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Interview with Barbara Cartland

BROADCAST: Sep. 17, 1970 | DURATION: 00:33:06


Discussing British depression with Barbara Cartland at her castle (part 2) while Studs was in England.


Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.


Studs Terkel [Coming].

Assistant Hundred. Take one. Okay, Studs.

Studs Terkel Miss Barbara Cartland is certainly one of the most celebrated figures in Britain. She is perhaps the most prolific and -- of all romantic novelists, written about 124 or so works. I think, Miss Cartland of your life filled with ebullience, gaiety and of course heartbreak too at times, of certain bitter periods in British history such as the Great Depression of the '20s and the '30s, you have recollections of that of that period.

Barbara Cartland I think what you know people who research on the '20s forget is that there was no communications. You see, it was all a tremendous surprise to us that things were so bad. Now looking back, people say how heartless we were and how we weren't interested. The point was, we didn't know. You see,

Studs Terkel Nineteen twenty-six was the year

Barbara Cartland Was the general strike, and there was very little radio, or course no television at all. The newspapers weren't very much read by the young. They were rather heavy, rather ponderous, read by the statesmen and the politicians. But we didn't know what was happening, the ordinary people didn't know it was happening. The general strike was a tremendous shock to us. Suddenly we realized something very peculiar was going on. We found it was the miners were on strike, and we didn't realize that they had a very good case. We weren't, we didn't hear their case, we didn't know what they wanted. We were told there was a general strike and we had to keep things going. So we did.

Studs Terkel Well, how did you keep things going? You and friends of yours, dancing partners, some of the young men from the universities came and did they man the buses during the strike?

Barbara Cartland Yes, everything. Everybody did something. We suddenly realized we were wanted, and it was of course it was organized poorly by Winston Churchill, and the -- they -- we found that we all had sort of headquarters we could go to where we could be told what to do. The, those were the ordinary people in London. The universities of course came to one man. Their idea was to drive a train, it was the thing they longed to do more than anything else. All the young men who were thought of as only dancing partners and their feet were running cars with Winston Churchill's special newspaper up and down the country, which was selling two million a day by the end of the

Studs Terkel strike. This

Barbara Cartland "The Gazette". "The Gazette". It was "The Gazette". It was selling two million a day, all delivered by hand. So that's a pretty, pretty good operation

Studs Terkel During this general

Barbara Cartland General strike.

Studs Terkel In short, Winston Churchill and some of these young men you knew who were considered feet and somebody that came in were helping break the strike.

Barbara Cartland They were helping break the strike, so I -- simply because they were told that this was something we had to stand up to, something we had to stop. Well, we had to keep the public going, you see, so everybody who had a car gave people lifts. Of course in those days there was not so many people had cars. People walked a very long way with very tired feet. And it was very amusing what happened to me particularly because I had various messages to deliver to places, so I met a young man in the street who I knew quite well and who had always been a very gay, dancing young man, he said, "I'm driving a bus. I'm so tired, I don't know what to do, and I must find somewhere to stay." So I took him home to stay with my mother, and the next day he said, "I can't get anyone to go on the bus with me." They had to -- they usually went two men and a policeman, but they were getting run out of policemen, and there wasn't enough men, and so I said, "Well, I'll come with you." So he said "All right." Of course it was crazy really if you think about it, because some of the buses were being overturned, strikers being very rough in some parts. Anyhow, we went down to the depot where the man handed me an enormous policeman's truncheon, which weighed about sort of five pounds. I said, "What am I supposed to do that? To do with this?" And he said I will hit somebody with it. I can hardly lift it, let alone hit anybody with it. So off we went to Hammersmith, and when we got to Hammersmith, the bus broke down, it was a very old, very tired bus, and so I said, "Goodness, what a place to stop," because before, the day before somebody had set a bus on fire in Hammersmith. And so here well we [usual?] sat rather limply looking at this bus, and a man came up and said, "Having trouble?" So we said yes, we were. So he mended it, and then as we drove off he said, "Be driving one myself here in day or too." And of course he was one of the strikers.

Studs Terkel You think he was one of the strikers helping you?

Barbara Cartland Oh, I know he was one of the strikers, he helped us and got the bus going again.

Studs Terkel Do you remember anyone taking their truncheons being used by any of the young men who you

Barbara Cartland Well, I didn't see that. Of course, down on the docks there was a lot of violence, and all the young men from the clubs all joined up as to a man. So did everybody else, all the civil servants joined, they all went out as volunteers, as special constables, as anything where they were wanted

Studs Terkel To

Barbara Cartland And the whole of the universities came up and they were billeted in Belgrave Square, and they used to have sparse lorries where they'd telephone through and say there's trouble down in Dockland or there's trouble in the Harrow Road, and then they used to go off in their lorries to try and sort things out.

Studs Terkel The trouble of course were men picketing

Barbara Cartland Yes, picketing all [unintelligible] pretty violent, they threw things

Studs Terkel And Blackwell the young men left Belgrave Square and went out to help

Barbara Cartland They were all university

Studs Terkel -- Through the picket lines.

Barbara Cartland All university students, you see. But everybody, everybody was doing a job. Lady Mountbatten was manning the exchange at the "Daily Express" to try and get "The Gazette" out, it was got out in no particular, that particular newspaper office, and other people were either folding the newspapers or carrying them. One young man who was considered the most effete of all the sort of gay young men went backwards and forwards to Manchester, not very easy in those days, the roads weren't very good, backwards and forwards every day of the strike without sleep, delivering the magazine as soon as he got [unintelligible] the paper, "The Gazette", so as soon as he delivered it, he came back

Studs Terkel So these men considered effete young men, suddenly found their manhood breaking the strike, didn't they?

Barbara Cartland As always in England, when anybody wants people to do things, they all go out and do things.

Studs Terkel You say something here earlier about on this very point in your novel, your 124th novel, book, "We danced all night," your chapter dealing with

Barbara Cartland Yes, this is the, well this is the story of the '20s, which people always think of as a very sort of gay, irresponsible era, but actually it was a year of great development. Flying developed, motor racing developed, everything of importance really developed in the '20s, including the discovery of penicillin, but on top of that we had terrible industrial unrest, which nobody knew how to cope with. They don't know very well now, but they certainly didn't know then.

Studs Terkel I was thinking of that of that comment you made for the majority of young people, those you knew, your set, the '20s, in the '20s the strike was at time was an adventurous exercise.

Barbara Cartland Well, it was

Studs Terkel That's

Barbara Cartland A feeling of great adventure, I do know, and Sir John Simon said, "You may break a working girl's feet, but you cannot break her spirit." So everybody felt they had to do their bit. My brother tried to get to his office, he was an officer, he wasn't a member of Parliament in those days, and he went off and he got his foot cut by the back spokes of the motor bicycle, he put his heel back and it cut off his heel, terribly, terribly painful, only because everybody was determined to go on as usual.

Studs Terkel This part, Miss Cartland, fascinates me. "We had always known that because we were born into a certain stratum of society, we had a responsibility for those less fortunate." So in a sense you were sort of a Lady Bountiful.

Barbara Cartland Well, you see, it's very different today. My mother, we lived in the country, and my mother was what in those days were called a district visitor, and everybody who has called themselves ladies and gentlemen felt they had responsibility for other people, and if you were very rich you could give money. We weren't very rich, so my mother became a district visitor and she used to go down the worst sort of slums. They were very bad slums in those days, once a week and visit the people, take them soup, see the people were looked after, see that the women got into hospital if they were really ill, try and get clothing for the children. Most children when I was young were barefooted in the sort of slums with torn clothes. Try and get things, try and help as we felt it was our responsibility, and when we came to live in London my mother used to go down to Bermondsey where she worked in a home for unwanted children. They were called unwanted children in those days, which meant illegitimate children. And she found that most of them were suffering from terrible effects of syphilitic parents. They had [unintelligible] ears, [unintelligible] nose, they all had lice in the hair. They took it as a matter of course. The slums were very, very, very bad. When my brother became a member of Parliament in 1935, he found a place in Birmingham where there were 40 families using one water tap and one water closet. Forty families in one sort of place.

Studs Terkel And you were

Barbara Cartland And that was in '35. You've no idea how bad things

Studs Terkel I suppose then people such as you and your mother and of your set felt it their responsibility to help these less fortunate people.

Barbara Cartland Well, we all felt we had to do something. My mother, when my brother became a member of Parliament for Birmingham, she invented a thing called Baby Basket, and she used to have an ordinary washing basket which she filled with baby clothes. And these people who were on the dole who had no money at all, everything was pawned, she was [splendid to them?] you see, they couldn't have been made to sell it, because it belonged to my mother, not to them, and they used to borrow it until the baby was old enough to do without it, and then it went, it was all washed and clean and went on to another woman. It made a tremendous amount of difference to people who were having new babies.

Studs Terkel So I suppose what offended you and your friends during the general strike was these people demanded it in a sense, did they not? You spoke somewhere the strikers did not understand the bulldog determination of middle

Barbara Cartland We didn't understand what the strike was about, and the strikers didn't understand what we felt. You see, it was lack of communication. People didn't know what was going on. Now when I see the horrors of the distressed areas, when I realized -- see, I [didn't?] realized very little after my brother became a member of Parliament we had a great deal to do with the distressed areas and I saw the slums in Birmingham. I was appalled because I didn't know people lived like that, and they didn't understand their rights or that they had anything that could help them. I mean, wages were terribly low. Austin Works in Birmingham, which my brother later represented, their average wage was three pound ten a week. Which after all, was much more than it means now of course. They were stood off for three months in the year because there wasn't the work for them. It wasn't only a question of distressed areas, it was distressed industries.

Studs Terkel Are you implying, Miss Cartland, then in retrospect that the strikers were right after all?

Barbara Cartland I think they were absolutely right at that particular time, because they were asking them to take this money, you see? This money and they really hadn't got a living wage.

Studs Terkel Well, if you had your life to live all over again, that moment, that to recreate, would you have done what you did?

Barbara Cartland You see, of course I'd have done what I did, because everybody did what they thought was right at that particular moment, simply and solely because we didn't know what was happening. We didn't understand what was happening. It was a great deal of stupidity on both sides, and Lord Birkenhead said that he thought the representatives of the strikers were the stupidest men he'd ever met in his life if he hadn't had occasion to meet the employers. Well, he thought [unintelligible] stupid. You see, it was all like so often in history you know, such awful misunderstanding. Mis-- no sort of communication between each other. No common sense.

Assistant The first -- 101, take 1. [Clap]

Studs Terkel Miss Cartland, we're talking about the strike itself, the General Strike of 1926, and the young men you knew who came from Oxford. The Barclay set, they were called, weren't they, some of them?

Barbara Cartland No, the Barclay boys were the motor racing. The boys who ran Barclay car, ran Bentleys. Bentley boys. Sorry. We'll start that again, I'm sorry, you said Barclay. You must have, start that again.

Studs Terkel That's okay. No, this is quite all right. This is free-wheeling.

Barbara Cartland All right. Well, it's the Bentley boys, and the Bentley boys were the first lot of young racing men who raced the Bentley cars.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Barbara Cartland And the Bentley themselves never made cars to race, but these young men, all the sort of gay, bright, dashing young men, all thought it'd be fun to race, so they took it to LeMans in France and they raced these cars, which really weren't built for racing, and so they became known as the Bentley boys.

Studs Terkel But the these Barclay boys, [Betterly?] boys, the Barclay boys then, they took part in breaking the strike too, didn't

Barbara Cartland Oh everybody, there wasn't anyone who didn't, I mean the point was that we were all, everybody who belonged to a club, and really every Englishman always belongs to a club, automatically joined up and there was I think they said ten thousand volunteers around the Foreign Office, they had a place there around the Foreign Office in Whitehall from all the civil servants. Everybody was ready to do their bit. You see, we thought the strike was some terrible sort of Bolshevik idea. It wasn't, it was a lot of really rather tired, hungry, miserable men who were trying to stand up for their rights, but nobody knew that 'til history came to be written. You never know it at the time.

Studs Terkel But it comes back, does it not then, to the bulldog tenacity as you described it, determination of those the strikers called bourgeoisie as you put down in your book, to go on, nothing will stop

Barbara Cartland They felt they were being interfered with. The bourgeoisie thought that their rights were being interfered with, and they weren't going to have it. They had a right to work just the same as the strikers might have their right to strike, but they were going to work, so they all went to work. I mean, it wasn't only the grand and the Mayfair and the smart people, it was everybody. The typist who said, "I'm going to get up from service and then go to my work in the city. And be damned to it." You know what I mean? And that was what broke the strike. Nobody expected that.

Studs Terkel So the strike was broken. What about social life at the time? Strike now was broken. What about your set? There was still

Barbara Cartland When everybody went back, I think everybody began to think a great deal more, because before that, as I tried to say in my book, did we didn't know what was happening, not the young, we didn't realize, we didn't understand. And people like myself, who'd suddenly seen slums, who'd suddenly seen people suffering, it was rather different. And then my brother went out to Shoreditch to help Lord [Networth?] who was afterwards killed flying, at the stand for Parliament. He was appalled at the conditions in Shoreditch. You see, we've only just begun to really improve all over the world the conditions of people, and of course they make a tremendous fuss now, but they've no idea what the conditions were in all countries. Ours wasn't any worse than anyone's else. At the time I was looking up last night and seeing that the, in 1938 which isn't so very long ago, the Pilgrim Trust gave a report in which they said they had one case of a boy of 21 who was working 12 hours a day for ten shillings a week, and a girl of eighteen was working also in a tea shop for very long hours for six shillings a week. Six shillings a week. Granted the shilling meant more, you could buy 12 eggs for a shilling. You see what I mean? But it was a very, very low wage.

Studs Terkel You're talking about lessons learned. You say, "We are improving the lot." When you mean we, whom do you mean?

Barbara Cartland I mean the people, simply because it's communications. We're beginning to understand. You can't do things that are terrible nowadays without the press which has always been the eyes and ears of the public finding it out, you find you have television, you have radio, everybody begins to pinpoint things that are unjust things that are wrong, and so therefore it comes to the public notice.

Studs Terkel Could we recount, I'm thinking about your young girlhood and the ebullience of life there, the '20s and the '30s and what was going on, the parties were going

Barbara Cartland Well, after the general strike everybody went back to dancing, to going to nightclubs, just the same. But of course, we had 1929, we had the Wall Street crash as you know, which affected us tremendously. And people were very, very hard up, and that was when they wrote the song "We can't give you anything but love, baby," which everybody sang with gusto, delighted they didn't have to spend money. But the point was it was true of the time. "Buddy, can you spare a dime," do you remember that? All those really meant something, because there wasn't money, and therefore what came along then was tremendous spate of charity balls, which meant that you paid for a ticket to go to a ball. We went, you sold to your friends, and the money, what was the profit went to charity. And that was the beginning of the charity racket really, because they couldn't get money out of people any other way, but people would dress up and pay a guinea or two guineas for a ticket to go to a ball, where they wouldn't give it actually in cash to a charity.

Studs Terkel Could you [tape stops]. Could you recreate one of these charity balls?

Barbara Cartland Well, the first one that I did was very exciting because Lady [Hardewalden?] wanted to build, rebuild Queen Charlotte's Hospital, which is our enormous hospital for having babies. Maternity Hospital. It was terribly old-fashioned, in fact hadn't been altered much since the days of good Queen Anne, who'd set it up. And so they thought of having a dinner dance, which was very fashionable in those days. And I [suggested?], that instead of a cabaret we should have a pageant. They said it's never been done. I said, "Why not a pageant of the food? We'd start with oysters and end with plum pudding." And so everybody thought it was a good idea and everybody was prepared to spend large sums on their dress, which again they wouldn't have given to charity, and it was very -- it was interesting to look back and remember that I wore the best dress to the ball, as I was doing it, I thought I might as well. And it was champagne, and it was made of a very, very new material which nobody ever heard of, called cellophane. It looked wonderful in champagne, you can imagine, nobody ever heard of cellophane in those days. That was the beginning of cellophane. Nineteen twen-- that was

Studs Terkel Nineteen thirty. The Depression of course was still going on, and there were champagne and oysters

Barbara Cartland The Depression was really only starting then. We didn't have two million men out of work until the beginning of the '30s. That was the really beginning of the very bad Depression over here, when we had so many people out of work.

Studs Terkel You don't think there was any during the '20s?

Barbara Cartland Oh yes, there was after the general strike, but not as bad. The worst, the worst unemployment, the hunger marches, all those things and the really bad effects of the dole came in, in the in

Studs Terkel And at this time the charity balls were being held on behalf of the unfortunate.

Barbara Cartland It was the only way to raise money. You see, people always sort of scoff at those things, but somehow you've got to raise money, and people are not very keen on putting their hands in their pockets even today in bringing out large pound notes or dollar bills unless you attract it or tempt them in some way.

Studs Terkel Again, it's a matter is it not, of the more fortunate helping the unfortunate.

Barbara Cartland But of course, I mean, that is always happened in England, there people have always [be a?] fortune. But of course the people who have fortune have changed. After the war we had -- First World War, we had an enormous amount of war profiteers, so one had to squeeze money out of them in some way. We had a certain amount of profiteering in the last war. Not so much. It was much more cut down on. Of course, income tax took more.

Studs Terkel Were there many debutante balls at the time of the '30s?

Barbara Cartland Yes, there's always been debutante balls in England. There's always been the idea that you must bring out your daughter and you must absolutely beggar yourself to give her a chance to shine just to meet people. It's really not so much a marriage market as everybody tries to make out, it's a way of meeting people. You get a girl who's been -- in those days we were very cloistered and very shut up, you were shut up in your school and you weren't allowed to do things. Now they all do things all the time 'cause they're with their parents much more. But you were shut up in your school rather like a convent, and suddenly you were thrown on the world and told to be attractive and to meet men and meet charming people, well how are you going to do it? So you had a ball. If you went -- if you asked people to your ball, they asked you to their ball. [Unintelligible], and therefore you were in the swim. You met people and you had the chance. We hoped, if you were a girl, of meeting a wonderful husband. That's what women have always wanted, and they [seriously?] pretend that they don't even today.

Studs Terkel Oh, they do. Were, were the gowns very expensive for the balls?

Barbara Cartland They seemed expensive to us then. They weren't really. I mean, clothes were incredibly cheap to what they were, and food was so cheap. I was just looking in my brother's book what you've glanced, at, Ronald Cartland, and he said when he was at school he went out for the day and they found, they went to a hotel and they found that the three-course lunch was six shillings, and they made a tremendous fuss, they thought it was so expensive, and so they had a steak and ice cream for four shillings. Love to find one today, wouldn't you?

Studs Terkel I'm thinking about your brother, rather interesting. He was a Tory MP, was he not?

Barbara Cartland He was very what you call what in those days was thought very, very left, and he fought for all the things which today have been, become planks of the party machine. For instance, he was frightfully keen on having holidays with pay. Nobody had holidays with pay in those days. He was frightfully keen on family allowances, again a thing which is now taking for granted, you see. He, he, fought for better conditions for workmen and his one dream, which is just beginning to come true, the only thing he had, didn't get was that he wanted every workmen to have a stake and say in the industries in which he'd given his services. In other words, shares in every industry he worked in. That I think will come in the time.

Studs Terkel Your brother was obviously an unusual Tory representative. How did he feel about the General Strike?

Barbara Cartland He was rather young in the General Strike, you see. He was a boy -- he was he was only 33 when he was killed at Dunkirk, and he was the first member of Parliament to be killed in this last war. But he was a tremendous visionary, and he hated anything that was unjust. What we've always tried and what I try to carry on his work is to fight against injustice, and where you have people that were really being penalized and very badly treated on the dole in the '30s. He was terribly and -- got, fighting it all the time, he's terribly against all that sort of horror that went on.

Studs Terkel You remember the hunger

Barbara Cartland I remember the hunger march. I was in London, I saw the first one which came down tired, hungry, threadbare men. And, you know, they said that they incited violence. I don't think it was true. I think people just frightened of them. People were frightened of what they didn't understand. And so they beat them up pretty badly.

Studs Terkel Who beat whom?

Barbara Cartland The police. The police beat them up pretty badly. They had a baton charge in Hyde Park but they were, I saw them, they were pathetic. They walked a very, very long way with this petition which it would take up thousands of names on. And the petition was lost. Never got to Parliament, but he did something, he did, did something to wake people up, to make them realize. People didn't understand what was happening at Yarrow, people in London didn't know, and the another thing the hunger marchers did, they marched into the Ritz one day, you know, at teatime. I was there and they walked in and they sat down, and people were absolutely stunned. You know, because these were, there were these men with cloth caps looking very gaunt and very haggard, and their toes out of their boots. Ragged clothes, and they sat down in the Ritz, and they were showing that they were hungry and that things were not right for them, and they, when they were asked to go they went very quietly. There was no violence, there was no protest, no rudeness, they went away when they were asked, but it woke people up to the fact that these things were happening and we didn't know about it, because we hadn't got television. You do see, nobody knew. It's awfully difficult to explain to somebody who's living in say bourgeois or fairly affluent society, but people only a few hundred miles away are literally dying in the streets from starvation, which was happening in South Wales. My brother went down to South Wales and he saw a man die.

Studs Terkel This is excellent. We'll [tape stops].

Barbara Cartland Well, I can't quote it, so don't ask me, because I can't remember

Assistant Cartland two, take one. [Clap]

Studs Terkel Miss Cartland, during those hunger marches in the early '30s, this scene, this astonishing scene of men in cloth caps, the hunger -- entering the Ritz and sitting down. What was your reaction to that?

Barbara Cartland My reaction by that time was that something ought to be done. I felt you see like so many other people that we hadn't been told what was happening. We didn't realize we'd had a very biased report given us that people had been difficult, it was Bolshevik influence, it was anarchy, and it wasn't any of those things. It was English people asking for justice and they were asking even simpler that they were asking for work. Nothing then was done about allocation of industries, which we have now trying, they're still trying not though very successfully which my brother was so keen on. What the men wanted was not charity. They didn't want gigantic soup kitchens. They wanted to be allowed to work. And we were getting the state when children grew up without any chance of work. And they were very harsh with them we are suffering now and quite rightly for what, the very stupid way we treated the people in those days. The dole was a wicked thing. I think you always have to have some kinds of means test, after all, you and I have a means test, we have income tax, and it's exactly the same. But they did go in and make so-- every, the family as a unit. In other words, if you were a family, father, mother, children and grandma, if grandma had savings, those had to be spent first before you could get relief. Now that was wrong. It made terrible trouble, it made people frightfully unhappy in their family units. And one of the things that's always mattered so much in England has been the family, do you see. So we were destroying family life by this idiotic way of not paying enough and not helping enough. And worst of all, about finding work. They didn't try and find work. They, it was much later that we started to say, now industries since have been put into this area because there are people to work in the industries. They tried then to move people from the area or when, the one thing that an Englishman always clings to is his castle, whether it's a little teeny croft of one room or whether it's a large castle, so they wouldn't move, so the whole thing was mismanaged by the government of the day, who again were out of touch who didn't understand, and we didn't understand because nobody put anybody's point of view except the government in point of view, you see. Then my brother started to really think this was wrong and to fight for it, and he was the first Tory MP who got up in the House and fought with a -- not to become a political point of view but from a human point of view, and this had tremendous impact because he was a Tory MP. He was not speaking as a man from Labour's side, which is, what was in those days was always rather suspect. He spoke as a humanitarian, and that is why it had such tremendous impact.

Studs Terkel So you saw, you saw the means test then as something debasing and demeaning to people. You opposed the means test then.

Barbara Cartland No, you have to have some form of means test. You can call it what you like. You and I call it income tax, but when you get to the working, the workers, you can't just dole out public money, which after all is everybody's money, if it isn't fair like they do today, which is in all of cases is ridiculous, say people are having too much and not really justified. Do you see what I mean? But it was then bitterly unfair. I must tell you a little story. I went to a family to see a family in Birmingham, and there was a, the mother was there, it was absolutely bare because everything had to be pawned or sold before they would give you any relief. And the only thing left was a very ugly black clock on the mantelpiece, large black sort of marble clock, and there were in the room. There were four children playing about. I afterwards found the woman had 11 children under nine. Eleven children under nine, think of that. There were four playing about, was a baby lying in a cot which was covered in sacks, the blankets being pawned. There was a very, very old lady sitting on a hard wooden chair by one table which was all that was left, and I said, "Where's your husband?" And she said, "He's gone to see if he can get some relief." And she said, I said, "Well, I, surely he'll get it." And she said, "Well, I don't know." And then she came up and whispered to me and said, "The only thing we've got left is the clock, and my grandfa-- my father was given it after 50 years on the railway, and my, it'll break my grandmother's heart if it's sold." And while I was talking, the door opened and the man came in, and she looked up, not very hopefully, and said, "Have they given you anything?" and he said, "They say sell the clock first." And he put it under his arm and the old lady sat at the table and then she just started to say, "Fifty years. Fifty years. Fifty years." You see, it was pathetic, it was wrong! It wasn't right that they should do that.

Studs Terkel Miss Cartland, what do you think would happen with the humiliation people suffered then and accepted as in the case you just described so movingly, if there were a Depression of the magnitude of the '20s and '30s today, what would -- would they accept as they did then?

Barbara Cartland I don't think they'd accept and I don't think it would happen, because a) we've learnt our lesson. As a country. I say 'we' as a country have learned our lesson that we can't treat people like, and secondly, we are more organized. There is unemployment today, but nobody is starving. People aren't dying in the streets. People aren't -- children aren't going without food because of it. People may not be able to -- frightfully well-off, but they are not starving. People were starving in those days. They were literally without sustenance, and that was what was so wrong, that was wicked, you see.

Studs Terkel Suppose there were. This is conjecture, of course, this is what President Roosevelt used to call an iffy question, if things didn't turn out that way, we understand there is a great deal of unemployment in the ship repair yards up north. In America there's slight talk about this now increasing. Suppose there were, would people accept it, what do you think?

Barbara Cartland What could they do? I mean, obviously today we would never allow people to starve. The children mustn't starve. They did in those days. But to give people work you've got to have people ready to buy your goods. You can't make people just have work for no reason. They've got to make something which will sell. And until we can get world markets going properly, well then we're going to be in the position where we have vast unemployment.

Studs Terkel I'm asking you if there is a vast unemployment, do you think there'll be riots and revolution?

Barbara Cartland No. No, not in England. The English don't work like that. They will protest, which is the new thing, but they will protest -- they protest so much more violently about other people's troubles than about their own. The English have a tremendous courage when they have their backs to the wall. As you know, somebody once said "The English are only happy when they're being told they're bankrupt." It's rather true. People, the English people have tremendous resilience. That the idea that they can fight back when things are really bad is not that they're fighting against each other but they'll fight for what they believe is right. And I don't think you'll have riots in anyone's sub-- I say it's riots, but that isn't the point. They won't riot as a people, but they will protest until something is done. The greatest thing which helps us today is the fact that public opinion can be influenced by seeing and knowing what is going on.

Studs Terkel The communications is the big difference, isn't it?

Barbara Cartland Communications. It's communications, It's all been difficult. You see, when I talk to people, they don't understand. My children can't understand what life was like when you didn't -- you had the newspapers were rather feeble, there was no wireless. There was no television. They don't understand. That is the difficulty. Today if something very bad happens in Yarrow or in the shipyards, we know at once. They're on [mixed nights?] in front of you on the [good?] box.

Studs Terkel You realize, Miss Cartland, I sense an ambivalence in you, you know, that is the time you recreated in a rather charming and to me horrendous way, the breaking of the strike, the General Strike of 1926. At the same time you tell this moving story of the means test.

Barbara Cartland I said it was later. You see, the point was I was very young in the General Strike. I didn't realize what was happening, and it is only later when my brother started and we've really started to fight. My goodness, people were rude to us. They used to say, you know, we were communists. But the point was we then started to fight for the people, for what it is right, for justice. Justice! Nobody wants bouquets, nobody wants diamond bracelets showered on people, nobody wants money poured out indefinitely. What we want is justice for everybody. You cannot have equality of opportunity unless everybody's got a chance of having equality of opportunity, and that's what we were fighting for. And what I continue to fight for today.

Studs Terkel You know, I think we have a little time left on the tape. I think we've done quite beautifully as far as Depression

Barbara Cartland May I say one thing that I'm fighting, I fought for today and I've won. And that was for Gypsys [Roma people]. I know it was a very unpopular thing, but I found that Gypsies' [Roma] children were not getting education. And I said, "You can't have a democracy where everybody can have education except Gypsies [Roma]." It was a racial thing, and I got the first Gypsy [Roma] camp in England. Mind, so it's the first Romani Gypsy camp in the world called Barbaraville, and because I made such a fuss in this county, we now have three large Gypsy [Roma] camps where children are educa-- can go to school, where they can have Sunday school classes, and where even the older Gypsies [Roma] are learning to read and write. Now, that is democracy, and it only came about because I fought because it was unjust, and you will find there's always people in England, it's very hard work being crusader, that's why I need my honey, to keep myself strong and well, but there are always people in England who will fight against injustice when they see it, and the trouble with us in the '20s is we didn't see it. That's the