When Julie Met Glenda!
Glenda May Jackson CBE, is an actress and former Labour Party politician.
She was born in Birkenhead on the Wirral, where her father was a builder, and her mother worked in shops and as a cleaner. She was educated at the West Kirkby Grammar School for Girls and performed at the Townswomen’s Guild drama group during her teens. She worked for two years in a branch of the Boots before taking up a scholarship in 1954 to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
As a professional actress she spent four years as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1964. During her film career, she won two Academy Awards for Best Actress: for Women in Love (1970) and A Touch of Class (1973). Glenda won the Tony Award for ‘Best Actress in a Play’ for her performance in a 2018 revival of Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women on Broadway. This year Glenda returned to Broadway to the role of King Lear.
She first became a Member of Parliament in 1992 and retired from politics in 2015.
Recently, Julie spent some time speaking to Glenda about money, money habits and money fears! We hope you enjoy this week’s blog.
What did your Mother teach you about money?
My education as far as money was concerned came from Mum.
I was the one who was always sent to do the shopping and I had to get a receipt. Mum would unpack the shopping while holding the receipt and check off the items. If there was any discrepancy, it was my fault and I had to go back to the shop and rectify the discrepancy and come back with the right change.
I can remember one occasion when she sent me off to the shop and I came back with 5lbs carrots and 1lb of potatoes. Obviously I had got the weights the wrong way round and I was thumped all the way back to the market street to re-address the problem and make it right.
So that’s what I was taught and I remember very distinctly how she would wait impatiently for the gas man to arrive, because in those days we put money into the gas meter. It was always more than the gas cost so she would wait by the door for the refund which was always in pennies. So I was taught to value a penny.
I think I was blessed with a very strong work ethic because I came from a socio-economic group where if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat, it was as simple as that.
What did you Father teach you about money?
My Dad left anything to do with the household exclusively to my mother and although he was the threat that she would exercise (“you just wait ‘til your father gets home”) he never raised his voice to any of us in anything other than a loving way.
What was the money climate like in your house?
Money was very tight and I don’t think there were any big financial decisions made as we all lived day to day.
We lived in a rented two up, two down, the fact that one of our aunts and my paternal grandmother and grandfather lived around the corner, I think was helpful. Not that they gave money but certainly that they could look after us on occasion and give us treats and the odd meal. Also in those days, the way my parent’s socio-economic group worked was that you were a member of a club and a certain amount every week was paid to the Clubman. This, in the main was for our clothes. I distinctly remember going to buy a new coat, when there was enough money in the club and ferocious arguments about what I wanted to wear and what my mother deemed to be acceptable.
Who paid the bills?
There were never any bills to pay as such because it was all about immediate exchange – I mean you just paid cash and got whatever it was you were buying there and then. Unless it was milk, where you would go to the Co-op with your milk tokens – I can still remember our Co-op number. There were no big transactions, there were major things that had to be met – that was the rent, the gas and the electricity, but if you didn’t have the money in your hand you simply didn’t have any gas or electricity. So it was always this immediate exchange of cash for whatever you were buying.
Did you get any pocket money?
No I don’t think I did – we got the odd treat for specific jobs that were over and above the normal chores we were expected to perform. I can still hear my father saying, -when he came home from work and sat in his chair, “Joan – that fire’s going out.” We were all female in the house and none of us thought it was wrong that he could sit in his chair and that one of his female dependents should go and fill the coal bucket.
Did you talk about money as a family?
I don’t think so no, because I think it was a given that there was no money left over – either the money got you through the week or it didn’t. I can’t in all honesty say we were ever made aware of the money not being there at the end of the week. We never went hungry, we never went without proper clothes or proper shoes. When I’d left home, got married and was attempting to become an actress, one of the things that calmed my mother down most was when she examined my shoes, being certain to find them full of, and discovering there weren’t any, that was a very, very good sign for her. But money was something that in a curious kind of way, money over and above the immediate need, was something that other people had. There were occasions when something like the Derby or the Grand National came along and my father put the odd shilling (or possibly more?) on a favourite horse. I know my grandmother always backed the jockey and she seemed to do quite well!
What was your most joyful financial experience?
When I moved from being an occasionally employed actress in rep, where I think in my last rep job I was earning the princely sum of £12 per week, to moving to the Royal Shakespeare Company where I was employed 52 weeks of the year and got paid for 52 weeks. I think I got paid almost double at £24 per week – and that was just fantastic!
What is your worst fear about Money?
That a cheque will bounce! And I think that’s partly because I don’t have any natural overview of money – I still only spend what I’ve got in my wallet. One of the things that has changed over the years is that I now have one of those plastic cards, but even so, I try to use it as infrequently as possible. I do know what is in my bank account because my bank is efficient at sending me statements, but it doesn’t impact on me if I have enough to cover my immediate costs. If I think it is getting dangerously low, then I become totally neurotic!