'Britain has changed, but not the prejudice'

One of Britain's most enduring gay couples celebrate 50th anniversary

How do you make a relationship last 50 years? Answer: select a compatible partner, maintain mutual respect and self-prescribe a lot of laughter.

That was the advice of Ted Spring, 73, who is this month celebrating half a century with his partner Paul Pollard, 72, making the two retired hoteliers from Plymouth one of the most enduring gay couples in Britain.

"We're always there for each other," Mr Spring said yesterday. "No one can say anything negative about either one of us without his partner sticking up for him. We don't have big arguments. Of course, we have rows, just the same as any couple. But he makes me laugh. He's such a character."

The pair met in 1960 when Mr Pollard was 22 and working at Plymouth's The Green Lantern restaurant as a chef and Mr Spring was an able seaman stationed in the nearby Devonport naval base. They first caught sight of each other in the Lockyer Hotel, then just one of two gay bars in the city. Two weeks later, they met again and started living together shortly afterwards. "He had fantastic eyes," Mr Spring said.

From 1967 the pair ran Scheherazade, a guesthouse in the centre of the city. It was here that the pair put up a young Michael Barrymore. "He was called Michael Parker then," said Mr Spring. "He had a pigtail and he was a bit full of himself but he was pleasant. He knew he was going to do well. He knew he was going to be good."

At the same time the couple ran a restaurant in a gambling club, the Pussycat Club, based in Plymouth's Old Palace Theatre.

"It was the first nightclub in Plymouth," said Mr Spring. "They had hostesses there, more strippers really. They did cabaret, like a striptease, with a casino on the side. We were asked to open a restaurant as that allowed the gambling to be legal because they were serving food."

Between 1972 and 1986 the couple managed the Laurels Country Club on the city's outskirts before being forced to resign after Mr Pollard snapped his Achilles' tendon when he jumped off a piano while wearing stilletos.

"We had a very good drag act but he announced he was going to double his price," Mr Spring explained. "Paul was stood next to me when the act told us. [Paul] told him he could probably do it better because he was better looking. Paul was very good, and began doing the cabaret in this person's place. We became very popular because it was a fun night out. But one night Paul fell off in his stilettos and he snapped his tendon. He couldn't do cabaret then. He's still in pain now." The couple went on to run a smaller guest-house, the Breakaway, for several years from 1986 until they retired in 2000.

Mr Spring has mixed views about homophobia during a relationship that has survived five decades. "The country has changed so much," he says. "But prejudice still goes on. People know now that they can't say anything because it's all legal, though I still suspect they mutter things under their breath. If a lot more people had a better attitude, it would allow a greater portion of society to have the chance to live their lives."

The pair have chosen not to sign a civil partnership. "I'm not sure I agree with it," says Mr Spring. "If people want to do it, they can, but it was never something we were bothered about.

"We don't need a piece of paper. We've been together this long because we want to be together. I would hate to get into a civil partnership with someone and then have a divorce two weeks later."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own