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Susan King


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Audio interview with Susan King

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King , Susan (Subject of [term no longer used for interview subjects, see Ownership])


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Collection Number: HHH -011
Speaker: Susan King
Recordist: Ellie Schling & Myk Zeitlin
Length of Recording (s): 46:27
Purpose of recording: Hackney Housing History Project
Recording Dates: 15.09.2011
Recording location: Aspland and Marcon Community Hall, Amhurst Rd.
Access restrictions: None
Recording equipment: Zoom H4n recorder, internal microphone
Recording notes:
Associated archive material: Assorted photographs
Transcribed by: Myk Zeitlin
Susan talks about growing up in Hackney, how she wanted to leave and eventually did, and how she now wishes she could return.

Susan King was born in the Mothers Hospital in Clapton in 1953 and lived with her parents and older brother in Glenarm Road. They lived in the top half of the house with very basic facilities.

“Erm, I know it was cold, cos we didn’t have any heating, so, and we lived mainly in the, in the kitchen really, ……, and we used to have a tin bath, which was fine when I was young, I didn’t mind that, but um, we used to boil, boil the water on the stove, fill the bath up…I slept in the same bedroom as my parents until I was about eight or nine, and my brother, I had his bedroom then, which he didn’t like very much”

Her parents were happy renting and didn’t want the responsibility of owning their own home, but Susan likes having control over what she can do with her property.

She enjoyed her childhood growing up in the area especially the freedom and community.

“There was loads of other children and there was sort of about 4 boys opposite and it was a nice little community feel, and my mother and father used to work, so we were quite responsible as children, I mean I think I had a key to get in when I was about eight or nine, and, we just used t look after ourselves, be independent, do our own thing, it was quite, it was quite a lot of freedom, not a lot of traffic in the roads.”

But as she grew older she felt restricted and wanted to get away.

“Because it was restricted I suppose, my Turkish friend and myself we ran away when we were about thirteen anyway, we only got as far as London Airport, got picked up by the police, but we wanted to go to America and we used to start saving up our pocket money…
But I just felt there was, we were in the poor area and there was something else, more, you know, get out of the area. To want a better life, to want to see the world, to see more things.”

Her parents and school didn’t encourage her to develop

“But I think it’s also to do with opportunities isn’t it, because there’s more opportunities now, um travel is not as exclusive as it used to be really… so, it just wasn’t thought of as a child it was what rich people did and not us, not for us. And also there was this thing, especially in my family, don’t get above your station, don’t, don’t want more, you know, don’t expect more, don’t want more, and even at school actually as well, cause I was um, I used to er, I used to be in the, not the top but sort of quite at the top, sort of, part of the er school, and we did mock exams, mock GCSEs, no CSEs in those days, CSEs. And I got quite top grades and I remember the teacher saying like when you do your proper exam don’t expect to get any more, don’t expect to get any higher, you know, because, and I felt she was saying it to me, you know, don’t, don’t, and I thought you shouldn’t say that should you, they should expect you to want more, to, not try and put you down really.”

Susan King left when she was 20, and now lives in Walthamstow. She has recently started revisiting Hackney, and visited her old house, which she finds to have improved.

“I went round there, um, it was few years ago now, to the house where I grew up, and I think it’s owned by designers, and my, our kitchen is there photography room or something, and it was, they own the whole house and it was really, it was lovely, it was lovely to see it looked after, and I went into my old bedroom, and the cupboard was still there, the built-in cupboard, and, you know, it was, it was lovely to see…it is amazing how it’s changed so much. I mean Victoria Park used to be derelict really, used to have, people used to dump their cars in, you know in the lake and things like that, and now it’s all, you know, lovely isn’t it, a fountain and things like that”

Susan has some concerns about the changes in Hackney, and in general feels that there is too much building in London and too many people moving in.

“….but then I also wonder where all the, what can I say, real people of Hackney are, if you now what I mean, because there’s a lot, lots of people, like in Islington as well, in the affluent areas that are not Londoners, they come from outside, coming in, and I wonder where, where all the Londoners are that are here, that have been here, or you know, since they were born, what’s happened to them?”

When asked about what “home” meant to her, Susan still considered Hackney to be her home.

“I still feel Hackney is my home although there’s nobody here. I still feel that it is my home. But also I think it’s where your roots are, and it’s where people that you, you love are as well, but I also think you can make home in another place, cos sometimes you have to. But I do like coming back to um places where I’ve, where I’ve lived, and had good memories. Like when my parents died I got their ashes, I took them all around Hackney and sprinkled them all round. The park, you know, where my dad used to take us and things like that, so, I suppose, I just feel they would like that”.