Spectrum 413 and Spectrum 414. The unquenchable Cockney

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Tono kōrero mai

Spectrum was a long-running weekly radio documentary series which captured the essence of New Zealand from 1972 to 2016. Alwyn Owen and Jack Perkins produced the series for many years, creating a valuable library of New Zealand oral history.

A two part Spectrum documentary. In the first programme, Grace and Albert Everett talk about their childhood in London in the 1920's.

In the second programme they recall London during the Great Depression and then the Blitz of World War II.

Grace’s parents died when she was 16. They died within three months of each other. Her father was a brick layer. Grace remembers her mother as an alcoholic who would beat them.

In London, Grace lived in in a tenement house. They had no bathroom or running water. There were six people living in two rooms. They lived in Islington, near Kings Cross.

Albert grew up close by in Islington. His mother ran a vegetable stall. His father worked for a brewery driving the drays and would come home drunk. There were 16 children in his family. Most of his family caught TB (tuberculosis) and passed away.

Describing Islington and Angel, Albert recalls the rowdiness and drunkeness of the streets. He recalls the Angel mob and the Sabini Boys. There were fights between the gangs and police. They both recall the games and mischief that they would get up to as children.
Grace and Albert reminisce about Prince Monolulu, a colourful character, who was familiar to them both as children.

Both Albert and Grace left school at 14. After Grace left school she went to work as a dressmaker. Albert found work on the Great Northern railway. First he worked nights collecting fish to take to the depot, he then worked cleaning tunnels of soot. He left railways when we was 18 and joined the Army. In 1920 he was sent over to Ireland. He remembers the death of Kevin Barry. Although he was British he felt welcomed by the Irish. He was next sent to India. He describes his life in India as an easy and relatively pleasant one, however, he was shocked by the violence shown by the British officers to their Indian workers.

In 1932, Albert left the Armed Forces and he and Grace were married. Grace was present at the 1926 general strike. Grace’s mother was beaten for trying to get to work.

Pt. 2 of 2

Albert and Grace remember the Depression years in the 1930’s. They describe the poverty and hardship they witnessed and experienced. They had two children. Grace remembers selling their furniture to get money for food and suffering from malnutrition.

When World War II began Grace and Albert remember the panicked atmosphere but expressed disbelief that the war would reach them in London. They sent their children to Cambridgeshire initially, but brought them back during the lull at the beginning, the so-called "phoney war."

They recall the air raids they experienced. Albert joined the Army again and Grace lived alone after having sent her children away. She lost her house in a night raid.

Although Grace didn’t like being in the bomb shelters she describes the different experiences she had in them. There was often a sense of community spirit.
When a rumour went around that the Germans has invaded Grace describes the panic. At the end of the war Grace recalls the parties that people held. She was excited to have lights on again at night.

Alwyn Owen asks what their most vivid memories are of the war. Albert remembers one instance working as an armourer, and loading bombs on Lancaster planes to raid Germany. Grace remembers taking her children to Paddington Station to be evacuated. It broke her heart.

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Request information

Year 1982

Reference number 21528

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Biographical radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits RNZ Collection
Everett, Grace, Interviewee
Everett, Albert, Interviewee
Owen, Alwyn (b.1926), Producer
Radio New Zealand. National Programme (estab. 1964, closed 1986), Broadcaster

Duration 00:55:42

Date 1982

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