Smith grew up in Nottingham. She spent a few years in Southampton
and moved to Burngreave in 1987. She has four children, Oliver 13,
Tom 10, Seb 9, and Victoria who is 7. Of Burngreave she says, “The
changes I’ve noticed have been in my perception of Burngreave,
since we had the children. We lived here for a while with no family.
As they get older you become more aware of what’s around you.
My perception has changed over the years but I think the place is
roughly the same. I think it’s alright around here really”.
Liz has been a child minder for five years. She enjoys the work
and says, “I like child minding – it meets a need.”
is your idea of happiness?
Having nothing to do, just being with my family, with no list of
jobs – just at home with nothing planned, it rarely happens.
is your greatest fear?
Not being around for my kids as they grow up. Not being around to
help them to be adults, I think that’s my greatest fear.
do you dislike about other people?
I don’t like it when people say something and obviously think
something else, when they are not being honest. I don’t like
makes you sad?
Seeing children being smacked. Not just a tap but when they’re
being hauled and shouted at and smacked, that makes me really sad.
is your earliest memory?
I think the earliest thing I can remember is not particularly the
incident but what happened after. My dad was looking after me –
I’d be three or four. He took me out and his friend was building
a greenhouse and had piled up all the glass in little piles. I had
some patent shoes on and started tap dancing on the glass, I fell
and cut my leg. But the row my mum and dad had after – I remember
that I felt really guilty because I knew I shouldn’t have
been dancing on glass.
or who is the greatest love of your life?
My darling husband and my wonderful children. Got to be really hasn’t
words or phrases do you most overuse?
is your greatest regret?
Not really knowing my grandparents as well as I could have done.
I only really knew them as grandparents, not as people.
is your favourite place?
The seaside, doesn’t matter where. By the sea in Britain.
do you relax?
I read, I read anything; I’ve started borrowing story tapes
from the library. I can listen to a novel when I’m ironing
you could change one thing about Burngreave, what would it be?
If everyone would think more about Burngreave as a whole, not just
their place in it, think about the consequences of what they do.
Reputation as well, it doesn’t bother me anymore but my kids
– I don’t want people to categorise them when they say
where they’re from.
is your greatest extravagance?
Got to be toys. Toys just get better and better. I do spend too
much on toys.
is your favourite journey?
I think it’s to school and back. You know after a long holiday,
it’s not very far, I see loads of people, and I really like
is your favourite smell?
It’s dinner being cooked by somebody else. Traditional dinner
when I walk into the house and somebody is cooking dinner.
keeps you awake at night?
Thinking about the things I should have done and haven’t done.
Loads of little things I won’t remember the next day. But
it doesn’t keep me awake for long.
would you like to die?
I would like to very slowly fade away after having time to sort
everything out before I go. If you just gradually go your children
have time to get used to the idea.
is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Not to expect anything for nothing. Things don’t just come,
you have to work for them.
between Steve Pool and Liz Smith, January 2003
Photography: Richard Hanson