Key announcements

Due to scheduled maintenance, our housing repairs service may be unavailable for periods from 5pm Friday 12 April to 9am Monday 15 April. To find out more about the section 114 notice, visit our section 114 page

Photograph of Joslyn Clarke, LSAH customer

Joslyn Clarke

I was born in Mandeville, in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica, 1929. I am one of six children, three brothers and two sisters. My parents were traders, buying and selling goods, and they worked hard to look after their family. We all went to church; there was no option and I had to go to Sunday school, but now I am a church member by choice.

School was about three quarters of a mile from home. I would walk or often run to school. I enjoyed going to school and playing cricket. The teachers wrote to my parents to say how advanced I was at school and how they should further my education. However, I did not want to stay on at school so I didn't give the letter to my parents and I left at sixteen years of age.

I went to Kingston to learn Mechanical Engineering as a trade when I was seventeen years old. My mother arranged for me to go for five years as an apprentice at an engineering firm. One day, after four and a half years, I decided to ask the boss for some money to buy soap powder to wash my overalls at the weekend. But the boss said that was not the arrangement he and my mother had made. Going to learn a trade for five years without pay is what my mother had arranged, and in return I was taught for free. After five years if you were trained well enough the manager would pay a pittance (not wages, as it was very little). I spoke to my mother and told her about the money for soap, she told me never mind and carry on, she would stick by me. She had to work hard to pay for the family etc and pay for me to live in Kingston while training. So I decided to leave and not ask my mother for money anymore.

I became a trader myself, buying and selling anything. I bought some land, built a house and had some good cows. I always had some money and I had people working for me. To raise the money to come over to England I sold two cows and some produce, but didn't sell the house or land.

When I came to England I was shocked; there were so many houses all together. I arrived at one of the London airports, went through customs and came straight to Birmingham. I was surprised to find the money was the same as in Jamaica, old pennies, along with how very cold it was. I thought I might stay five years but now it is over forty years; I got used to the country and its customs and settled down.

I worked for Valor and Dunlop for twenty-eight years in the aircraft industry, which was a very good job. My wife is a nurse and used to work shifts at Good Hope hospital. This meant we could share looking after the children and did not need a nursery or childminders. She comes from St Catherine in Jamaica.

I was aged twenty-seven when I came to England. I have been back to visit Jamaica about seven times. I worked hard all my life, kept a clean record and took early retirement after an accident at work, but I try to keep independent.

Relations in Jamaica now use the land I own for cultivation. Just recently I bought ten acres of land and went to see it; my son might go out and make something of it, as he is a builder. I couldn't live in Jamaica again, the place hasn't changed, it is nice but the people have changed.

rating button