Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The christening

Volume 2 – A new life begins – chapter 6 – Working for Chance – Pilkington Ltd – part 4 – the christening - post 61
It was easy to see how the uniform I wore could be mistaken for a police tunic, though we did not have a helmet, and if not wearing the cap we were issued with looked very much like a police officer.
New cars were hard to come by and they were too expensive for most of us anyway. One day a young lady who worked in the main office managed to purchase a new Ford car, one of those with the funny inward sloping rear window, the new model of the ‘Anglia’. Half the factory staff turned out to look at it when she drove into the staff car-park; it was a rare occurrence indeed a brand new car appearing on the scene. The company made a very big impression with their fleet of modern vehicles, they had a Morris 1000 estate car, a Morris ‘Isis’ station wagon which was a powerful beast with a 28 horsepower engine, and later on they got a smart new Austin Cambridge, but the VIP car was a Rover 90 with leather seats and all the luxuries you could have in a car at that time. I got to drive them all at different times, and for me that was one of the pleasures of the job, because I really enjoyed driving.
Most of the driving I did was local, like taking VIPs to get a train at Rhyl in the Rover 90, escorting the pay role from the bank, that sort of thing, but occasionally there would be longer trips which made a nice change. When the Austin Cambridge arrived I was the first to drive it, taking one of our salesmen to catch a train at Lyme Street Station in Liverpool.
Then there was the trip I made to our head office at St Helens in Lancashire, which turned into something of an adventure when I got lost. I was told in a vague sort of way to drive to Birkenhead, then take the tunnel under the Mersey River which would bring me out into the middle of Liverpool where I was to take a certain main road which would take me directly to my destination. Sounded simple enough but they didn’t tell me that when I came out of the tunnel in the heart of the city I would find myself in an enormous open space with roads going in every direction. The traffic was heavy and I had no choice but to keep on driving until it was safe to stop and ask for directions. When I did stop I was already in one of the suburbs of Liverpool, where I left the big Morris ‘Isis’ to go in search of someone who looked as though they might be able to give me helpful advice. A short distance up the road I found a suitable candidate and got the information I wanted, but before I left him he said: “Where is your vehicle? You shouldn’t have left it unattended in this locality they will have the wheels off it in a flash.” Hearing this I shot back to my vehicle as quickly as possible and felt highly relieved to find it still had wheels.
The company did have a chauffeur so unless there was an element of security involved he was used for most of the driving jobs, unless transport was needed outside normal working hours. Our work required us to be on the premises most of the time, and we had our little dramas from time to time, but I can recall many hours of boredom when the biggest problem was staying awake and alert. When management and day staff were absent we were there to look after the shop, so to speak, no matter what was required we were expected to take care of it. This could be a very satisfying feeling at times, but on the other hand it meant that a number of less dignified jobs came our way. For example my colleagues were never happy about having to man the canteen so that the men on their shift could use it. Usually it meant making tea for them, and taking their money if they wanted to buy anything, which I did not mind in the least. In fact I would offer to make sandwiches for the odd man who had no food of his own, and why not? If I was making ham sandwiches for some fellow I got to have some myself and free of charge of course; and I had as much free tea to drink as I wanted, for me this was not a demeaning job at all, it had its advantages. On special occasions all the goodies provided for management and the office staff, were available for the men on the shifts, such as mince pies and turkey at Christmas time. What better reason could you have for running the canteen than a free drumstick and a couple of mince pies?
It was not all fun and games in spite of my light hearted comments about the canteen, there was serious work to do as well. After a few months the powers that be decided that maybe the security staff did have time to spare, so they decided that we could be employed in processing production figures ready for the production office each day. The other officers were not happy about it at all which was understandable; there was a considerable amount of mathematics involved, and the working out of percentages and that sort of thing. What percentage of the production on your particular shift had been rejects? What was the percentage of each type of reject? What was the shifts percentage of the total production for the last 24 hours? The clerical work we now had to do was going to take up nearly every spare moment we had, and sometimes we would be pushed to complete it if other work came along to claim our attention. Maybe I am a lazy person, but I have always looked for ways to reduce the amount of work I have had to do, and this is what I did on this occasion. Some time before I had been given a small pocket sized slide rule by my father in law and my clever wife had shown me how to use it. It could be tricky with the more detailed mathematical calculations, but if I had a large slide rule it would become much easier, so that is what I did. It did not take me long to get the production figures done in a very short time, and it gave me some satisfaction to see the others struggling to get it done by the end of their shifts, when I had maybe only an hour’s work to do.

The day of the christening with my Uncle Bill in the party as a godfather and Ethel hiding behind the baby now officially named Mark Glynn.
I was determined to do my job well because I still had a strong desire to get ahead, I was making ends meet but only just and I was determined to improve things. Surely if I was seen to be good value there would be a corresponding reward? I retained this naïve idea for some years still to come, it took quite some time for me to wake up to the fact that the world didn’t work that way. In the meantime I did everything that was asked of me and as far as I know never put a foot wrong. There were times when my attitude may have left much to be desired, but that should not have been held against me, and as far as knew never was. Did I earn a black mark in someone’s book because I did not want to attend the grand opening of the factory when the Duke of Edinburgh arrived to do the honours? Who knows if I did or not, but I was not there because it was my day off and they had told me that my presence would be on a voluntary basis, if I did not want to take the trouble it would be my decision. Nothing was ever said to me and as far as I knew I continued to give satisfaction
The new house that we had looked very attractive with a concrete drive down as far as the rear of the building, and with smart double gates to allow for a vehicle, but like all new houses the garden both front and back was just a rough mess of builders rubbish. I had plenty of work to do to make it look presentable, and with no money and no tools it was not going to be easy. It always came down to money or the lack of it, I could do the work but without the ability to pay for things I could make little progress. It didn’t look as though I would have much to spend for quite a while with a new baby taking pride of place. No one was able or willing to help and as far as my in-laws were concerned I sometimes got the impression that they wanted to see me stew in my one juice. The baby and mother were very popular of course and both grandparents made regular visits to them both, usually when I was absent at work. If they could have taken them back home and have me vanish that would have been the perfect solution from their point of view, but Jackie had made her own bed and was very willing to lie in it.

The day of the christening was a happy one for all of us, but beneath the surface there were worries which we all kept to ourselves, at the time I never knew about my uncle’s financial problems, that they would be selling their business before too long, and heading off to New Zealand. They in their turn knew nothing of my anxieties about being able to provide for my family.

A happy day except it seems for the baby who did not look happy at all. It was windy day, for the baby as well as the weather maybe?
If Jackie was worrying about anything she never told me, and she appeared to be happy enough, but then she was very supportive and I do not think she would have wanted to add to my difficulties which I shared with her. Telling all and having no secrets has always been my philosophy over the years that I have been married, and it has always worked well. I may have been forced to be deceitful and keep secrets where the outside world was concerned, but I was never happy about it, and it was only the force of circumstances that made me do it. As soon as I could I became honest about my past history and it was a great relief to me when I was able to be so.
Today Rhyl has spread and Penymaes Avenue is well inside the city limits, it has been continued right through from the Glas-coed Road to the main road that come into town from Rhuddlan. In the 1950s however the few new houses that had begun the new development were the only ones and the road ran for only a couple of hundred yards before coming to an abrupt halt on the edge of open farmland.
Next door was a man in his late thirties with a wife and little daughter, we became friends with them. He was a supervisor working for one of the big petrol companies; his job was to maintain the numerous petrol stations they had in the county, and later on this proved to be a great benefit. Two or three years later our new house needed a repaint, and my friendly neighbour gave me sufficient company paint, that was no longer required, to do the job. When I finally sold the house it was a very smart green and cream, just like the filling stations and the quality of the paint was excellent.
Jacqueline and Mark, both looking content with each other in this picture; she was a good mother and an intelligent woman.


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