World War II veteran, working class Londoner, Norfolk countryman and patriarch to 38 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, Richard William Gould talks about the world today, aged 92.
Born in 1921, Richard William Gould has led a life perpetually tainted by a love of the crown. Consigned to the Royal Navy at 18, sunk twice in battle, and returned home to a working class life in the mines of Cannock Chase and on the docks of London, he is a survivor.
“You need to be careful what you repeat of what I say,” he tells me.
“People of my age are less inclined to control their opinions as the younger generation are. Everyone now days is foreign.”
Why do you think so many foreigners come to Britain?
“England is a war avenging nation. Even our national anthem is a war song.”
He sings a short verse of God Save Our Queen, emphasing the lyrics ‘send her victorious.’
“Everywhere we colonised in the world now has problems. We damaged Africa, The Falklands, India and the East, now we’re paying for it through compensations.”
How do you think England fares in the world today?
“For everything bad about Europe, England is at the top of the list. For everything good, England is at the bottom, make no mistake about that.”
He has lived alone in Norfolk for 8 years since his late wife, Gladys, passed away. Her slippers are still neatly placed next to the fireside ready to wear.
Near blind, he shows me a device that reads a letter, a gift from the Royal Blind Association to help veterans lead more comfortable lives.
He checks his watch that announces the time and tells him the date then switches on the news. Missing flight MH 370 is making headlines.
What do you make of the missing jet?
“It’s like an Agatha Christie novel. Everyone likes a good mystery.”
He lacks confidence in eastern airlines. “There is something about the brain box that mistrusts the fact that it is different. It may even be better, but something tells you it’s a safety issue when it’s something you don’t know.
The Americans are likely behind it. They will waste anyone who they see as a threat, even at the expense of all those other people. Just look at what they did to Martin Luther and Marilyn Munroe.
The Americans have taken over our role as colonisers. Everywhere we colonised has paid a price.”
Rhodesia was a colony, why did you live there?
“I moved to protect my family. There was a US airfield close to where we lived that was testing atomic warfare. Rhodesia seemed safer, although, as with all our colonies, it was damaged by the British.”
How do you think Britain has changed since loosing its’ colonies?
“There are 127 socialists in parliament today and very few people know that.
On the docks, almost no houses were built with garages. The government thought that the working class would never be able to afford a car, and now look, almost everybody has a car and a garage.
The working class has built itself up.”
He goes into the kitchen, makes himself a ham sandwich and shows me his new microwave. He tells me his caregivers have had to show him how it works as he burnt the last one.
How did you set fire to your microwave?
“I was making jacket potatoes on spikes. I got the potatoes out and the spikes ready, but when I came to make my lunch I had forgotten to spike the potatoes, they were still standing on the counter.”
What does it feel like to be 92?
“You remember salient parts of your life but never get the whole picture. If Gladys were here, she would have put me right. She always knew the stories.”
“We have 4 children, 12 grandchildren, 19 great grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. My family is my greatest achievement.”
Where do you think the future lies?
“Gladys always said that there will be an end of the world when the west meets the east.
China is not aggressive, but it owns so much, teaching agriculture in Africa and investing in the western world. All Britain did was exploit them.”
What’s the secret behind your longevity?
“It’s been 73 years that I have had my Gladys. We didn’t get married until after the war because we didn’t think we would ever survive, and we were married for 51 years.
When we lived on the docks and in Harlow the quality of life was poor. It was noisy and people were drunk and rowdy all the time. We moved to Downham Market and the country life has extended my life.”
“I do like a good drop of Whisky.” He adds with a smile.