and Carol McFarland have been together for 12 years. Donnie was
born in Stirling, Scotland and has worked all over the country as
a steel erector. Carol was raised in Barnsley and was a lecturer
at Sheffield College when they met. As a new couple they wanted
an opportunity to be together in a place with a house and a job
and in 1994 they took over The Rock public house. They plan to retire
in August and move to France. They each have three children from
is your idea of happiness?
Carol: A curry and a long lie in. Seriously, it
would be to think that our families are healthy and happy. As a
human being it would be a better world – peace.
Donnie: I’d agree with that, but the family
is your greatest fear?
D: Something happening to one of us. It wouldn’t
be financial or anything like that. It would be something happening
to us as family.
What do you dislike about yourself?
C: I’m bossy and I like my own way.
D: I’m critical, I judge people against me.
Not strangers, those close to me. I criticise people because they
do not do things as I would. I know I shouldn’t but I do.
makes you sad?
D: The telly – Black Beauty on the telly
– if she breaks a leg. Seriously all sorts of things, cruelty,
what’s happening in the world today.
C: The news at the moment. We are very emotional
and political people.
is your earliest Memory?
D: I don’t think I’ve got an early
memory. I’ve not got a clue what age I’d be, my Dad
had come back from the war and he was unstable. My Mum had a nervous
breakdown and we were getting to the stage that the family was going
to be taken into a home. I knew my Gran was visiting my mum and
the hospital was eight miles away, I remember walking the eight
miles to tell my Gran that there was someone coming to take us away.
I remember getting packed off and going to live with my Gran.
C: I remember being lost on Blackpool beach.
or who is the greatest love of your life?
C: Well, Donnie is mine.
D: When you go into a relationship second time
round – it’s totally different. There are no kids involved
– we’re just absorbed in each other.
words or phrases do you most overuse?
D: Get your drinks off. Please.
is your greatest regret?
D: I never did better at school; or rather I never
went to school. I was a clever kid at primary school. Then we were
bussed to high school and that was it for me. I never went, I stopped
working and my education suffered.
C: I’m similar. First time around the only
future you see for yourself is getting married and having kids.
There was an accident at work. I was union rep. and appalled at
what had been allowed to happen. I was forced out of my job and
went back into education.
do you relax?
C: That’s one of the things about working
in a pub, you can’t relax unless you go away.
D: The second we get on that ferry or that plane
you could change one thing about Burngreave, what would it be?
C: I would change the way it’s perceived
by the rest of Sheffield. There are problems here but there are
problems all over. I think the way people see it stems from racism.
If we could change the way it’s perceived it would allow us
to move on.
D: I’d change the council housing policy.
I don’t think they put any thought into it at all. It doesn’t
allow the area to develop as a normal community.
keeps you awake at night?
D: Nothing – when I hit that pillow everything
C: Him – his snoring definitely does. He
sleeps like a noisy innocent baby.
would you like to be remembered?
D: For being fair and consistent.
C: That we give people respect.
is your favourite place?
C: A little village called Pleurdut in Western
Brittany, it’s like going back fifty years. It’s where
we are going in August.
is the most important lesson life has taught you?
C: I seem to have had a lot of lessons.
D: I think that if you really want something, within
reason, you can get it. If you have the right attitude, with hard
work and some drive. (In my case this was Carol) it is possible
to achieve your goals.
C: In a nutshell there is nothing you can’t
do if you set your mind to it – you have to have faith in
your own abilities.
living person do you most admire?
D: My mother – she’s in her 80s and
still working – still driving – got done for speeding.
She looks after the terminally ill. She calls them her ‘old
’uns’. The minute she stops it’ll be her end.
She did 80 hours last week.
C: I find admiring people a difficult thing; I’ve
never really had idols. I can respect people. Mo Mowlam –
she taught me when I did European politics. She overcame adversity
and went on to make peace in Ireland. Out of all the politicians
she is unique.
and Donnie McFarland talked to Steve Pool, 18th April 2003, The
Rock. Photography by Richard Hanson.