Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Gareth


Right. So. I'm Gareth uhm. My story is that uhm I-I was born overseas in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania ahm and when I was. Eleven years old my parents uhm. Well. They can't. Emigrate because they had come from the UK and they'd never planned to. Settle in Tanzania it just worked out that way. But they decided time had come and we were to return to the UK I say return. I'd never been to the UK so this was this was a time my. two Brothers and I was a was a new a new uh. chapter for us in coming to a foreign country. We'd always imagined that Britain was a land a wasteland of snow but where you could get everything there were forever shortages in Dar es Salaam but we used to get the Beano and the, the Dandy magazines uh comic and the annuals and the Christmas annuals always pictured a massive. Christmas pudding with uhm with with uhm loads of snow around it. So so the im- the idea was that was planted in my head was that Britain was a cold, snowy wasteland with everything you could ever want and loads of things on the TV. There was no TV in Dar es Salaam. Uhm. We left. Probably. The eleventh of December so that was pretty much the hottest time of the year in Dar es Salaam. It's only six degrees south of the equator so it was pretty hot. Uhm to fly to Munich uhm. With KLM and we were then to. The plan was to take a skiing trip in the Alps. This was a, a treat that my parents thought would be good for us because we'd never seen snow before. Uhm. Uh. Things went well until we got to Munich when my Dad discovered he'd lost his passport. So that made it difficult to enter uhm Vienna which was our next stop which we were going to do this err skiing. Uhm we. Had to put ourselves up in quite a dingy hotel where my younger brother who then would have been seven years old uhm had. A raging temperature so. We had to take him. He had to be taken to a, a doctor whilst my Dad had to go to the British consulate to explain where his passport was. It's extraordinary that he was allowed into the country without a passport. What made it worse was that in those days uhm the children were on my dad's passport so. My mum was the only person with a passport and, of the five of us. Uhm. Anyway uh David transpired to have German measles bit ironic as we were in Austria. Uhm and it was decided that we wouldn't go skiing probably not a good thing to do. No. So we needed to get a flight to the UK because uhm we were now changing plans and were told things were difficult it was uhm 19. 73 so we had the uhm er it was not long after the the six day war in fact. Just. Backtracking. The plane landed in Cairo. And. we. Had. Tanks. Lining up either side of the runway. As we pulled up because of course we. The war was in October we're flying in December. There was a-a Boeing 707 in the colours of uh erm the American erm. uh.. President uh. And we think it was Henry Kissinger who was on his sort of diplomacy around the middle east in those days. Nobody was allowed off the plane unless you were disembarking in Cairo and soldiers boarded the plane and looked menacingly at us it was all scary stuff when you're eleven years old so that's, thats a diversion so erm this is a better story than I thought it was. So uhm we haha. So we're we're in ah Vienna. Planes, we can't get a plane there's the, the fuel crisis. Unbeknown to us the IRA started its uhm mainland bombing campaign in in Britain ehm and plus there were the inevitable strikes that you got in the 1970's that made things difficult the other end. So. We were told that the best bet was to catch er a flight from Venice so we got on the train from Vienna to go down to Venice and that was a great adventure 'cause I hadn't been on a train before so that, that was that was great. Uhm. Now er the, the other snag it is that was the the time the transition when British European airways and BOAC were joined to become British Airways so we needed a BEA flight uhm. Which was hard to come by because of the transition. So get the train. Get down to Venice windswept uhm Venice very exciting to see this uhm amazing city with with all the canals uhm and er trams traipsing around Venice to try and get a flight. And not successful. The only place we're told we're likely to get a flight is in Munich. So we stayed one night in Venice. Back on the train, back up to Venice. Caught a flight there took us to Heathrow. When we got to Heathrow you couldn't leave your luggage anywhere because of bomb threats. There was the three day week. Uhm also there was petrol shortages so taxi drivers wouldn't stop for families because they thought they were only going to get short journeys, they'd only stop for businessmen so my dad had to stand out on the road and wait for one while my mum and three of us was hidden behind in an alleyway with all our luggage when a taxi pulled in we'd all come out and into the taxi and away we go. Ahm We had to spend about four or five days uhm in London to book a train to Wales which is where my Dad's from uhm the trains were short of fuel so therefore they only ran on certain days ahm so you couldn't just hop on a train and go. It was a bit like a third world country having lived all my life in a third world country I was coming to a very cold very desolate third world country where things didn't work and there were threats of bombs which it didn’t have back in Dar es Salaam where it was nice and warm and sunny ahm. Not a good introduction to the UK. So we arrive in Wales on Christmas eve. Bridgend. Previously my Dad had a Welsh accent they told me, I'd never heard it. So we arrived in Bridgend ahm and er tramp down the now then of course this is my Dad's hometown he's from a, a small village to the north of, of Bridgend called Bryncythin. We spent Christmas in the Ship Inn in Bridgend and we had to keep quiet. We were told off by the landlord because we were making too much noise bearing in mind my brother was seven I was ten ah and my older brother was thirteen so it would have been a bit boisterous and we didn't have any presents my mum and dad had to go out and buy presents on Christmas eve which is always er a challenge a difficulty. We had presents but we didn't have them with us am so er. I remember it was a happy Christmas although fraught with the fact that the pub. Wanted. To erm run it's own. Business of course selling drinks and whatever and they didn't really want young children and of course in those days children weren't allowed in pubs like they are today. Ahm and er we weren't. We weren't. Allowed downstairs. We did have Christmas lunch how did we manage that? I think it was brought up to the room. Ah so and then. Uhmm shortly after Christmas day we then went looking for somewhere to stay in a rented house so on just before new year mum and dad managed to get us a rented house and things went well from there. But it wasn't a great, a great a good story but not a great start. It was a hell of a shock to discover what cold is. In fact I wore a parka coat all that year.