INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 48

 IVOR’S INSIGHTS

                                                       Part Forty-Eight

 As well as my interest, and partaking in music particularly Trad jazz and Skiffle, I also became equally interested in photography. I should point out that this interest was long before the digital age of photography arrived. I bought magazines and read all I could to learn more about the art.  I started with a fairly basic Kodak camera using Black and White 35mm size film which was the most popular and easily obtainable at that time. I also bought all the necessary photographic equipment and learnt how to develop and print my own films.

   By using the loft of my house in church Crookham as a darkroom I was able to develop my films and then print the images of my choice. The only snag with this method was that I had no supply of water, a key element in this process, in my loft. I overcame this by filling a bucket of water downstairs and carried it upstairs to where I then carried it very carefully up a step ladder into the loft. After my developing and printing activities were finished, I repeated the ladder and bucket operation in reverse with one difference. The last part of the printing process requires the print to be doused into a tray of water. This tray of water and prints was then emptied into the bucket of water I had taken into the loft and then very carefully taken back down the ladder and emptied into a bath of water in the bathroom. This allows the water to wash away, and neutralise any of the developing fluids used in the whole process.

  Kathy didn’t appreciate coming from work sometimes only to be confronted with a pile of photograph’s lying in a bath of water in the bathroom!

  In time I decided to upgrade my camera and bought a second hand Rolleiflex T Camera. This camera is a classic which, in its heyday, was used worldwide by professional wedding photographers and press cameramen. It uses 120mm size film which gives you square 2-1/4in (6x6 cm) size negatives which are about 3 times larger than negatives from 35mm film... The larger negative gives you a stronger foundation to build on to produce a better resolution and sharper clarity, especially when printing enlargements of any photograph.

  I must say, with all due modesty, I, armed with my Rolleiflex T (T for Tesser Lens), camera became quite proficient, thanks to the brilliant quality of the camera especially the Tessar Lens. I was even asked to take the wedding photographs for a neighbour of ours whose daughter was getting married at a local church in Aldershot. Not only did I take the black and white photographs, develop, and successfully print them afterwards, I also used my own car to drive the bride and groom to and from the church.  

  Being asked to take someone's wedding photographs was a labour of love for me and as an amateur photographer, the only charge I made was to ask for my expenses i.e. cost of films, developing fluids and printing paper to be covered.

  This, my first wedding assignment, was successfully repeated a few months later when I was asked by Kathy to take the photographs for a working colleague of hers whose daughter was getting married in Basingstoke. I was happy to accept the request but there was a problem this time because, not surprisingly, the bride and groom wanted colour photographs which I was unable to do because I didn’t have the right equipment or expertise to print colour.

 I got over this hurdle by getting a Professional Photographic Library in London to do all the necessary printing. Naturally using colour film and their services put the cost up quite a bit but it was worth it. The quality of the images was brilliant, my expenses were covered and the recipients of the photographs were delighted with the end results.  

  As the day of the wedding approached, I was a bit nervous because of the responsibility facing me and not knowing any of the people didn’t help. But when I saw the church and the surrounding wedding venue any tension I had was eased by the sight of lush green gardens, tables, chairs, and blossoming trees all bathed in the summer sunshine. It was an ideal setting to take colour photographs for any bride and groom’s wedding. The big question at that moment in time was would my efforts be satisfactory. Thankfully they were and everyone, including me, was very pleased with the end results.

 Another wedding I covered was when one of Kathy’s nephews got married in Shropshire. This happy occasion was also captured successfully on Kodak Colour film by my trusty Rolleiflex camera.  I used the same Professional Photographic Library in London with the same perfect results. As an extra present to the happy couple, I purchased a photographic album for them to put their day’s memories into.  

 My camera and I were constant companions. I proudly took it on all our holidays. One holiday I’ll never forget was one of the many we’ve had in the Tyrol region of Austria when, as I got off a coach with my heavy Rolleiflex around my neck, I stumbled and fell a few feet down the side of a hill. Kathy, our two sons, Chris and Martin plus our nephew Michael couldn’t help laughing because as they recall saying to me ‘Dad, one minute you were with us on the coach and the next minute you were disappearing over the edge of a cliff’. But, as soon as I stumbled, my first thought was to hold on to my beloved Rolleiflex which I did. 

 My Rolleiflex and I were ever-present throughout our caravanning days. Kathy undertook the task of Editor of the Monthly East Hants Magazine and wrote various articles supplying information and news for the members. I remember we worked together once when I took some portrait photographs of various club members and deliberately cut off the lower half of the print so that only the top part of the head, eyes and hair were visible. These mutilated prints were then inserted into the magazine as a quiz, asking people to identify the subject. I also wrote various articles accompanied with photographs for the National Caravan Club magazine.  It’s always nice to see your efforts in print.

 During these days I was still working at Shell Centre where it was customary to have a Farewell Party, which was organised and supplied by the company, for anyone upon their retirement. I was asked, and agreed, to cover many of these happy occasions with my camera. The 10x8 inch photographs my Rolleiflex produced from these occasions were always well received by the people present.

 Finally, the day came when it was time for me, to shut the shutters for good, on my Rolleiflex.

I didn’t want to try to sell it. I wanted it to go to a good home and someone who would appreciate it’s history and quality so I gave it to my eldest son Chris who still has it. These camera’s and similar ones are still used by devotees to film photography rather than Digital and fortunately 120mm film is still obtainable if you look hard enough.   

 During my happy photographic days, other things not so pleasant were happening in the UK.

Such as the conflict between the IRA and Britain was never far away. There were many terrible incidents in London and other parts of the UK. The nearest one to us happened when the peace and tranquillity of leafy Guildford in Surrey were shattered on October 5th 1974 when bombs killed 5 and injured 65.

 I have written about these awful days before and all I can say is that I take no sides. I only report the facts of the events that happened. I have met and worked with many Irish people over many years. I have visited their country and there is no doubt that the vast majority want nothing more than to live normal peaceful lives. But the bitterness and all-consuming hatred shown by a minority have ensured that their dream is still not a lasting reality in this beautiful land.

 

 

---End of Part Forty-Eight--

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 47

Insights Into Ivor

   Part Forty-Seven

As you will already have read I was interested in sport from a very early age, playing football, cricket, tennis and golf. My youngest son Martin, born in 1962, followed my sporting interest when he was older but our eldest son Chris wasn’t particularly interested in ball games. Football or cricket left him cold. He much preferred to sit by a river, canal or pond with a fishing rod and cast his line, with some poor innocent maggot attached, into the water and then wait for a hungry, unsuspecting fish to take the bait.

I suppose you could say Chris had fallen for fishing, hook, line and sinker. Talking of maggots Kathy had a fright one day when opening the fridge she saw a plastic container of wriggling maggots looking at her.

 You can imagine she was, shall we say, not very pleased,  To Chris, it was sensible to put the maggots in the fridge and thereby have fresh live maggots for the hungry fish. Boys will be boys.

 Fortunately, there was a pond within cycling distance from our home in Church Crookham. We bought Chris a new bike (no, it wasn’t the Green Flash) and off he’d go with one of his friends on their bikes complete with rods, maggots, folding seats, a large umbrella, a sandwich or two and drinks for themselves.

It was on such a fishing trip one day when Chris was hit by a car and sustained a broken leg.  He was hospitalised and eventually came out with his leg in a plaster caste and a pair of crutches. The car driver was summoned to court for dangerous driving but was found not guilty.

I remember Chris’s incapacity didn’t stop us going away on a weeks holiday to Mevagissey in Cornwall. There were echoes here of Long John Silver as Chris walked along the harbour walls. He only needed a parrot on his shoulder and uttering the time-honoured phrase ‘shiver me timbers Jim Lad’ to complete the image.

 Despite the accident, it didn’t stop us, as a family,  going to Mevagissey many times after the accident. We had found a very friendly couple who ran a Bed and Breakfast business in their house a few miles outside Mevagissey. I remember one trip we did when Chris and Martin wanted to fish off the harbour wall. Chris caught a fish or two but Martin couldn’t even get a bite. So, unknown to him, when he wasn’t looking I took a fish of Chris’s line and transferred it to Martins. He stood there completely unaware until Chris and I shouted out to him ‘Look, Martin, you’ve got a bite’  the look of surprise and delight on his face was a joy to behold as this shimmering fighting tiddler rose from the water into the summer sunlight.

 Mevagissey is like so many fishing ports in that you can pay to take a trip on a fishing boat out beyond the harbour wall and try for bigger fish like Mackerel, So, one day we decided to give it a try. Kathy got on first and I followed with the boys. I deliberately sat with my arms around them just in case one of them might fall over the side of the boat. The water was calm and everything went well as we left the harbour and headed out to the not so calm open sea. But after about 15 minutes I told the Skipper of the vessel that I felt a bit queasy whereupon he signalled me to move from the back of the boat and take a more stable seat in the middle. At that point, I felt so sick that I just had to take his advice and move to the middle. I was so relieved when we returned to the sanctuary of the Harbour. 

 The Skipper had caught quite a lot of Mackerel and as we staggered off his boat, he said to us ‘How many would you like to take home’?   At that moment in time, I never wanted to see another Mackerel or any fish again  But Chris and Martin wanted to have some so I gave in and they left the boat and proudly walked through the village back to our car with 4 or 5 mackerel tied around with string and took them back to our B/B house where they were gratefully received by our friendly hosts. The irony is that now I love Mackerel.

 

--End of Part Forty-Seven--

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR PART 46

  INSIGHTS ON IVOR   
 Part Forty-Six

    In June 1970 the tiny island of Tonga, whose Queen Salotte endeared herself to the British public when, despite the heavy rainfall, she attended Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953, gained its independence from Britain.

  Also in June, Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Norway started talks on their entry into the Common Market. This was a plan for the European Countries to form a common trading organisation between each other with each country retaining all their own independence and sovereignty.

 As I write this now it is December 2019 and that original dream of European Unity went, for Britain, badly wrong. It descended into chaos with thousands of unelected politicians making many unpopular decisions which were unacceptable to us. We wanted the right to make our own decisions and our sovereignty.

There was a General Election in June 1970 and Ted Heath became Prime Minister with Alec Douglas Home as Foreign Secretary.

On the sporting front Golfer, Tony Jacklin became the first Briton for 50 years to win the U.S. Open when he won the title in Minneapolis. He had already won the British Open and thus he joined two of the all-time greats of golf, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan as the only ones to have won both Opens in the same golfing year.

The year also saw the Methodists announce that they were allowing women to become full Ministers in their Church. Some cynics said women have been preaching for years and without many methods but I wouldn’t dare to make such a comment nowadays with all this women’s lib and P.C. around.

  A sad loss occurred when Sir Allen Lane died. The name may not be familiar to many but his brainchild will. He was the man who made paperback books ‘famous’ by thinking up the idea of calling his books Penguin and although there are many different paperback books around today there is only one Penguin trademark.

 On Sept 12th four airliners destined for New York were hi-Jacked. The attempt on one, an EL AL Boeing 707, was thwarted when the crew overpowered the two hijackers one of whom was killed. The other one, a girl named Leila Khaled, was handed over at Heathrow to the British Police. Her arrest caused the hijack of a BOAC VC10 and that aircraft, along with the other two hijacked planes, a Swiss and an American one were flown to Jordan where 255 passengers were released before the planes were blown up in the desert but the hijackers, believed to be members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, held 56 British passengers as hostages at a secret location. They were eventually released on Sept. 20th.

 Another sad loss occurred when Field Marshal William Slim died. He was the man who led the British 14TH Army, the forgotten Army, throughout the Burma campaign in the Second World War.  History books record, quite rightly I might add, the epic struggle in the Middle East when General, later Field Marshal, Montgomery led the 8TH Army to victory over Rommel at El Alamein but the desperate and largely unsung struggle endured by the 14th Army under General Slim, as he was then, in the steamy unrelating jungles of Burma were every bit as heroic and deserving of the nations gratitude.

 To finish on a lighter note, you may like to know that on October 20th missiles were thrown at the stage during the Miss World Beauty Contest in London to which I can only add, in true cockney style, ‘Blimey, they must have been an ugly lot of gals that year’

 

-End of Part Forty-Six—

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR PART 45

  INSIGHTS ON IVOR
       Part Forty-Five 



   I shall now move on to some of the events which occurred during the 1970s. These included such varied things as the 4,000 people who died of an outbreak of Asian Flu throughout the U.K. in the week ending January 2nd 1970. In London Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate cemetery was desecrated by having swastikas painted on it and also damaged in an attempt to blow it up. 

 Aviation History was made when a Boeing 747 aircraft (which because of their sheer size were called Jumbo’s arrived in Britain). It was three hours late touching down at Heathrow due to engine trouble en route. 
  February 15th 1970 was the day when Britain lost a man to whom the whole country owes a huge debt of gratitude. I am referring to Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding (later 1st Baron Dowding GCB GCVO CMG) who died on that day. He was the man in charge of the R.A.F.’s Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. 

Talking of Aircraft, Concorde made its first Supersonic Flight in this decade. 

 The voting age within the UK was lowered from 21 to 18. The average house price was around £4,900. On the music scene, Record Players and Cassette Players were very popular. The Isle of Wight held its biggest Rock Music Festival when 600,000 people attended.  In April 1970 many were surprised to hear that the Beatles broke up. 

 On the religious side, another surprise came when the Methodists announced that women could become full Ministers in its Church. Some male cynics quipped that women had been preaching for years without many methods but remember this was before the eventual successful enlightened days of Liberation and rights for women came into being. 

 In the Queen’s birthday honours list Sir Laurence Olivier, in recognition of his vast contribution to the world of Theatre was the first actor to be given a life peerage and became Lord Olivier. 

 Sad to record that the decade of the 1970s was one of the breakdowns of Industrial Relations throughout the country. There were so many strikes starting with the British Miners after refusing a £2 a week pay rise from the National Coal Board went on strike on January 9th. Power stations were closed and Electricity supplies rationed. 

To make matters worse, the Postmen on January 20th, decided, for the first time in their history to also go on strike. 

 The troubles in Northern Ireland were still ranging. The Army used rubber bullets for the first time in both Belfast and Londonderry as well as CS gas in an effort to quell stone-throwing rioters in the Bogside. Sunday, January 30th saw a conflict which killed thirteen men and youths with seventeen more wounded. This battle is forever remembered as ‘Bloody Sunday’
 
 One of the biggest changes we witnessed in the UK in 1971 was when the country said goodbye to centuries of dealing in Pounds, Shillings and Pence and we all tried to understand the new decimal coinage imposed upon us. There were worries that in the confusion some shops and businesses would be marking up their prices, which many did. Older people were hit the hardest trying to adjust to this dramatic change. Many were reluctant to lose the Tanner (sixpence), Bob (1 shilling), the thruppny bit (a three-penny piece) and the Half-crown (two shillings and sixpence). Thinking back to it now I must admit that when I remember the sheer size and weight of the old one penny coins and consider there were 240 of them to each one pound you soon realise why we used to get holes in our trouser pockets!

 Whilst all of the UK troubles and changes were going on, Kathy and I continued our interest in Caravanning and joined the Caravan Club. This National organisation was open to any caravan owners to join. It is split into county areas throughout the UK. As we lived in the east part of Hampshire, we became members of the East Hants Branch. Joining this was one of the best decisions we ever made. Every weekend members of the many county branches would meet up for a Friday-Sunday Rally which would be held at a locally convenient site i.e. a Farmers field, a Village hall or School playgrounds to that area.  

  Every Saturday evening there would be some entertainment which varied from such diverse options as Dances in the village or school hall, Barbecues on a summer evening when I, along with my guitar, aided and abetted by another caravaner who played the piano accordion, would lead everyone in a sing-a-long session. Another activity which provided much laughter, was for participants to visit other designated vans and play a hand or two of cards whilst enjoying a glass (or two?) of Sherry with the owners of that van. When suitably refreshed we would then move on to the next 

Participating couple’s van where we would repeat the same act of playing another hand of cards whilst partaking of more Sherry. You can imagine what mayhem sometimes occurred if someone had too many glasses of the Amber Nectar. The result would be that the individual concerned would be so muddled that he (or she) would not only have no idea what trumps were but by this time couldn’t care less anyway. 

  We looked forward to every Friday when we would hitch up our caravan and head off to the designated Rally site for that weekend. These weekend breaks were viewed as a welcome rest and a chance to recharge our batteries for the return to work on Monday morning. Chris and Martin were at an age when our caravanning escapades were not for them, so we trusted them to stay at home and not indulge in any wild parties to annoy our neighbours. There were some occasions they would pay us a quick visit on their motorbikes.   

 It was also around this time in our lives when Kathy and I decided to try a holiday on a cruise liner. Kathy’s father had spent a large part of his life at sea. He served as a Merchant Seaman, a Royal Marine and finally in the Royal Navy in which he served as a Chief Petty Officer during the Second World War. It was only natural that Kathy was interested in all things naval and very keen to try life on the Ocean Wave even if it was only a holiday cruise. 

 We took the ‘plunge’ by booking a six-day trip on a small ship called the Eagle which acted as a car ferry as well as a cruise ship. The cost of the cruise passage for us was only £45 each for a four-berth cabin on a return trip from Southampton visiting Lisbon, (Portugal), Algeciras (Spain), Tangiers (Morocco), back to Lisbon before returning to Southampton. 

 The whole experience was great value for the money. Even though Chris and Martin did sometimes prefer to stay on board in the swimming pool rather than go ashore on an excursion it was a big success for Kathy and I and the beginning of a love affair with cruising which we carried on for many years including celebrating our Silver/Golden and Diamond Wedding Anniversaries on different ships and visiting different countries around the world.

 Two ships we fondly remember are P and O’s Canberra and the Royal Princess. We cruised on the Canberra and I remember one sunny afternoon in the Mediterranean when the Captain told all passengers he had received a message that there was a bomb on board the ship and all passengers were to return to their cabins, search thoroughly and to report to a ship's officer if they found any suspicious items. This episode came during the height of the troubles in Ireland. We did as we were instructed, found nothing untoward until the Captain announced that nothing had been found and we could all return to our cabins which we did. No sooner did we do this when there was a very loud bang akin to a bomb blast. Fortunately, the Captain came back on the Tannoy and allayed any fears by informing us that the bang was not a bomb but the sound of Concorde breaking the sound barrier as she raced across the sky above our ship. You can imagine what a relief that was.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

-End of Part Forty-Five- 

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 44

INSIGHTS ON IVOR

IVOR’S INSIGHTS

Part Forty-Four

When our two boys were young, we took them on various holidays including camping in tents to places such as Littlehampton, Brighton, and Weymouth. But our biggest adventure was taking them from Crookham, Hampshire to Comrie Perthshire in Scotland. Because I only had a Ford Prefect car at that time it was decided that wasn’t big enough to carry the four of us plus the tent and all the paraphernalia for a journey of approximately 450 miles from Crookham to the Camping site we’d booked at Comrie.   

Help came to the rescue when Kathy’s Uncle Phil offered us his metal trailer which hitched onto a towing bar on the back of my car. This trailer had a hinged lockable lid, a spare wheel and a solid water container attached to the back. It was perfect for our needs so off we trundled to Bonnie, Scotland loaded to the brim. I remember many hours later we were travelling along the road in the vicinity around Moffatt which in those days was in Dumfriesshire, later to become Dumfries and Galloway, when a train suddenly appeared running alongside the road we were travelling on. Many of the train passengers were looking out of their windows and waving at Chris and Martin who naturally waved back to them. It was a lovely welcoming moment to Scotland. We still had approximately 90 miles to go to Comrie but we eventually arrived at our camping site and pitched our tent.

 

This was our first of many subsequent visits to Scotland and we enjoyed visiting such places as Pitlochry where we all enjoyed seeing the Salmon leaping. We also saw ted Loch Tummel and admired the scenery from the Queens View. We went to Loch Tay and Crieff, a town which I believe was used for filming parts of what became a very popular television series called Dr Finlay’s Casebook. Another trip we did was taking a long car journey out to Braemar. The roads were deserted and we enjoyed the peace and serenity of the area. We stopped for a picnic but unfortunately, it started to rain so we stopped and not to be denied our picnic I opened one of the cars back doors and fixed a piece of waterproof sheeting up under which Kathy cooked some sausages on a small camping stove. They were delicious and after we were suitably replenished and the rain eased sufficiently, we continued our exploration of the route to Braemar.

 

The rain we encountered on the journey to Braemar was nothing compared to what was to come later. The sad truth was that on our 14-day holiday in Scotland we had ten days of rain, some of which was of Biblical proportions. We did our best to make the best of it by trying find places to take Chris and Martin out to escape the rain but it wasn’t easy to find any suitable dry places to satisfy our quest. I remember sitting in the tent and wistfully saying to Kathy ‘What are we doing, sitting here 450 miles from home in a tent with our two young adventure-seeking children with thunder and lightning all around us and the seemingly never-ending torrential rain lashing down on our newly purchased Canvas home’?    

 

Despite the dismal weather, we remember one dry day when the rain took pity on us and stopped. We made the most of it by paying a visit to my Sister in Law Ethel’s Brother Bob and his wife Nancy who lived in Hamilton. They made us very welcome and gave us a guided tour of the area complete with Bagpipes!

 

Eventually, the end of the holiday came and it was time for us to dismantle the tent, which fortunately had dried out sufficiently for us to pack it into the trailer, hitch it up to the car and commence our 450-mile journey home. We left on a Friday evening with the intention of driving through the night and only stopping for occasional breaks for food and some sleep. To this end Kathy made up a ‘bed’ for Chris and Martin in the back of the car and because it was important that I, as the driver should have a sleep or two to keep us all safe Kathy and I changed over our two front seats. This meant by me sleeping in the front passenger seat I could avoid the inconvenience and discomfort of having the gear lever and steering wheel in my way. Naturally, this meant that Kathy had those two items to avoid as much as she could but she bravely put up with it and survived the discomfort.  

 

After driving many miles something happened which was to have a lasting and happy effect on our later lives. We pulled into a layby for one of our breaks and within a few minutes, a car pulling a caravan entered the same layby and stopped in front of us.

With minutes the owners of the Caravan plus their two passengers had vacated the car and moved into the Caravan.  The van lights went on and the four people were now sitting around the table at the back of the Van, eating, drinking copious cups of tea and laughing and joking. Little did they know that whilst they were merrymaking in the warmth of their caravan, sitting in a Ford Prefect car behind them were two people, cold, tired and hungry, with their two children, fast asleep on the back seat. It was then at that moment in time that Kathy and I, now green with envy, decided that our tenting days were well and truly over. We saw, over the rainbow, a future for us where there would be no more sitting under canvas in some rain-sodden muddy thunder clapped field lit up by great flashes of lightning and later having the task of dismantling the soaking wet canvas, wait for it to dry sufficiently before packing it into our trailer and travelling for home. We decided that buying a caravan and heading for the open road was a far more appealing option.

 

It was some years later before we could realise this dream. It happened when we were on a trip to Shropshire to visit Kathy’s mother. One day we saw in the front garden of a house a second-hand caravan marked up for sale for only £300. We stopped our car which by this time was a Hillman Hunter saloon with automatic transmission.

 

I knocked on the door of the house and fortunately for us the owner was in. He gave us a thorough inspection of the van and its history. We were both very impressed with its good condition and after some negotiations, we agreed a price with him.  

 

I explained to him that we didn’t have a towing ball and bracket fixed on our car strong enough for towing a caravan and also, because we were not local people, we would like to return home in Hampshire and get this necessary safety requirement done to our car and return to Shropshire the following week to finalise the deal and pick up the caravan to bring home. He agreed to our request and we, complete with new tow ball and bracket returned the following Saturday.  It was quite exciting to complete the deal, hitch up the van and slowly drive away and head for the open road southwards. I must admit towing a caravan for the first time was a bit of a challenge particularly negotiating tight corners and roundabouts but we made the journey of approximately 160 miles safely home delighted with our new purchase.

 

--End of Party Forty-Four—

 

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 43

INSIGHTS ON IVOR

 

Part Forty Three 

A train journey of mine you may like to read about happened one morning when I left home at my usual time of 6:15 a.m. heading for the 6:43 a.m. train from Fleet to Waterloo. The weather was reasonably warm, with a slight wind which accompanied the early morning bird song as I headed off for another day at the office. Because of the wind blowing and knowing my wide brimmed hat had a tendency to leave my head I pulled it down tighter on my head as I pedalled faster to keep my rendezvous with the 6:43 a.m. train at the station. Unfortunately with hat and head down I restricted my vision ahead and before I knew what was happening there was a loud sound of metal hitting metal as my trusty steed crashed into the back of a parked car in the road outside someone’s house. 

I just didn’t see it in time. My bike hit the offside light cluster and broke the glass and bulbs of a Red MG Sports car. The bike went one way; I went another whilst the briefcase and hat sought sanctuary somewhere else amidst this scattered heap in the middle of the road. I remember there was a milk delivery van passing by and the driver only gave me a ‘fleeting’ (sic) glance. I imagined he was thinking ‘What’s this idiot doing at this time (6:18 a.m.)     

 The final insult was to find that because of my fall onto the road I had sustained a cut to my trousers just below the knee which in turn caused a wound to my leg which was now bleeding. I also broke a tooth when I hit the deck which wasn’t exactly a laugh. 

 After picking myself up and making a note of the house number I, in the true spirit of the Royal Air Force, picked up my bike and reassembled the briefcase and hat to their original places. So, with briefcase back on the rack behind the saddle and hat jammed more firmly on my head  I remounted the somewhat embarrassed Green Flash and peddled ‘very’ slowly back home having decided I was in no fit state to continue my hazardous journey to the station.  

 As I opened my front door, Kathy appeared at the top of the stairs surprised as to my sudden reappearance back home. When I told her I had run into the back of a car around the corner and in doing so had cut my trousers and leg, which was still bleeding.  We both had to laugh a bit at the stupidity of the situation.  Chris and Martin who were just getting ready for school also enjoyed Dad’s little accident!  

 As I was still a little shaken after all this excitement I decided I couldn’t face going to work now. I went back to bed and slept for about a half an hour to aid recovery. 

After a good rest I got up and dressed which included a change of trousers, mine being cut too much.  

Feeling guilty about the damage I’d done I walked back around the corner to the scene of the crime. As I approached the scene I saw a man standing by the damaged MG Sports car.  After ascertaining that he was the owner of the car I immediately owned up to being the person who had hit his pride and joy. He was most surprised to learn that it was a bicycle which had caused the damage. His surprise was due to the fact that because he had found a small piece of Green paint on the road near his car then it must have been a green car which had caused the damage. He had spent some time walking up and down the road looking for such a car and seeking the owner of the said vehicle with no result.  I assured him that the green paint was from my bike and not someone’s car.   

 After more apologies from me I told him to get the damage fixed and I would pay for it.  He accepted my apologies and later that day came round to my house to tell me that he had replaced the damaged light cluster on his car. He said he was grateful for my honesty and wanted to repay it. He did this by not going to a shop and paying full price for a new light cluster unit but instead he visited a local car breakers yard and found a second hand cluster unit which did the job perfectly well and of course at a much cheaper price. So it all ended up amicably. 

 I’m pleased to say the Green Flash, minus a small piece of green paint, survived the crash and went on for another 24 years flashing its way to and from Fleet station avoiding all vehicles, especially MG Sport cars. It was finally retired when its owner hung up his cycle clips on which there was no sign of green paint, in January 1989. 

 

--End of Part Forty Three --

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 42

INSIGHTS ON IVOR
Part Forty-Two

The big sporting occasion of the year 1966 was England winning the football World Cup (at least it was for all Englishmen but I’m not so sure for the rest of the countries that make up the United Kingdom!)  There was fright before the tournament started, when the actual cup was stolen from Westminster Hall where it was on display.  It was found a week later when a Thames Lighterman’s dog was spotted tearing at an object wrapped in newspaper, to everyone’s surprise, and delight the bundle contained the solid Jules Rimet Cup which sixteen countries were preparing to do battle for in July.

 Battle was the right word in some of the games too. England’s manager Alf Ramsey (who was later knighted for steering England to victory) referred to some of the Argentine players as ‘animals’ in the game against England. The whole country was drawn into the football fever which spread throughout the land. England eventually won through to the Final and I well remember that magical July Saturday at Wembley Stadium as when England’s Captain, Bobby Moore led out the England team to face Germany in the Final. Millions throughout the country were glued to their Television sets willing their heroes on. The match was fiercely fought as you’d expect between our two countries. Despite some controversy over one of England’s goals, the match ended in England winning 4-2.

The names of the English team on that glorious day went into the history books and even today in the year of 2019 there are many old-timers like me who still remember Captain Bobby Moore, the brothers Jack and Bobby Charlton, Gordon Banks, Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles, George Cohen, Ray Wilson, Alan Ball, Roger Hunt, and thankfully, Geoff Hurst who scored a hat trick for which he was later awarded a Knighthood. It should also be noted that Bobby Charlton also received a Knighthood for his services to football.

Another reason why I remember the match so well is because our next-door neighbour at the time was a German lady, a very nice friendly person who had married an Englishman after fleeing from Germany at the end of the Second World War and settling in England.  As she and her husband weren’t interested in football at all Kathy and I watched the match in our house. This enabled me freely to shout out such rallying cries as ‘Come on England’ without fear of causing any offense or annoyance to our neighbours.  

The 1960s saw many changes throughout the world. For instance, America’s President John Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963 as he was driven in a motorcade through Dallas Texas was one of the most remembered events. I recall the utter shock which reverberated around the world as we watched this horrific murder on our television screens. People still to this day recall what they were doing on that particular moment in time. I, as usual, was at work.  

In 1966 as well as the British Public seeing England winning the World Cup via their television screens they were also able to watch the State Opening of Parliament when that was televised for the first time. Talking of Parliament the Death Penalty and the two highly contentious and different issues of Abortions and Homosexuality were both changed through Acts of Parliament. 

History was made on December 1967 when South African Surgeon Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the First successful Heart Transplant on another human being.

The recipient of this new heart was another South African by the name of Louis Washkansky who survived the operation and lived for another 18 years.

The year 1968 saw two horrific murders. In April the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement Doctor Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee and in the following month, the late President John F. Kennedy’s brother Robert (Bobby) was murdered in Los Angeles. This came five years after his brother; President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas Texas.

The last year of the decade will forever be remembered as the year when Man landed on the Moon for the first time. American Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first man to actually step onto the lunar surface followed by his partner Edward (Buzz) Aldrin. The third member of the crew making this world shattering event was Michael Collins who manned the Space Capsule as it orbited the Moon whilst Armstrong and Aldrin were examining the Planets surface, taking photographs and recording material which was transmitted down to Mission Control in Houston Texas.   It really was an awe-inspiring feat of ingenuity, bravery, and discovery for the World.  There were many people, myself included, who couldn’t help wondering if these three brave men were going to be successfully returned to Mother Earth. Thank goodness they were and the world breathed a gigantic sigh of relief and admiration. 

I only include these historical facts in my story because I lived through them and not only can I recall the shock horror at some of the tragic and evil events which occurred during these periods but I can also consider how lucky I am to remember some of the wonderful feats performed by many men and women in the fields of medicine and science and how much we all owe to them for their work and dedication which has benefited mankind now and for future mankind.     

 

--End of Part Forty-Two-

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 41

IVORS INSIGHTS

INSIGHTS ON IVOR

Part Forty-One

Moving to Fleet Hampshire brought a slight change to my daily commuting travel to work. From my house in Bedford Road Ruislip Gardens, it was only a five-minute walk to the train station where I caught a Central Line Tube train and changed at Oxford Circus to the Northern line for my train to Waterloo. But because my new house in Church Crookham was over two miles from Fleet station I used my car (1957 built Ford Popular car) for this daily journey and parked the car in the station car park for which there was a parking fee. This mode of transport was later changed to cycling. As I had sold my bicycle before the move to Fleet and not wishing to buy another one I resorted to visiting the local dump (scrap yard or ‘recycling’ centre). I found an old but serviceable bike frame, which I painted green, some old mudguards and other bits and pieces which enabled me to assemble a bike myself.  

 

At this point, I should tell you that, unlike the Underground Tube trains which ran quite frequently, the service from Fleet to Waterloo in those days was an hourly one on a steam train. This meant that when I was on early duty, which was on alternate days, I started work at 8 a.m. To allow time for any train delays and not wanting to be late I would leave my house at 06.15 a.m. to catch the 06.43 a.m. train from Fleet station which was scheduled for arrival at Waterloo at 07.30 a.m.

I had a briefcase which I attached to a holding rack behind my saddle. Upon arriving at Fleet station, I would dismount, dash onto the platform and park my bike in the covered area reserved for all bicycles. After locking up my bike and removing my briefcase from the back I would cross over the bridge to the opposite platform to catch the train to Waterloo. 

 There were some days, particularly in the winter time, when I would oversleep. This resulted in a mad dash on my trusty steed to the station. With briefcase firmly attached to the rack, my head down and my legs pedaling like pistons I hurtled along Fleet High Street nearly breaking the sound barrier.  It’s no wonder my bike was known as ‘The Green Flash’.  As I raced into the station’s entrance heaven help anyone who crossed my flight path.  There was a very helpful porter at Fleet station named Vic, who upon seeing any passenger arriving late for the London train, and panic-stricken as they dashed across the bridge would warn the train driver by shouting out, ‘One coming over’. I must admit that on those occasions when I was one of those late comers and if Vic wasn’t on duty, I would copy his warning to the driver as I dashed across the bridge, down the steps onto the platform, grabbing the handle of the first carriage door I could reach and, complete with briefcase would fall into the carriage receiving somewhat startled looks from some of the passengers ‘hiding’ behind their morning newspapers. The cost of an Annual Season ticket commuting from Fleet to Waterloo was £108.  There was no way I could afford a lump sum of that amount on my own but, fortunately, once again, Shell as they did with my mortgage, came to the rescue. They supplied the required amount to any employee who couldn’t afford the lump sum and then deducted the loan by monthly amounts from their monthly salary.  As a point of interest when I retired from Shell in 1989 I believe that the cost of an annual season ticket for the same journey had increased to over £1,300. 

During my days of traveling from Fleet to Waterloo, I was sometimes caught up in delays or change of trains. Naturally, it is quite common that any delays traveling by train can be due to breakdowns, bad weather, shortage of staff and similar inconveniences but during the 1960s there was another reason which was more serious and dangerous. This was due to the IRA threats of bombs being placed in strategic designated places particularly in London, i.e. mainline train stations. I remember on occasions dashing from my office across York road into Waterloo station aiming to catch the 9.12 p.m. train for home only to be confronted by police stopping all passengers boarding any trains because of warnings they had received claiming that there were some IRA bombs being planted somewhere in the station.  This could cause a delay of up to an hour which was inconvenient, to say the least.  On the bright side of traveling from Waterloo station I once had the pleasure of seeing a comedian and magician Tommy Cooper talking to a porter and on another occasion walking down the platform, I passed golfer Peter Allis who had alighted from the train I was about to board. I could have shouted out ‘Fore’ but I didn’t. Talking of Peter Allis some years later I purchased a second-hand golf club, a five iron, for the princely sum of five pounds in an antique shop in Horncastle Lincolnshire. On the back of the club head it bore the name, Percy Allis, Peter’s father, or should I say Par? I wrote to Peter about my purchase and received a polite, friendly reply from him which was a nice touch.

In February 1963 the whole railway system in Britain was changed dramatically when due to the loss of money the Government asked Richard Beeching to leave his high profile job in ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) to take on the task of streamlining the whole train network system and making it more profitable. This colossal task Beeching undertook by reducing one-third of the network by closing hundreds of branch lines, 5,000 miles of track, over two thousand stations and tens of thousands of jobs.  The whole adventure has gone down in our history as a fiasco and a complete financial disaster. Even now, in 2019, one can hear people looking back to earlier times say things were fine then but that was before Beeching came along and ruined everything.

The last story I will tell you about here relating to trains is how lucky I was on 12th December 1988 when I was traveling on my usual train from Fleet which left at 0643 a.m. and arrived at Waterloo on time at 07.30. I then crossed the road and went into my office in the Shell Centre. At about 08.20 my wife Kathy phoned and was so relieved to hear me answer my phone. The reason for her relief was because she had just heard on the radio that there had been a terrible accident at Clapham Junction Station at around 08.13. This tragedy has gone down in history as the Clapham Junction Accident of 1988.  Three trains were involved. One train crashed into the back of another train which had stopped at a signal and then hit an empty train going in the opposite direction.  Thirty-five people lost their lives and seventy people had horrific injuries. If I had missed my usual train from Fleet that morning, I would have been on the next one which was one of the three involved in the disaster. No wonder Kathy was worried and subsequently so relieved when I answered the phone that morning.

 

--End of Part Forty-One—

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR Part 40

IVORS INSIGHTS

 Part Forty

If the 1950s were my defining years, then the 1960s have gone down in history as ‘The Swinging Sixties’. American singer Roger Miller summed it up well with his song ‘England Swings like a pendulum do’. That swinging feeling quickly spread throughout the country. Starting in London the fashion industry took off in Kings Road, Chelsea and Carnaby Street. The young men, many with long hair, sideburns and Zapata mustaches paraded the streets wearing flowered shirts, chiffon scarves, whilst the girls shocked the older generation (at least the women, but not the men who quite enjoyed seeing their ‘Mini’ length skirts}  Designer Mary Quant was the Queen of Fashion and models Leslie Hornby (known as ‘Twiggy’ due to her very slim body) and Jean Shrimpton (known as the Shrimp) were the models all the girls and photographers, particularly David Bailey followed.

All of this was accompanied by the music scene which really exploded with popular singing groups such as The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits from Manchester, The Animals from Newcastle, The Moody Blues, The Move and Spencer Davis from Birmingham, The Rolling Stones from London but without doubt the Capital place of the music scene was Liverpool which gave us The Searchers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black, and The Beatles. It really was a social revolution in Britain which subsequently had a big impact around the world.

Whilst this new revolution was making headlines Kathy and I decided that it was time for us to take the plunge by leaving Wedmore Road and start looking for our own property. It wasn’t long before we found one which looked suitable. It was a two bedroomed mid terraced house in Bedford Road, Ruislip Gardens. It was priced at £2,750, a sum which at that time was beyond our means unless I took out a mortgage. It was fortunate for us that Shell had a Mortgage arrangement scheme with the Halifax Building Society whereby Shell Employees could obtain a mortgage without the having to pay a deposit first. This meant that I was able to obtain a one hundred percent mortgage loan for the whole £2,750 asking price of the house. This loan required a repayment of £15 per month which was a lot of money out of my monthly income at that time. Many of my work colleagues thought it a bit reckless on my part but after much financial deliberation on our part, which was helped by my brother Bernards advice telling us that it was generally accepted that putting money into bricks and mortar was a good investment, we went ahead and bought our first house.

 The layout of this house comprised of two medium sized bedrooms, a similar size lounge with wood block flooring, patio doors leading out to a back garden lawned with flower borders on either side. The garden was fenced on both sides and at the back, there was a paved car parking area which could be accessed from a back alleyway entrance from the road. The kitchen was of a reasonable size with a coal/coke burning boiler supplying the hot water, a good sized larder, the usual sink, cooking facilities, and storage cupboards were all there plus the back door leading out to the garden. To complete the description there were stairs leading to the landing and the two bedrooms plus bathroom and toilet.

Whilst such a house was small and somewhat lacking in luxuries it was ours and we were very excited and happy to move in. Bedford Road was a long road with many similarly designed houses in it and ours, number 62, was roughly halfway down it. It was no distance for me to walk down to Ruislip Gardens Underground station for my daily commute to work. Shopping facilities were a bus ride away in Ruislip or nearly Ruislip Manor. Likewise, we were also only a short car ride from Greenford and visiting Dad which was also convenient.  We were also lucky that our neighbors were pleasant and fortunately they also had a baby boy of similar age to Chris. We settled in and gradually when time and finances allowed started to make some alterations to one or two rooms by decorating and painting etc. It was a labor of love and very satisfying. Another thing we did was buy two bicycles, one for Kathy and one for me to which I fixed a safety seat behind my saddle for Chris to sit on. With a haversack containing some refreshments upon my back and Chris safely strapped into his back seat the three of us would ride off beyond the blue (sometimes!) horizon. The only downside to this was that sometimes Chris got a little too excited on the back and would kick his shoes off bringing our convoy to a grinding halt for the necessary replacement of the said shoes. 

  In 1962 another life-changing event in our lives happened when in May Kathy went into Queen Charlottes Hospital once again and on Saturday the 5TH she had another baby boy who we named Martin Charles. It so happened that it was the FA Cup Final on that day and my cup runneth over when my team Tottenham Hotspur beat Burnley 3-1. What a wonderful unforgettable day that was. I’m pleased to say that Martin eventually followed my example and became a Spurs supporter when he was old enough to understand football better. But not only did he support Spurs later in life he actually played at White Hart Lane in a charity match to which Kathy and I attended as the proud parents along with Martin’s two children Laura and Michael. I was allowed onto the pitch before the match started and took some video footage for future viewing at home. It was lovely for me to stand there and reminisce about those far off days watching Spurs playing on this pitch back in the 1940/1950 days and here I was now watching one of my sons playing on this hallowed ground. 

  Our family was now complete with two lovely healthy sons and life moved on. We finished our cycling days when later that year my brother Bert rang me to tell me his neighbor was selling his car and Bert wondered if I might be interested in buying it.  We managed to scrape together the £27.50 asking price and purchased our first car. This was a classic six-cylinder 1937 built Lanchester 14 hp two-toned grey/blue color saloon with real leather seats, a running board on each side of the body and a spare wheel encased in a cover attached to the back of the car, above an iron grid which folded down to which a suitcase or two could be attached with leather straps. Another feature was a small cog wheel on the dashboard to which a winding handle was attached. By turning this handle, the windscreen would open from the bottom outwards thus letting fresh air in which was a boom on a very hot summer’s day.

But the biggest feature of this quality car was the method of driving it. It had what was called a ‘Pre-selector gearbox’ There was a gear lever on the steering column showing the choices of N for Neutral, D for Drive, 1 for first gear, 2 for second gear, and 3 for third with R for reverse.  It didn’t have the normal clutch foot pedal to press down and then slowly releasing it to engage your selected gear. There was a foot pedal but this was called the gear engaging pedal.

The method used to drive the car was to pull the gear lever down to the required gear, i.e. 1st and press the gear engaging foot pedal right down to the floor and immediately release it, you were then in first gear but nothing further happened until you selected D for drive, and released the hand brake whereupon the car silently glided away in first gear. Once you were on the move you pulled gear lever to 2nd gear but you weren’t in second gear until you depressed, and released the gear engaging foot pedal again. This method of selecting the required gear and operating the foot engaging pedal in and out was all you had to do to drive. It was easy and effective but although it took some time for me to adjust to this method, I eventually mastered it. The car was smooth and comfortable and served us well throughout the years 1962/63. The only drawback was that it did swallow up the petrol and oil too much so after those two years we decided we couldn’t afford to keep it any longer.

Fortunately for us, my neighbor admired it and was willing to buy it off me. We agreed upon a price of £15 and the deal was done. Now the big snag for my neighbor was that he couldn’t drive.  Like me, he didn’t have a garage to house the car so I drove it around to his back garden and parked it there for him.

Although he couldn’t drive he thought it prudent to run the engine once a week to ‘just to warm it up a bit’ This became a ritual to see him every Sunday climbing into this beautiful car, wearing a pair of large leather gloves and he would start her up and just sit there letting the engine idle as he imagined he was driving through the leafy lanes on a warm summer’s day being watched and admired by other drivers.

I told him it didn’t do the engine any good to do this practice but he wouldn’t listen so I gave up. As the winter months were fast approaching, I also advised him to put some anti-freeze into the car but he just smiled and didn’t bother so I gave up the struggle and let him carry on in his Walter Mitty dream world.

The end result was inevitable, he ruined the engine and the lack of anti-freeze cracked the block. As he couldn’t afford to pay for any repairs, he was forced to get a couple of men to come around to break up the whole car. It was very sad to see this desecration of a lovely classic car by these two men as they took their sledgehammers and systematically smash the windscreen before moving onto the bodywork. The whole vehicle was smashed up and then thrown onto their lorry as scrap and taken away for disposal.

 Our time in our first house came to an end in 1965 when we decided to move from Ruislip to a newly built 3 Bedroom semi-detached house in Fleet, Hampshire. It is worth noting that my brother Bernard was right in his advice to us about investing in property because after our five happy years living in Ruislip, the house we paid £2,750 for was sold for £4,750, making a profit of £2,000 which was a lot of money to us.

 

--End of Part Forty --

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INSIGHTS ON IVOR PART 39

IVORS INSIGHTS
 
Part Thirty-Nine
 
 
In 1959 Kathy and I were very lucky to start our married life by accepting the offer of having two rooms in my Dad’s house in Wedmore Road. This same act of kindness had been done twice before. The first time was when my sister Lily and her husband Jack upon their marriage moved in with Dad and Mum and stayed with them until they eventually found their own property in nearby Ruislip. The next occupants of these two rooms were my brother David and his wife Doreen after their marriage in 1952. They followed the same pattern as Lily and Jack and only moved out when they found a Flat, or what was called in those days, a maisonette in Isleworth Middlesex. 
 
Whilst Kathy was still during her midwifery training at Queen Charlottes and living in the nurse’s quarters I was still living with Dad. But it wasn’t long before she successfully completed her training and was able to join me at Dad’s in Wedmore Road.  We were very happy as we settled into our new environment thanks to Dad.  We were very grateful to him for giving us this start which enabled us to, at least, dream that one day we, like Lily and David, would be in a position to buy our own property.
 
 Sharing with Dad was easy and there was also a fortuitous element to it which benefited us all.  This came into play due to the fact that I worked shift hours and there were many evenings when I didn’t get home until 10 or 10.30 p.m. Rather than Kathy being on her own, Dad would always invite her into his room where they watched television together thus providing company for each other. 
 
It wasn’t long before Kathy got a job nursing at King Edwards Hospital in nearby Ealing and we were able to add a few more ‘pennies’ to our income. I remember we would visit the shops in West Ealing, looking wistfully through the windows at the many items on sale. We worked, saved and managed to buy a three piece suite (two armchairs and a sofa) for our lounge. This ‘luxury’ cost us the princely sum of £45 which was a lot of money in 1959. In due course, other items were added as we put our stamp onto our room. Married life was getting better all the time and it was to get even better, when on October 24th that year, another great life-changing event occurred. It was when our first child, a boy, was born. Not surprisingly he was born in Queen Charlottes Hospital and we named him Christopher John.
 
Becoming parents was a wonderful experience and we embraced it with love and gratitude. I was so glad that Kathy already had the natural loving instincts of a mother (which she’d inherited from her own mother) and this attribute, combined with her common sense and nursing training, meant I just had to watch, learn and provide love and all the support required to mother and child which I was naturally glad to do.
 
My father was also thrilled, to not only having another grandchild, his 6th, in the family but also this child, being a boy, meant he would carry on the Hodgson name.
This sentiment was also shared by my three brothers Bert, Bernard, and David.
Dad kindly helped us with the cost of buying a pram for Chris. It was a lovely experience for us to put Chris into this gleaming white chariot and proudly walk down the street showing him off to all the neighbors and passers-by.
 
Meanwhile whilst we were preoccupied with our lives there were other events which were occurring in the UK at this time. This included a very severe frost in January 1959 which caused the newly opened Preston Bypass, Britain’s first motorway, to be closed whilst repairs were carried out. Even worse was to come at the end of the month when the whole transport system throughout Britain was in utter chaos as the worst winter fog since 1952 enveloped the country causing widespread disruption.
 
A historical event occurred when the Jodrell Bank telescope transmitted radio messages to the U.S. via the Moon. Back on earth, the Queen journeyed to Canada, and along with America’s President Eisenhower, inaugurated the St. Lawrence Seaway. Barclays Bank became the first British Bank to order the new-fangled gadget called a ‘computer’ that’s when all our troubles started, ‘Sorry sir, it’s the computer error’ etc
 
Cinemas throughout Britain were closing at a rapid rate as television took over as the main provider for mass entertainment.  In October the country held a General Election when the Conservative party led by Harold Macmillan won by the massive majority of 365 seats to Labour’s 258. The Prime Minister, with a wonderful example of British understatement, summed up his big victory with the words, ‘it has gone off rather well’ Among the nine new women MP’s elected was one Margaret Thatcher, who twenty years later in 1979, made history as Britain’s first Women Prime Minister and served for 11years 209 days.
 
British rule over the island of Cyprus ended after 80 years when an agreement was signed in London handing over independence to the Cypriots but Britain still retained her two military bases on the Island.
On a lighter note, the latest rave was the new Transistor radio which only cost £23 and was displayed at the Earls Court Exhibition. In addition to the arrival of the Mini, there was also the Rolls Royce Phantom V which could be yours for a ‘mere’ £8,905. I
Considered buying one but it didn’t have one of the new Transistor radios so I didn’t bother!
 
At this point in my story, I would like to tell you that for many years I have considered the 1950’s, were what I can only describe as ‘My Defining Years’.  The changes I encountered, good and sadly one tragically bad, were to change my life forever.
 
 It all started in March 1950 when I was called up for National Service in The Royal Air Force. I can truthfully say that I enjoyed my two years service. It held no worries for me. I was used to mixing with other boys throughout my days with the Boys Brigade. I was also lucky that the BB taught me how to march and perform all the drill movements required in the RAF. I also learned how to handle a Rifle, even becoming a Marksman. A requirement thankfully not required in the BB.
 
The big difference between us was that the boys I mixed within the BB were mainly local boys I knew, some from the same school as me whereas the boys (and girls) I met in the RAF were from all corners of the UK, many with different accents, outlooks, and upbringing. There is no doubt that experiencing this change is a great learning curve and an education in itself.
 
I am always grateful to the RAF for the training I received in Signal Communications through my service. The training, knowledge, and experience I gained was put to good use when I was demobbed. It eventually gave me a good rewarding career throughout my 36 years using this knowledge in civilian life. This started when in June 1952 I joined the American Embassy in London. This was an interesting and eye-opening period of my life applying my Telegraphic skills with Americans who were very pleasant and generous people.
 
Whilst I was working at the Embassy, I heard there were similar work openings in the Telecommunications field at the Shell Petroleum Company also in London. In addition, I also learned that Shell offered a very generous Life Pension Scheme. Whilst I enjoyed my days at the Embassy, I decided to apply to Shell offering my services.
I was successful in my application and joined Shell in December 1952, staying with them until my retirement in December 1989. 
 
The death of my mother in January 1956 was, alas, a very bittersweet definitive heartbreaking moment and one that can never be forgotten. The pain was somewhat eased three years later by my meeting Kathy in June 1958 and marrying her six months later in December 1958. As a result of our liaison there was another, and wonderful, Definitive Moment when on October 24th, 1959 our first child, Chris, was born.
 
So, taking all the experiences, knowledge and advancement I lived through, as described above, is it any wonder I call this decade ‘My Defining Years’?
 
---End of Part Thirty-Nine—
 

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