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16 October 2014

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From Selling Titles to Selling Tickets

By Ann L Teear
May 2005, Cardiff
A digital story from Capture Wales

Ann's Autographs

Some people travel the world in search of celebrities. All Ann has to do is get her autograph book at the ready as the London train pulls in.

"I've always seen my life as a book - one fascinating chapter at a time. Well, fascinating to me anyway!

I left James Howell's and Amross window dressing through ill-health. Doctor advised an open air job. Hence, Wyeman's book store, platform two, Great Western Railway.

The workers were marvellous: plate-layers; drivers; signalmen; wheel-tapers; gas boys; waiting room and kiosk ladies - that's where I fit in. Lots of long commuting passengers were late, so we had their papers ready under the counter. Two-ton Tessie O'Shea's brother delivered them.

In my time I learned to read upside down. We sold a huge amount of paperback, hardbacks and magazines. In the summer we took about £20 a minute. I'd have to run round to the bank with about £3000 in a bag.

Mr Brown - my boss - was very lenient. He let me collect autographs on the job, as there were always celebrities on the London train. I could write an A to Z of them: Shirley Bassey; Harry Secombe; Marty Wilde; John Gilpin from my ballet days; Alexander Cordell with time to spare, signed copies of his book to help us sell them! Some were really famous. Richard Burton - he deserves a whole chapter to himself! Paul Robeson, Paul Newman, Yul Brynner, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, Dr Jacob Bronowski, Fess Parker - I went home and changed for him... and even Albert Einstein!

If they were in a hurry, I'd run along the platform giving them my name and address and sooner or later a picture would turn up in the post. Apart from Paul Newman, he brought it back personally.

And one time, I was locked on the train with Bill Haley. While I was getting his autograph there were hundreds of screaming fans outside and the loudest was Marge from ladies waiting room - they put her in the Echo!

Oh, I've got so many happy memories of the platforms of Cardiff Central.

But wanting a white wedding on low wages meant a new job as a Clippie on the trolley buses and a whole new chapter began!"

Ann L Teear

Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Cardiff and have a son, Steven. My hobbies are ballet, tap, old musical films and shows and I am also a member of the New Theatre. I like painting, sketching, creative writing. I have some family in Canada, north Wales and Birmingham. I love animals and meeting new people of all ages. I also go to the gym and love car boot sales, jumble sales, antiques and I'm a clairvoyant medium.

What's your story about?
It's about my time when I worked on Wyman's Bookstall in the 50s and the atmosphere working there. I also talk about some of the people who also worked there and some of the famous people I met. I could only name a few people in the story, but there were so many. I loved it all.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
It was so difficult to pick a part of my life. This seemed an interesting story to tell, as most people like reading and meeting new people.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
Learning about the technology of computers and the lives of the other people in the group. It was sad when the week was finished.

Streets of Cardiff

Your comments

"Very interesting and well put together! Pleased I accidentally clicked the link to this page now!!" Dan, Talbot Green, Wales.

"Loved it! So interesting and she met so many famous people. Something to talk about for sure. Loved the shots of the platforms etc. LOVE that Welsh accent." Kathy, Brisbane, Australia.

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