Vera

Listen to Vera's story as part of The Making of Black Britain oral history project

By The Making of Black Britain

Vera & Bill, London (2021)The Making of Black Britain

This is Vera and her husband, Bill. 
Vera is of German and British heritage. 
She was born in Britain.
Vera first met Diane when they started school, age 11, in 1971.

Vera was interviewed for The Making of Black Britain on 8th September, 2021. 

Vera, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Vera talks about her first memories
00:00

My first memory I suppose, is of Hatfield... Like you.

We moved to Hatfield. In fact, when I was about one or two years old. My father had a business and he rented some factory from the New Towns Commission, who were responsible for building Hatfield and part of his deal was to also get a house thrown in. So we moved to Hatfield.

Vera as a child, 1961, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera second home in Old Welwyn, 1973, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Vera tells a story about Dinah the dog
00:00

We had a huge dog. My mother never did things by halves.

When we lived in Hatfield, she went and got herself a Great Dane. Which I mean, given that the house was a three-bedroom house, it was a three-bedroom end of terrace house with a garage, big luxury. She went and decided she wanted a Great Dane. Which was enormous. And she was really fond of it. 

Dinah the Great Dane (1964)The Making of Black Britain

Dinah the dog, out for a walk, 1964

Vera, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Vera discusses the neighbours she grew up with
00:00

My mother being German, she was treated pretty well actually

But you know, some people have reservations about Germans, it was still very real thing in people's minds at that stage. But no, some of the some of the neighbours were absolutely lovely, and some were a bit standoffish.

Vera talks about being half German
00:00

I wasn't afraid to stand up to bullies.

But I was also, you know, I was quite a robust kid, you know, I wasn't a near slip of a thing. I was a solid, sturdy child. And so yeah, I guess people thought, mm so German. But whatever German is, I mean, you know, I don't suppose they had any idea really what German was either, but yeah, a few people at school used to tease me a bit.

Vera & family on holiday in Germany, 1971, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera's school photo, 1970, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Vera talks about her mother
00:00

She arrived in this country not speaking any English at all.

They didn't necessarily want to know all your business, they minded their own business. They weren't intrusive. Not like in Germany, where everyone wants to know everyone's business, and then make a judgement call on it. And she loved that. 

Vera, at home, 1964, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera 1st school photo, 1965, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Vera and Diane discuss their friendship
00:00

Boy, did you pack a punch

But I always remember even when I wasn't close to you that you were an 'in girl'. And everybody wants to be around you because you were cool. That wasn't a word we use in those days. But that's what it amounted to. 
People wanted to be in your gang.

Diane as a student at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama, 1982, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Diane and best friend Teresa Rider and two friends on Margate “Soul Weekender”, 1977, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera, London (2021) by Vanely BurkeThe Making of Black Britain

Vera explains how she got her first job
00:00

So you know, always stand your ground.

Anyway, so I went home and I told my mother this and she said, “What?” 
She said, “No, no, no, that will not do. They had agreed to give you a job for a fortnight, they are giving you a job for a fortnight. Did you do something wrong?” 

Vera and her father at Sports Day, 1977, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera first overseas trip, France, 1974, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Vera's family (1964)The Making of Black Britain

Vera tells a story about her grandparents
00:00

All evidence of male occupation was thrown out

And I remember at the age of nine saying to my “Daddy, why don't you and Oma like each other?” And he said, “It's very simple. She thinks I'm a monster, and I think she's a monster.” 
And that was the last that was ever said on the subject.

Bill and Vera, 2021, From the collection of: The Making of Black Britain
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Now listen to Vera's husband, Bill, tell his story for The Making of Black Britain.

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