Observing the 1980s

Westgate, Caroline, (Part 1 of 1). Millenium Memory Bank

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Rosy RickettCaroline talks about her reasons for opposing nuclear bombs. Relates it to the birth of her children.
Posted by Rosy Rickett on 12/01/2016

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    Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp

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    Interviewee's home

  • Interviewees

    Westgate, Caroline, (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Jones, Virtue, (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: Born In Worcs, near Evesham, like Ambridge, went to school on steam train, clutching violin. Father worked in Barclays', hated it, wanted to be a musician, mother from Wales, trained as a nurse and had to give it up. I wanted to go to Art College, parents supportive, school not. Went to Art School in 1958 in Leicester, married, husband looking for job as teacher 1962. He lived in same town. I was at grammar and he at Public School, Captain of cricket team and head of house., remembers she was sick at his feet and thought that's it but now still together after 40 years, he went into Army. Needed a partner for a reunion and asked me, because I made him laugh. David was at Oxford, talks of going to stay with him, inventing a number of fictitious girlfriends as alibis. Wouldn't have considered living together. Started going out together and married at 21, sister married at 23, feared being left on shelf. Mother shocked I'd been to Family Planning Association in 1961. Lived in digs for professional women., didn't allow male visitors but made an exception for David because his father was a doctor. Got a Council mortgage, I gave up teaching. 1st baby was easy but 2nd was living on a Council Estate, no phone, isolated, on valium. Joined a painting class. Started to teach the class, the students were also using it as an escape from their own situations. David got job in North of England, teaching French .Didn't know where Newcastle was, long way from France. Settled in Hexham, children had rough time at first. Talks of first impressions. Talks of first house in Dr's ghetto. Was teaching evening classes, wonderful introduction to the town. No social life attached to David's Dept. at University in Newcastle., Moved here in 1974. Talks about the fashions, dinner parties at home, long frocks. Talks of power of supermarkets. 4 independent grocers in Hexham in 1974, now closed also more butcher.. Mother was a good cook and always fed lot of people at home. says in the 70s we were all like Stepford wives. Talks of changes in eating since first married. Seasons have gone. Talks of mother's and grandmother's cooking.. First dish of pasta in 1959 as a student. at Hell's Kitchen near Victoria & Albert Museum, At home no wine, Sherry at Christmas, non-conformist, but Granny had a cider press. Sees at definite European influence, parents sent her to France for 6 weeks , loved it. Been a Francophile ever since., Language helps, no patience with Europhobes., 2 children working in France. Daughter working on computers, says anti natal care is better now, In 1960s , little chance of getting hospital bed. Prodded and poked, treated like cows. Awakenings of political interest. David's family Tory, we decided to vote Labour, his mother was shocked.. 1st Aldermaston march took place when she was a student, persuaded David to march, did the last day. Talks about the atmosphere and the accommodation on route. Atmosphere in Trafalgar Square, atmospheric tests banned, good we've won!... CND dropped from consciousness for years until started hearing about Cruise Missiles, very concerned for children's future, especially following birth of last child. no CND group in Hexham, set one up and it went off like a train, got in much deeper this time. Greenham Common camp. 10 years working flat out for Peace. Developed new skills, organising and communicating. Found a spiritual thread in her life. Jesus never said "Nuke your enemies" Became a Quaker. Educated at Anglican girl's grammar, work ethic and sense of responsibility, if not me, who? Good account of trying to be an Anglican... was confirmed and explanation of why it did not work for her. Story about the Bible study group. still makes a joyful noise onto the lord by ringing bells at Hexham Abbey. Talks of Quaker influence in Tyne Valley. Talks of work and travels on behalf of the Women's Peace Movement. Russia in 1984. (series of stories from her diary of this visit were broadcast by Radio Newcastle and are archived at Tyne & Wear County Archive... "To Russia With Love") Greenham Common and Yugoslavia. talks of collecting and going to Croatia, 2 trucks went, drove one named Hysteria. talks of the plight of abandoned elderly. Wonders what it would be like to live in a civil war here. talks of the appalling living conditions she found . Talks of campaign against Trident and cooking for Peace camp in Scotland.. broke away to attend grand daughter's Christening... still a wife, mother and grandmother. talks of a wide range of peace activities. Reflects that skills leant as a Queen's Guide, following Baden Powell's principles of self reliance, were used to protest and campaign for Peace.

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    Interviewed for Millenium Memory Bank

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Caroline talks about her reasons for opposing nuclear bombs. Relates it to the birth of her children.

Posted by Rosy Rickett, BBC on 12/01/2016 10:22:00