The McElroy brothers talk more about their family

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 1st August 2011 by Liam Physick

The McElroy brothers talk about their parents’ occupations, how Steve was frequently punished by being locked in the coal hole, and how David became his siblings’ minder at the age of 10

Interview Transcript

David: Dad, when he came out of the army, was a . . . I don’t know whether he was before, but he may well have learnt a trade in the army . . .

Steve: (indecipherable)

David: . . . a heating fitter, you know, sort of . . .

Jenny: Oh, yeah.

David: . . . mainly, sort of, industrial-scale stuff, and he was fortunate, he worked most of the time, but there were periods of time, when, you know, there were things, sort of, slacking off. Mum had a variety of jobs, she worked in Meccano . . .

Steve: She worked in Meccano, she worked in Crawfords . . .

David: Crawfords . . .

Jenny: Oh, yeah.

Steve: Mending broken biscuits! (David and Jenny laugh) That’s what they say!

David: Oh, yeah!

Steve: Have you heard that one!

Jenny: (laughing) No!

Steve: “I work in Crawfords, mending broken biscuits”!

David: We used to, cos she worked there, and the, the broken biscuits, they just used to bag, and, you know . . .

Jenny: Bring them home?

David: . . . not give them away, but very, very cheap, so, we were never lacking for biscuits in our house! (Jenny laughs)

Steve: No, no, we loved our biscuits!

David: So, she worked, as I say, on and off, cos she had work during the, during the War at what was, Meccano was turned into, some, one of the, sort of, war production plants . . .

Steve: Yeah, so she, she worked out in Gilmores, as well, in the factories there.

David: Yeah, but again, you know, I think when we were very young, she had the usual struggle of trying to work, cos we had to get extra income, but, you know, make sure we were reasonably well, sort of, looked after, until the age when I became the, the, sort of, de facto parent, much to his disgust! (he and Jenny laugh)

Steve: Yeah, I’ve never been the same since, actually!

David: No, we, we . . .

Steve: My downward spiral started then!

David: . . . we, we get on OK now, but there was a period of time when it was a hate-hate relationship!

Steve: Well, it’s hardly surprising because we, we also had John, me uncle, and a cousin, Robert McMullan, and they’re all four years older than me, and so, if ever I misbehaved, they would stick me inside the coal, the coal . . .

David: Yes, the coal hole. (laughs)

Steve: The coal hole, yeah, and it was dark and cold, and I’d just be, like, put in there, and it had a wooden lid with a lock on it that you couldn’t . . .

Jenny: (sounds shocked) Oh!

David: . . . lift up.

Jenny: That sounds horrible!

David: It was, like . . .

Steve: So I was imprisoned, and it was . . . what do they call it, like, like extraordinary rendition, they call it these days don’t they? (David laughs uncontrollably)

Jenny: (laughing) Solitary confinement?

Steve: Solitary confinement in the coal hole!

David: They, they didn’t leave more for, than a couple of days, what are you complaining about?

Jenny: Yeah, but it sounds like, you were, there was a reason to put you down there a lot of the time!

Steve: (in mock outrage) Absolutely not! (Jenny and David laugh) He was just being zealous in his duties . . .

David: Yeah.

Steve: . . . but over-zealous in his duties!

David: Well, I’d, I’d think you’ll, that was possibly a valid criticism at the time, but . . . so, so, yeah, so, when I, sort of, when I was, sort of, from 10 or 11, 12, I became the, sort of, minder of the house and the . . . cos Pete, yeah, cos Peter was just, would, he was born . . .

Steve: 57.

David: 57, which, I would have been 10, then, yes, so, I can remember that.

Tagged under: second world war, families, jobs

Categorised under: Change & Communities

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