Inge Ladd – On the challenges of the unexpected
Well my name is Inge, Inge Ladd, I was born and bred in Singapore, my mother she was German and I had a British father and I basically being living now here in Barcelona for about 35 years.
A long time. I came by mistake. I was going through a divorce and so I thought :”well…”
I had a girlfriend she was living here and she invited me to come for the weekend.
And then I met my second ex-husband so…Obviously he’s the father of my children so I decided to stay here .I came for an arts exhibition at the princess Sofia hotel . That was pretty clueless, so the friend I came to visit, Gilly who’s still, I mean she’s my sister .We both went through weird and wonderful things as children and we started renting an apartment together in England. Yeah, yeah then she left England came here and I followed her, you know? So that was quite cool. We became mothers together it was all crazy you know so nice.
A transformative moment:
Wow the biggest transformation in my life, it sounds like a bit of a cliché you know a bit of a topic, but due to circumstances and geography I had quite a few I think the biggest trauma for me in my life wasn’t coming to Spain it was because of the culture I really had here.
One of the shocks for me I’ve never seen a bottle of” butano” ( Butane is a gas at room temperature and atmospheric pressure) in my life and I couldn’t, just didn’t understand. How a nation functioned on buying water, you know?
I thought god they are prehistoric so that’s was really heavy and we still have butano here today after 35 years.
It’s like mad, but I think my biggest transformation for me wasn’t coming to Spain it was leaving Singapore and going to England.
The fact that I’m British, British born under a British flag in Singapore I belong to British colonies.
German mother but I really lived a kind of not Peter Pan but a jungle book existence. You know I had a beautiful childhood the few years I was there you know? It was idyllic.
And then they took me to this country called England, and we got off a military airplane. I think I was about 12 the first time I came and I was told to wear a balaclava and jeans and big boots and an anorak I’ve never seen these things never mind wearing them.
I mean I used to run around swing off the trees you know like a monkey I was always following my elder brother and my twin brother around. With their friends and I literally grew up in a pair of knickers and flip flops and so when they gave me all this…
Jesus, I think I went into some kind of you know depression and then the English families as well all these colonies coming back from India and from Singapore. I mean they had nowhere to put us in England. We were thousands, and they didn’t know what to do with us. You know? And for my mother as well it was an absolute click, and they put us into these boarding houses like Airbnb accommodations, and we were packed in there like cattle.
Now, if you imagined, I came from this great big white house on the hill.
I mean my father he was quite high up, and we had many servants.
I was born with a woman sleeping on the floor, and I never questioned that her name was Achu and even I think about it today she was like my mum.
And my brother had his man servant, and my father had what they referred to as a batsman. It’s a military… you know like a”mayordomo” ( Butler) I think you call it.
You know, there were all these maids running around and Achu she slept on the floor in one of these rafetan mats that you go to the beach with, and she used to call me Miss San.
My second name is Sandra, and because of the colour of my hair she called me Sandy, so she wasn’t allowed to call me Inge because my mother’s name was Inge as well, so it was like disrespectful, and so you wake up, and you go to the toilet and she used to dress me and my hair and brush me and make all these wonderful clothes.
I’ve been accused of being a snob. I’ve been accused I really didn’t have that contrast of information until I left Singapore and then I was taken to this place called Blackpool in the north of England.
I just knew the time that I was to spend there I wasn’t going to stay; I couldn’t relate to the culture I couldn’t relate to the people. My mother wasn’t exactly altogether there she was very sick for many years my mother, she had her own agenda. So I always felt as if I was struggling. I was inside of a place and skin that didn’t really belong to me but ahmm …Wow, I think that was the most traumatic and is the thing I remember.
I’ve gone through many things as you do when you get to a certain age, I had a very colorful life.
Time and age:
Time for me, basically means and I’m separating them cos I think they are separate.
I’m still here to tell the story. I mean I am a survivor A.nd I’ll tell you that not for any dramatic thing… but last year a very good friend of mine David Chevers he made a, an amazing guy absolutely amazing guy, he made a video musical clip. He’s a singer and a writer white South African.
He came here, and he had a story to tell, and we met on a job, and he got hold of me, and he said: “Listen, Inge, I’m doing this particular job are you interested?” he said because: ” I know your story.”
… because I had a business and up until six years ago I had a hotel with my partner at the time. We lived in a hotel; we worked in a hotel. It was my livelihood. Due to circumstances xxxx, we lost everything ok.
So me losing that relationship wasn’t the hardest thing. The relationship didn’t work, full stop. You know? Get on! You cry for a couple of days, or you go through what you have to go… but the emotional break, if something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. I’ve never stayed where I’m not wanted. Never because I think as a child I desperately needed to be wanted by my mother. She wasn’t there, you know?
My mother was very very poorly, God bless her. So as a child, I was always looking for a place to belong to, and I think this acute sense of and maybe false pride …
I’ve learned from a very early age don’t go where they don’t want you and my mother many times it’s not that she didn’t want me. She wasn’t in conditions to have her four children around.. cos we were interfering with what she was doing.
So cutting a long story short, the relationship was always easy for me to leave, because I didn’t belong. And I’m not making it right for the two of us.
A relationship is two people, so that was easy to back out of… but then the business and my home…
I had this beautiful boutique hotel in which I had invested all my life savings cos I worked very hard as did my ex at the time. But he went back to the country of his origin, and he left me with a baby to solution and sort out. And thank god to an accountant he was amazing. They said to me:” Inge close the doors.” and I remember it was new year’s eve the hotel was jock! It was full. We had this amazing, spectacular dinner party it was all: ” “Uh la la! ”
I’m very good at entertaining. I was.
At the front of the house I have this incredible personality of people actually coming into my house and them spending their hard earned money on this particular… so it was my duty, it was just my duty to give back and to make them feel happy. We had this amazing party, that was on the 31st And on the 1st of January, we closed the doors.
You know because we had a mortgage of 8000 a month which was irrelevant to the money we were making.
When Spain was functioning, but tourism, like service, like quality, just went downhill in this country. This is my country. It’s my place.
I’ve been here for 35 years. I’ve worked here.
I’ve gone into the system here.
I’ve lost everything I’ve had here.
I’ve been a mother here.
I’ve been a lover here.
I’ve been a wife here. You know?
I’ve done it all… and so you lose all of that and you think due to what circumstances… greed I bought into the system.
What part am I responsible for this. Blaming the banks, this blaming blaming…
I was taught at a very early age by my father. God bless him. Who was killed when I was 15. You know? Assume your part. Assume your responsibility. You are responsible.
It is very easy to say is your fault… and it’s his and it’s your ex, and it’s my mother and my father.
What have you done in all of this? So I started assuming my part: ignorance a lot, you know? I thought I could run businesses and I wasn’t a very good business woman.
I was a front of the house, and it showed me not my limitations because I hate this word, you realize your limitations. There are no limitations. Absolutely no.
You do and the biggest thing. One of the nicest things I was ever given as well, is when I don’t know how to do something, I ask for help.
I don’t mind wearing my heart on my sleeve; I’m vulnerable just for being here. The vulnerability of participating every day in life, so when I lost everything, I mean I weigh something like seventy kilos now I went down to fifty six kilos I looked like something like I just come out of a concentration camp because of nerves and because of not knowing and because of wanting to do it right… and I actually picked myself up.
There for the grace of God, I have some amazing friends, and I knew I would never starve. But I remember I was sitting in this big, this board meeting in this “Banca Popular” and this big manager came from Madrid, and he wanted to see the woman that had written this letter saying:
” Ok, you take my livelihood you take my house you take my business because I owe you a mortgage which I cannot pay take all of this because this is the system and I bought into it.”
But afterward they wanted me to continue paying two hundred and forty thousand more because of the accumulation of interests that weren’t paid on the mortgage over the past, and I said to them, and I’ll never forget I said:
“Listen I’m English, but I’m not stupid, you know?”
And the guy said and that I wrote this incredible letter and I walked away without owing a penny. Going from one point million eight hundred thousand and I’m:
“Excuse me, I’m an everyday normal you know? These numbers don’t belong to me. These amounts just don’t belong to me, and I walked away.
A difficult time:
It’s amazing, they were very hard then, but now in retrospect, you look back, and you are here, so you forget how acute it was.
The suffering and the turmoil…
But I think one of the biggest things for me is when I was told I was too old to work. That I remember.
When I referred before when I lost the hotel and everything and… Oh god!.. and a little bit not, because I had an abundance of richness.
But I had a nice lifestyle.
My kids were accustomed to certain things cos even though I was married and then divorced, my son Benjamin he was only 6.
He’s now 31.
He was 6 when I divorced his father. We are very good friends we have been for years.
With Benjamin’s birthday last month, we are all together, and it’s wonderful. I think that’s amazing you know and Ben is very grateful for that he’s always said to me:”I’m so happy.”
I never saw all of the crap that all of my friends saw you know, but we all had a comfortable life nice accommodation.
Kids had a decent education.
I could do basically what I wanted to do, and then I plowed everything I had into this hotel, and due to a relationship, that wasn’t pretty cool and Bla Bla Bla …and then you lose that. And then I was fifty… how old was I?
Probably fifty-five and I was exhausted I think it was the first time in my life, physically I thought this is it I’ve had enough.
It’s the time of your life where apparently, you’re supposed to have pensions all going and all of this life-saving schemes and plans and you are supposed to be sitting back.
I never had a guide by my side, but I had me, and I thought there was going to be some kind of, you know, it will be alright when I get old… and it isn’t.
I still feel like I’m Docking and diving sometimes, the struggle… so I lost that.Lost my home. Had to go into rented accommodation again. Thanks to a friend I got into a place which I’ve paid a minimum rent, and I didn’t have to pay 2 or 3 months deposit because they knew me so my person in itself was my calling card.
It was my own validation because they knew in spite of everything that had happened to me, I would pay.
I’ve had this enormous sense of responsibility; I never had it when I was younger.
Never. I would take what I wanted, when I wanted, “Oh I was just, oh Jesus!”
When I think about it, I was extremely selfish.Due to experiences and learning from one’s mistakes, I did learn; I did thank god. I kind of learned the hard way.
I know what’s right and I know what’s wrong there’s no excuse you know?
If you do this, you just know the consequences.
I’ve always had this enormous sense of righteousness and somebody I was filming something with the other day and said to me: “Why do you all say sorry, it’s like you are apologizing.” and I said
“No is the British education darling,” but I really do say I don’t like causing any kind of problem for anyone so…
I’ve created the problems for myself I think. But getting back to the original question.
It was very very very hard for me to put myself back together. These past six years I suffered from insecurities in a way that I never thought I’d suffer from.
Because so many doors were closed to me.
To go into a shop with a curriculum like this you know, I had a CV and a 22-year-old, chewing gum saying “yeah que? “and I would say:
” Excuse me… I’ve come for the…”
” Estas Demasiado vieja!” you are too old
and I’m thinking fuck what do you mean I’m too old.
I’ve been to restaurants I’ve been to hotels in Barcelona, and I’ve actually been there in reception, and I’ve said
“I’ll work for you one month free.” They thought I was mad. They thought I had to be institutionalized.
Who’s this crazy?
I said :
“Look, look at my CV. Look what I’m capable of.”
“No thank you, too old. No, thank you, too old. No, thank you. No No No…”
I’d go for a shop assistant. I don’t even think the Ayuntamiento of Sitges, the local council of Sitges, was going to let me clean the streets because apparently, I looked too posh.
Then people would ring me up and say :
“When you go for an interview, don’t wear jewelry. When you go for an interview, make sure you don’t have to make up on.
When you go for an interview, don’t wear your decent clothes.”
I was saying why don’t I just go and through myself under a train.
This is who I am; this is me this is Inge. With all my beeps and bops and my niceties and my defects, but this is me. And I was being told, don’t take you into the equation. Don’t be you.
Just be anything because you’re too much. That was the bottom line. And my children would say:”Hey mummy, you should go for there.. because my children would say:”ah!! No No…” because as well, they felt kind of… what’s she doing? Ah! It was crazy!
That went on for 2 and a half years 2 and a half years knocking on doors. Saying “Please can you give me a job?” and the phrase I went to bed with was: “You’re too old.”
Being a woman:
I think it’s a stupid question.
I’ve been asked that so many times and I don’t know if I’m supposed to position myself anywhere you know?
It’s like a topic, and I think so much crap has come from that.
I’m talking about me now. Each to their own. Live and let live.
But it is almost an excuse to get away with a lot of cops wall up Bla Bla Bla…
In the beginning, it’s like unions… In the beginning, go back to the beginning, in the 19th century.
People in the unions and the workers, you go back to the beginning, and the suffragettes and all of this were the reasons where their rights. But everything has gone to the extremes, and I have been asked this question before on several occasions… What does it mean?
Well, I don’t know what it means, being a woman.
I know what I feel like as a woman, cos I’ve never been a man, that’s the opposite of this question.
What are we talking about? There’s a person here, my gender my boobies and I got this butt.
I have, funny enough, one of my girlfriends… I was criticized recently because of some of the marches and what’s happened in the States.
I should be out there. “Like Inge come out!”
and I said :
“No, ’m working:”
“Oh well, we are working as well, should be there!”
Yeah collectively, half of the people that were there in this march last month.Yeah, it was last month.
Half of them didn’t know why the hell they were there. It was an excuse to get a day off work and transport was payed by local council offices.
I just know that, whatever.
I am as a person in whatever situation I’ve been in I have had a sexual harrasment. I have been accosted sexually is that right? How do we say that oh god I get mixed up with Spanish wait it doesn’t matter,
I’ve been in a place of work where a boss has come to me and he tried to put his hand around my hip and blabla and I just turned around and said :
“What the fuck ?!?”
That’s how I deal with that.
I’ve actually gone up to a young boy while he was about 7 years younger than me and I tapped him on the bottom and he reported me so…
you know what’s the difference?
There’s a lot of ladies like me taking young boys to the picnic room as well I mean, maybe I’m being very naïve in this I could go a lot deeper but I don’t think it’s necessary because it’s a very personal opinion.
I ‘ve never ever been chastised by anyone for being a woman in any kind of area .Never. Because of my capabilities. First of all as a person, ok, I have always shown through.
I worked in industries where normally men have dominated, uhuh… but because I went through, did the job. I was accredited their claim that was befitting of that person.
In spite of her being a he or a she so, I’ve never really lived this.I’ve worked in all kinds of environments.I’ve worked in very good jobs. I’ve worked in very bad payed jobs.
If I didn’t think a certain situation at a certain time and place was right, I have a voice and I went and I did something about it. Now that’s my character.
I have a very big mouth. It’s literally the size of my ass you know.
My mouth when I don’t understand something.. I don’t have any filters and I do have a tendency to say what I think.
Because I’m in doubt and so I’ve been very fortunate but not fortunate because it’s just coming from who I am. I have seen certain things happen in certain environments and I have been asked to go forward and kind of be on the side of but in both sexes alright so this is just how I feel as I said.
I don’t think this is the time or place now because I could go into other things but
As a woman, I love who I am I can’t imagine being anything else.
I never wanted to be a man.They don’t have anything that I particularly want you to know?, I prefer having boobs I don’t like having a fanny but because I don’t think they look esthetical pleasing to the eye. But that’s my concept of beauty.
I don’t particular like willies either on a sexual basis they are awesome I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this but it’s what I do.
You at fourteen:
Wow! Haven’t been asked that question in a long time.
I’d go back to her and say it’s going to be ok.
“Don’t worry, it’s going to be ok.”
When I was 14, my mother she was very very very poorly and I didn’t come from a functional background, consequently, I’ve been able to accept that over the years obviously.
I think this is why today, I have this tendency with younger people when I see them and I…, this enormous sensation, of saying everything is going to be alright.
I was very…, I never knew that, you know, one year later, my father was going to… he was killed in bright day. Dying, you know? and my household wasn’t the best place…
I had such a broken education as well, due to being changed all over the place. It wasn’t easy for me to make friends, because I was always contemplating how other people lived.
Apparently, we had everything but when the door was closed you know, the reality was something very different. We were educated to say,
“Yes everything’ s fine, thank you, everything’s fine, thank you. I’m ok. Yes thank you, very much.”
As long as you spoke with a certain education and you made it ok for everything outside… but…
Wow, this is mad big madness! I don’t know…
Listen what I couldn’t say to myself then…
because I knew, I knew I had this enormous sensation that from very very young… in spite of what was, that was happening in my home environments, you know, parents. My parents didn’t do any better because nobody showed them how to be parents. They had no educators, cos they came from their own story and this is one thing as a mother and I always said when I grew up:
I”’ll never do to my daughter or my son what was done to me.”
…but I’m unbeknown to myself If you speak to my children.. they were pretty pissed off with me at the age of 14 and 15 as well.
Especially my daughter you know I was very young when I became a mother for the first time. And Claudia didn’t have me the way that Benny did so…
Aand it’s amazing how we say I’m never going to do what they did and we do we do and all I can say…
My mum, she gave me the best she could, in spite of everything. My father, god bless him, I hardly knew him. But we didn’t have a lot. I would want to go to girlfriend’s houses at weekends and stay there because their mamas, they made meals 3 times a day. I never knew when I was going to get a meal, because depending on my mother…
I remember once I came home from school with my twin brother and I wanted to go to a party and everybody was getting dressed up in their party dresses their socks and shoes and we went home and we were knocking on the door and she was always in a blackout or something. She didn’t open the door.
We were sitting at the doorsteps and couldn’t get in so we went to the party. But I had to go to the party in my school uniform and I had the same clothes on from going to school, you know?
Always feeling so left out, always feeling when you go home one day and you couldn’t get in and she would through money out through of the window.
So you go to a cake shop and buy 50 pennies worth of cake. There was this enormous food disorder… when she did cook it was fantastic. But then you’d eat all this food and then she’d say º:
” Why you eating so much, you are getting fat .”
Ah Jesus! The contrast of information as a child but apparently in our household everything was ok .
I realized from the age of twelve, fournteen and then fifteen…when mu father died.At sixteen I was asked to leave lots of things, that weren’t exactly straight.
So you hang on wherever you can. You hang on and there wasn’t any family. There was no grandmothers or grandfathers.
For us coming from Singapore and being stuck in this place in Blackpool… I was lost.
I was completely lost. So if I contemplate Inge now and look at her and I what I could give her then is what I’m thinking I’m giing to people today. Because I didn’t get it then.
I would just say to her you know…
here I am. The reality of the situation is, even though I got emotional with the question, I’m ok.
I’m really, really, really ok.
I’ve done amazing things. In these last 6 years things I’ve never thought of in a hundred thousand… because I’m ok. Because I wanted to be ok from a very young age and in spite of everything I wanted to be ok.
These aren’t tears of sadness. It’s like “Wow!” look where I am and I know I’m cared for by quite a few people and they think when I didn’t think I was all together they stood by me and friends are amazing.
I have this great capacity to smile. A sense of humour, sense of humour “My god!” I love to laugh.
I really, really, really, and I think I have got a weird sense of humor, you know?
But define weird. Each to their own. Normally when they see me, people are quite happy to see me, they really really are.
They say I’m crazy and I’m mad. She’s off the wall and “God Inge , it’s bloody …it’st’s not that I’m crazy or I’m mad or off the wall. I’m probably the sanest person I know and if I am mad at least I know it, you know? There’s so many people walking around pretending to be what they are not so ahmm,
Sense of humour that’s the answer to your question.