Posted By The Sugar Girls ~ 23rd April 2012
Last Friday, we were delighted to be speaking at Wanstead Library, as part of the fabulous Redbridge Book Festival. Joining us on the stage were Gladys and Eva, two of the sugar girls featured in the book, who shared their stories with an audience of more than 120 people.
Gladys recalled how she had originally hoped to become a nurse, only taking a job at Tate & Lyle after her dad informed her that nursing involved ‘holding old men’s willies while they pee’. Eva, meanwhile, spoke of the perils of sharing a workplace with your father – on one occasion he caught her in the onsite bar with a co-worker who was so drunk that when they returned to work in the bag-printing she ended up covered in blue ink.
It was wonderful to see such a huge turnout for the event, and amongst the audience were a married couple who had met at Tate & Lyle’s Thames Refinery in the 1970s: Stanley and Janet Copp. We had spoken to the Copps on the phone when researching The Sugar Girls, but it was great to finally meet them face to face.
Stanley started work at Tate & Lyle as an apprentice in 1945 at the age of 16, and remained there for many decades. Janet joined in 1970, and after a brief stint as a sugar-packer (which she found exhausting) was lucky to score a transfer to the staff restaurant. She herself spent 18 years at Tate & Lyle, before taking redundancy in the late 1980s.
If you missed the event last Friday and would like to have your book signed by Gladys and Eva, they will be with us at the inaugural Goldsmith’s Row Market, a new book market, on 13th May. We’ll be on the stall of the wonderful Newham Bookshop, who organised the event at Wanstead as well. For more details on Goldsmith’s Row, click here.