Bryden, Bill (1 of 6).  The legacy of the English Stage Company.

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  • Recording date

    2009-04-06, 2009-04-21, 2009-05-20, 2009-07-09, 2009-12-08

  • Interviewees

    Bryden, Bill, 1942- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Devine, Harriet (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: [Session one: 6 April 2009] BB born Greenock, 12 April 1942, at home, 8 Carwood Street. Paternal grandfather [Charles Bryden, CB] a canary breeder, maternal grandfather Billy Ruff, shipbuider on the Clyde. BB never met CB, most famous Norwich canary breeder in UK, won best bird in hall at Crystal Palace; mentioned in dispatches at Ypres; became an engineer; canaries sold for a lot of money after CB’s death. BB’s father proud of CB; CB’s trophies in house, in Royal Street Gourock; both grandparents died before BB born. Billy Ruff [BR] partly brought BB up; description of Carwood Street house, a 2-room and kitchen; no bedrooms, bed set in wall. Grandmother [Kate Sowden Ruff, KR] born Campbelltown, Argyll; moved after marriage to BR. BB’s aunts in Campbelltown; holidays in Campbelltown with family; Aunt Mary [MG], her husband Mr Graham. KR’s birthplace. Description of BR; his illness and death when BB aged 7; BB’s feelings; BB’s relationship with BR, their activities together; his hopes for BB. Reading matter, Scottish literature; BB’s early schooling [15.09]. Memory of KR at BR’s funeral; her later deafness, refusal of hearing aid; brief description of KR; description of old family photos. BB’s early concept of death; Church of Scotland churchgoing. KR’s long widowhood; moving in with BB’s mother; death of BB’s father [George Bryden, GB]; father’s funeral; BB’s reaction. GB in 2nd World War; GB’s first marriage and son; his second marriage to BB’s mother; his job as head of bus drivers; his amateur sports; his pre-war job as a fitter; BB finding GB’s medals. GB’s English friends in RAF; their Christmas cards; GB’s pride in the war. GB’s appearance, his resemblance to BB; his clothing; his gambling, new clothes for family from winnings. GB’s interest in theatre; taking BB every week; seeing American stars in Glasgow; disliking English comics; famously bad Glasgow audiences; story of Mike and Bernie Winters. Seeing Judy Garland, missing the train, staying in a hotel. Arts Guild Theatre in Glasgow. [30.08] BB’s acting at high school; joining Greenock Players; BB starting drama workshop. Teachers, and plays at school. Household dislike of English movies, love of Hollywood; going to movies with KR; BB’s love of Westerns, realisation of role of director. KR’s favorite films. Cost of theatre and movies; family finances; relative earnings. Hierarchy in church, and in town. First family house, an attic; later rehousing in a housing scheme; IBM as an employer; GB’s refusal to work for them; strength of unions. Explanation of attic, in tenement building; BB’s memories of it. Housing scheme house described. BB’s mother, Catherine [CB]; her early widowhood; her visit to National Theatre [NT], conversation with Denis Healey. BB’s memories of holidays at Campbelltown; CB taking care of daughter Sheena [SC] of friend Jean Chambers [JC]. CB’s loss of a child; BB’s memory of going to pick her up in hospital [44:26]. BB’s stepbrother George; his early employment; his singing; his relationship with CB. CB as a mother; lack of physical affection. Happy marriage of GB and CB; rare rows, during wallpapering. GB a good man, compared to neighbours; drinking habits of neighbours. BB’s earliest memories; Campbelltown holidays; camping; swimming; large family gatherings; going to the movies. Auntie Anna, CB’s cousin. Explanation of shipyard holiday periods. Going by boat from Gourock to Campbelltown; nature of Campbelltown; fishing, and fish and chips.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Bill Bryden, film and theatre director.

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