Louise Shore, born 1930s: Habits, Culture and Beliefs – Writing Lives

Louise Shore, born 1930s: Habits, Culture and Beliefs

Louise Shore does not speak much of her religious beliefs. She went to Sunday school as a child but that was because her mother made her. There is no indication throughout Shore’s memoir that she is particularly religious; either that or perhaps she just chose to omit that aspect of her life from the memoir, although that seems unlikely. However, she does talk about superstitious or fantastical belief “I did see a ghost once” (Shore, Pure Running, page 11). The way she describes the sight of the ghost is all knowing – “They don’t walk like normal persons. They walk on their toes” (Shore, 11) – she seems very absolute in what she saw. Shore may genuinely believe in ghosts but it is more than likely that she has been led to believe in such things by stories she may have been told: “There’s an old saying that you mustn’t point or throw anything at them, or they make your finger fall off” (Shore, 12). This suggests that adults may have told their children these ghost stories so that they did not point or make a spectacle, so that they respected the dead.

As a child, Shore played numerous games with other local children. Their games always relied on the children’s imaginations: “we play thief and police…we have a case, and I was the judge” (Shore, 10). There is no mention of any toys or material objects that they used for entertainment. After the initial description of her childhood games Shore makes little reference to any leisure hobbies or activities. The only one she really pays any attention to is reading. In London she joined the Hackney Reading Centre so she could learn to read and write properly. This was a passion of hers from a very young age “I wanted to read properly, write properly, and be something” (Shore, 13) and her interest in literacy never really left her.

Shore cooke a lot, and her desire to do so seemed to start when she was a child still living in Jamaica: “I wish I could get that big . I could roast it or boil it for lunch” (Shore, 16). As Shore gets older she takes a job as a cook in London but still seems to enjoy cooking for herself in her free time. She occasionally cooked for a man, on the two occasions she shared a house with one but it seems Shore’s previous experiences have warned her off men. This was rather unusual at the time, to be an unmarried woman, as most women in London were raised to find the best possible husband. Shore seemed to have no interest in this: “I wouldn’t marry. I wouldn’t put money with a man any more…Men they’re too bad. If I did really follow my mind I would like no men at all” (Shore, 46).  She seems content with her own company and does not think that she should be relying on a man to support her or take care of her. Shore does not seem to have any close friends, which is maybe why she participates in so few leisure activities. The women she seems to most bond with are those who help her write her memoir in the Hackney Reading Centre: “a Jamaican speaking to white friends” (Shore, 7). Shore may have chosen to leave out the social and leisure side of her memoir because she felt her trials and tribulations as a black woman living in London were more meaningful and significant to her story.

Louise Shore (page 46)Shore, Pure Running, page 46. Photographed by Michael Ann Mullen, 1982.

You can read more about the Hackney Reading Centre through this .

Louise Shore, Pure Running: a Life Story, Hackney Reading Centre at Centerprise (1982). Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiography, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 2:707.

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