JIS News

Jamaican-born Shirley Graham Paul is one of several residents whose stories are featured in a new book ‘Routes to Reading’, which chronicles the lives of immigrants who live in Reading in South East England.
Mrs. Graham Paul, who is originally from Kingston, told JIS news, that she was both humbled and honoured to have been selected.
“I am terribly humbled and honoured because there were many other persons interviewed. I am particularly pleased that I was selected to represent Jamaica,” she said.
Mrs. Graham Paul, arrived in the United Kingdom in 1960 in her late teens, and first settled in Slough. A photograph of her experiencing the long cold winter of 1962 is also featured on the cover of ‘Routes to Reading’. One of her stories of her early years in England relates how she dealt with the prejudice of the day.
“I was in a deli and was in the queue and this woman kept serving everyone else and leaving me right there. When everyone else was served, she came and looked at me and said ‘Yes’ so I said ‘OK, I too can play this game’. I pointed at some bacon down the end, I pretended I didn’t understand English and pointed at some bacon, nice choice bacon and she sliced it and I pointed at the cheese I wanted and she cut that and I pointed at various different things…and she brought them and she, you know, went through the till and then she told me how much it was, I said to her ‘Fine, now you can put them back because I don’t want them’ and I walked out of the shop. That was my way of dealing with her racism,” she remembered adding, “I never argued, I never quarrelled. There was no sense in being nasty like them”.
She is trained as a nurse and recently retired from Royal Berkshire Hospital. Mrs. Graham Paul is one of the founding members and is the current chairman of the Mary Seacole Memorial Association.
One of her claims to fame in Reading is that she is featured on the landmark black history mural overlooking Inner Distribution Road.
‘Routes to Reading’ is part of the Immigrant Project, which is part of Reading’s oral history project, which will also feature a website and exhibition. More than 35 interviews have already been recorded. The publication features people from more than 20 countries across the world who now live and work in Reading.
The book includes vivid childhood memories, stories of the participants’ education training and work, as well as inspiring tales of self-sufficiency and experiences of racism.
Mrs. Graham Paul is particularly pleased that as part of the overall project many of her cherished photographs, certificates and awards, including one from the Jamaican High Commission, will be part of the archives for the project.