A Nippy Remembers
Creative partner Julia Pascal
reader Ruth Lass
I was born on D-Day 6 June but not ’44.
Middlesborough, my home town where my father beat
Against a wall.
I hated him, the paralytic drunk.
Why are you hitting me?
Because you’re a liar!
Why are you hitting me brother?
Because he stutters
Why are you hitting me mother?
Shut up or I’ll hit you again.
He beats mother so hard they send him to prison.
Only for one night.
Let’s get away.
Get shot of him.
Wants to come back.
And then the Germans hit us.
My brother goes to the army
When he gets back his wife has a baby
I am fourteen. Escape!
I’m what they call ‘a nippy’ in Lyon’s Corner House.
Nipping in and out to do my work.
Fifty four hours a week.
Twenty six shillings.
Salmon and Gluckstein.
They are the owners.
Lyon’s Corner House
I wait table. All smart in my uniform.
Mother cleans the toilet seats.
There was an old man Gluckstein.
There were some German men who escaped.
One man, I think he was Gluckstein, gives me a ring that was his
But I lost it.
They see I am a good worker.
Send me to Conduit Street, The Strand, The Inns of Court.
To Olympia to wake up an old man and give him his breakfast.
They tell me he is famous
Coco the Clown.
I serve tea to everyone.
Princess Margaret. She was running after that man who sang The Green Door.
What was his name?
She’s a party girl. Not me, but I love dancing.
Quickstep. Rumba. Foxtrot.
On the first floor of Lyon’s they used to play jazz. Was that Joe Loss?
I am 18 when I marry. The only boy I ever had. He’s from Tipperary like my father.
My husband doesn’t have a job. I teach him to do the same work as me.
I train boys from Italy
To become commie waiters.
Only one left.
My son Richard Martin, he couldn’t speak. Richard used to call the priest ‘Jesus’.
The priest didn’t like that. That’s when I left the Catholic Church.
I took Richard to Lourdes. To see the Pope.
I worked til I was 70.
Lots of interesting things.
I worked with handicapped children.
One Black, one mixed, one white and my son.
He died. There’s only my daughter left.
She calls me three times a day. I hated my father.
She loves me.