Lecture meeting on 9th December 2024

A 1960s Christmas

Talk by: Gina Maddison

Gina Maddison is delighted to be returning a third time to LW U3A. A retired librarian from Birmingham, Gina is has previously spoken to us about her books “The Girl from Guildford St”, a memoir of growing up in the Birmingham Back to Backs in the 1960s, and “A Grammar School Girl”, the sequel, about life on Birmingham’s new council estates in the 1970s.

A 1960s Christmas is based on the first book, and is a reminiscence about a time when we gathered around a roaring coal fire to open our Christmas presents, which consisted of dolls, model railway sets, bikes, roller skates and board games, rather than I-phones and X-boxes, watched the TV specials on a black and white TV , and saw in the New Year with Andy Stewart and the White Heather Club.

Bring your memories and any treasured present you still have from this time, and prepare to travel back to a simpler, happier time and meet Rudolf, the 60 year old teddy bear!

The fee from this talk and from any books sold will be donated to the Salvation Army Homeless at Christmas fund, as one of the author’s earliest memories is standing in the snow outside Rackham’s of Birmingham’s beautifully decorated windows, listening to the SA play Christmas carols.

Speaker biography

Gina grew up in the 1960s, a time when Birmingham was known as The Workshop of the World, and the City of a Thousand and One Trades. In many ways, the Sixties were a Golden Age: the fashions, the politics, the music, the hairstyles, the World Cup. But there was tragedy too: thalidomide, accidents in factories, poverty, a heavily polluted city.

Gina passed the Eleven Plus in 1968, and went to a King Edward’s Grammar School. From there, she went to University thanks to the grants system, the first of her family to do so, and became a teacher and librarian for Birmingham and Sandwell.

When she retired, she looked around for books to read on growing up in a working class community in Birmingham in the 1960s, and could find very little. “And so I decided to write my own,” she says.

The Girl from Guildford St, a memoir, was published by Brewin Books in 2018, and Tales of Guildford St, a family saga, was published in 2020. The author calls them “love letters to Birmingham and her people, a tribute to a time that is gone.”

The author’s latest book, A Grammar School Girl, takes up the story from 1968, when her family moved to a new Council estate, which offered higher standards of living, and when she began to attend King Edward’s Grammar School, Handsworth.   From here, she progressed to University, the first in her family to do so, thanks to a Council grant, and later worked for forty years as a teacher and librarian.

More Meetings ...