I am about

Johanna interview day 22814I was born German and grew up in Wuerzburg, Northern Bavaria. My mother comes from a family of carpenters and farmers from Unterfranken. The family was divided by the former East German border. My father came from Berlin and was a Chartered Accountant.

My father helped run the Swimming Club Wuerzburg SV and that is how I gotten started on swimming and Synchronised Swimming.

I developed severe Scolioses early on but was lucky enough to get pioneering treatment at the Wuerzburg Hospital and had my spine straightened with bone transplants, which meant I had to spend 7 months in hospital, of which I had to lay flat on my back for 6 months. That had a pretty defining effect on my personality and my life.

I then forgot about swimming and sport for a very long time. I did not want to attend university and became a book seller instead. Unfortunately my employment was terminated early because I missed 2 theory sessions due to not being able to afford the travel. The wages in those days were extremely low, I was in an apprenticeship and had moved out from home. My only alternative was to move into a shared house, a commune in those days and that is where the altercations of my life, which still haunt me till this day started.

Whilst being a student at the local School of Ecnomics I had worked at my father’s bookshop and stocked the record section with some Psychodelic records like Tangerine Dream whilst at the same time organising the first open Air Rock Festival and a progressive Rock event at the local university. I made myself very unpopular at this classic town of Wuerzburg with the establishment, I could not find work after that. The local unions would not support me against sackings and job terminations.

In fact the Germans are still pretty paranoid about me, when I visited Wuerzburg with my family 3 years ago, the hotel searched my room.

I moved to Hamburg, then Cologne, started another apprenticeship as Tool-maker and worked in a factory and part-time as secretary for the Otto Versand.

My time in Cologne was interrupted with an arrest because I again had to reside in a multi-shared flat with many people I didn’t know. So that took away 3 months of my life. It resulted in the German government paying me compensation but the media reporting in a very vile way about it.

In Cologne then I studied engineering with an apprenticeship. But again wages were low. I was in fact the only woman in  a male only Engineering college in Cologne. I was well ahead of my time.

Then another throw of the dice brought me to London where I was offered employment by the BBC German service almost immediately and I decided to stay in London. Yet the wage for that job was £5.000 per year. That was a good wage in those days.  I got married and enjoyed having children. Emotionally that was the first time that I could accept maternal feelings because in Germany I never allowed myself to enjoy the thought of becoming a mother.

In those days, the 70s, in Britain, people were still encouraged by the system to have kids, even without money and it was definitely financially more viable to be married with kids rather than stick it out in a low-paid job as a single woman.

Just scrolling the Internet

My husband Bob Taylor and kids Susanna, Janet, Michael, Robert and Roswita.

I had a house husband but then also lost that BBC job due to running out of maternity leave. I was not aware that I could claim housing benefit or council tax benefit, I do not think that there were tax credits available to help with my family and kids. I was a foreigner at the time, always at work and had no time to enquire any rights or benefits. Unions never helped me with anything. We were living in a 2-bedroom council flat with 7 people.

My children gotten severely bullied for having a German mother but I was given British Citizenship.

After a while the marriage broke down and I gotten divorced. My then divorced husband moved to Golders Green as he had a lot of Jewish friends and I gotten a 4-bedroom council flat for me and my 5 children. I reverted to my maiden name.

One of my daughters was severely learning disabled but in those days it was impossible to get a statement of special educational needs for kids who had a very low IQ. This made life for the whole family extremely difficult.

My only contact with my German family was in the shape of birthday and Christmas cards and occasional visits from my father and step mother who stayed in luxurious Westend hotels.

Because I had a disabled child to care for, I started my own company working from home and was supported by a Barclays Bank scheme. I taught myself Webmaster skills having worked a few years earlier on the year 2000 compliance programming as a volunteer.  I had one of the first out-sourced Internet companies in the country. My Business was Whizz Business Solutions Ltd. Company No. 04572281, which I had to dissolve later as the bank withdrew the overdraft and that type of work was done much cheaper by Indian companies who undercut all the prices we UK based companies could quote.

I am not a friend of the “Arbeit macht Frei” philosophy that now sadly our current government under Theresa May practises. It is not giving peole opportunity when they are forced to work in low paid jobs on zero hour contracts. In fact that takes the ability to find opportunities away from people. It creates an army of low paid workers who rely on food banks, a type of modern slavery and keeping people in dependance on handouts.

I was supposed to receive my pension aged 60 but was told shortly before that, that I now have to wait until I am 62 1/2 and need to find work till then.

And they treat you really badly and dismissive if you do not get a job because you have kids to care for. In the end you accept any work just to get the Works and Pension people off your back. That is not allowing people to make choices. I had to accept a job with terrible shifts at an airport, which clashed with child-care committments. I quit as soon as I could get my pension. Otherwise I would have continued working if I only could have gotten a job with better working hours for my family commitments.

Many people may have problems accepting work for a variety of reasons and people should have the right to choose. Only happy workers are productive. I cannot understand the difference between coercive control and the work program. But you can sue your partner for doing it but cannot escape the work program.

Apparently performance swimmers are often kept in poverty because they do not have the time to work and get no income.

I think live and let live is the best option for all of us. Some people are natural makers and others are thinkers, artists and tinkers. Humanity is a mixture of all types of people and that is the best way to be.

After the long spell in council housing and poverty I entered politics and tried various political parties in Tower Hamlets across the range but settled with Neighbourhood Watch activities and sat on the Council’s Police and Community Safety Board for 7 years, though they spelled my name as Kashke. I also helped as Parish Secretary for a local Church of England. But due to my daughter’s performance swimming my time on community panels was limited. I became a swimming official.

I think it is good to find out about the local environment and learn about the things that involve our lives.

After the death of my father I was able to pay off the debts I accumulated raising my chilren in poverty and was offered a position as LEA appointed school governor, which came to an end pretty quick because I didn’t feel good about staying in this post due to reasons explained on this blog.

I am still involved in my local community centre, a local swimming club and Swim England and British Swimming due to my grand daughter having won many medals as performance swimmer.

 

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