I know a lot of people
“I was born in Wantage, and lived on a farm first of all, but there was a fire. It started in the barn and everything went. So we moved to Shirburn when I was three years old and I’ve been here ever since. I moved to Watlington in 2005.
I went to the little school and the big school here. I could read when I left little school but I couldn’t get it into my head after that. There was about six of us when we left couldn’t read. There’s a lot said on the telly about that now, people leaving school not being able to read and write. I was interested in wood working, and drawing. I like making things. If the wood’s all right!
After school I got a job in the butchers where the fish and chip shop is now, it was called Lester’s, used to be. I did 2 ½ years training out of 3 years there. I got paid £8 a week and gave half of that to my mum. It went a long way in those days. But I left to work on the motorway because it was more money. Some people said I should have stayed and completed my training. But why work for less money they say. You get people going to uni, and they still can’t get a job.
I went up to Milton Keynes with my brother to get a job. But my mum collapsed at the town hall – she had cancer. Dad was working at Jocelyn’s farm and couldn’t get time off, so I came back to look after her. She died in 1982. I couldn’t ever get a job after that. My dad and my brother and both my sisters have all died too now, my whole family have gone.
When I moved to Watlington, I asked George Bruce about an allotment here. When I got it, it was terrible – couch grass, and rubbish, baccy tins, clay pipes, an old watch I found! They used to burn household rubbish here. My dad cut the planks for my shed. It was just pallet wood. It was at Shirburn and then we brought it down here. I grow all sorts now. Just chuck it in and hope for the best.
Watlington’s all right. I’ve got something to do and I know a lot of people. But everyone’s moving away anyway. Sometimes I get on the bus to go to Oxford but the buses during the week are terrible! A lot of people are complaining about it.
I still like going to The Chequers. I am trying not to drink so much. A can of beer or bottle of cider on the allotment – if the rats don’t drink it first!”
Watlington Folk is a documentary project by photographer Nicola Schafer. Watlington is blessed with pretty buildings and beautiful countryside, however it is the people who live here that truly make the place. This project aims to capture that through a series of portraits of the people who live here together with their “Watlington Story”. For more information, please contact Nicola through her website http://www.nicolaschafer.co.uk