Millie Beale worked as a cleaner at Westland in the department that built the Apache
I was a cleaner in Westlands but because I was highly passed I worked in where they did the Apache and all that before that was on show. I worked in 220, 180 …
Interviewer: These are sheds are they, these numbers?
Yes, they’re numbers. Then, I was down with the Apache people which they gave me a ticket tag. There was a simulator down there as well which I was on that floor cleaning. I was doing the top section of the factory basically because of the high security I had. The supervisors at the time; because I’d get a building up together, they’d kept moving me and putting me somewhere else to get that building up together and I got a bit fed-up with this. But when I was in Apache, the last one I was in, they really didn’t want me to leave and I used to clean. I used to say shut your computers down, I don’t want to be pressing any bad buttons. I’m going to do your computers tonight and they’d do it. I’d clean all their computers and their phones and all that sort of thing, and all their paper work on their desks, like they’d be out over one another. I just used to put it in piles. I never touched it really, just put it into piles, cleaned their desks and put all their pencils in.
We used to raise money that way for charity
And then for a bit of fun sometimes I’d find some shoes under the desks and I’d put them in a cardboard box and then I’d go in and say, while they were all concentrating on their work, I thought it was quite funny. I’d go in and I’d shake the rubbish bag which made a lot of noise and they’d all look up and I’d say; sale day today, what you selling then? and I’d say well, there’s this shoe … that one’s 50p … and this shoe, is £1.50 but that matches this one. And, you know, we used to raise money that way for charity. They all used to buy their own shoes back. I mean it was so silly really. And then everybody’s birthday it was doughnut day. Hundreds of doughnuts, I mean, literally. When I was leaving I got the doughnuts in and I had special permission to take my car down to the building and the supervisors asked me why I was parked here and, I said, because I had permission to park there and they said well that’s not right, you should be in the car park and, I said, well, it’s a special day today and they never knew why I parked there. It was only to unload my car with all these doughnuts because every office had a big bakers tray of doughnuts and each office had one to themselves and they were all different flavours, you know, all different flavours … marvellous, marvellous.
Interviewer: Can you describe what it was like in there?
It was friendly. There was a little canteen you could sit around. You weren’t allowed to smoke in there obviously but then you’d go-in round and there were all the computers and different offices for different things and then downstairs was a very highly polished floor with the simulator and things. I don’t know whether I should be telling you all this really (Mother – that’s secret) well it is really because ….
It was a trustworthy workplace
But it was very nice and nobody said anything about their jobs or anything like that and I never talked about anything I overheard or anything like that and it was a trustworthy workplace, if you know what I mean. They would do anything to help you, you know, even though I was a cleaner, I wasn’t classed as a cleaner. Do you understand what I mean? They never looked down on me because I was cleaning. In fact, I think they appreciated me, to be honest. They were always very kind to me and every birthday, honest to God, if I’d eaten all the doughnuts they offered me, I’d have been about 30 stone.
Interviewer: You’d have exploded?
Yes, yes, because I was always included even though I was a cleaner.