|Home > LEO Computers > LEOPEDIA > Oral & Narrative Histories > 55627 Gloria Guy: Int ... w, 13th November 2018|
55627 Gloria Guy: Interview, 13th November 2018
Gloria Guy and LEO Computers Society
Digital audio of a recorded interview with Gloria Guy, who worked on LEO as a data processing clerk and later as a personal assistant.
Interviewer: Elisabetta Mori
Date of interview: 13 Nov 2018
Length of recording: 1h11m13s
Copyright in recording content: Gloria Guy and the LEO Computers SocietyDate : 13th November 2018
Physical Description : 1 digital file, audio
Gloria Guy(GG) interview,13th November 2018 Interviewed by Elisabetta Mori (EM) Transcription edited by Frank Land EM: Good afternoon Gloria, perhaps you would like to introduce yourself? GG: My name is Gloria Guy. I live in Fulham, in London, and I've lived here for a very long time. EM: Where, and when were you born? GG: In Fulham in 1936. EM: And what was the occupation of your father and of your mother? GG: My father was connected with the signals on London Transport and my mother, well when I was born she didn't work obviously, but at the point where I finally left school she was a cleaner in a school, she eventually worked at J Lyons. EM: Have you got any early memories? Of, say of your childhood with your parents... GG: Oh, yes many. I lived through World War II. I was evacuated, briefly, to Stoke on Trent to stay with an aunt and uncle. Oh it was lovely, because there I had two cousins to live with, here I was an only child, and so it was quite lonely. We got bombed out. There is a park at the bottom of the garden, the bomb dropped in the park and all our windows fell in. EM: When did you go to school, after the war? GG: No, no, I went during the war. There was a school on the other side of the park, I used to have to run through the park every morning and hope that the air raid siren didn't go. But there were air raid shelters in the park, so if we were in school and there was an air raid we all ran down into the shelters in the field. But we had an air raid shelter at the bottom of our garden as well. The one thing I do remember about the war is that whenever there was a raid and it was nighttime I would be running from the house to the bottom of the garden, which was a long way for me as a child, I think it was roughly sixty feet. I was convinced that the pilots could see me! Now I know they couldn't but I was convinced they could. So it was terrifying. EM: And then you moved to Stoke on Trent? GG: No. Well not then. We still lived here until I went to Grammar School, which was in 1945/46. I went to Grammar School here, which unfortunately no longer exists. It was called Carlisle Grammar School and it was in Chelsea. But my mother and father split for a while so my mother took me to one of her sisters in Stoke on Trent. I lived there for a year. I don't know what went on between my mum and dad but they got back together and we came back to London. I went back to the Grammar School. I had gone to a High School up in Stoke on Trent because it was easier in those days, you know, I'd been at Grammar here, so it was easier to go to the equivalent Grammar up there. EM: Did you have any brothers or sisters? GG: No, I was an only child so it was always quite lonely. I was happy to go and live with my auntie who had umpteen children, so I had lots of cousins to play with up there. EM: So you studied at Grammar School, and then you went to university or, what happened? GG: No. I took my ‘O’ Levels as they were called in those days. I took English Language, English Literature, French, Art, and something that in those days was called ‘Domestic Science’, I think it's, these days it's called ‘Food Technology’, I don't know why they changed the name. But in those days it was split into two, you did learn to cook but you also learnt to make clothes. So I made a blouse for my school certificate. EM: So what were your favourite subjects? GG: I loved English Language and French. I got my ‘O’ Level in both those and a couple of others as well. But with English Language and French I was very particular. Even now I am particular about English language. EM: Did you ever go to France in those years? GG: Not then. We didn't have any money, so couldn't afford it. EM: Are there any special events or incidents that had any influence, good or bad, on what you studied? GG: Not so much on what I studied then, but when my mum took me up to the potteries for that year, my oldest cousin, a male cousin, was married to a Greek girl who was pregnant. I learned to say a few things in Greek, which I would never have learned had I not gone up there. And many years later it led to me studying Modern Greek for five years. Mind you, the things I learnt to say were, “I’ll smash your face”, and “I’ll kill you”, and “shut the door”. And I did learn a Greek song but I had no idea what it meant at the time. EM: So what was the career you envisaged and what were your ambitions? And was there any influence of your parents in your career? GG: I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. All I knew was I couldn't go to university because we didn't have the money, so my parents needed me to go to work. [Joe Lyons and Company] EM: How old were you? GG: Well I was fifteen in the July, so I was sixteen in August. So I was sixteen and I started work in September 1952. My mum said, “don't worry if you don't know what you want to do, I’ll get you a job where I work”. In those days she was working in Joe Lyons and Company in the Almond Room sorting the bits of dirt and everything from the currents, raisins, sultanas and the almonds. They used to go on a big conveyor belt and the ladies there used to have to pick out the dirt and the other bits by hand. So I used to go and see her sometimes. But she did get me a job there, but I worked in the office and was on a high rate of pay in those days, three pound, four shillings a week. EM: And did you like your job? GG: Oh I loved it, yes. I spent the first eighteen months in the catering office, just learning. They trained me on what were then called calculators, nothing like the ones you use now, but we were trained with… you had a rubber, I think they called it a ‘fingerette’, and you put this on your thumb and you flick the bills over. You really learnt to go fast on the calculator without looking at the keyboard. So you're looking at the bills all the time and tapping the figures in. EM: Do you remember which kind of calculator you were using? Which brand? GG: I can't remember the name of that one, but later I transferred to the bakery sales and learnt to use a comptometer and I know those were Burrows machines. EM: So the one before was not a comptometer? GG: No, it was a calculator. EM: Okay. And then you used a comptometer? GG: Yes. EM: And did you attend any course to use the comptometer? GG: No. Well I don't remember anyway. I think I must have done but I remember the training for the calculator because that was a two-week full time course. But I don't remember what I did for the comptometer. EM: And what was your work environment? Were there other girls like you or? GG: Oh yes. There were lots of girls with me, it was a very large office the bakery sales. I think there were, if I remember rightly, something like four hundred people in there in that one huge area. But our section was in the same room as everybody else, but we were at one end. It was only comptometer operators that worked in our little area. EM: And were there also men or just women in the office? GG: No, there were men as well but they weren't the ones using the comptometers. They were usually the supervisors and the managers. The one I remember most of all I think was Mr Harold Cox, he was in the catering office. He used to walk around and he used to stand and look at everybody. He'd walk around to see what we were doing. He wore, is it called a ‘Morning Suit’, with the tails and the striped trousers and the tailed jacket. He was looking very smart. And everybody was ‘Miss Smith’, ‘Mr Goddard’. Nobody used Christian names in those days and women were not allowed to wear trousers. We didn't have trousers for women; I don't think they made them at the time. Well I suppose they must have done but for the forces because I think some of the forces’ girls wore them, but we didn't have them in the shops here, not until a bit later. EM: So what was your routine on a working day? Like what time did you have to arrive? GG: It was a little difficult because we had to be there for a quarter to nine, that's eight forty five in the morning, and a red line was drawn in the book, because you had to sign in. And if you had to sign in underneath that red line you were late and you got into trouble. EM: Did it ever happen to you? GG: Frequently. EM: So what was the trouble? GG: Well I used to get told off and told I must have a shorter break at lunchtime. But at the same time life was fun there, I didn't mind, and I knew I'd always be late because I was late leaving home. In those days there were few buses and I needed a bus all the way to work because it was too far to walk. Queues a mile long, almost, for a bus, you knew you weren't going get the first one as there was no room on it. So it was hard work getting there and hard work coming home as well because everyone came out at the same time. Honestly, you can't imagine, living in today’s world as a young person, you can't imagine what it was like then. EM: And how many hours did you work a day? GG: Well a quarter to nine until, I think it was half past five, so it was a fairly long day. EM: And during your lunchtime did you bring your own food? GG: No, they were very good at Lyons, they had the staff canteen that was cheap, I mean you had to pay but it was cheap and it was good. The food was always good. We had a coffee break in the morning, but you had to buy your tea and coffee and a roll, or whatever. And then lunch break for, I think it was forty five minutes. And then another fifteen minute tea break in the afternoon. EM: Okay. And, is there any special memory you have of that time, regarding your colleagues or your bosses, or something that happened? GG: Yes, whilst I was still in the catering office and Mr Cox was our manager, I remember timing was not my good point, or it wasn't then, I'm a lot better now. I went into a coffee break and I was a little bit late back. He stood there, ‘Miss Smith, come here’, and he beckoned me over with his finger and I went to him and said, ‘yes, Mr Cox?’ , ‘you're late, why? You've had four minutes extra’. I thought four minutes wasn't really the end of the world but four minutes was four minutes when I wasn't working and, you know, they did expect you to work all the time. But I just apologised and he said, ‘don't let it happen again’. Oh I was very truly told off! EM: And you were Mrs Smith at the time? GG: I was Miss Smith, yes. LEO Computers EM: So, when did you start working for LEO? I mean when was the moment you moved from Lyons to LEO Computers? GG: Well, first I’ll tell you why I moved there and then I’ll tell you when. Because when I worked in the first catering office, the section at the very end was for the audit office and I got friendly with the girl there who was the secretary. I used to watch her typing. Up until then I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I watched her typing and I thought, ‘I'm going to learn to do that’. So I went to night school and I learnt typing and I learnt shorthand. Learning shorthand wasn't so quick as typing. I was typing at thirty words a minute as a touch typist before everyone else in the class had even learnt the keyboard! They tested me at that point at thirty words a minute. And although I'm deviating slightly, because my ultimate speed on an electronic typewriter many years later was ninety-two words a minute. Even on a manual typewriter it was seventy-five words a minute. In those days you could get a job with what they called, ‘good typing speeds’, of forty-five words a minute. I just thought, ‘well, I must be extra good’ which yes, I was, and it was noted wherever I went. EM: So how did you end up working for LEO Computers? GG: While I worked in the catering office I used to look at the auditors and there was one man there that I very much liked the look of! I'm not sure if I should give his name, perhaps I’d better not, but he ultimately went to work in LEO, and I had no idea where he'd gone. But when I transferred to the bakery sales office, next door was LEO, and I used to see him going in and out and I thought, ‘ah, I think I’ll get transferred into LEO’. That's how I went into LEO, and that's what prompted me. EM: So what, what happened? Did you ask formally, were you interviewed? GG: Yes. And they said they had a job for me, but I don't remember it ever having a name although now I think it would have been called ‘Data Processing Clerk’. EM: So what did you do for LEO? GG: Well I had the time sheets of, I think it was the Swiss Roll department, we were running their payroll. I had to type in their clock number, how many hours they'd worked, what the hourly rate was and what their tax code was. It was, you know quite lengthy for each person. How much they got per hour. EM: But did you type it or punched it? GG: Well it was a machine that... EM: Punched it? GG: It looked like a manual typewriter but it wasn't letters, it was all numbers. I don't remember there being any letters of the alphabet on there at all. It was, Siemens-Schuckert. That was the name of the machine. And it was a strange thing, I think, because my machine printed out a binary tape, and then the tape I punched in would be given to a checker. She would have the same records that I'd used. I passed them over. She would type in, or bash in, everything the same and her machine would print out a binary tape as well whilst it was reading mine. But a black and white print and a black and red print out would come out at the back, so where there was a difference in what she put in, compared to what I'd put in, that would come up in red on the tape. And then a third person whose name at the time was Marjorie Cole, who was the scrutineer, used to go through the red and black tape to check where the red figures came up, then she’d have to check both the binary tapes, with the original records, to see who had made the mistake. So it was quite long and convoluted to run the payroll, not like now when you can press the button and off it goes. EM: Were there a lot of red prints at the time? GG: You mean mistakes or differences between us? EM: Yes. Differences? GG: I don't think there were all that many, but they did happen. Obviously they did happen sometimes. EM: But you didn't have to take care of it, there was someone else checking? GG: Yes. Marjorie Cole always checked everything. I only typed out in the first binary tape machine EM: And did you only do that job or did you have other roles? GG: No, I didn't have any other roles, it was purely that. And any of the men who walked about the main area of LEO… I was terrified of them. They wore white coats, the engineers, and if they even looked at me I was scared stiff! Not now, because I see and speak to both Frank and Ralph Land. I'm not scared of them at all because obviously over the years you learn that everybody is equal, just some might be a bit more influential than others, but we’re all human beings and I'm not frightened of anybody. I wouldn't even be frightened of The Queen, well I met her anyway, but that was another thing. EM: Did you attend a course before starting working for LEO? GG: No, I don't think I, well I must have done but I don't remember it. I must have done because there's no way I could have put in all those figures without understanding what the sheet meant. EM: And how long did you work for LEO? GG: I was in LEO I for about a year. EM: And then what happened? GG: Well I remember Tony Barnes was the manager at the time and one thing that I always thought was lovely about LEO was that we didn't have to buy our cakes and tea in the afternoon. They came round on a trolley and they were free and that was lovely, because when you're not earning very much anything you can get for nothing is wonderful. But there was another girl who came in after me and did the same job at the same time as me, she used to go and collect the cakes for everybody and she would invariably collect the individual chocolate Swiss Rolls that were Lyons own cakes. She’d put them on a saucer and put the saucer on top of a cup of tea and, of course, the inevitable, the chocolate would melt. And I can remember Tony Barnes one day saying, “what is this disgusting mess? It's dreadful. Take it away”. I don't think she did it after that! EM: So what happened after you stopped working for LEO? Did you work for another company or did you change... GG: I changed jobs. [Back to Joe Lyons] GG: I changed jobs within Lyons. Because by then I'd learnt typing and shorthand. And me being me, up till the age of eighteen in those days, you could go to night school free of charge and learn any subject you wanted. So I learnt typing very quickly, as I've already said, but shorthand was a little bit more complicated. I knew I wanted to be a secretary by then, so I persevered and, but we did talk a lot and I suppose really I wasted that one year. At the end of that year I was eighteen and then I had to pay. When I had to pay to learn shorthand at night school I learned in six months! That was my incentive; I don't like paying for things if I can get them for nothing. Well that was then, now I'm a grown woman and I pay for whatever I want. However, I did go into what was then called, ‘the works and engineering department’ at Joe Lyons, typing invoices and, and also doing dictation. And I must confess I discovered that the supervisor couldn't read shorthand, so I was a bit of a fiddler. I thought this was rather silly of them because you had to have six outlines on every line, and you had to fill the page and you were given. I'm not sure how long it was, but you were given a set time to transcribe every page of shorthand. Well it was easy enough to put in extra outlines that didn't mean anything, and it looked good, because I wasn't that fast, I own up! Perhaps I shouldn't be saying this but it was easy to fiddle the sheets and the timing, so I did. But I enjoyed it and I learned a lot about postcodes in this country by typing all these letters and invoices, and even now I could tell you where most of the postcodes are, don't ask me though. But certainly all the London ones, because we didn't have zip codes and there weren't six digits, they were three and, four digits. They were just stuff like SW6, that was Fulham. Now it's SW6 and then other letters and numbers as well. Going back to LEO, if I may, I did get engaged to one of the engineers in there. It wasn't the auditor that I fancied because he was married and he had his wife had twins while we worked together, nothing to do with me, I promise you! No, there was an engineer there who was a couple of years younger than me, his name was George Manley and anyone who worked for LEO would know George Manley. I think he was seventeen and I was nineteen or twenty, something like that. He was a beer drinker and a rugby-playing engineer. I was a dancer, my spare time hobby was ballroom dancing. If there was a dance on I was there. And Lyons used to run a dance once a month at their sports club in Sudbury Hill. We had a sports pavilion, with an open-air swimming pool. There were tennis courts, hockey pitches, you name it, it was a wonderful place to work for, Joe Lyons. And every year they had a beauty contest and one year I remember the prize was a trip to Hollywood. Oh it was a trip to Canada and a film test, a screen test in Hollywood. And, naturally, I entered it, but I didn't get anywhere I might say. But it was just so fun, everything was fun. I did play hockey for Joe Lyons too. EM: Did they have a hockey team? GG: Yes. We had a couple of ladies teams but eventually it dwindled to one team. But prior to working, or prior to playing for Joe Lyons, my best friend from school had gone to work for Hoover and she played hockey for them. She said to me, ‘why don't you come and play for us’, you know. So I did, I played for them for a good few months and then I started to play for Lyons, Lyons Ladies, as they were known. One day there was a tournament and I was asked by both of them to play, but I had already committed to Hoover before I'd committed to Lyons! Of course Hoover beat Lyons and Lyons didn't want me to play for them anymore., It was fun. Embarrassing but fun. EM: So what happened with the seventeen year old you were dating? GG: Oh yes. Well he used to come to the dance every month, but he couldn't dance, he had two left feet. He was a lovely, lovely young man, and I thought very highly of him but he couldn't dance. But we got engaged anyway with an elastic band. And it was, do you know it was a fun time. I think, I never met his parents but he used to tell me how much they disapproved of me because I was at the ‘palaise’ every night, Hammersmith Palaise, you name it, I was there. Streatham Locarno, Fulham Town Hall, Hammersmith Town Hall, everywhere there was a dance, The Orchid Purley, all over the place. But George couldn't dance, unfortunately, he never came to the palaise but he did come to Lyons once a month. He used to come with one of his friends who was another LEO engineer called Ernie Allott. Ernie was a nice looking young man but, sadly, I think he died quite early. He was a smoker, well they both were and I wasn't, and I didn't want the smoke anywhere near me, I just didn't want it, you know. So eventually I moved on and George then met somebody else who came to work in LEO, Evelyn Bott and they did subsequently get married. However, I will say that it wasn't before he came round here to see me to make sure he'd laid the ghost of whatever we’d had, you know, which was nice. He showed my mum how to make omelettes! My mum did egg and chips and fish and chips and all sorts of other things because she had worked in the NAAFI before I was born, that's the Navy Army and Air force Institute. It's the catering department for all the armed forces and she’d worked there as a cook, but she had never made omelettes. But George Manley showed her how to make an omelette, and he used cream, which, of course, you couldn't really get very often in those days. EM: So what happened, did you keep on working for Lyons your whole life or? GG: No. I worked in the works and engineering department for about six months doing shorthand typing and then I left. [Entertainment Industry] I left Lyons and went to a company, a music publisher called Boosey and Hawkes, they still exist, I believe. They published music and they also made musical instruments. I loved the job but that was a bit complex because I'd gone in there to work for, I think he was the general manager. His secretary had given a month’s notice. She was going to, I think it was Venezuela or Brazil or somewhere. So they took me on and I really enjoyed working for him because I wanted to have some connection with the music industry. But at the end of the month she changed her mind, she wasn't going! I was so upset, and I didn't know the law in those days, so, of course, there was no job for me. However, they did find me some other work within the company. I thought I'd like to become what in those days was called a ‘song plugger’. It's someone whose job is to get the most recent records played on the radio. In those days it would have been Radio Luxembourg or the BBC Light Programme, which is now Radio Two. There was no such thing as Radio One or Radio Three, it was the Light Programme, the Home Programme, I don't think there was anything else. However, I never became a song plugger. I still worked within the music industry and the entertainment industry as a whole. Because after that I went to work for George and Alfred Black who were the theatrical producers that put on all the shows at Blackpool, and that's every theatrical show that was there. They put on a lot in London as well and it was my job to send pay cheques to the different, very famous people, one of whom was Dave King. I can remember, when he was on at the Hippodrome. I'm not going to tell you how much he earned per week, but it was one hell of a lot more than I ever earned, in a year virtually, but it was fun. It was an easygoing atmosphere and those hours were ten till six, so very unlike Lyons. No one did a time and motion study. [Further reminiscences about J Lyons ] One thing I forgot to say about Lyons. There was a point where, and I can't remember which department it was, I think it may have been in bakery sales, you had to account for every minute of your working day. You had to fill in a sheet telling what time you started a job, what time you finished it and just say which job it was. It might have been typing, it might have been filing, but if there was a period where you hadn't anything to do you still had to fill all that in, they didn't tell you off, but if there was no work for, say fifteen minutes, you had to put, ‘fifteen minutes MNP’, miscellaneous, non-productive. So, for everything they wanted to know what you were doing, how long you did it for. And that, I think, was behind LEO, because that was at the point where they were really trying to establish whether it was worthwhile having a machine that would do all the calculations for them. I'd forgot that earlier on, sorry. EM: Do you remember David Caminer? GG: Yes, very much so. I was terrified of him, oh absolutely scared stiff, and of TR Thompson. Who else was there up there? Ray Shaw, I wasn't quite so frightened of him, he was one of the engineers but he was a lot older than George and Ernie and I wasn't frightened of those two obviously because they were my age. But all the older ones, I was terrified, and I didn't dare speak to them. If they didn't speak to me, I didn't dare speak to them, not even to say, ‘good morning’! EM: Whom did you speak to? GG: Only the people in my department, data processing. The checker and the supervisor. EM: How many were you? GG: There was me, there was that girl called Maureen, there was Jackie Donovan, Marjorie Cole, so that's four. There were four of us that were there constantly and one or two others came and went. I don't remember their names, but I do remember somebody called Kathleen Keane, she was Kate most of the time and she was a programmer. But she didn't work in our section; she was in the main LEO area. There was another Cathy as well whose name escapes me. I believe Kate Keane is now living in Devon or Cornwall or somewhere, but she's not called Keane anymore. Peter did give me the information but I can't remember, it's in my computer but it's not in my head because, to my knowledge, she hasn't been to a reunion. EM: Were there a lot of programmers that were women? GG: No, there were I think only the two Cathy’s, or Kate and Cathy, and Mary Coombs that I remember. I think Mary Coombs was before those two. In those days she was Mary Blood I think, and her father, Dr Blood, was the company doctor. He was the doctor for the whole of Joe Lyons employees. So if you were sick you went to WX block and you saw the doctor. Yeah. I did used to have to go over there sometimes. EM: Do you remember him? GG: Very vaguely. I don't remember much about him. I remember more of Mary Blood and thinking, ‘what an unfortunate name it was’. EM: Was there a big difference in age between you and Mary? GG: Yes, a fair amount. I think she must have been, I don't know, five, ten years older than me. EM: So you didn't have an informal relationship? GG: No, there was no real relationship at all, I just was aware who she was and that was it. Because there were a lot of people, I knew who they were and that was it. I only really had anything to do with the people that worked in the same little office area as me. EM: When you finished working for Lyons and LEO did you, in the early years, stay in touch with your colleagues? GG: No. I had no knowledge that there was even such a thing as the LEO Society until many years later when I was temping for Manpower and they sent me to ICL. When I worked in ICL, I worked in three different buildings in Putney. Each one, I think, was a six-month contract, so it was long term as far as temporary work was concerned. I started to recognise names, and a magazine came round one day and I saw it was referring to the LEO Society. Then I saw the name ‘George Manley’, and I thought, ‘wow, I wonder if it's the same George Manley’. EM: What year was that roughly? GG: The late eighties. It may have been early nineties but I think it was late eighties. I rang him up, because I was working in Putney and it said that George Manley was the quality control director, I think he worked at Stevenage. So I phoned up one day and I asked to speak to Mr Manley and when he picked up the phone, having gone through his secretary, I said, ‘George Manley?’, he said ‘yes’. I said, ‘you won't know who this but it's a voice from the past, well it's Mrs Guy here’, and he said, ‘madam, I'm afraid you've got the better of me, I haven't got a clue who you are’. So I said, ‘remember Gloria Smith? ‘Oh my God’, he said. So we chatted and then he said he was coming to Putney, London in a week or two’s time, why don't we meet and have a coffee. Well I don't know if he did come but we didn't meet for that coffee. However, it was through having read that magazine that I realised that the LEO Society was in existence, and so I contacted them and I arranged to go to the next reunion where I met up with George Manley and another one of the engineers, Frank Walker, whom I also remembered from the early days. So that was quite interesting. When George and I had split up in the 1950’s it was because I had met a boy at Hammersmith Palaise who I thought could dance fantastically. He had taken me home that night and said to me, ‘it's you and me and nobody else’. So I had the sad and slightly embarrassing task of telling George, ‘I'm sorry, I can't see you anymore’. I had to do it the following week at work, because I don't think we had telephones in those days so there was no means of contacting, you know. You either arranged to meet and turned up or you arranged to meet and didn't, that's the end of that. So unfortunately I had to tell George it was all off and that I was going out with this new bloke who could dance. I did subsequently marry that one! EM: Did you have children? GG: Yes. I had one with that one. We courted for five years and we were married for seven and then I divorced him. Nothing to do with the dancing I might tell you! However, I did divorce him and then in my next marriage I had a son. I had a daughter by my first husband and a son by my next one. Sadly that didn't last either. I think it was as well I got out from that one as early as I did, however, we won't go into that. So now I have three lovely grandchildren. My grandson, who is my daughter’s son, is now twenty-six, and I have two granddaughters from my son [Retirement And More] EM: So when did you retire? GG: Christmas 2016 I retired, at the age of eighty. EM: So recently? GG: Eighty, yes EM: And so what's your life now? Are you in contact with your ex LEO colleagues? GG: Well I'm certainly in contact with all the colleagues that I worked at my last job because I worked there for twenty-five years and they invite me to all the functions, Christmas parties and such. EM: What was that job? EuroTalk GG: They're called EuroTalk and they are language learning software publishers. I went in there as PA to the director. I was the first employee. So there was just him and me and his partner who didn't come into the office. He was actually running a different company, an Apple dealership. My friend was his receptionist and he had said to her one day, ‘do you know anybody who can write shorthand?’ And she said, ‘yes, my best friend writes shorthand and she's looking for work’. EM: Do you think your career influenced you in getting this job also? GG: Well I suppose it did, but I didn't actually really want to work with computers, but I had to. I went in as his PA and he and I did everything. We had one product to sell, and it was called ‘Asterix the Gaul’, who you quite possibly know, and it was in French. This was our only product to start with. We had to split the translation or the actual workings of the program on to two discs. In those days, for anyone who knows anything about CDs, cd ROMs, your files were so big that the CDs couldn't take a whole programme of one complete story of Asterix the Gaul. So it was split into two, each cd-rom cost the Apple version seventy five pounds, and that was in 1992, early 1990’s anyway. We had to make one version to work on Apple and a different version to work on Windows. He and I had to do everything. I didn't do the recording, somebody else did the recording, but I had to type the whole story in French. Then when the discs were ready we had to insert the booklet in the front, another slip at the back, the discs in the CD case, in the jewel case, and pack them up and send them wherever they were being sold. We'd got a strong case for RSI there, repetitive strain injury, because you were doing the same thing time and time again. There were only the two of us working together to do it. For the twenty-five years I worked at EuroTalk, first I was in as the boss’ PA, then I changed and there came a point where I was helping with all sorts of different things as the company grew. I became the chief bug report worker. Any problems that people found with their discs running their CDs, I had to create a bug report. They were many and varied because, remember, some worked on Apple, some worked on Microsoft Windows, they didn't work the same way at all and created different problems. There were far more problems with Windows than Apple for the simple reason that Apple, in those days, made their own hardware and their own software, so what was created for them worked. Whereas with Windows you had many different brands of computer and you had lots of different software running on those computers and some pieces of software created problems when ours tried to run on it. So I did that job for, I think, a couple of years then I started selling our products. Network products, into education, because it was all languages, so I sold into education for a good few years. After that I became credit control manager, which was just chasing money. When I finally retired there were no outstanding debts. When I took it over there were quite a few, but there were none when I left. I was a bit like a terrier or a dog with a bone, you don't let it go until it's paid, you know! We worked in the basement and I said to him one day, ‘Dick, I have got to leave, it's awful to think that I now find it a pleasure to go upstairs and breathe the fumes of the cars and the rest of the traffic!’, because there was no air downstairs or daylight. There was nothing. It can't be right to have to get pleasure from smoke and diesel fumes so I said, ‘I'm really sorry, I've got to leave’. So I looked for a job, but then I didn't really want to leave him because I enjoyed the work, I just didn't want to work in the basement. He said to me, ‘If you don't go you'll regret it, you will never know what you missed, so I am advising you to go’. [Air Tours] I actually got myself a job with Air Tours, as a Golden Years Hostess and that was where my ballroom dancing came in useful for my, so called, career. So anyway, I discussed it with Dick and he said, ‘no, go. You'll regret it if you don't go’. So I went to work, they offered me a job in, well you could choose any two or three countries that they were working in. You chose two and would probably get your first option, that's what they told me. The reality was a bit different. I chose Cyprus because by then I was fluent in Greek, but they offered me Malta, which I didn't really like the sound of because I hadn't learnt any Maltese. I accepted Malta in the end and they actually sent me to Spain, so, yes, so much for ‘you get your first choice’! I worked out there for seven months and I had an absolutely fantastic time. I do not regret it. Dick was quite right when he said ‘you'll regret it if you don't go because you'll never know what you missed’. When I came back I felt I'd had a seven month holiday, because, to me work was sitting in an office, out there work was taking holiday makers on a ramble, showing them the town, running three tea dances a week and dancing every night with the people that were there on holiday. Running bingo sessions for them, it was all the social activities, and it was lovely. So I came back to England after this wonderful holiday. I'm still in touch with some of the holidaymakers from then, even now at Christmas we write to each other, which is really something after all these years. And I was quite touched when some holiday makers that had been out there with Thompsons got in touch. I met up with them when I got back to England and they said, ‘we were asked to fill in a survey on the plane on the way home and our one comment was Air Tours got it right’, which was quite a compliment to me. The following year I was offered a job, again, with Air Tours for the winter, they said, ‘you can have, go where you like’, and I asked for Cyprus and they were going to offer me I think Spain again because they'd had such good reviews from the hotel and the apartment block where I had worked, you know, but I just didn't want to go. I didn't want to go back to Spain because, although I'd loved it, I didn't like bullfights. I'm sorry I can't cope with bullfights. So anyway, I didn't go. In a way I regret that, but by then I had a grandson who was nearly a year old so why would I go away again and leave him? However, I was working for the same man again by that time and I didn't really want to leave, although I would have gone if they'd offered me Cyprus. I didn't accept where they offered me so I didn't go. [Columbia Pictures] GG: I also worked for Columbia Pictures and the man I worked for there sold programmes into cinemas, because the films don't just turn up by accident, they are planned weeks ahead. I think I mentioned earlier on about my speed in typing, well I was so fast there he would give me dictation and maybe two hours later I'd finished, all typed back and given to him. One day he said to me, I think his name was Mr James Revett. But he said Mr Thomas, who was his manager, ‘is complaining because he often walks through and sees you are doing nothing’, and he said, ‘I keep telling him it's because you've done it all. So he said, ‘can't you make yourself look busy?’ I said, ‘I can't, that's cheating, it's artificial, if I'm finished, I'm finished. Now unless you can give me something else to do how can I look busy?’ I was, you know ‘a spade is a spade’. If I've got nothing, I've got nothing. So I said, ‘you find me more work, yeah, I'm happy to do it’. But eventually I left there because there really wasn't enough work to do, which was a great pity. London Film Productions GG: I worked for London Film Productions for a couple of years. I worked there for David Conroy who was head of production. He produced one very famous thing called ‘War and Peace’ for the BBC way back, a long time ago. He was a lovely man to work for, he and Mark Sharmadean, who was the chairman of the company. It was called London Film Productions remember, but it had originally been, Alexander Korda Productions. Anyone who knows anything about old films will know that name. We worked in New Covent, in Covent Garden in Floral Street and David and Mark disagreed over where films were going. Mark thought we should try and aim at America, whereas David thought it should be Europe. So there were lots of arguments between them and quite a lot of stress. David used to pass that stress on to me as his PA. He would come through and maybe dictate something to me and then he would be so stressed he would be swearing and I mean swearing, really swearing! I used to sit there and take it. One day when they were filming, they were doing the pre-production for John and Yoko, ‘Imagine’, now I don't know if you saw that film but they were doing the pre-production for that and the producer of that came in to me and brought me a mug with a rainbow on it and with a big bunch of freesias in it. She said, ‘these are for you’. I said, ‘oh, how lovely, but why?’ And she said, ‘I feel very sorry for you when I hear David shouting and swearing at you’. I said, ‘well thank you very much but it really isn't necessary because’, I said, ‘what you don't hear is when I go in his office and shut the door, I swear back at him’, I said, ‘I just don't do it in public’. So we had a terrific working relationship him and me. One day I went in there with terrible pains in my back, I didn't know I had pleurisy. And anyone watching us would have thought we were mad, I'm lying on my back on the floor with my shorthand pad up in the air taking dictation as he's walking up and down the office. You know, they were fun times; they were because it was a terrific working relationship. EM: What year was this? GG: About the mid 1980’s, yes, because when he finally left I was made redundant and I think that must have been about 1987. I was made redundant because they were not going to replace him and obviously then they weren't going to replace me. I don't think Mark ever made another film, he certainly didn't make anything for America. Whereas David did do some films for Europe and two or three times I went to work for him part-time for his own company, only that was at Twickenham Studios. That was fun as well. There was a little bit of, well something a bit strange. I will say this he had been in Iceland producing a series called ‘Nonni’, or it was a serial, called ‘Nonni’. And he had been to Iceland where they were working. Their working environment was on a boat and there had been a force seven gale and he had taken a tin of custard for his son who was doing some work out there. The boat had tipped him over and he fell on his back with this tin of custard in his backpack and he hurt his back. I felt really compassionate towards him when I watched him struggling to get around the office. I said, ‘David, let me see if I can help you’. He said ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no, don't touch me’. I said, ‘I'm not going hurt you, just let me put my hands on you gently’, and I felt so strongly. I put my hands on him and asked for some healing for him and after a minute or two he said, ‘that's amazing, what are you doing? What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘well I'm just asking for some help for you’. He said, ‘but what is it?’ I said, ‘I'm just asking whoever is in the next world that might be listening for some help’. And when I'd finished he said, ‘do you know what that pain’s almost gone’. He said, ‘I can't believe it, what was it?’ We had a chat about it and he said, ‘one day, but not now, I'm going to make a documentary about this and other things’, but I don't think he ever got around to doing it because the last time I spoke to him he was suffering from cancer. It's a shame but, you know, that was that. J Lyons – Public Relations Company I also worked for another man several times, I'd worked in a public relations company, strangely enough it was called J Lyons, it was nothing whatsoever to do with Joe Lyons and Company. I went to work for this man there and I formed the opinion that, much as I liked publicity work, I thought it was very two faced. I mean two faced because the customer is right and the other side is right, no matter who you're dealing with they're all right, even though they have opposing thoughts, ideas and different ways of constructing things. So everybody was always right and I thought, ‘well it can't all be right, so this is two faced’, and I got very cross. I got married while I was there, so I was there from about 1959 until 1962, I suppose, because this man was invited to our wedding, and he came. The other man I worked for, Tony Moorhouse. I used to have long conversations, in those days, you could 'because if there was no work it didn't matter. I'd had these conversations on the phone, personal ones I might say, I did take a few liberties. And my initials before I got married were GAS, and once I got married they were GAG and Tony Moorhouse used to come up to the phone with a pair of scissors and he'd say, ‘you've gone from GAS to GAG and if you don't shut up I'm going to gag you, so stop this conversation’. There were amusing things like that, but there came a point where I was so fed up with David Bland, the other man I worked for. I got so browned off with his attitude. We had a terrible row one day and I marched out and I said, ‘right, I am not coming back and that's it’, and I didn't. I gave my excuses later and made it legal and didn't go back there. But two years later he's on the phone to me and he said, ‘Gloria, I just love to hear the tinkling sound of your very fast fingers on the keyboard, do you fancy coming and working for me again?’ And I thought, ‘oh, God, should I?’ But I did. It was a different company by then he was working for and so I went back to work for him, and subsequently I worked for him several times at different companies. It did enable me to meet someone whose name I had seen on posters in the 1950’s. It was a man called Ram Gopal, he had an Indian ballet company, and I often saw, certainly every year, big posters that he was appearing at the London Palladium. He was a friend of David Bland. David said to me one day, ‘look, my friend wants some work done, would you be willing, are you busy or can you go?’ And I said, ‘no, I’ll go’, and then I went to work for Ram Gopal who I'd seen, as I've said like in the 1950’s. By then it was late 1970’s, maybe even early ’80’s. EM: What was your role? GG: Well I worked as his secretary because he was trying to produce films in India. He had an Indian ballet troupe and wanted to produce films so he was trying to raise money as the producer. I did all his correspondence. I worked for him sometimes in Thornton Heath and sometimes in Fulham, because he had a room in Fulham and an office in Thornton Heath, so I went to both places. That was quite interesting but it fell through eventually. Guy Mitchell Fan Club Oh, I've forgotten the most important thing that ever was in my life at the time. I, like so many other teenage silly girls, fell in love with a singer called Guy Mitchell and I started to run his fan club. It was a struggle to get any information from America you know. It was official but I had to keep writing and saying, ‘tell me more about Guy, what's he doing? Can you send photographs?’ because I had all these people wanting photographs of him. EM: Because he was an American singer? GG: Yes he was an American singer, ‘She Wears Red Feathers And A Hula-Hula Skirt’, or ‘Pretty Little Black Eyed Susie’, or ‘Singing The Blues’, in the sixties. I used to struggle with an old manual typewriter and I remember charging people five shillings a year to belong to the fan club. I promised them monthly updates. Of course I had to type on this manual typewriter with four sheets of carbon paper and four sheets of paper as well as the top one. Just to produce some kind of a newsletter. It was a labour of love believe me because it was hard work getting anything from America, but I did it for a good few years. I met some lovely people and everywhere we went there was always the same group of fans at the stage door waiting for him. And we did meet him and he did remember us all the time. He signed photographs for us. Later he disappeared off the scene as other singers took his place. Then one day my friend rang up and said, ‘did you know Guy Mitchell was over here and he's appearing at The Barbican?’ And I said, ‘what?’ This was in the, oh it must have been, eighties, I can't remember when it was, yes, beginning of the eighties. So I went to see him and I thought, ‘I bet I'm the only one here’. But I recognised all these bloody women equally old as me that had all been the same teenagers in the 1950’s, there we all were, still listening, happy to talk to him, happy to hear him singing, yeah, it was really quite something. So that was a bit of fun in my life. George Manley knew he couldn't compete with Guy Mitchell but then nobody could compete with Guy Mitchell at the time! Later I joined the Guy Mitchell Appreciation Society which was being run by three or four people and it was, I don't know… well a number of us thought it was quite ‘political’, I don't mean in the politicians sense of it, but it was being run by a few people that made sure they were the only ones who knew really what was happening. The rest of us were just the hoi polloi. However I don't want to malign them because they were doing a good job. Every so often, if Guy was over here, they would put on a function of some sort and Guy would put on a show and we’d pay. I think we paid, oh I don't know, I can't remember whether there was money or not, I think there probably was. But it would not be in London, but outside, maybe twenty miles away. We would go there and Guy would sing and we’d all have a good time. Yeah. That, that was a long while ago. Sadly, he's gone now. But I'm still here. EM: Thank you Gloria. It's been a pleasure talking to you. GG: Oh, thank you, it's been a pleasure remembering old times. Well it's been a pleasure remembering some of them, one or two things are not that great, but, yes, I've enjoyed going back over old times. I've had a long and varied life, but the main function throughout has been ballroom dancing. I met every man that's ever meant anything much to me in a dance hall somewhere. That might sound like an awful lot of men but it's not. Even the one I'd been seeing for twenty years I met in the dance halls. EM: From computers to dance halls? GG: Yes. They ran side by side for a while. But finally, when I retired two years ago it was because I was really very fed up with people like Apple and Microsoft upgrading everything so that everything worked differently and you had to buy more software, more hardware because you had to upgrade with it or you couldn't run. I got so fed up with trying to keep up with all these software updates, I said to my boss, ‘I have had it up to here. I really don't want to keep up with technology anymore, I'm sick of it’. And now I don't switch on my computer unless I've got a real reason to because I'm fed up with it. EM: What was your first computer, apart from LEO of course? GG: Well, oh gosh, let me think. Oh I know what it was, it was an Apple Classic, a very old fashioned one, I've still got it but the screen no longer really works. And it took the small.... EM: Disks? GG: Floppy disks. And I've still got a whole load of those, and I'm about to dispose of them all because I'm updating my office, the one I work from, here. I have done a bit of writing for magazines and got things, articles, published and I want to start that again. But, of course, it does mean firing up the computer. So I'm trying to change things in that room I use as an office. I’ll show it you in a minute but not when we’re being recorded because your reaction will be, probably dramatic! [Concluding Thoughts On LEO and J Lyons] EM: Is there anything else you want to share with us about like your Lyons and LEO experience? GG: My Lyons experience? Yeah. I think they were a very, very good employer. Very good, because firstly, we had the company doctor, and they did see you if you weren't well. We had to go over there to see the doctor, but he was there! What companies have a company doctor now? No, nobody. And the sports club was fantastic, it was at Sudbury Hill, as I have already said. They had a dance once a month, and they had their own clubhouse with a bar. And they had all the sports facilities you could wish for. And it seemed to me that in those days the large employers were possibly all on a par with Lyons because when we played hockey it was against people like Hoover and Barclays Bank, Southall Hospital, you know, it was a lot of fun. I was able to gain quite a lot of different experience within Joe Lyons. First there was the calculator, then there was the comptometer, then there was LEO. Then there was the shorthand-typing job and, you know, just one thing after another. I suppose that really was where I found my feet. And while I'm changing jobs after that, my mum, bless her heart, still stayed working at Joe Lyons, and for a long time. She was there for about twelve years I think. I was only there for four, but I did work on LEO I which not many people can say these days. I had no idea that I was working on a piece of history, non-whatsoever. To me it was a job and I'd gone in there because I liked the look of one of the auditors and had no idea that it would be something really historic. Now I look back and I think, ‘yes, wow, I'm proud to have been in there at the beginning’, not the very beginning because it was about three years old, I think, when I went in there. I went in in 1954 or ’55, and I think it started operating in 1951. However, I thoroughly enjoyed my job at Lyons and I thank them very dearly. However, when I left they took me over for an interview and they said, ‘look, we're very pleased with all the work you've done over the years you've been here, if ever you want a job again you can always come back here’. Which was quite a compliment I thought but, of course, now if I wanted a job back there they don't exist which is a shame. EM: Thank you very much Gloria. GG: You're very welcome. [This interview with Gloria Guy has been recorded by the LEO Computer Society as part of an Oral History Project to document the earliest use of electronic computers in business applications. Any opinions expressed are those of the interviewee and not of the Society.]
Archive References : CMLEO/LS/OH/GGY
This exhibit has a reference ID of CH55627. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
Click on the Images