SUE AND BRYAN SHARP
SUE AND BRYAN SHARP -- INTERVIEWED DEC 18, 2018
I was born Susan Wenham in 1951 at Pembury Hospital and then brought back to the off-licence cottage in Five Oak Green which had been at one time the first Hoppers' Hospital. The second one was up at Stream Cottage and the third year it went to what it is now, the Hoppers' Hospital.
I have no brothers and sisters and lived in a two-up two-down cottage with mum and dad. It was a very tiny cottage. My uncle and aunt lived next door and had a shop. It was just normal childhood really.
Dad was a builder. He worked for Harry Lawrence in FOG. Mum used to go hop-tying and hop-picking. I remember her saying years ago she went hop-picking in the Blitz with a tin hat on. I've no picture of that but I do have one of my grandparents and my mum and Aunt Madge when they were children hop-picking.
I went to Capel School. Mr. Giles was the temporary headmaster but for the first Christmas I think Mr. Stinton came visiting with Mrs. Stinton. They came to the Christmas lunch and I always remember he came round to our table and said to me: "Careful not to eat the bones," and I was frightened I was going to eat the bones but it was not that, it was the sixpences they put in the Christmas pudding!
I was one of the children invited to Christopher Stinton's birthday party when they first came to the village. That was in the school house. School was quite nice really. I enjoyed it.
I occasionally see some of the children I was at school with - the Sceal family, I see some of them. There's Jane Hope who used to live opposite us in Rose Cottage (now Carroty) and Gerald and Sheila Fuller. Ann Phipps I was friendly with but she's retired up to Scotland. We see quite a few people especially when we do some of the exhibitions with Christine Langridge at Capel Church.
I grew up in Hadlow but know quite a lot of people in Five Oak Green because from a little boy I was on the baker's round there with my dad so I remember the names - and the times I must have passed Sue's house!
My mum died when I was 16 and I moved to live with Aunt Madge
and Uncle Mick Moon in Larkfield. Mum just had a brain haemorrhage one night in
May 1968 and that was it, just like that. She was 50 and is buried in Capel
churchyard. She died the day after I started work in July 1968.
I went to Hillview Girls' school in Tonbridge with several
of the other girls from FOG and I met some of the girls from Paddock Wood as
well. One of the girls from Paddock Wood, Sally Tompsett, lives opposite the
church now. Her husband was a shepherd.
I went to work as clerk-typists at BKT printers in Tonbridge
and I stayed there for 13 years. I married while I was working there. I started
as a clerk-typist and ended up as shipping clerk. I did postal clerk and then
went to shipping clerk in the export department. We did a lot for Barclays Bank
International and Holiday Inns and Universal Greetings cards.
I used to handle the postal
for Universal Greetings before I became a shipping clerk and I remember one
year I was doing cards for the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council and one was sent
to Miss Y. Joyce who I assumed was Yootha Joyce, the TV personality, from Man
about the House sitcom.
We've met quite a few celebrities in our time. On the London
to Brighton veteran car run we used to do the stewarding in Hyde Park for the
RAC. We met Terry Wogan, Shaw Taylor, the Police 5 TV presenter, and the lady
from Blue Peter, Lesley Judd.
We used to go to the mayor's cocktail party in Brighton and went
out for the meal at the end of the event. The RAC paid for it. We stopped about
20 years ago. Someone took over from the RAC. It still goes on but it's all
paid staff now.
One of the girls from Paddock Wood, Sally Tompsett, lives opposite the church now. Her husband was a shepherd.
We got to know each other through Ellis's.
I worked there for 41 years. I started with Hall's in
Paddock Wood on a five years' apprenticeship. During that time I came second in
the country in wood machining. Basically I stayed on for a year after the
apprenticeship. I asked the manager about the prospects for staying on and he
said if you're happy we can keep you on as a spare machinist because I could
work all the machines.
It got to the stage where because I could work all the machines if someone did not turn up on the morning they would say: "Oh, you go on such and such machine." The next thing, if anything went wrong, it would be: "Oh, Bryan was running that machine that week." So in the end I got fed up with it and left.
I knew Mr. Ellis from delivering bread so I went up one day to see if there were any jobs. I said I was more a wood machinist than a body builder but Ernie Ellis said I'm sure you can do it. He gave me the job and I was there 41 years.
Gradually they phased out timber and went on to aluminium. I retired seven years ago but I still go down there to see them.