that was his instructions how to get to a camp. I mean he didn’t even actually, you know. There was no idea where I was going to. And that’s what I did. But I mean I was like a packhorse. Everything. Everything. My kit, my everything. There was my tin hat. The lot I had to carry. And it turned out to be the Great North Road I was walking on. And then around this bend in the road when I’d walked a long time I saw this dishy American. The first sign of an American. I didn’t know whether he was an officer or what he was. So I thought to myself do I salute? But I didn’t. And I went up to him with the telegram. I thought, well you’re not supposed to but I did. And I asked him. I said, ‘Could you tell me where this might be please.’ ‘Hang on a minute,’ he said, ‘And he went to a little lodge of a big house and the warrant officer lived there. And he came back and he said, ‘Stand there and any minute now there will be a truck pick you up to take you to the camp.’ And it was Spitalgate Camp which is now the army camp but that was an RAF station then. And we were billeted there but we worked at St Vincent’s House. And I’ve got a picture of that to give you. A lovely picture of St Vincent’s House. Have you ever seen it?
HH: No.
EP: You see in Grantham they never talk about it do they? They never mention it at all.
HH: No. I think they’ve changed its name now.
EP: Well it’s, it hasn’t. It’s annoyed me really. It was, it was derelict for years. Absolutely derelict. And once when we were going on holiday we went that way because we were going to Yarmouth. And I said to my husband, ‘Go up this lane.’ We went up this lane and we came, eventually came to the back of where I’d worked. And we couldn’t do anything about it. It was all barbed wired and everything. But up the lane was a chap in his garden and we got talking to him. He says, ‘Well I’m not supposed to tell you but if you like, if you walk down my garden you can get through the hedge.’ And that’s what we did. And then Jack took a photograph of me outside Bomber Harris’ room. But eventually I think it was the council that took the place over. And it was for weddings and all that sort of stuff. And then it was sold to an electrical company. And the first thing they did they knocked down the stables where we worked. And that’s history that they’ve knocked down. Because the Aviation Society in Grantham you know they did a marvellous job on it because, I mean it had got a glass roof. You know. Over the porch. And trees had grown through.
HH: Oh God.
EP: It looked a real mess. But what they’d done is fetch it all down and make it right as it was at the beginning. And they did a marvellous job and then they decided to knock it down. In fact it’s quite feasible and I don’t know what’s happened but I had an autograph book. And everybody on watch had put their name on this autograph and I put 9th Troop Carrier Command on it at the top. On the teleprinter strip. And I don’t know what’s happened to it because I lent it to somebody at Lincoln and the girl, they were telling me that that was closing and it would be moving to Grantham. So all I can say is that it’s probably at Grantham. And I’d love to know whether it is because it’s not on is it when you don’t know what’s happened to your stuff?
HH: Yes.
EP: In my opinion anyway.
HH: So how was your time at Grantham?
EP: Anyway, pardon?
HH: How was your time at Grantham, once you’d found it.
EP: Well, we went on. We lived in the private houses. You know. We’d got little houses. There was three girls upstairs and three down. And then a corporal or a sergeant in a little room. That was another bugbear. Her being in the little room. When we had, when we had coal ration come she took it all. And she had a lovely roaring fire in her room and we’d got nothing. And downstairs we hadn’t either. And it wasn’t, it wasn’t very warm. Not really. But we didn’t, we didn’t do anything at Spitalgate except use their cookhouse and things like that. And they provided us, you know, with packing up when we went on duty. And when we went on duty we were working with the Yanks. The Yanks were just taken it over from Number 5 Group. And they were all green. Straight from America. They used to sulk. If you told them off they’d go and sulk in the corner. But it was smashing then because we got their PX rations. Once a month you went in and it was done out like a little shop. And it was smashing. It was like Christmas you know. You went to the end of the first bit on the counter was a basket full of biscuits. Well, we hadn’t got biscuits then. ‘Help yourselves. Decide what sort you want.’ And then they give you a packet. Well you had to pay for it but you know you got a packet of biscuits. You got a hundred and forty cigarettes for one and something. I can’t remember exactly how much. You know, Camel and Lucky Strike and all those sort of things. I used to pack mine up in my laundry and send it home. My dad had all my cigarettes because I didn’t smoke. But it was lovely because I mean they had loads. We got loads of chocolate and spearmints. One or two things there, you know that we couldn’t have. But, you know, most of it we could. But as I say it was smashing because when they actually took it all over and we, that was it. We were obsolete as far as they were concerned. We had to go back to NAAFI rations which was like one bar of chocolate a month. So we were a bit disgruntled then really. But I mean that, we were still there after D-Day and it were ever so busy on D-Day. Our machines were nearly on fire.
HH: I can imagine.
EP: Another story attached to that one. All leave was cancelled and I’d arranged to go home on my sleeping out pass. And I was taking my friend with me. I mean we didn’t have telephones or anything in those days. So there was no way I could let me mother know that we weren’t coming. So I decided that we’d go. And I’m not much of a navigator, and we got up very very early that that morning because we had to be back the next day for duty at midnight. And we got up very early that morning. Walked in to Grantham. And we stood not far from where Maggie Thatcher’s shop was, at a postbox and waited to get a lift. But nobody had told us that these lorries that go through don’t start work until about ten [laughs] So there’s us standing like tripe. And that’s, we managed to get there. We managed to get home. Almost to the door. And me mum had got the dinner ready and everything. I said, ‘Well, we can’t stop. We’ve got to get back,’ But she took us out visiting somebody and I thought well we we’ve got to be back for midnight. We’d better set off. I’d no idea. I knew we’d got to get to the Great North Road. We did eventually get to the Great North Road and off we popped. And then in the middle of a wood he stopped the lorry and we thought, oh dear. Now what’s happening? He said, ‘I’m getting out. I won’t be a minute.’ And we were really worried about that. For one thing we were late and we didn’t know what he was up to. But then, I mean we walked on watch and nobody said a word and we were all in our best. Best bib and tucker. You know, it was obvious that we’d been cheating somewhere. But nobody said a word. We got away with it fortunately.
HH: And you were there for D-Day.
EP: And we were, well that was D-Day the next day more or less. And when we turned up for D-Day, oh the corporal. He was going mad. Was he a corporal or a sergeant? I can’t remember. Pacing up and down, ‘Shhh don’t talk to each other.’ Don’t talk to each other.’ We thought why not? You know, we’d been talking to each other that other time and he stopped us from talking. But it was, it was really busy. Really busy. As I say it’s a wonder the machines didn’t catch fire.
HH: And how long were you at Grantham for then?
EP: I can’t remember when I actually got there. It was before Christmas that year. And we were there until after, as I say after D-Day. But when it came to Christmas there RAF Cottesmore was on our switchboard and they invited us on, on New Year’s Eve to go to a dance at Cottesmore. And these great big lorries came and picked us up. We’d no idea where we were because it was all dark. There were no lights or anything like that. And we got there and there was this great big hangar. The first thing we saw was the big pile of oranges. ‘Help yourselves girls.’ So we did. You know. But I don’t know whether Glenn Miller was playing. I wouldn’t know because I didn’t know him then. But we had a smashing, it was a smashing dance. And have you ever heard of the Paul Jones at a dance? Where you swapped partners. Well, I ended up getting this little bloke and he started to jive. And I looked at him, I said, ‘If you do that I’m getting off the floor.’ He said, ‘If you go off the floor I’ll knife you.’ So Eileen kept on dancing. Yeah. I were a bit frightened of him. And I don’t, and we did get, they took us back but God knows what time we’d get back. And we’d have to be on duty next day. There we are. And that was my time at Grantham.
HH: And did you, did you, did you, were you based anywhere else other than Grantham?
EP: Oh that’s when we ended up going to Bletchley.
HH: Then you went to Bletchley after that did you?
EP: Yeah. I was posted. Actually, there were five of us posted to Uxbridge and the rest were posted to Bletchley. And one of the girls was getting married to a Yank and she wanted to live in London. And I swapped places with her. And then I had to wait because they had to vet you to go in to Bletchley. And I had to wait to get a posting. And so I was on my own but I thought I’ll go with the others to the station that day and, you know, see them off. So off I went with them and then on the way back up the hill there was a lorry coming down and it stopped, ‘Come on get on,’ he said, ‘We’ve done all your packing. You’re catching a train in about three minutes.’ And I was posted to Bletchley. That’s how I was posted to Bletchley and I was scared stiff. I mean I’d never been away from home let alone go to London. I remember sitting on the railway station but I don’t remember much more after that except that I did arrive in Bletchley. And when I got there and went to see the RTO, he said, ‘Oh those others haven’t turned up.’ They’d gone via Nottingham and they hadn’t turned up. And I was, you know, there before them. He said, ‘I’ll show you how to get to Church Green,’ it was called. I said, ‘No. I’ll wait for the others.’ That was it. And that’s how I got to Bletchley.’
HH: And what it was like at Bletchley?
EP: Another story there. You don’t want that story do you? The Bletchley story.
HH: If you want to tell it you can.
EP: Well, it was all code anyway. But I mean, we, as I say we all had to be vetted and it took three weeks. And for three weeks they could give you any job to do. We weren’t allowed near The Park or anything like that but our camp was in, you know in the grounds of The Park more or less. Next to the church. And there was, we were the ATS and the RAF were on camp but the WRENS and the civilians they were billeted out. How they kept their secrets I do not know. There were about ten thousand of us there. But you wouldn’t have known. You never, you never met some. You could meet somebody and then you know that was it you might not see them again. Like one, one day I was looking after about six or seven machines and I happened to turn around to do something and there was a group of civilians coming through our room. And amongst them was a girl I went to school with. So automatically we both said to each other, ‘What are you doing here?’ Moved on. That was it. Never saw her again. They didn’t give her the push but I don’t know what she was doing and I never saw her after. And she only lived in the next road opposite me at home. I never saw her again after the war. But then we had to keep it secret anyway because we had to keep it for thirty years. Have you seen my medal? Have you seen it?
HH: No. You can show it to me in a minute.
EP: That’s the citation down there.
HH: Oh gosh.
EP: That’s from the government that one. But that one up there is from Bletchley Park. The only people who can wear that one are the people that actually worked in The Park.
HH: Who worked in Bletchley Park?
EP: Those who lived and worked on the out stations didn’t get that one.
HH: Eileen, what rank did you end up with?
EP: LACW.
HH: LACW.
EP: But there’s another story to that one. When I was at Grantham as I say we hadn’t, we went straight from Cranwell to Grantham. And then to get a promotion you had to take a trade test. And one or two of us sat a trade test and there were two girls who did nothing but gossip on their machines and got away with it. And when they came out they jumped a rank. And when I, then they called me and he said that I’d jumped from ACW to, to an LACW but he said the corporal didn’t think I was worthy of it so I wouldn’t be getting it. He didn’t explain anything. And I was too green to ask. I could have seen my WAAF officer couldn’t I? And that was it. I didn’t get it. And then I think she regretted it. When we got to Bletchley she was on a different watch to me so I used to see her when we were in the cookhouse. And she’d come up to me and say, ‘Have you got your promotion yet?’ Well, she knew I couldn’t get it. I’d got to take another trade test. But she’d got a guilty conscience hadn’t she? And I used to say to my husband, ‘I’d love to bump into that corporal.’ You know. I don’t know why. I just wanted to bump into her because she was so wrong. Because she didn’t know me. I’d only been on her watch for a fortnight. And she didn’t like the girl I was friendly with. So I was tarred with the same brush I think. That’s it.
HH: So how did you get your promotion then?
EP: I took another trade test. And that was at Bletchley. And I think I got ninety seven to ninety eight in my exams. So that was it. But we used to go to WAAF reunions and Jack used to say, ‘Wait your time and one day your time will come and you’ll be able to properly tell her what you think.’ And it happened. We were at, we went to Bournemouth for a reunion. And we had, on the Friday we always used to have a banquet and we were sitting at this round table waiting. And this woman came and knelt down at the side of me, ‘I believe you were at Bletchley Park.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ ‘You were also at Grantham weren’t you?’ I said, ‘Yes. That’s right.’ And I just, I knew her immediately. I knew who it was. I wasn’t going to say anything. And she just gabbled on a little bit and then she went. Well, the next day we went shopping. And when we got back to the hotel who should be sitting on her own in the foyer but this female. So I said to my husband, ‘Here you are. You take these parcels and you take them up to the bedroom. I’ve just got something to do.’ And I went and sat at the side of her. I said, ‘Actually I do remember you.’ I said, ‘I even know your nickname.’ She looked at me and I said, ‘Yes. You’re the corporal who denied me my promotion.’ ‘I never did.’ Oh she was embarrassed. But she apologised eventually but that’s not the point is it? Because I said to her, I said, ‘I took my trade test and I got my promotion.’ I says, and I told her how many marks I got in my exam. I said ‘Put that in your pipe and smoke it.’ You know. I thought, you know, it wasn’t nice. I think she was guilty. She felt guilty. And that’s why she used to ask me. ‘Has your promotion come through?’ Like my husband says, you know, if you wait long enough. But we came, became quite friendly and she started, she lived not far from where my friends live in Norfolk. So we went to see her. But apparently she’s lost it, so [pause] They’ve all, all my friends have lost it. My nicest friend was, at Bletchley was a girl who lived at St Neots. She was a Londoner. And I had, I went, I had a nervous breakdown when I was there. And people used to pick on me. And one day I’d got, I got scabies and they were all nasty about it. But I got the last laugh. They all got dysentery. I can see it now. All the blankets outside airing off and stuff. But she said she was going home because we had some decent leaves you know. And she said would I like to go home with her? And they lived at St Neots. And I mean it was ever so good of her mum to let me go because in the family there was the mother, father, auntie, brother and three Land Army girls and us. There’d be nine of us in that —
HH: Gosh.
EP: In that little house. It was only a council house but you know it was nice of her to do that wasn’t it? To take me. Because otherwise you were sitting there because there was nothing to do at Bletchley at all. It was dull really. I mean I didn’t find out until after the war that Glenn Miller used to play at Bedford. So they used to go to Bedford. And I met a girl at the reunion. We were at the reunion. We went on a little trip and when we were on the coach somebody was asking me where I’d been stationed. And of course in those days we could tell. And when I said Bletchley Park somebody on the bus said, ‘I was at Bletchley Park.’ And that girl was in the next hut to me and I’d never met her. Isn’t that strange? But I’ve lost her now. She’s died.
HH: And were you still in, were you still in the forces when you met your husband?
EP: No. I met my husband when I was fourteen. At church. And he, we, he was, he was voluntary. You know he volunteered for the RAF. And he wanted to fly Spitfires. And he went. And they was after, anybody for pilot had to go to Rhodesia or Canada for their training for nine months. And at the end of the nine month, after the passing out parade he went to have a look where he was posted to and his name wasn’t on the list. So, he went to find out and they kept him back as an instructor. He was there four years. So we didn’t see each other for four and a half years.
HH: So where was he? In Rhodesia?
EP: Bulawayo.
HH: Ok. So he was, he was posted to Bulawayo and he stayed there for four years.
EP: Four and a half years.
HH: Virtually the whole of the war.
EP: Yeah. Yeah. My friend said to me, ‘Oh he had an easy life didn’t he? At Rhodesia doing that because he wouldn’t be in the war.’ I said, ‘Oh wasn’t he?’ She said, ‘Well of course he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t be in any danger at all.’ I says, ‘Right. Have you ever tried teaching a Pole how to, how to fly? They can’t speak English and you can’t speak their language either,’ I says, ‘Well. that’s what Jack was doing.’ He had one or two prangs but that’s natural isn’t it? That was it.
HH: So you kept in touch all those years and then.
EP: Yeah. Got married afterwards.
HH: After the war.
EP: Yeah. We’d arranged to get married on the 19th of May 1945. And we was arranging it all and then the war was over. So we were the first couple in our church to get married after the war.
HH: That was in Sheffield.
EP: That was in Sheffield. Yeah. Yeah.
HH: And how come did you then end up coming into Lincolnshire to live?
EP: That’s another long story. Well, I’ve had cancer twice. And my daughter, my eldest daughter used to be engaged to the chap who owns the Garden City Estate up here. And he owns, you know, the Garden City’s where you have a little chalet and you know you stay and do your own catering. And I just happened to say to Jacqueline that, you know, ‘What I could do with,’ this was after I’d had my radial treatment, ‘This is somewhere to go and, you know, do what I like. Get up when I want and all that sort of thing.’ The next thing I got all the bumph for the Garden City. So we decided just to give it a week and try it. I says, ‘I’ll come but I’m going to have VIP treatment.’ So I got the red carpet and a bunch of, and the flower arrangement and some wine. And we didn’t have to find our own bedding either. And then one day when I were here we went down into Skegness and on the way back I says, ‘Oh look Jack. They’re building some lovely bungalows there.’ They’d got to about that corner I think. There was nothing. It was all green. He says, ‘We are not moving. After what I’ve done in that house,’ because he had practically rebuilt it, ‘After what I’ve done in that house we are not moving.’ So we didn’t go and have a look. But the following year we decided to come again and Peta, she was at university and her and her boyfriend were coming just to stay one night with us. And we went down to the station to pick them up. On the way back I said, ‘Oh look. They’ve got a bit further with those bungalows.’ He says, ‘I told you last year and I’m going to tell you again we are not moving.’ And Peta poked him in the back and she said, ‘Oh daddy, don’t be so mardy. It doesn’t cost anything to go and have a look.’ So he turned on West Way where you’ve come and he got as far as about five houses up there. And we went, we went in. He got one of the bungalows as an office. A very untidy office as well. He says, ‘Well we don’t have a showhouse because there’s so many of different types. But if you like you can go and look at that one across the road. It’s practically finished. They’re just decorating it.’ So we went and had a look. And Eileen’s standing there in the middle automatically putting the furniture in isn’t she? But I mean there were only two bedroom whereas we were used to a three bedroom. Which made a difference. And we just, you know went around and had a look. We were standing there and he suddenly said, ‘Do you like them then?’ I said, ‘Yeah. Not bad is it?’ ‘Right,’ he says, ‘We’ll have one. If I can get early retirement we’ll have one.’ And this was, this was the beginning of September. And he was a teacher at the time. And when he got back home he gave his notice in. And we had to wait until the end of February, beginning of March to find out whether he’d got early retirement. And he managed it but in between time we had to put a deposit on this. And so it was all hectic, but I mean [laughs] if anybody had ever said to me, ‘One day you’ll live in Skegness,’ I would have said, ‘Get knotted.’ I would, honestly.
HH: And you’ve been here since 1983. So that was when he retired.
EP: Yeah. He retired in the June. I mean this was supposed to be ready in July and it wasn’t ready until September. So we had to wait and fortunately for us we put our house up. We put our, as soon as he knew that he’d got early retirement he put our house up for sale and sold it the next day.
HH: Goodness me.
EP: And those people fortunately weren’t in a rush because they’d already sold their house to somebody else. So it was almost meant to be wasn’t it? I would never have dreamed of coming to live here. But there’s a difference because there’s certain parts of Skegness you’d have to pay me to even walk down the road, you know. There you are. That’s me.
HH: Amazing stories. How did you come to learn all these crafts Eileen? And teach crafts.
EP: Taught myself.
HH: You taught yourself.
EP: Do you want to have a look at the first one I ever made because that’s the end of this now isn’t it?
HH: Well, I can say thank you very much for talking to us and now we’ll have a look at your medals and your crafts.

Collection

Citation

Heather Hughes, “Interview with Eileen Pickering,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 24, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11531.

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