A Little Bit of Time

shopper 2

I won a place at Camberwell School of Art when I was younger, but I ended up teaching science because my father said there was no money in art. I don’t regret it because I had such a good time at college. There were about 500 men and about 6 women, so you’re bound to have a good time aren’t you? It was the 1960s and my college was in the King’s Road Chelsea – right in the heart of things. Mary Quant was there, and all those sort of people. A lot of people I mixed with when I was there have gone on to do really quite impressive things. I was very lucky. It was such tremendous fun.

I taught Science all over Cornwall – I was on the supply list so that means I taught in lots of schools. I wanted to save a bit of money because I was sure I could do up houses to sell. I gave up teaching when I started doing up old properties. I borrowed £3000 from my father and £3000 from the bank and started – that was thirty-plus years ago and now we have a property rental business that the whole family is involved in.

We meet a lot of people who are so hard up in our business and we like to think we can help them. This is why we do most of the renovation and repair work ourselves so we don’t have to put up the rent. We try to be good landlords. One of the ladies who had been with us for a long time was offered a bigger house next to her daughter and she took it. Anyway she came back after being away from us for about a year and threw her arms around my husband, tears flooding down her face, and she said ‘I’m so unhappy – please find me a place.’ So he’s trying to find her something. Meeting people who really have to struggle so hard, it makes us want to try and be very careful ourselves. It seems very wrong to go into Jaeger and spend £150 on a blouse or a dress when you know it could make all the difference to someone’s life. You have to think. You have to bear it in mind. It’s nice to think you can help a few people. We’re here for such a little bit of time aren’t we, really.