I came to Britain in 1964. I think it was the next day after bonfire night, the reason I say that is I can still remember the smell in the air. I couldn’t work out what the smell was until many years later, and that was the sulphur in the air from the fireworks
.... My father came over here first. I think it wasn’t so much the poverty that drove us here, I mean we were quite comfortable when we were over there, I think it was more, I suppose the people in the ex-colonies thought well we’re going to get a better standard of education if we went to England, and that was the main reason why we came here. Well my father came and twelve months later we joined him.
My father was a tailor and he had quite a successful tailoring business in Ipoh which was in northern Malaya, or Malaysia as it’s now known. And he did quite a lot of work for the Scottish Dragoon Guards, so he was linked to the British Army in some way, for many years. And my understanding is that in 1961, I think they suggested to him that it might be good for him to emigrate to England, because there was quite a lot of political upheaval in Malaysia, Malaya at the time, with the Communists coming down the South East Asian archipelago and that. So there was a lot of threat of instability to Malaya and it was suggested to him that he might want to come to England, which he did, and so we ended up in Thornbury in October 1961. It was just myself and my brother and my father that came first of all in October ’61, and my mother came over a couple of years later essentially, so we lived, you know, just like father and sons for about 18 months before, you know, my mum arrived, basically.
.... It was cold, [laughs] we came in October 1961, and, you know, I’d never seen snow before. It snowed that year, it was cold. I didn’t really want to be here, I missed my mum and my sisters, and it was quite a shock in terms of you know, being in a totally different country.
I came to this country when I was around eleven years of age, and the reason why I came was because my father had come here in the 60s and he’d worked in the steel mills in Sheffield, and a number of people from our village, from Rawalpindi in Pakistan, had come here, and they subsequently wrote back and the extended family and other people began to write, so from our village there’s probably around 11 to 12 people that came to England, and so my father came and worked in the steel mills, and subsequently my mother, myself and my sister followed on.
..... My first memory was I think at first landing at the airport and standing there and looking up at all these different coloured people, you know, white people, African, Black people and such, and looking straight up into these people’s eyes and seeing different coloured eyes and thinking that they were marbles because in the village I used to play marbles and the marbles had different greens and blues and whatever, and thinking that these people had marbles in their eyes, and I remember, remembering that.
To see white people do the cleaning jobs and so forth was quite a shock I think. Because you’re coming from Kenya, you’re coming from Nairobi where you didn’t see any white people working at all, where the only people working were black people and Asians, erm, so that was a big shock.
My first memory of Britain was really...that I realised that I was going to leave my parents and I had never really left my mother before. I knew my grandfather from my father’s side was really unhappy that I was going and I didn’t know how far Britain was...the distance didn’t make any sense to me..
I remember feeling very cold at the airport cos it was some time in March, early March I think it was when we arrived, and I think I was fascinated by the, you know, the vapour coming out of our mouths when we were breathing.
My absolute first memory was standing at Heathrow, an airport, .... being nervous, frightened and I had this gold necklace on, chewing this gold necklace that my Grandma gave me. And 45 years on I’ve still got that necklace, chewed to a state, sitting in the bank.
Actually ending up you know in Heathrow Airport, you know, it was quite overwhelming, the whole kind of number of people, the buildings, the atmosphere.
I remember going into an Indian or Pakistani shop and I was really homesick, and it was as you know the Universities start around October and I was studying at the University of Nottingham. I went to the shop and began to talk to somebody, a Pakistani guy, and it was about seventeen days I had been in Nottingham, and the guy said ‘I’ve been here for seventeen years’, and I thought ‘how the hell could this guy live in this country for seventeen years!’
I was born in the Punjab, in a village which is in the district of Jalandhar, in 1959, 16th July. And I came to this country at the age of two-and-a-half in 1962; I think it was in November. I have some kind of, very fragmented memories of that. I can remember ... We came straight to Bradford, exchange station. I can remember it being very cold and damp, and I can remember these huge, kind of cantilever roofs that the exchange station had, and its interesting that, those memories are kind of there, not just for coming, but kind of generally. That was Bradford you know?