In preparation for the interview, I corresponded with the interviewee’s daughter who put me in touch with the interviewee. I knew very little about Cyprus, so much so that I was unaware of any conflict.
As I knew the interviewee’s daughter and had met her father on a few occasions, I was not apprehensive about discussing his life with him. He has always appeared to me to be a very candid and welcoming person, and I wondered if this attitude extended to all areas of his life. I did not anticipate that he would withhold information or deflect questions as doing so would seem to clash with his personality. For this reason, I was interested in how the interview would proceed.
I was also curious about Cyprus and it’s history, and anticipated that I would likely learn a great deal about the country as the interviewee had a background in history. I read a bit of supplementary information on Cyprus, but I decided I did not want to go into the interview knowing too much.
Finally, although I had a personal connection with the interview subject, I felt I did not know the interviwee too well. I looked forward to our discussion.
For my oral history project, I would like to interview an Englishwoman who has worked in the Community Liaison Office at the US Embassy since 1959. The Embassy will be relocating from Mayfair to the Nine Elms neighbourhood at the end of the year, leaving a Grade I listed building behind in favour of a state-of-the-art modern security fortress.
The American presence in Mayfair, Central London, has lasted nearly 250 years. The current building opened in 1960, seen as a Modernist architectural dream. Previously, the Embassy was located in a Georgian mansion across the Square. As this woman is unique among employees for her experiences in both embassy locations as well as in her nationality, I thought she would be a great candidate for an oral history interview.
The Mayfair area, long known as ‘Little America’, will be changed once the Embassy relocates. Interviewing a person who has witnessed so much change over six decades will present an interesting opportunity to attempt to preserve some memories of an area and building about to undergo a dramatic change.