Shirley Graham-Paul

Born: Not given

Kingston, Jamaica

Date of interview: 6th June 2006

Map showing where Shirley Graham-Paul came from

You're just talking about some differences there ... culture shock differences ... what sort of thing do you mean?

What I meant is ... is the way people are sort of ... they look at you and because you are of ... you know, different colour ... then it's strange for them. I remember I was being, I was being naughty, I remember going ... to the shops cause this friend, very dear friend she became, she was showing me the ropes. Her name is Linda. Her son is now a big opera singer here. And ... she said 'Come on, I'm showing you the town, showing you where to shop' and so on. So we went to the high street and ... poor dear me in my innocence, went in the shop, it's like a delicatessen, but at the same time it had another bit of the shop, so I wanted cheese and I wanted different things ... And I am in the queue and this woman kept serving everyone else and leaving me right there. And then when everyone else was served, then she came and she looked at me and she said 'Yes' ... so I said 'OK, I too can play this game'. So I ... pointed at some bacon down the end, I pretended I didn't understand English so I was dumb as well ... [laughing] and pointed at some bacon, nice choice bacon and she sliced it and I pointed at the cheese I wanted and she cut that and I pointed at various different things ... and she brought them and she, you know, went through the till, and then she's told me how much it was you know, and I said to her 'Fine, now you can put them back because I don't want them' and I walked out the shop. [laughing] That was my way of dealing with her racism. And I walked out. And I felt good about it. [laughing] Because that was ... you know, that was really telling me that she really didn't want me in the shop.

Then I remembered, ... no, we came to Reading then Cyril and I came to Reading and ... I remember the days of looking out the window, because the lights ... they were gas lit so these men in the suits, even those ones who cleaned the street wore suits ... and they would come at night and evenings and light this big pole and in the mornings again about six o'clock you watched them and they'd come and put it out as well. And I'm thinking ... 'This is interesting?'