Here I am again with a few blasts from the past, I left off in my last post, Part 1 when I was in my early teens so I will continue from there! I was not the brightest child and did not know too much about world affairs, in fact most things that I knew about the outside world was what I learned from playing the board game Risk where you had to conquer the whole world to win! I was not good at that either!
One day when I was leaving my job on the chicken farm, a local man stopped me and said that John Kennedy had been shot, My reply to him was, that’s sad but I do not know him, I did not know he was the American President, I was, as I said, pretty dumb on world affairs at that time!
In the early to mid 1960’s fast food arrived in England in the form of Wimpy Burgers, The food was much better than the fast food present day but I will not mention the makers of the modern day slop! These were popular for years but I do not know if any have survived! When I was last in England in 2003, I noticed a Wimpy bar in White Chapel opposite the Royal London Hospital so Me and Ellie ate there, it was OK but not as good as the ones in my memories! Also, as a piece of totally useless information, in the mid 1970’s I actually ate in the Highest Wimpy Bar in the world which was located on the 60th floor of the Carlton Center in Johannesburg, South Africa! That building burned down long ago!
My High school life was nothing to brag about, I attended Wyke Manor High School after taking the 11 Plus Exam but I only liked Wood and Metal Work, Technical Drawing, History and Sports, the rest of the school work was of no interest to me especially Language as I wanted to learn German but instead they insisted that I had to learn French, a language that I had no interest in at all. German would have been useful in my later life! The school has since been demolished, making space for a sports complex!
When the Last Summer holidays came around, me and several of my mates who were also 14 left school which we could so I had a six week holiday before I could officially start work! There was no school leaving certificate as every kid in the UK had to go to school so that was not a problem and the school gave us all good marks on our final report cards! Leaving school at that age was a mistake as I found out later but I did manage to continue my education in later years!
At this time in the mid to later part of the 1960’s the music was great, I liked the new Rock Bands like The Who, Rolling Stones, Manfred Man, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Them, and lots of others too many to name! I was also a fan of the new Folk Singers like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Melanie, Bob Segar and many more! I remember my Dad always telling me to turn that rubbish music down, just like I do now with my kids when the play the Rap Crap and Hip Hop! Its strange what comes around goes around!
At this time, the Vietnam War was in full swing. There were all kinds of horror pictures on the TV and they looked even more gruesome as we had a color TV at the time! The War Theme Music by Credence Clear Water Revival was really great though!
I remember sitting up one night with my dad watching the first Moon Landing which I thought was really great! People say even today that it was faked but I am convinced otherwise!
Around the same Time, the trouble in Northern Ireland rose its ugly head once again, little did I know that one day I would be involved in that conflict!
I was a working Teen now, I got my first Job as an Apprentice Panel Beater, Car Body Repairer at the Reliance Garage in Brighouse and got stuck into the work that I could do but under the expert guidance of the more senior Panel Beaters. I thought that this would be my full time profession so I worked hard at it! I learned Welding, both Gas and Electric, Gas Brazing, Auto Electrical Works, Motor Mechanics, and of course, how to straighten bent bits on car bodies! The only thing that I did not like about the job was that I was also the Tea Boy, I had to make tea and coffee for the whole shop, about 30 men, also I had to buy the lunch orders so a good half of my working day was spent not doing my chosen works! The money in them days was not good, if I was lucky, after a full weeks work, paying for my bus fares etc I would be lucky if I went home with 2 pounds, not much for 40+ hours work!
After about a year, I moved companies to Woodhall Nicholson’s in Halifax, this was a more specialist works which constructed Hearse’s, coffin carriers and they also restored vintage cars and did works on vehicles for the Film Industry! One of my more strange jobs there was to fit a broken wind screen into a Vintage Bentley Which was used in the TV series, the Avengers. The plot was, on set, John Steed would have an attempt on his life by the bad guys launching a ladder at him, it went through the windscreen and was last seen with his bowler hat hanging from the end of the ladder. In the next episode it continued with a very much alive John Steed! That was my claim to fame there! This was not the job I really wanted as I had to do the tea and food run and once again I lost half of my working day shopping! My intention was to really learn car repairs so that one day I could have my own business one day so once again I moved on!
This time I moved to a small outfit with only 5 employees and once again I had to do the tea and sandwiches but this was pretty quick as everything was very close and it was close to home! It was really hands on body repairs and I really learned a lot even with Paint Spraying added into the equation! I enjoyed the works a lot but I kept asking the boss for a pay rise he always made excuses that he could not afford it. With a normal 12 hour day, 7 days a week I was taking home just 8 pounds a week and the working conditions were pretty grim, especially in the winter time as the roof of the shop leaked so the floor was always wet and cold and when cars came in for repair they had snow packed under the wings so being wet and cold was normal! Again, after about a year, I was on my way to work one morning but instead of crossing to road to catch the bus to my works, I caught a bus going into Bradford and without any thought from me I went and joined the Army!
I passed all the requirements to join the army and was asked what skills I wished to learn, I told them that
driving cranes would be good so they accepted that and Placed me in the Royal Engineer which would be my home for the next 9 years!
My Dad was very happy with the news of me joining the army, he said it would make a man out of me but my Mum was not at all happy as she said that only boys from broken homes joined the army!
It was the Landlord and Landlady of my local pub who actually signed my Character References to join but I never told Mum That!
That’s enough from this episode so please enjoy it and I will continue with Part 3 very soon, this will be about my Army Life!