SuAndi: Growing up Nigerian-Irish in Manchester

November 19, 2020 00:55:36
SuAndi: Growing up Nigerian-Irish in Manchester
The Plastic Podcasts
SuAndi: Growing up Nigerian-Irish in Manchester
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Show Notes

Poet and performer SuAndi, OBE, is a third-generation member of the diaspora with a grandmother from Wicklow and a Nigerian father.

She is the freelance Cultural Director of the National Black Arts Alliance, has been awarded honorary degrees by Lancaster University and Manchester Metropolitan University and a Lifetime Award by Manchester BME Network.

Her one-woman show, The Story of M, is a tribute to her Liverpool Irish mother and is featured in the Mixed Museum’s online Exhibition of Mixed Race Irish. SuAndi’s own story starts and ends (so far) in Manchester, but takes in Lemn Sissay, Sir Laurence Olivier and Eartha Kitt. It’s quite the ride.

Plus Cherry Smyth raises Lauren Kinsella onto The Plastic Pedestal

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 <inaudible> Speaker 1 00:00:22 How are you doing? I'm Doug Giovanni and you're listening to the plastic podcasts, tales of the Irish diaspora. Now in its third series, third series, who to believed it, not me for a kickoff. My guest today is poet and performer. Sue, Andy OBE, a third generation member of the diaspora with a grandmother from Wicklow and a Nigerian father. She is the freelance cultural director of the national black arts Alliance. A one woman show. The story of M is a tribute to her Liverpool Irish mother, and is featured as part of the mixed museums. Online exhibition of mixed race. Irish. Here's a sample of Sue Andy at work with part of the poem. Actress. Speaker 0 00:01:00 Am I not trust you all? Fooling I Smith I'm blank asked me that. Go on, ask me that the role I play wasn't written just for me. The script is asked upon my heart with burst of life. I play my part. The stage I plays all the world gain spot drops, painted shades of whites is how I'm seen and heard upstage. I play adversity downstage. I ant humility stage left, perform soliloquy stage right here, the freedom in my delivery. Sometimes the audience, see, I cannot see that's backstage. My voice speaks distant hauntingly. And in that quivering mass, the audience praise for the scene, not too loud. Speaker 1 00:02:14 When I chat with Sue, Andy is the morning after the night before when she'd been awarded to the Manchester BME networks, lifetime award. So we start by talking about that. Speaker 0 00:02:25 Do you know why it was really odd? Um, I don't identify with the terminology, but I found that I got an email saying you've been nominated and I am about the same. What about her attend? And I thought that thing came up and said, because this is not going to happen because everybody was doing really good work, you know, feeding the homeless, feeding families. And then I almost left the meeting and then I feel it seem really rude about stay. So in that sense, it was completely on accepted or not accepted and expected rather than expected. Yeah. Yeah. Nice. It's a bit phallic. Speaker 2 00:03:14 Um, I'll, I'll leave my knee my next, my next gag on site there. Um, when you saw, I saying you don't think you, you didn't think that you'd get the wall because other people were doing such good work and so forth. Is that just say that you don't think that you don't rate the notion of performance and poetry alongside in the same way in the same category as the other things that people do Speaker 0 00:03:35 In this moment in time with every, all the emphasis on the virus that seemed to be all the awards were going to that kind of work, you know, supporting people through the virus and through the lockdown. I've never been one of that was before, so I don't know, previous years, um, you know, what kind of organizations to give awards out to, but it isn't, it's a network of voluntary organizations, you know, the old terminology grassroots, a lot of the more religious based. And, um, I was just surprised but surprised Speaker 2 00:04:14 I'm. How do you feel about awards? I mean, obviously you you've been awarded the OBE and various other bits and pieces. I mean, so how do you feel about wards in general? Speaker 0 00:04:22 How do I feel about awards? Um, my MBA, this is an old story. I keep telling it because it's true. When I got my OPA, when I got the nomination or the letter that said, Tony, you might be thinking of possibly asking the queen may be, if you know, if she does not, um, for your work in ethnic art. And I wrote back and said, I don't work in ethnic art. I work in black art. You're sincere, like, see, I'm the bump in the post. So I didn't expect to get it. And I was sending someone the other day, my first day at secondary school, I'd come from a school Webster street school in my side, that was nicknamed the league of nations that tells you the school. Of course you are grace problems, but the school role was right. Was global, right? So I get to the secondary school, align it with all the other first year kids. Speaker 0 00:05:20 I've got this huge briefcase with sport men and two old people that turned out to be fifth years and they were twins. I'd never seen twins before. So I was petrified came and I was from March out of the hole, up to the headmaster's office who didn't look up and said to me, you're the first colored child in this school. And I can make sure you're the last they award notification. When our last day of January did, that is 30, 31st in the old time of terror attacks. And a friend of mine worked at the BBC immediately rang me and said, congratulations. And I was surprised. Um, the next morning my ex had master rang me up and said, I always knew you'd go a long way. And I put the phone down on him. Right. So I guess that I believe I misbelief. I want to believe that Alice anchors up is the chair of BA had nominated me because I always said wherever they can get my people, we can have. Speaker 0 00:06:33 I was devastated when I found out later it was from the arts council plus a different story. So I guess it, and a friend of mine, Scott <inaudible> who's from the late district sent me a card that said outstanding black copy achievement. Cause they send him black. Was he for our outstanding black effort? I think it might be said. Um, and that made me laugh. But my friend per vendor, who is Ugandan Asian, she wrote on her card of the book, his efforts, I don't know. That's true because there's nothing that you achieve, you achieve on your own. Nothing, absolutely nothing from the parent that wakes you up in the morning or the Palm that cooks your food, or there are people in your group that helped, you know, nothing's a solo achievement. So even with this one, I wouldn't have got there without all the members of BAA. I know all the, but you know, office-type work for, and people have held my hand, the people who slapped and when I've been out of order. So I'm okay with it. It doesn't make me feel wonderful because I know I'm wonderful, but you know, yeah. That's a long answer. Isn't it? Bloody hell. Speaker 2 00:07:55 But growing up in, uh, in Manchester back then, I mean, psycho, what was, what, what was life like, because you talked about the, the headmaster who says you're the, you're the first cut of child that we've had and I can make you make sure you're the last and so forth. I mean, did you come across that kind of response to you? Speaker 0 00:08:09 No. Cause I gone to a primary school where it was cool. You know, kids were, were respected for being who they were and on from the cultural identity and things. Aren't, I mean, we had a document that was dodgy in a different way, but I don't remember anything untowards on a racist level from the staff until I got to secondary school. And then when we had the cliches, you know, we had the gym teacher, geography teacher was ex-army and I thought, you know what I mean? We are the domestic science teacher lived in Nigeria, got out, may you know, for that horrible woman. Um, you just stepped out you from primary into a completely different world. What were you like at school and not stress cocky? She K no, no, it's not. I'm not a nice kid. No, it wasn't a nice kid. I did have any game, you know, I knew I was per se at great clothes. Speaker 0 00:09:13 I'd had like Shirley temple. My mother made my wrinkle it's every day. Oh, I was not nice. No, you know that poem, once little girl had critical care right in the middle of the forehead. That was me. I've got pictures of myself from primary school in groups, you know, kids on a day out, I'd put an arrow over my hat. So, you know, which ones are me? I mean, come on. No, I wasn't nice. I'm not, you know, I'm not trying to be modest, but that's straight. It just raised its head every now and again. And sometimes I think about that and I try to analyze that and it has nothing to do with being black, but in a way it has a lot to do with being black because it wasn't a time when there was friction. That's correct word between full-blood black and make sure I respond. Speaker 0 00:10:14 Um, and yeah, friction from white kids as well, you know, cause we're talking, we're not talking before the window spot. Our parents, our fathers came before the windows long before the windows. Um, and so when Caribbean's came and started to make families, we weren't aware of the issue of skin tone in the Caribbean, you know, the darker, the skin, the more likely what's in the field, the lights to scan a higher profile. And there was, yeah, there was definitely friction. My father used to say to me, I want you to marry a Nigerian, if you don't money in Nigeria and he married a white man, I'm not happy America, Caribbean don't come home. And he married a white woman. Well, there were no black women with her. And anyway, my uncle tell to said, you know, why marry a black woman got loads? I mean, Africa, I'm the only white woman running a white lung, got some, you know, it's expensive when you look at it, as series of Jax was like, yeah, I'm always home. Like, I'm not sure for my mother, it was horrendous. Um, it was really hard. I think it was really, really hard. I think it's took me a long time to realize just how hard it was. Even when you know, my parents were still together for that white woman to step out, having black kids, having a black husband and then to step out now as a divorce woman with black kids. I think it was really, really hard. Speaker 3 00:12:01 There seems Speaker 0 00:12:01 To be an aspect of being an outsider outside in the area because human, my side, wherever we're villages, we were villages. And there were lots of white women with black children. Well, that didn't mean women who did not have black children did not look down on the women with black children. You know? So there was a sense I imagine of community between the women, if they didn't like each other. And I'm probably in that as well, a packing order of, you know, the mother whose kids weren't perfectly to adapt. My hair was donut every day. And I had made to match the clothes. Cause my mother believed people judge a book by the cover. I know him was going to judge me. We were going to be spotless. Our home was spotless, everything was done. So the outside the neighbor couldn't pass judgment. My kids are fed. Speaker 0 00:12:59 My kids have claim. I, you know, and obviously there were mothers who didn't fulfill that role, but their children were black or white. They just didn't, you know, they didn't have the skills or the interest or the loaf maybe to fill that role, you know, abuse to children in the lack of care, crosses all race lines. Doesn't matter. Yeah. I worked for an office in the States. No, I'll rephrase that. I hung out with an artists in the States, Carrie Mae Weems. She suffered Tucker from folklorist and she had this, this image for little boy and it was under the stairs, you know, picking out the door to the stance. And the caption was that woman was so crazy. She used to lock me up because I looked like the man now in the UK, the man is the place. Speaker 0 00:13:56 So I never understood this pitch for ages. And then I had a girlfriend and I've known her for quite a while. And one day a daughter said something and I looked and I looked at my friend and said, it's her father? And she said, yeah. So I go back to that picture. And that picture says, my mother locked me under the stairs because I looked so much like my father. So you raise a child who is the spirit of the man who's abused and left you. That's really hard to look at that child. Isn't it? Cause that very day that child reminds you that you've been dumped. Speaker 3 00:14:51 Y'all listening Speaker 1 00:14:52 To the plastic podcasts. We all come from somewhere else. Find out more and subscribe to [email protected] Given that the stories of the mixed race Irish are just beginning to be told. I wondered how Sue Andy was treated as a child by her mother's Irish relatives. Speaker 0 00:15:09 Well, she didn't have any family. No parents had died young. And my mom was raised in no park. Children's home. Some her two sisters. So she had no family. My maternal grandfather died at SEI and I suspect my maternal grandmother had cancer. Cause she, she, um, let's see a special wasted away. They were taken in by neighbors who wanted to keep them and the family in Ireland who were Catholic. Wouldn't let them keep them because these neighbors weren't Catholic. I was stupid as up. So they went into the orphanage and had the most horrendous childhood that the sister came out. She went back to Ireland. My auntie Joseph and my mom stayed in the pool eventually moving to Manchester. And um, when did your mom meet your dad? Before I was born, Joe say, um, Matt, a Welshman and had my eldest cousin Jimmy. So my eldest cousin is no longer with me, but was white with red hat. Speaker 0 00:16:21 And she moved with her husband to Wales to Welsh speaking Wells where his family wouldn't speak to her because she couldn't speak Welsh. They completely ignored her. So in the middle of the night, as I say, you know, um, she packed up and she brought Jimmy and she came back to Liverpool and got a room. And to Josie was very Elizabeth Taylor located near that look. And my uncle telltale stopped on the street one day and said, bring that child. Cause Jimmy was sacred in the room. I imagine I'm you come to my room and I'll feed you. So that's how she went to Josie. Got with my uncle TOSA uncle Toto was my father's cousin. Um, then Al working on the ships, mine, I imagine my mom came out the home, moved in with Joe, save on round with the same guys, got pregnant with my brother. Speaker 0 00:17:26 And she's a Catholic girl, despite everything counts. She's still a Catholic girl and his father, Malcolm, my brother, Malcolm, his father was called Donna and wouldn't acknowledge Parenthood fatherhood. So she took into Colt and she won the case, but she didn't take his name because he put her through so much. I think by that time, my dad was either at sale ready, a prisoner of war. And um, he kind of stepped forward to do the right thing because one of his countrymen had done the wrong thing. And that's how they got together. It was not love. It was respectability for my mom. Speaker 2 00:18:14 You mentioned, um, uh, reading through, um, something with the, uh, the, the, the mixed race, Irish, um, um, the mixed medium thing. But you say that your, your was your brother born in the Magdalene laundries? Did I read that? Speaker 0 00:18:27 No. No. It wasn't bald mad when she had in, she went back. It's just like, you know how comfortable it, it's not never go to church through their adulthood. And then death knocks and they grabbed the rosary. It's like, it never goes away. Doesn't it? So she went back, she went, she had nowhere to go. She was pregnant. She knew this child was going to be black. She'd never let me get my dates. Right? No, she would have never seen, um, a black child close to her because, um, I can't remember dates now book Malcolm. And my auntie Jo says, Oh no, no, John, no, John would have been born. No, she would have seen a black child. I take that back. She would have seen bad. Cause my cousin John would have been born. Um, yeah. So she went back to nursing to the, um, well, the laundry is wasn't it. So the nuns and obviously didn't tell them the child was black. Cause I mean, good grief. He mentioned the treatment they were getting anyway. So when I read articles about nuns, selling babies, et cetera, et cetera. Well, I know it's true because my mother always said nobody wanted a black vapor. Well, thank you. Bless the Jesus. Speaker 2 00:19:40 Jim mums still maintain a sense of, archness only thought you talked about the Catholicism, but were there any other aspects of that to her or Speaker 0 00:19:47 Everybody? Superstition? You can name every superstition. Every deaf saying everything. Yeah. In that way. Yeah. Yeah. So that's, you know, between that and the Nigerian talk about stress me out in life. Don't do that though. That's I don't want that call out there. Speaker 2 00:20:08 That was good else. Do you think there, there are similarities between the Nigerian diaspora and the RSDs. Speaker 0 00:20:12 Oh yeah. Very much so on that. Yeah, I think so. Anyway, it means we can call it, tell me I'm wrong, but I think so. Anyway, the tall can, you know, everything's a story. So on the Nigeria side, it's a S it's a lecture in a story. Put that thing of, yeah. Everything being a story. And I'm thinking the women, I mean, there's, I think there's a similarity between the Irish mother. I'm the Jewish mother. Everything got dumped for you all the sacrifices, you know, that kind of thing. Yeah. But she did, you know, in fairness, she did communicate that you don't understand you don't. I think the only time as a little girl, before 11 there really hit home. What my momma done was I made friends with another black girl, an African girl. And um, I went round to her home, the streets, she lived on, my cousins, lived on it, a big house on that street. Speaker 0 00:21:13 So I knew that street really well because my cousins had a club. So I mean, that's just, that's something about where they were financially. And I went Cisco's home and we went inside and the hallway was dark and the stairway was dark. We got to the first London, there was a cook run, the London. And I said, Ooh, why is it a Cooper on the landing? And she said, that's where we make our food. And then she took me into a room where she was a moment of doubt. And I can't remember how many brothers and sisters, I never let that girl come to my house. And in fact, I stopped being friends with her because I was embarrassed by all the I had. And I think that day it made me realize just what my mother had achieved. Speaker 0 00:22:02 You know? And I was embarrassed. This little girl had nothing and cooked on the London and share the toilet. You know, we had a bloody bathroom. We had a tin box when I was very little and we very quickly had a bathroom and that's very, very Irish. I've got Brandon's gay couple. And when they first got together, he had been outside of the nines, but he had been in a long relationship and his partner died and he got with this new guy quite a bit younger. And of course, you know, who's this new guy, who's this new guy. And I was having a party in the garden once. And I heard the new guy say, Oh, you know, my mother buys a new three piece suite ethic every Christmas. And I said, what? Right. And he went 73 piece, every Christmas average that set staffs that, and I walked away another, we are very close friends. Speaker 0 00:23:07 I think it was time. He didn't realize it given him. Cause he was trying to be quiet postulate to me that said Irish, that you decorate and got a new three piece suite that falls apart by Christmas day. So yes, there are those kind of connections and that Hodge. And I suppose, you know, in the jobs that she did again, it's, it's with more knowledges as you grow older, you know, she was never much more than a cleaner or dinner lady. And although we know they are or were well, Oh, very working class jobs, they did fall into the hands of the Irish, you know, the underdog. And now, you know, you go into industrial buildings and over the years I've seen that staff changed from Asian to Nooner ride Africans in, you know, forced in rival through refugee. I've taken those jobs over. So, you know, the class system definitely has a, I wanna say cultural heritage when national national is nationality linked in a sense, isn't it being relatively recently arrived, I suppose, as to it's taking those jobs that other people won't take. Speaker 0 00:24:25 I mean, that's exactly what I mean. Yeah. So you, you, you regard it as being at the bottom of the pile on you, and I'm saying as things that changed over that position has gone to arrival of South Asian people. And more recently it's gone to Africans who have come in as refugees. Um, you know, I say that, cause I always say, when you stop being a refugee, when someone say I'm a refugee and I think, yeah, but where are you from this no country called refugee land? You know? Um, no master circumstances don't lose your country, don't lose your identity. So, um, and she wasn't, she could spell, she was proud of a spelling, but she had skills, you know, um, she works at the guardian when she's a guardian evening news in the canteen. Um, one of the throws, many jobs she had where she didn't reveal her children. Speaker 0 00:25:18 And when she'd been there long enough felt safe enough. I went in one night, she waits in the night canteen. And you know, the princess is very now, but you speak very close union and you know, fathers gave the jobs that's so, and I can remember a Scouser got a job. So he was brought home with a, you know, fat Abe cause he was Scouts. But, um, my mom for being a baby used to dress me, parents would never do this. Now of course, dress me, feed me and put me in permanent and put me outside the front door. So that was sorted now. And uh, and I used to often come in with money in the prime. I didn't notice at the time. And um, so now I'm still under 11 cause we're in this house and she lets me go in to the canteen and whilst I'm there, a few of the men came over and said she spent a promo outside of the house. I'm not ministry because we used to put money in the prom. Now would that put one in the prime of a white baby? What was that someone going? What was that? I mean, it might have been a hate and there might've been a panic, but what was it that made them feel that chargeable? I mean, they're smart and I'm smart. You know, I'm a smart, I'm not a scruffy babe in a dirty napper. And if you, you know, if you were to sit with the mess and Speaker 3 00:26:44 Probably let them feel dreadful, but a lot goes on in there. Speaker 0 00:26:48 The back of the conscience of people when they respond to a different race, Speaker 3 00:26:54 <inaudible>, Speaker 1 00:27:01 We'll be back with Sue Andy in a moment. But first we turn to the plastic pedestal where one of my interviewees pays tribute to a member of the diaspora of personal or cultural significance this week, Carrie Smith on singer and collaborator Lauren Kinsler. Speaker 0 00:27:17 Yeah. I'd like to nominate Lauren consoler for the plastic pedestal. She's on a gold or titanium pedestal. To me, she is just such an inspiration. And I just love heart in a way, you know, people say we're haunted by history and she's haunting it back. She's taking it on and in, um, she's done some training and nauseous singing, um, really trying to inhabit that, that singing with the improvised sessional edge, which brings us suppose tradition and rebellion together, which is why we probably, you know, sync so well as friends and collaborators. There's, there's a deep longing to be considered carte of our Irish culture, but there's also great claustrophobia perhaps in it or wanting to shift things, um, edges of culture and, um, and belonging. And, um, I, I really like what she does with, you know, beyond the, she's got a beautiful lyrical, um, singing voice and there's a great writer, but I also love that abstraction of the voice into something. Speaker 0 00:28:34 And I've never really heard before when people said that her voice touched them where they'd never been touched. Um, you know, it's, it's really tragic that someone like that, then can't be singing live. You know, she hasn't song lives since March. And, um, if there is a chance to look at her music, she's got a new album coming out with her bound, snow poet and, um, it'll be, it'll be wonderful to see how she's responded. A lot of that was recorded and locked on. And, um, yeah, it's just wonderful to have my work mediated through a completely different discipline and for it to bring something really powerful back into my practice, Speaker 1 00:29:21 Cherry Smith there. And if you'd like to hear more cherries into you and let's face it, why wouldn't you, then you can find [email protected] or on Spotify, Amazon, or Apple podcasts. Now back to Sue, Andy and I wanted to know about how she went from model to poet, but first another extract from actress. Speaker 0 00:29:43 Do I sync honey? I can hit a no. So full melodious. So rich in the blue <inaudible> you see me dance? You've seen me flicking twist. That's a real thing. My feet upon with shoot incest. I think I went to dance school. I think some mimosa told my mother to submit stand school, to improve my legs. Um, I, she always said I went down to school because she couldn't dance and she didn't want that to happen to me. And no one told her that black people could dance naturally. That was her byline. Um, and, uh, I was kinda like not old enough for the big girls, all the big people's conflicts and too old for the little ones. I mean, I didn't really need to go to dance school. I did Morris dancing for God's sake and we'd go off on a sustain to villages and people would say, Ooh, you know, we danced, you know, folks home and same kind of comments. Speaker 0 00:31:02 I didn't understand why the girls would put this orange stuff on their legs that I wasn't allowed to use. It's make it look like time. I didn't, I didn't understand why couldn't I have that on my legs. Um, and I was okay. Dancing school. And then my school was a stage school that I eventually ended up at Russell lights. It was a theater school, good contacts supply the demand for can dot of which I was never allowed to audition for. And I didn't know why. I mean, I know why now and the pants man. And, um, I got into the pants my one year and my mom came to pick me up and they asked my mom not to bring me back because I didn't fit in the lineup, you know? Speaker 0 00:31:52 Yeah. So I was, I was just, I was almost fit to suit West side story came out and I thought that's mine. That's where I should be. You know, my dancing teacher said anybody found dancing like that field will be expelled from this school, but the music as it was called, and I'd only just come out as a dance form, you know, officially, but West side story was that's mine. And I suddenly found cause apart from the Clark brothers to take town to remember that I didn't particularly like time. Um, I knew something wasn't right. I wasn't a ballet dancer by any means, you know, I didn't enjoy it. Um, but Oh, West side story. Yeah, certainly no, there was somewhere I could go. Yeah. Don't say yeah, identity. It was, it was megaphones mega. Um, so yeah, I just stopped. I think I just said to my mum one day, I don't want to go. Speaker 0 00:32:56 I used to have to go to elocution lessons because I couldn't say tea with thousands. Yeah. And I never went because again, I wasn't, I was too old for the local kids and I was too young for the big kids and I used to just walk off and spend the money. I wasn't nice. As I keep saying, your biography says that as a model and came out as a poet, obviously it's not as simple as that I'd become a social worker, residential social worker. Um, I'm really bad on days. My mom had died and I decided I write a book, not for publication, but for my children, because I didn't have any grandparents on either side. I had no other history and I wanted my kids to know about my mom's. So I wrote this book and somehow it ended up how we, I think I was only already kind of doing kind of community-based work. Speaker 0 00:33:56 So pet had went to a reading group, you know, posh women who sat wanting to read books and discuss them bloody hell, you know? And uh, she said, I think you've got something there. So I sent the only copy I had off to some publisher, thankfully sent it back. Um, you know, sometimes they just keep them driving there and sad. It was, it was interesting, but it needed more racism in it. Um, so that was that I then sent her, I think, to a community publisher. I'm trying to how it, how it went. And they were looking for the black women writers development worker. Speaker 0 00:34:38 And I applied and I got sick and I have the same way the spirit connects where I might think of something I've not seen for ages or particular thing. And it'll just come at me through a different connection, you know, and whoever thought the job was really clever because in that stage, art forms were very much in their own. There was visual arts that was dance, you know, there was writing, no one was bringing them all together. And this job strict, you know, sad battling with the visual arts, with film, with all the art forms, which I needed very little. But at that time in Manchester, things were happening where black art was coming in from different directions. So it really fed the job for me. Um, there was the, uh, identity group workshop group run by lamps. And the women in that group would rebellion and decide they will go and form their own women's group. Speaker 0 00:35:40 So I have to go with them because I was a black women's rights as development work at one time. And, um, so I came with a name black scribe and we will have a pro Kuwait group. And I don't think I perform for probably two or three shows. I've missed about half a on salary, I think before I got sorry, before I got the job class, right. I don't see where having a boat launch the boat launch was properly repaid to the day for staples together. And they asked me to put a fashion show together for the book launch, which I did excuse me. And then, and they got up and they read that poems. And I thought that's really clever because I did, I like poetry. And then I saw they got paid probably their bus fare, but they got paid. You get paid for talk and I'm Irish, Liverpudlian Nigeria. Speaker 0 00:36:35 And what could we about a job? You know, me and I had, you know, love poems into the bad. Nobody loves me. He doesn't love me enough. I had all that. So yeah, I joined about the job. I joined them and I am stayed with them on one particular I wasn't on the first time I ever performed. When I finally said to the group, I think I want to read some poetry and I stupidly and stayed on the same night, which is still ridiculous. Um, and I knew definitely what I didn't want to do was introduced the poem in the experiment I'm going to give is, um, about the bunny rabbit. And I saw in the field one day when I'd gone down to <inaudible> and it was a green bunny rabbit, and I think the poem speaks for itself, but it doesn't speak for itself. Speaker 0 00:37:23 Could you just give, read somebody's introduction to it? So I knew I didn't want to do that. So I recommended two, three pose, whatever the word other women were very supportive, but they said you didn't introduce the poem. And what I did was I'd say something then I think I I'd spoken too soon and just jump into the poem without giving it a title, you know, put my poems already had character theory, had different voices. And I think that's the Irish connection. It's, it's listening to women. It I've always said, I want my poetry to be over the garden wall. You know, the gossip, the observation, the witnesses of life, it's the bejesus, Mary look at her, you know, it's that. Um, so that became my style. You say that you write for, um, uh, for performance definitely. Speaker 2 00:38:20 Does that mean that you kind of read out to yourself an awful lot and just work with them? Speaker 0 00:38:24 Now, if it's a performance piece of our rights in my head, if I write it on the page, I very rarely can remember. I know it doesn't make any sense at all, but if I write, if I write it on the page at lowest, I'm out, read it, but those were page poem. If it's a performance piece, I've written the whole thing in my head, and then I write it down to remember it. That makes sense Speaker 2 00:38:49 Started off with, uh, during the, um, during the, on introduced poems, um, uh, out events and things like that. And so how did that carry on them? Moving on to doing things like the story of him? Speaker 0 00:39:00 Well, um, I was looking at the time because I'm working with emesis out. I mean, he's my, he's my mentor. I mean, I have got the women in black scribe that there as well, but I'm working with Lam is like me go out with him. You know, he showed me what a workshop is and stuff like that. Um, and that man take two, five, we were approached the black scriber approach by munch, the festival to do some book. It was a, there's a big password. I can't think of this book come out. And it was kind of really important watches and seekers and, um, Ruth who turned out to be Eurasian Indian though. We didn't know it at the time. So that, so this white lady came to speak to a black women who were very hostile, um, and said, um, you know, do you want to do something with this book? Speaker 0 00:39:49 And we were like, why and how much you going to pay bills? And all the rest of it, we were getting pennies for our gigs. We'd also joined what was forming them blackouts lines. So we joined that as a collective and we'd spent weeks debating who was black, what was black, just went on and on. And I think somebody said, well, we need to do something to launch ourselves. And somebody must have said, well, we've had this offer for the Manchester festival. And I said, why don't we make it bigger than that? Why don't we do a variety show, which would now cause mixed media production? And I said, I'll go and talk to the Manchester festival. And it was lucky because Phil Jones was the director he'd come down from the Albany empire. He promoted that work in your user, told Nina Simone. And he said, well, why do you want to do it? And I said, Ooh, my side labra. And he said, what about the Royal exchange setter? Speaker 0 00:40:47 And I went, Oh my God. You know? So I walked out and I walked through all that shit, but we put on a five-hour show and it was wonderful. It was wonderful. We had drummers Indian dances never been done before 1980 hockey, much not being done before. So I'm in the house, you know, Jim, Ryan, so lights, I got a commission from the ICI again, you know, nothing. What the book is that first slowest cadence at the ICI, uh, we Catherine a goof Russell and they give out these commissions, I get a commission, I produce a piece called this is all I've got to say, which links back to out, carry main wins in the States. You know, there's a link back to seeing her work. I think it was okay. It was a bit, that's all the white people what's wrong with it. You know, it was a bit like that. Speaker 0 00:41:56 And at the end I did a poem that was a dedication to white women who had married or had relationships with a black man and lowest rung me on the train, going home caught almost like a mobile phone. And um, and so me, the best part of it was the last poem and the best way you can ever create your own work, your own life experience. And by the time I got to Manchester, I had the outline of story of them on a snotty nose and red eyes. Cause I cried all the way home really through, I probably wrote it by an hour. Cause I always say, you know, starting at five is not clever writing because I'm just remembering I didn't sit and think I'm going to write back this country. It's going to be a white woman. You know, I didn't, it's not down. It's not that I'm taxed. I always find it odd when I talk about she will sit there, you know? And they're like all out uniform. I go, yeah. But she'll sit there and we'll sit there. This is me in this moment. Yes ma'am so, you know, it's not modesty when I say it's not great writing because it's not fiction. It's actually fat. I could have put so much more in it. And sometimes if I read it, I think I've gotten a lot. But, but Speaker 2 00:43:15 When you, when, when you, when you, when you're writing before performance and you perform them before me, your writing, does it feel like it's two, two houses the same thing or are they two, some that are two very different aspects to it? Speaker 0 00:43:25 Let me name drop, please. Do I am home now with a kid she reviewed my first double cassette guess that it was a cassette, it was a CTE. Um, and when she said, do you want to hang out together? You know, no boys. I said, yeah, because my mom would have been chuffed, you know? And she said, there's just one thing. If you want to hang down with a kid, go buy a ticket. When I hung out with Eartha, I'll hang down. So that meant that the K on stage off stage. So I'm very conscious that there's a Sue and on stage, but don't bring her home. I don't know if that answers your question. Speaker 2 00:44:16 It does. It does. Is that, is that, is it difficult not to bring her home? Can you easily leave her? Speaker 0 00:44:22 Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cause I'm very critical of her. You know, I don't have better complimenting. I come off stage and think, well, I get very well, so good. And sometimes coming home, got, I didn't do that well, and not, doesn't matter whether it's a performance or a conference, you know, spoken at a conference or I've been a delegate and open my mouth in a conference. Um, I always underlies that always. And I think that way you can turn and say, I think I was quite good tonight and that's not ego. That's analyzing that piece that you've just done. Speaker 2 00:45:01 <inaudible> despite her Manchester BME award, Sue Andy is not comfortable with the terminology that comes with it. In this section. We talk about her feelings on this, as well as the rise in visibility of black and mixed race Irish, and also what our heritage means to her all in just over 10 years, Speaker 0 00:45:25 I'm always amused in a way, in a way when somebody has been more worked or, you know, assaulted a crime has been committed. And they'll say there was two assignments, one was white and one was mixed race. Did you know that while you're being assaulted? You say, excuse me. Oh, you're mixed. Right? You can't bloody look at somebody and tell them, you can't look at somebody light-skinned and tell them mixed rice is the arrogance of racism, you know? And it's like terminology when we saying that, but you're being, let's go on a long bloody BAME block or, Oh, you're not black. You're mixed-race I'm blank. You're stupid. I'm blank. Inner Oregon's. It's arrogant allows the institutions to come out with all this terminology and then tell us that we've asked for it. Well, I never got a lecture in the post. I never voted to be called Boehm, ethnic minority, multicultural, culturally diverse, and all the other terminologies that have come out since I've been in there. Speaker 2 00:46:36 The whole notion of what the Butler calling, um, mixed race, diaspora, that's all like, uh, people who are black and Asian, but also of, of Irish heritage and self. Well, these tended to be ignored for quite some time. Has there been any kind of particular breakthrough or reason for there now being, um, the, uh, the, the, the, the mixed, the mixed race, Irish, uh, exhibition that you are part of and, and other little things like that. Speaker 0 00:47:03 I'm not part of the people who organize exhibition and I, but I think to answer, it's not because the people have come of age in that strength and that personal determination to want to trace their background and to share their life stories that's what's happened. And it only takes one person to step out and call out to others. People who felt gabbed all their lives, you know, given the opportunity to speed and they grabbed him. And I I'm so much respect for them for that. I mean, if Sharmeen, hadn't sat at the mixed race site on search it because I mean, there are mixed race science and biracial sites and all these kinds of sites, especially coming out and States sacks of Brown people, such language. Speaker 0 00:47:58 But I think whoever started the, the one from the Irish background in Ireland, well, they're going to give out a gum. They deserve a gong because to be given an opportunity to speak in a platform, to speak up for somebody to listen to you, no one can say that away from you. I'm good. God. They should know that in Ireland because the confession box is a great box. And Evan, you know, it's not nice. You know how Mary full of grace, I've never kept the camp. A confessional can also allow me to share something, something that's just, you know, it's got a grip on your heart. So tight that show you can't breathe. And I think a lot of the people that haven't been able to breathe until they found themselves in a conversation, not just speaking to the world in a conversation, it's a Lowrance reminder as a cab driver. Speaker 0 00:48:57 The best story in the world is your own story. And I guess, do you ever listen to listen to the listening project at the beginning? Wasn't that just amazing? I can remember one and it was an Irish family and there were 10 kids and needs to get a chicken and that backup potatoes. And she called it, um, what was the terminology is, well, I suppose it was sack of potatoes, no, to an entrepreneur bugger with data. And, um, and she says, if he got the skinny where you felt top of the hours, you know, because there was that little chicken to go round. Um, when people talk about hardship, now it's a different kind of hardship, isn't it? And I'm not knocking that in anybody that's suffered, you know, Jordan before the lockdown, but there was a real suffering of hardship that came then again, that came in with casting called try dancing, where you were from no kids with no shoes. Speaker 0 00:50:02 I remember at primary school and I am that I'm not prissy with the girl in the good clothes and all the rest of it. And we had a big Irish family live nearby. And, um, and this little boy used to find himself. He didn't pay himself. He found himself and a teacher gave his birth a Lola, and we walked this child home through the streets with poo on his legs. And the teacher said, just take him home. How cruel is that too? No, I'm not saying a teacher's job is to clean that child or book had not been a nice local kid. Who's had an accident that she would have been cleaned up. She would have come incense. The nurse wouldn't shake. You know, even though she probably got forgot, she would have been cleaned or what this little Irish tinker lot. And we didn't take him all the way home. I mentioned what were two girls walked him up. They knew that we were horrible and we could probably walk into the top of his straight. And I run all the way back to school. I think. Speaker 0 00:51:12 Yeah, Gavish has supper. So that's why when Mandela was w when we hope Mandela would be released, I watched a program once on people who live in South Africa in readiness of the wine, you know, government losing its power. And I can remember it went to a golf club and there were four Irish guys there. I say why they would go home because they're going to let the blacks. And I just hate these Irish guys. How dare you all, you've gone through how dare you look down on black people like that, because you were back in England, you ambition, and over there, well, whiteness gives you superiority, but you're still blue. The Irish is still the bottom of the ranks, but you pretend, and, you know, do you know what I mean? Why be the dock when you, you know, when you could be the fly on the dog, Speaker 1 00:52:15 Telling your own story and getting other people to tell their own stories is an act. I, I think of, of optimism. It's, it's, it's the notion that it's like, not only that you've got a story to tell, but the other people want to tell their stories and want to hear your story as well. Do you think you're an optimist? Speaker 0 00:52:29 Well, put it that way. Um, I've done two lots of research, which I said was about our fathers came in from nine to 25 and strength of our mothers. Um, I haven't interviewed anybody who hasn't wet the heart, um, during the interview, even if they had horrible fathers and uncaring mothers. So that makes me optimistic then. Yes. I think the history books, well, I don't think we know history books. Doesn't tell the story of ordinary people. Speaker 1 00:53:07 What, what, what, what does being a member of the RFDS room mean to you? Speaker 0 00:53:11 Well, it definitely means about the gift of the gap. I think, I think we don't forget. And I know that can be really negative. It's tricky when you go back and think about which of course I didn't live in because I wasn't in Ireland, the troubles. Um, I think part the trouble is Islam and our inability to forget the past. But I think again about the history books, I think we carry our history with us. It's a burden, it's a celebration. It defines who we are and our behavior both positively and negatively. Um, but I think the burden of it is if we allow it to ruin our present day, I think the joy, if it, if we can laugh at it and use it to inform us, you know, and to, and to direct our future in a different way, in a different manner. Speaker 0 00:54:14 I said, a kid in care, Andrew, who, who would take all the members of staff, it was a small children's home, five or six kids. And he'd take off that stuff like that. And my boss was Irish carrying her Molly. And when we did night duty, that's what we did all night long, was tell stories, you know, but Andrew used to take each member of staff off, you know, whether it's the way they spoke or they drunk with something really funny. And I said to him once, so what, what, what, what do you do when you do me? So we are that easy. Yours is I remember, well, it's a crime. Let's say that that was quite tearful, but yeah, yeah, that was mine. I remember Speaker 1 00:55:01 You've been listening to the plastic podcasts with me, Doug Giovanni, and my guest Sue athlete. The plastic pedestal was provided by cherry spin music by Jack to that you can find and subscribe to [email protected] Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, the plastic podcasts, all supported using public funding by arts council, England.

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