Thursday, 5 April 2012

I consider a change of position

Volume 2 – A new life begins – chapter 7 – a job does not guarantee a good future – part 1 – I consider a change of position - post – taken from - chapter 31 – a life must progress – part one – prospects prove elusive consisting of 8 pages from 49 to 56 (405 to 412)

In spite of the trials and tribulations of early married life, and not having two brass washers to rub together we were happy with our life together, and while we behaved with consideration towards each other all would be well. For her part Jacqueline always did behave well, she never got bad tempered or unreasonable, she never gave me reason to complain about her demeanour or her attitude. She was always a loving wife and in return I loved her totally, but I have to confess that my love for her did not always mean that I behaved fairly or reasonably. Maybe I was just not old enough and wise enough to behave with sense, or maybe the worry and responsibility of having a wife and child to provide for made me unreasonable at times. the fact is I could be difficult but when I was Jackie’s reasonable responses kept things on an even keel until I had come to my senses, well in most cases. On one occasion however it all went wrong, and it taught me a lesson I never forgot.

We were having tea one afternoon sitting one on each side of our small dinner table. We were only a few feet apart, so close in fact that I could have reached out and touched her. We were talking but I cannot remember now what about, but I recall that I began to needle her, the more I did it the more upset she became. If I had realised just how upset she was becoming I would have stopped, but I could not see it and I suppose I decided to see just how far I could push her. To put it plainly I was being stupid and did not know when to stop, and eventually she cracked and lost control. Picking up the tea plate in front of her she hurled it at me aiming for my face and it came edge on and very fast. In the split second that it was travelling through the air I just had time to bend my head forward, and the plate hit me on the top of the head instead of the face. Ricocheting off my scalp it flew on into the wall and smashed into a dozen small pieces, not that we worried about that because my head was split open and blood was rushing down onto my shoulders.

Rushing to the bathroom I grabbed a towel and pressed it to the wound to staunch the flow of blood, and returning to the front room found that poor Jackie was in hysterics at the sight of what she had done. I tried to calm her then told her that I had to go to the hospital emergency department to get the problem dealt with. By the time this incident occurred we had our own vehicle, so off I went driving with one hand while the other held the blood soaked towel to the top of my head. At the hospital I could not tell the doctor that my wife had tried to kill me, so I said that I had tripped and hit my head against the edge of a door. He accepted my explanation though I have to say that there was a look of some scepticism on his face at the time. He shaved my head and repaired the damage with a number of stitches, after which I returned home, to find Jackie somewhat recovered but very contrite to say the least. I kissed her and apologised for my thoughtless behaviour and stressed that she was not to blame for what had happened. We never spoke of it again, but I have never forgotten what happened, and I suppose she never forgot it either.

The winning photographclip_image002[4]

At the time I never thought that we were under any stress, but I suppose we were, my main concern was financial, trying to make ends meet was a constant worry. There was one thing I could do that would not cost me anything and that was join the works cricket club, I wasn’t bad at the game having played at school, and it might help me at work as well. There is no doubt that having friends at work helps sometimes more than being good as your job or being hard working. This idea proved to be rather disappointing from a sporting point of view, senior staff had a firm grip on the club, just as they did in the golf club, and they ran things for themselves not for the employees who, would you believe, thought it was for them. The top brass arranged everything, the matches we played, who would go on the away fixtures, which were paid for by the firm, and what place you would have in the team. The opening batsmen we departmental managers, and the bowlers were all St Helens men who thought that only Lancashire men could play cricket. For the record I never got to bowl, not even in practice, and I was always just about the last man in with the bat; they thought I was quite handy as a slip fieldsman, and I usually got to go on the away games but that was the limit of my success.

clip_image004[4]This picture taken by Len Grant at his house 5 Ronaldsway, Rhyl in July 1960; Mark was 2 years and 8 months old.

With me constantly occupied at work Jackie spent much of her time with her mother, and Len would spend every spare minute with his grandson who was the apple of his eye. Len had an interest in photography and was in the local camera club, he was always taking photographs of Mark and on one occasion entered a picture of him eating at teatime in a club competition and to his great satisfaction it won. The entries we all put on display in the foyer of the Odeon Cinema in the High Street, and Len was very proud to see his picture taking pride of place as the winner.

When we went out for a trip you could be sure that Len would have his camera with him, and he took some very attractive pictures without a doubt. He also gathered together some developing equipment and taught himself how to develop and enlarge his own photographs. There was no colour film at the time so all his work was in black and white; he fancied colour as most enthusiasts did, so his next step was to get a colouring kit and try his hand at that. This picture and the preceding one are examples of his effort to produce coloured photographs.

It was about the middle of 1960 that I reached the point where I could no longer manage without my own transport. The first thing I did was work out that if I gave up smoking I could use the money saved to run a car. I was spending about 10 shillings a week and that would buy enough petrol to travel to work and a little over for the occasional trip home to the Potteries. It took me several weeks to beat the habit during which time I went to see my friendly manager at the Midland Bank to ask for a loan. He was not as confidant about my income as the Sun Life Insurance Company had been, but when I mentioned that my father-in-law would support my overdraft he finally agreed and allowed me the sum required to buy the vehicle of my choice. I had studied the problem carefully and decided that I could manage with a van which would be tax free; I had my eye on an Austin A35 van which would cost me the grand sum of £406 brand spanking new. The purchase tax on the car was another £300 which with a few extras made the cost £736 which was too much for me. The van had no side windows but it had a heater, and with a rear seat conversion it would do all the car would do and more. The suspension was stiffer and designed to carry more weight, but the ride was quite comfortable, and anyway I could do things with a van that I could not with a car. So with the arrangements made I went on the waiting list at the Austin agents at Colwyn Bay and waited impatiently for my chariot to arrive.

an interesting feature of this picture is the girl standing next to Jacqueline. This was my Brother Paul’s girl friend and the only girl I ever met in this capacity; whether he had others I never knew because I was never there to find out.clip_image006[4]

Two months before the previous picture was taken we made a visit to my parents at 69 The Parkway in Hanley. It is an interesting photograph because in is a family group with everyone present; though my youngest brother Douglas has only his head and eyes on being to low for the camera which is set on automatic.

an interesting feature of this picture is the girl standing next to Jacqueline. This was my Brother Paul’s girl friend and the only girl I ever met in this capacity; whether he had others I never knew because I was never there to find out.

These trips were very few and far between, I was still on shifts and if I was not working, I was doing chores or sleeping ready for the next session. Security at work remained very tight which was to be expected, apart from secret processes, there was also the high value of some materials that were used in the method of producing molten glass. The extreme heat involved burnt out the special fire bricks used to line the furnaces, which necessitated a shut down every few weeks so that they could be replaced. This was usually done when the type of glass being made was changed; there was a basic glass included in most of the them, and this came from the parent factory at St Helens, it was broken into small pieces called ‘Frit’ and with this was added a carefully measured amount of various chemicals that gave the finished product it’s special characteristics. These included heat proof glass, toughened glass, light proof and radiation proof glass; they made all sorts, especially optical and ophthalmic types. The heat in the process was so high that it destroyed most materials it came in contact with; the only metal that could withstand it was PLATINUM.

Today this metal is worth about £675 an ounce, so the mind boggles at the thought of how much value lay in the vault as the factory. It came in the form of sheet metal and rolls of wire, which was made into wire coils and metal pipes through which the molten glass was passed. All the way from the furnace down to the aperture from which the glass was extruded the temperature had to be controlled precisely, which called for a series of thermocouples which were made of the precious platinum. These devices we said to be worth between £700 and £800 each and I well remember a day when one went missing during work on one of the furnace lines. The whole place was shut up tight and I was ordered to search anyone who was given permission to leave the premises; when I went off duty the missing item had not been found. The next day the panic was over so I assumed all was well in the end. With enormous quantities of precious metal in constant use, security was always going to be needed, I had no need to worry about job security but what about future prospects?

The realisation that there was no prospect of promotion was of great concern to me; I was not prepared to be just a security officer which at times was no better than being a gate keeper. Some of the duties we were expected to carry out were paltry and I considered myself capable of more than that. If I was to improve my circumstances a job with possible promotion was needed and I watched for such a position determined to improve my position.

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