Grandma Kathleen

As I have mentioned quite a lot of times, this work has all stemmed from the figurines which my grandma keeps. So whilst chatting on the phone to her the other day I began thanking her for being such an important part of the work. I explained that I was now looking into council housing and mentioned I had been researching the Glasgow tenements; this set her off on a few stories which I feel I should mention. As a child, Grandma lived in the tenements, a one bedroom flat in Glasgow with her 6 brothers and sisters and her parents. Just one room for all the kids! Absolutely crazy to think of now! 5 families shared one toilet which was the next street away she said! She did say it was immaculate though- so was proud of that. She was born in 1947 so only two years after the war, which then made a lot of sense considering all the research I’d been doing concerning the state of housing post-war. 8 years later, again making a lot of sense in terms of new social housing, she moved to Drumchapel, an area 7 miles away from the centre. There was another room available- a 2 bed flat, but with the arrival of two more siblings it was still a tight squeeze; with 5 girls in one room and 4 boys in another.  Although this all sounds pretty terrible to me, she was happy to say that: “It was happy days in the tenements.” and what also made me laugh was when she said, “O yes, you would have had to be a posh person not to live in a tenement in Glasgow.” I loved that! While she was on a roll I began asking her about her ornaments, intrigued as to why she likes them so much, she said “I couldn’t live without them.” she said that her mum had had them; probably to show she could afford them. And to my disbelief she came out with-“You better yourself with ornaments.” My grandma truly is the picture of aspirational working class.

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