Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A desire for independence

Volume 2 – A new life begins – chapter 6 – Working for Chance – Pilkington Ltd – part 5 – a desire for independence - post 62

Talking of neighbours we had a chap living two doors away from us who I knew because he had the same employer as me. He had come from the parent company in St Helens and I suppose he must have taken advantage of their generous mortgage offer and brought one of these new houses we were living in. Like his employer his name was Pilkington a man I didn’t take to particularly well, not that I knew him well, he was always working when I was not and vice versa. I mention him because of an incident in which he allowed avarice to get the better of him. He joined the company golf club which was a very posh affair with all the senior management interested members. They held a grand competition with a prize of considerable value for the winner; senior management were known to be good golfers so it was expected that one of them would win the prize. With no known golfing history my neighbour was given a most generous handicap; he was a newcomer to the game so he said, so they did this with confidence certain that he had no chance of winning. To cut the story short he did win playing brilliantly and with some skill, to say the club members were outraged would be to put it mildly. After his big killing the bosses looked into his background and discovered that he had been telling the truth when he said he had not been a regular player or club member previously. What he had not revealed was that he had been a caddie at a big golf club for many years, and knew the game and had learned to play it like a professional. From this time on the man was treated like a pariah, he had made a big mistake playing such a trick on the people he worked for.

The number of products slowly grew and it was interesting to see the new experts in action, the cutting and polishing facilities were expanded, and an extension was built so that small quantities of special lenses and other similar products could be made by hand. In the main factory the continuous production was extended to four furnaces each with their own production line resulting in an increase in the size of each shift. All these developments had been planned from the beginning, and this expansion gave me much to think about. How was I situated in all this? There was no sign that the security was to be increased, each officer had a slowly increasing volume of work to deal with, and as far as I could see there was now scope for promotion. The company made it clear that what they wanted was experienced officers who were content with the job they had, there was never any indication that there would ever be a ladder to climb, or even any increase in the amount we were paid.

Having such thoughts on my mind was sometimes a distraction, a situation that led to an amusing incident one hot sunny afternoon. I had just finished my morning shift and set off home my mind full of this problem that I had to do something about, and being hot and thirsty I stopped at the first country pub I came to with the idea that I would sit in the cool bar and ponder over a pint of beer. Walking in I took little notice of the two or three locals who were enjoying their pints, and walking up to the bar I asked for a pint of best bitter. The landlord served me without a word and with a dead pan expression, so I turned to find a seat and to my surprise I saw that the bar was not totally empty. What was even stranger the glasses were still had beer in them; it had never been known for a local to leave beer and for more than one to do it was strange indeed. After enjoying my pint I went on my way, and it was only then when I looked at my watch that the answer to the mystery came to me like a light switching on in my head. The pub should have closed at 3pm and I had walked in about 3.15pm and looking very much like a policeman in my uniform. My appearance must have convinced them that I had come to arrest them for drinking after hours; I have often wondered whether they ever figured out I was not a policeman and had no such intentions.
In this picture we were visiting an air show on Battle of Britain Day and enjoying it, but the photograph shows that Len was not far away with his camera, and the centre of his attention, for most of his pictures was of course his much loved grandson and his daughter.

In no time at all Mark was two years old and getting used to his good times being provided by his grandparents who spoiled him on every opportunity, as all grandparents do. They would include us in their trips and outings but it was apparent that our inclusion was for the benefit of their grandson and their daughter, I often felt that I was just tolerated and an annoying addition to the party. On arrival at a destination we would often split into two groups each enjoying their respective freedom from the other.
My comments sound ungracious I know, but these are some of my memories of that time. I was probably over sensitive about my inability to provide the good times that everyone needs to make life tolerable, but there were times when Len and particularly Ethel could not resist rubbing my nose in it, so to speak.
As soon as I could I obtained my own transport which changed everything, though I have to say that I was only able to bring these changes about with the help of Len, so he must have been sympathetic to my feelings to some degree, and if the truth be known, it was only the influence of Ethel that made him behave as he did when dictating to us regarding our involvement in their activities. These thoughts are not confirmed or supported by facts, but never the less I believe them to be close to the truth.

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