Dixon, Tom (1 of 5) National Life Stories Collection: Crafts' Lives

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  • Subjects

    Furniture making, Design

  • Recording date

    2012-07-11, 2012-08-15, 2012-08-28, 2012-09-25, 2012-10-02

  • Interviewees

    Dixon, Tom (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Cornford, Frances (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Full name Thomas Dixon (TD) . Grandfather Alfred John Dixon (AJD) a bank manager from Amwell near Ware, Herts. AJD having fought in both world wars; English suburban atmosphere at AJD’s house; comments on furnishings; brother Uncle Wilfred as living next door; TD as liking cavalry uniform; grandfather clock and traditional games. AJD having a television. AJD a churchwarden. Memories of family walks. [09:16] Paternal grandmother dying of TB when father young; comments on step-grandmother. French grandmother and Latvian grandfather on mother’s side; remarks on grandparents’ relationship; grandmother stranded in France in war and grandfather as having to emigrate to US after war; grandmother teaching in Morocco. TD spending summers with grandmother; comments on grandmother as serious, intellectual and sophisticated but unhappy; remarks on grandmother’s appearance; grandmother living in Orsay near Paris with mother and then in South of France near Nimes. TD and cousins staying and enjoying outdoor space; house furnished with things made in Morocco, mentions carved wardrobes and furniture and French lacquered furniture; grandmother keeping loaded gun in drawer; description of house with bare floorboards as compared to Belle Epoque furnishings of Orsay house. [20:43] TD and cousins exploring trunks in attic; Orsay house full of stuff; great-grandmother as having worked for stationery company. Grandmother called Madeleine Vitols (MV)and great grandmother Marie – Therese Cheslaut. Grandfather called Hugo Vitols. Grandmother and great-grandmother unusual in being single working mothers; great grandmother as religious and having small leather whip; aunt also a single mother; comments on cousins Pascale, Laure and Olivier and activities together, mentions camping. [27:34] Remarks on mother’s upbringing in Paris during war, then America then Morocco; mother’s sister as abused by a priest while in Morocco; mother meeting TD’s father at English classes; comments on mother’s appearance and interests in literature, politics and music; mother called Nadine (ND) with younger sister Annique. Father called Peter John Dixon (PD) brought up in Ware; PD as sent to Switzerland as child for asthma; educated at Hertford Grammar School then studied English at Cambridge; PD bookish, quiet and interested in travel; PD going to Morocco on a scooter; PD doing National Service in Malaysia; PD subsequently travelling in India and doing charity work. PD working as TEFL teacher. PD a socialist. MV as taking against PD and accusing him of being a Communist; PD and ND moving to Tunisia where TD born. PD and ND as marrying in London; ND as disliking institution of marriage. TD having older sister. [43:53] TD’s earliest memories as of food in Tunisia, flying fish and camel driven water wheel; TD born in Sfax in Tunisia, 21 May 1959. TD’s family moving to Huddersfield when TD was 4; culture shock of moving to England; living in a stone cottage with outdoor toilet; memories of time in Huddersfield. [49:10] Moving to Blackheath and then to apartment in Kensington; TD as shy and fighting with sister. Comments on how parents furnished houses. TD’s paternal aunt and child as living with family at one point; TD’s father as having two sisters Hazel and Cynthia. Remarks on TD’s education. TD’s parents moving to terraced house in Fulham and TD missing Kensington apartment with space and high ceilings. TD liking reading. TD speaking French to mother and English to father; comments on being brought up bilingual and advantage of having dual viewpoint, especially as a designer. Remarks on French personality as interested in food, texture and colour. [1:00:30] Comments on interest in food; parents making own bread, yoghurt and preserves; culture of continental cooking; TD making bread as a child. TD’s parents not pushing him but providing him with materials; remarks on interest in drawing. [01:05:10] TD going to Holland Park Comprehensive; feelings about school; comments on social mix of school; poor standard of teaching and TD as taking refuge in pottery and art department; avoiding trouble and skinheads; remarks on friends at Holland Park; TD as more hippy than skinhead; going on political marches with friends; starting band with friend Justin Langlands; surviving at Holland Park; remarks on poor standard of teaching. TD disliking time at French Lycee when 7; TD’s sister as also going to Holland Park; Holland Park as meaning TD can get on with all sorts of people; Holland Park as having lots of facilities and good art department [01:20:22] TD having good pottery teacher; TD learning to throw; TD taking A levels in French and Pottery; TD as lazy sixth former. TD’s family spending two months a year in France; TD liking Science Museum; TD being taken to Vietnam War demonstration by parents; taking train to visit stately homes. Remarks on parents’ crockery and furnishings. TD’s interest in pottery; TD as liking the surprise element of firing and glazing and idea of making something practical; TD enjoying metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing ; TD loving life drawing and better than other people; TD liking drawing at scale. TD doing 8 O levels. TD’s parents as both working full-time; ND working for BBC World Service and PD at West London College. After school activities.; TD interested in rock n roll and then new country music; TD playing bass guitar; comments on being in a band; remarks on time in sixth form; friends in sixth form mentions Joe, Dan, Jules and Justin.

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