Memoirs of Trudy Poulier

Interviewee:                          Trudy Poulier
Born:                                    March 1933
Date of Interview:                  18th  September 2014
Length of Interview:               1 Hour 5 Minutes
Interviewer:                           Sadaf Rasheed



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Being the youngest of 11 children did not make Trudy Poulier a mollycoddled child. At her convent boarding school she learned a strong work ethic, arising at 5am every day. Truly a modern Ceylonese woman she worked in many places including typing and editing one of Arthur C. Clarke’s books and his many radio interviews. Trudy recalls how she arrived in London one Friday in 1961 and started work at an office in Piccadilly the following Monday morning. Listen and discover how this happened.

Detailed summary (with time stamping for ease of access)


0:00:15.2: I was born in Welimada in the hills of Ceylon.

0:00:33.0: I boarded at a Convent School run by Irish Nuns.

0:01:07: I was the youngest of a family of 11.

0:02:21.6: My house in those glorious days. We played with nature's toys.

0:03:08.9: We put on concerts for the neighbourhood.

0:04:23.1: We grew up being friendly with all the different religious and racial groups. Everyone had a special love for Burghers because of the fun aspect.

0:05:10.8: When I went back on holiday people said to me 'Burghers come back'.

0:05:38.7: Burghers were the first to cotton on to the latest dance moves and fashions. My auntie's had to wiggle when they walked because their pencil skirts were so tight.

0:06:54.9: All my siblings married Burghers because my family liked to keep the Christian faith.

0:07:34.6: My grandfather.

0:08:16.2: Christmas time.

0:09:03.7: We started thinking Christmas at the beginning of December.

0:10:05.1: The community - the Buddhists gave us their foods at their celebrations and so did the Muslims. We gave our foods to them during Christmas.

0:10:23.2: School life at St Joseph's Convent - church at 5am. Concerts. Buildings.

0:11:42.2: When culottes were in fashion.

0:13:01.8: I played Jimmy Tremayne at a school concert and received a standing ovation. I also played a ‘wave’ during the singing of the British National Anthem.

0:14:51.5: We all got a very good grounding at school.

0:15:41.8: I arrived in London on the Friday and I started work on the Monday in Piccadilly with a firm of accountants.

0:17:00.2: Working life in Ceylon by comparison.

0:17:39.9: I typed Arthur C. Clarke's book in Ceylon and his radio messages. He wasn’t famous when I worked for him.

0:19:37.3: How I met my husband. All about my husband.

0:22:12.2: We didn't know what a glorious life we had in Ceylon until we lost it.

0:23:12.8: My wedding dress.

0:23:58.0: After the wedding ceremony Burghers had a lot of fun at the reception.

0:24:23.0: A typical Burgher joke.

0:25:00.0: January was the 'bottle' month where Burghers sold their empty bottles of alcohol because they were all a bit broke after the Christmas and New Year festivities.

0:26:06.6: At Christmas time we'd visit each other just to taste each other's cakes and compare whether ours was the better cake.

0:26:21.9: My first dance aged 16 - we had to be escorted by a male relative who’d been given strict instructions that no other male was to dance with us.

0:28:49.5: I knew Gayle's Mum. We worked at Liptons.

0:29:42.8: What it was like being a Burgher in Ceylon. It was all fun, fun, fun.

0:30:45.7: Why I decided to leave Ceylon in 1961.

0:32:15.5: Why I chose to emigrate to the UK. Our journey over.

0:34:02.7: I didn't know how to cook.

0:35:05.3: My first impressions of London - good until the snow came.

0:35:41.7: The smog - which we don't get any more.

0:37:14.1: Jobs - we'd leave a job for an extra 10 shillings a week because you could feed a family on that extra amount.

0:37:34.6: We shared a home in Fulham with a cousin when we first arrived. Fulham was rural in those days. With horses and carts.

0:39:00.3: My husband used to accompany me home from work because I was scared to travel on my own.

0:39:32.7: People in Ceylon said I had changed when I went back on holiday in 1967.

0:40:39.6: I never saw my father again once I left in 1961. But they set off fireworks for me when I came back.

0:41:38.1: Ailments we had from the climate in England. We never moved far from the heater in those days.

0:42:11.7: Improving our living standards in London.

0:43:28.1; What I missed most about Ceylon.

0:44:06.1: Burgher groups in London. Gayle's grandma - a loveable devil. Burghers made their own fun wherever they went.

0:46:56.0: How school life was different for my son in Fulham.

0:48:09.6: How working life was different for me in London.

0:50:18.0: My English friends said I taught them some things about hospitality.

0:53:11.8: Wherever we went we sought out a church and attended so we were immediately part of a community.

0:54:06.4: Baila music is of Portuguese origin but the words are in Sinhalese.

0:54:45.8: Trudy singing part of a Burgher song

0:55:57.3: Burghers now see themselves as Londoners.

0:56:17.1: The London we came to was a different London from today.

0:58:26.3: Burgher is the essence of me but I call myself British.

1:00:13.2: Burghers have vanished from the scene in Ceylon.

1:01:28.1: Differences between the mindset of the east and west.

1:03:06.5: What I love most about London.

The End