logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 28 February 2003





The Interview

Liz 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.”

What 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.

What 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.

What 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 that.

What 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.

What 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.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My darling husband and my wonderful children. Got to be really hasn’t it?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

What 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.

What is your favourite place?
The seaside, doesn’t matter where. By the sea in Britain.

How 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

If 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.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Got to be toys. Toys just get better and better. I do spend too much on toys.

What 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 it.

What 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.

What 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.

How 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.

What 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.

Interview between Steve Pool and Liz Smith, January 2003
Photography: Richard Hanson


Liz Smith.

Liz Smith with children.