In August 1974 Barbara emigrated to England, her uncle remained in Hong Kong to handle some final matters, he planned to come a month later. Barbara was 15 years old. She moved in with her mother and her new stepfather who owned a fish and chip/Chinese takeaway. The family lived in the apartment above the shop with a Malaysian friend who helped out with the business (11). The shop was at the end of Tanners lane, a long street of small shops that ends near Barkingside station in Ilford, North London (29). This part of Iford is a tidy and orderly neighborhood with well-maintained houses with gardens and lots of greenery. Not long after she moved Barbara wrote that she appreciated the space, the many green pastures, the friendly-looking houses and the clean air of her new neighborhood (14).
The fish and chip shop (now Chinese takeaway) where Barbara were lived in 1974 till 1976 (picture taken bij Rob in 2015)
When Barbara arrived there were some problems in England. There was great fear among the population because of the many IRA bomb attacks also in London that claimed many lives. The population was still recovering from the energy crisis due to the coal mine strikes and blockade of OPEC countries, which forced a three-day working week at the beginning1974 in which households were disconnected from the power grid during certain time blocks to save energy. Inflation was the highest in 34 years, no less than 17.4%. Some groups focused their frustration on foreigners, in particular they were concerned about growing migration of South Asians to Britain. As a result, the National Front , a fascist anti-immigration party, got their best election results ever. In various parts of London during local elections they received 10% of the votes (27, 28). Barbara never told me that she experienced racism. Yet there were racist attacks against Chinese immigrants during that period, I witnessed it myself during a school party.
Barbara and her family were insufficiently familiar with English customs, procedures and the language was also a problem. They received help from a 30-year-old Malaysian who rented a room from the family. This man was also very interested in Barbara. When the uncle joined the family a month later, he soon noticed that something was not right. His suspicion was confirmed when he found a letter from Barbara addressed to the this man. From the letter the uncle learned that this man and Barbara had plans to run off together. However, the letter also stated that Barbara had decided that she did not want to go with him and that was why she wrote this letter. The uncle confronted the man with this letter and the next day the man moved out (11).
Barbara not long after she moved to London in 1974 (picture taken by Hoover in Hyde parc)