For some time now, I have been following a blog written by someone who went to the same primary school as I did. Recently it became apparent that we were in the same year group, but not the same academic stream. After completing the 1st year in class ‘1a’, I was moved down into the ‘b’ stream where I stayed for the rest of the time.
The main memory that this blogger’s post triggered was leaving Primary School and moving to Secondary School. The year is 1965 and I’m thinking it is around September/October time. My father had left his job as a reasonably well paid coal miner because of health problems, and was now working as a bus conductor for what was then the West Yorkshire Road Car company. Times were beginning to get quite tough. Our house was heated by coal fires and as a miner we received, every three months a concessionary supply of coal. What I mean by the word ‘concessionary’ is free. Every three months we would have 1 cwt of coal dropped into the street, which was quickly shovelled into the coal cellar. After leaving the coal industry, this free coal stopped. That and the reduction in dad’s wages were beginning to bite a little.
I seem to remember both my parents and me sitting in the classroom, with my form teacher (may have been a Mr Woods, but I cannot remember) discussing my Secondary education. It was quite plausible it was said that I could go to the Grammar School at Roundhay. I had heard through my school friends at the time that this would be an expensive time. I would have to have a full School Uniform. This consisted of a blazer ( least one) two pairs of black trousers, a number white shirts, a school tie and a pair of black lace-up shoes. There was also a football kit, rugby kit and a PE kit. There was no way my parents could afford that amount of spend. There was a discussion around the fact, that all this uniform was available at a certain store in Leeds, but … it was possible to buy the same clothes as second hand from the school. That was a non-starter, as I had heard on the school grapevine, that everyone would know they were second hand, simply by their condition. This would automatically lead to bullying. I was not going to have that. I began to hope that I would fail my “11 Plus”.
The two subjects that I was apparently good at were Arithmetic and Religious Education. I began to wonder what would happen if I made a mess of those two subjects and I decided to ensure that I would answer some the questions incorrectly. Which is what I did. To this day nobody believes me, but I know I did get some questions wrong on purpose, so who knows. All I know is that I ended up going to the school I preferred and not the Grammar school.
So, I’ve bitten the bullet and decided to become a chef. How was I going to achieve this this dream? It looked like I may have to back the Careers Advice Centre (CAC) and see what they had to offer. My parents put it around their friends that I was wanting to cook for a living and asked them to have a look out for me. I booked an appointment at the CAC but wasn’t really looking forward to it and eventually didn’t go.
I decided to see if any of the teachers could offer some advice. I drew a blank with most of them, but then that certain geography teacher said he would try and find a few things out, if that’s what I wanted to do. After a few days, he came up with a list of options that ranged from a full-time college course to an apprenticeship and even joining one of the armed forces. None of these appealed at all.
It’s now the beginning of May 1971 and we are all 16 years old. The school is now wanting us to leave so they can free up teachers time. The six or seven of us that are still left are simply reading the local papers in search of a job. Then someone, I cannot remember who suggests I might want to have a look at hospital catering as an option. It was the one thing that I had not even thought of. My parents looked into it and somehow managed to get me an interview. I was a bit concerned about having an interview and my father went with me. I think him going with me may have been one of the reasons I got the job. A trainee cook, due to start in August. Their advice was that I should find a temporary job in a kitchen somewhere, doing anything that was needed. To ‘… gain experience of kitchen life …’ they said.
After the interview, we met up with my mum and she thought it would be a nice idea to go and have some tea or coffee to celebrate. Now I thought we would be going to one of the cafés in Leeds Market, but no mum said we should ‘do it in style’ or words to that effect. The best place in those days was a department store called Schofields. They had an a ’la carte restaurant and a café and we went to the cafe. It was whilst we were there, that someone noticed a small sign advertising a kitchen porter job. We found out who to ask, and I was interviewed the same day. I’ll never know whether it was because I looked the part, or the fact that I was going into the catering industry, but I got that job too.
The actual job title was “Cake Boy” and for the morning entailed me pushing and pulling a huge wooden trolley full of wooden trays (no plastic in those days) of cakes from the bakery on the top floor to both restaurant and café. In the afternoon, I worked washing up on a huge dishwasher. It had a conveyer system which was a continual loop. The trays of crockery were loaded as the conveyer belt moved along. They went in the machine at one end and came out the other. The image is the closest I could get to the one I used, but you need to imagine the conveyor coming right across the front. The trick was to make sure that you unloaded the clean crockery before the tray got to the place where they would be loaded up again. It didn’t always go to plan and sometimes a double wash would happen.
I was there for ten weeks, before my ‘real’ job started, but I was on the first step of a long catering ladder, and on my way up.
To be continued …
I have been wanting to write some kind of auto-biography some some time now. But I had largely been put off by reading an old work colleague’s attempt. Believe it or not he started the thing the phrase:
“I was born at an early age …”
This was a miss-quote of a quite well known Groucho Marx statement. To be honest, I don’t remember much of my early childhood, and there are not too many people left to ask these days. So I decided that the ‘then’ would be my work start and the ‘now’ would be basically be the start of my current part-time job.
In order to clarify a few points that may or may not crop up in this tale, I need to go back to school. It’s 1966 and I in the 2nd term of my 5th year at Harehills County Secondary school. It was just after Christmas and we were having our obligatory “Careers Advice” meeting. This took place after school an involved my form teacher, some very old bespectacled gentleman from the Careers office and my parents. Oh, and I was there too. My only role was to say what job I wanted to do when I left at the ripe old age of 16. That’s all I did. I said I wanted to be a draughtsman. It was my best subject and the one I enjoyed to most. After stating this, I was totally ignored for the rest of the meeting whilst the other three parties discussed why this was not going to happen. To this day, the only clue I have is that I was not expected to get 2 grade 1’s and at least 2 grade 2’s (these were the CSE or Certificate of Secondary Education. If I had gone to a Grammar School, it would have been the GCE or General Certificate of Education which was the old ‘O’ level.) That was the one and only official Careers Advice I was ever had. In those days, kids who only obtained a CSE normally did not go onto University, and after nearly 12 years in a classroom, the idea of more education certainly did not appeal.
What was to become of me? What else interested me?
The inspiration came from a rather unexpected source. We had a geography teacher, whom most of the class detested. He never seemed very good at his subject and was the most arrogant person I ever knew. But he had a habit of asking kids if there was anything worrying or bothering them. He asked me and I hadn’t realised that I was worrying about my job/career prospects. His advice was to look at interests and hobbies outside of school and consider if there was any opportunity there. I told him my three hobbies and he replied that plastic model kit building would get me nowhere and that at the time, there would be very few opportunities for a male knitter. But cooking, if I was good at it could ‘…take me places…’.
So that was it. I was going to be a cook/chef. Now all I had to do was find a way of getting to that status.
To be continued …
Back in 2016, a few months before I retired I heard a rumour that my old school was going to have a reunion. This was to coincide with the ‘celebrations’ marking 50 years since the England football team actually won the World Cup. I asked the school friend that I mentioned in my last post if he knew anything but he had not heard anything. I did a bit of Googling, but nothing about a reunion turned up. I did however see a name, linked with the school. The person, I’ll call him “Eric”, was not at the school for very long. He started at the same time, but after about 4 or 5 weeks he left. His father was an English teacher and had got a job in South Africa. As a consequence we did not have much to do with him. I remember him because he was the same size as me and had the same side parting hairstyle. He was on “Linked in” and I ended up sending him a message just out of curiosity. Turned out he is a University lecturer now, but in Australia. We messaged a couple of times, but he was more into Skype and Facetime video messaging which is something I avoid like the plague. As with a lot of these things, the messages dropped off and I only hear from him at Christmas and birthdays.
Then in March this year, out of the blue he emailed me with a pdf document. He had written his autobiography and thought I would like a copy to “…remind me of bygone times…” To be brutally honest, it was dire. I’m no writing guru, but I could have done it better without trying. Lots of sentences starting with ‘And then…’ or ‘The next day…’ or ‘After that…” For the son of an English teacher, it could not have been worse. But it got me thinking. Should I and could I do my own autobiography? It could not be any worse than “Eric’s” and I would not be publishing it. I wouldn’t want to do a ‘birth to now’ type, but I could concentrate on my work life. It then struck me that I could write it as a series of blog posts, taking say 5 years at a time and writing about the best bits.
So guess what? I’m going to give it a go. I need to work out some kind of time-line and highlight key points and dates before I start, but I think it may just work. So as the saying goes …
Way back at the beginning of 2017 I posted about a familiar face popping up on FaceBook and how I was in two minds as to whether I should make contact or not. Looking back, I don’t think I posted that I did get in touch. We had a good evening out some time later, and have kept in touch (on and off) ever since. In fact, we had lunch just recently. Now this is where the title comes in. At that first evening meeting we talked about our family and such. But then we got onto work, and it turned out that this old school friend worked for the son of my maternal grandmothers brother (my mothers cousin). Not only did he work for him, but he knew my grandmother and often visited her. All this came out at that evening out. And before you ask, we both did have that amount of hair in those days.
Then around June time, last year I noticed a post, again on FaceBook from a friend that I worked with way back in the late 1980’s. Back in 1986, I went to work as a clerical officer for the Local Authority. She started in 1988 as a clerical officer and left that job around 2001 which caused us to lose touch. The post in question was a reply to another post from a current local friend who knew this girl from college way back in the late 1970’s. Thankfully, although she now lives in New Zealand we are now back in touch again. She and her husband are a couple of the nicest people I know.
Leap forward to this month (May 2019) and the relative smallness of the world is again raising it’s head. This time, through this very blogging platform. I was reading through some of the comments on a post I had just read. I often have a look at blogs of people who make interesting comments and this was no exception. One of the commenters (is that what they are called?) I visited had an interesting post that had an image of a place near where we used to live. I commented on the post and to cut a long story short, after a couple of messages I now find out that this person lives close to my wife’s father, and may even know him. I refer you back to the title …
This was a post on LinkedIn with the hashtag #what did I want to be when I was 15 and I thought it would be good here too.
The year is 1970 and I’ve just had my 15th birthday, literally and I’m in the deputy head’s office for a chat with the careers master. It’s coming up to the end of my 4th year and this is where I’ll find out if I’m going to the 5th year or not. In those days, if you were considered ‘bright enough’ you could go on for a further year and then possibly a 6th year at another school. This did not happen to many kids at my school.
Up to this day, I fancied being an architect, but I’ve just been told that I am not creative enough for that job and should think of something else. The deputy head is the Technical Drawing (TD) teacher and also the class teacher for year 5. He suggests that as I have a knack for TD, then a draughtsman could be a good choice. So that was my choice, a draughtsman. Taking the architects ideas and putting them down in a detailed drawing. Sorted.
Moving on to January 1971 and the results of my CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education) mocks indicate that the 3 grade 2s and 1 grade 1, I needed for Technical College, are not going to be forthcoming. So, there is another meeting with the deputy head where I must make another career choice. Just like that. I did have a second choice, which was catering, and that is where I ended up. I was always disappointed that my first choice was side-lined, as I did get the grades I would have needed.
Whenever I talk or write about my schooldays it never fails to invoke laughter, especially among the younger people. They cannot believe some of the things that happened way back in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. You tell them about the punishments that were handed out and they are amazed. One English teacher used to have small flat bat, which was called “Heat For The Seat”. You can probably imagine what use it was put to.
On a roll here. Two posts in one day, whatever next?
This one is directly attributable to Facebook. You often get people posting maths puzzles on Facebook. The kind of thing where you get some equations and you have to work out how they get the answers. It is basic Algebra. I love reading these posts, working out the correct answer and then trying to explain to people about the ‘mathematical order of operation’. This one follows the usual pattern but is a little different. Initially, it is easy to work out what the Snowflake image is worth, it must have a value of 10 for the first equation to work. From that deduction the cane must have a value of 5 with the wine glasses having a value of 2. Easy. Then you have to work out the last equation and here, the composer has added a twist by putting a multiplication sign in the equation. This is where the order of operation comes in. From my school days, it was always drummed into me that multiplication comes before addition, unless the addition is held within parenthesis.
Without looking carefully people will come up with the answer 70, 17 or 25. However, there is another twist here. In the last equation there is an image of a single wine glass. I did not see this at first and came up with 25 :- 10 x 2 = 20 + 5 = 25. But this puzzle has fooled many people. The answer a large number have come up with is 15. Many people have made the assumption that the image of the single glass has the value of 1. For me, this is an unsafe assumption. There is no way of safely giving the value of 1 to the single glass. It can have any value except 10, 5 or 2. There is nothing to stop the single glass having the value of 99 for example which would give the last equation the result of 995. It fooled me at first look, but in actual fact, with the information given, a solution cannot be found.
Well not just Easter. The whole weekend was a bit of a flop. K*** was not working on Sunday, so we were set for a quiet lazy weekend, after the hectic Friday. But, Saturday afternoon she started with what seemed like flu. S**** and A****, his girlfriend had both been quite ill with it during the move, and now K*** seemed to have the same thing. It would only be a matter of time before I went down with the same. So she spent most of Sunday in bed, and a great deal of Monday too. R*** seemed to be fine, and by some miracle, I appear to have escaped the bug also. From what S**** says, quite a few people have gone down with this bug. K*** ended up going to see the doctor, who told her she had a viral infection and gave her an inhaler to help it clear up. It’s beginning to work, but it’s taking it’s time.
An odd thing happened tonight. I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for quite some time, and I don’t really do anything with it. I’m connected to a few people from work, a couple of random people that seem interesting and one or two Facebook ‘friends’. Well tonight, I got a LinkedIn email connection request. I usually ignore them if the the name is not familiar, but this one was different. The name was one of the (very) few names I remember from school. I checked his profile, and it was indeed someone from school. Strangely, I could picture him in my head, which given the issues I have with memory was quite a thing. It must be nigh on on 45 years since I last saw the guy, and would love to know how he found me. I think it must have been some kind of search on schools or something, but it was quite a shock to hear from him.
Work is a bit strange at the moment. There seems to be a few people that are taking early retirement. One person, who I worked with for over 20 years went last week, and another goes this week. It all seems very surreal and makes me feel old. I will really have to give it some thought, if the Councils early retirement scheme runs again this year.
When I saw todays topic, I groaned. I find it quite difficult writing to a prompt. I have tried many online creative writing courses that try to inspire ‘creativity’ by the use of prompts. All have failed up to press. I even had an app on my tablet that ‘produced’ a daily prompt. I just don’t get them. I will look at the prompt or prompts and can spend hours trying to build a story around those ideas, with no success. The few short stories that I have posted on here, and those that are buried deep within the hard drive of my laptop, have come from ideas that seem to happen.
I suppose that if there was one word that I could use, it would be ‘regret’. I have always wondered what I would have been, if only I had paid more attention to the English teachers I had at school. I know it’s probably more my fault, but back in the day teachers were different from what they are now. My first English teacher was a rather flamboyant character who I think may have modelled himself on the archetypal public school teacher. He always wore a suit, with a waistcoat, pinstripe trousers and a bow tie. He only needed a monocle and cigarette holder to complete the picture. The second one was more strict and rigid and made everything a chore. Some of us seemed to absorb very little and so now, I find things like punctuation difficult to get right (you may see that this is probably littered with incorrect commas.)
So yes, not taking English more seriously at school is a regret.
There …… did it!
(BTW this will be post 600 …. Yah!)
Well, the eldest returned home on Saturday. Me and Mrs H, have been bringing bits and pieces back from his flat since early last week. Saturday was the ‘move’ day. It took three trips to shift everything home and by the end of the day, I was completely shattered !!!! However, it is quite amazing how much ‘stuff’ you can get in the back of a 2005 Ford Ka !!! With the back seats dropped, it turns into a small van, but I did struggle when we come to put in a ‘put-me-up-bed’. I just have to locate the coach screws for his TV wall bracket and he will be sorted.
Mrs K decided that It would be good for him (and me) to go to the pub on Saturday night, so that made the day even longer ! We met up with one of his drama friends, so it was quite a good evening. I can see though, that he will be wanting to go out on more evenings, which as he has no income yet, could prove a bit expensive. I’m only used to going out on Tuesday and Fridays. Still it must be strange coming home after 2 years of living more or less as you please.
Youngest has been a bit up and down since the school holidays started. He frets about things and this leads to him being a bit aggressive at times. At the moment he is fretting about the summer play scheme at school. He will enjoy it, he always does, it is just that he will say he does not want to go, and this will become a theme with him. His latest thing, is having his laptop and TV/video running all night. Problems this morning, when his laptop crashed with an ‘out of memory’ error. It would appear that he had 4 or 5 YouTube videos running on automatic reply, whilst recording the sound with sound recorder. Six hours later I turned the sound recorder off !!
Work is going quite well for the time being. The latest initiative is set to go live next week, so there is plenty to keep me occupied. I’m trying to make some of the reports more accessible to others, which on the one hand keeps me working, but on the other hand somewhat negates the need for me at times. It is a difficult balancing act.
The Friday meeting went well apparently. Another medication !!!! However, this one appears to be having a desirable effect. What we did not want, is a drug that just ‘zonks’ him out (zonks .. is that a real word?) This one, although it is one of the ‘blahblahpram’ type seems to have a calming reaction. He appears to be happier in himself. A lot of the aggression, whilst still underlying, seems to be being suppressed. School is getting more response and work out of him. So everything is rosy !!!!! But we have been here before. We will wait and see !!!
Work is exactly the same as usual. We heard a bit of a shock last week, that part of the department, was in negotiations with a private company to run the service. You would have thought, that news like that may have shaken the ‘team’ out of their complacency !! No. We still have a majority of the office that think that second rate is good enough. Will they ever learn ?? The ConDems have got the Public Sector bit between the teeth, and I don’t think they will let go until they finish what Thatcher started !!!
I am begining to think, that I may be glad when this football World Cup is over !!!!!! There games have ranged from average to poor, with the odd ‘good’ one thrown in. The talk is that it will all improve vastly, when the knockout stage begins. I await to see!
It was the Clifford Beer Festival on Saturday. Some nice beers, and it was good to catch up with some of my old friends from the days when I used to bus to work. I only seem to see them at beer festivals !! How sad is that.
Work is the same as usual. Too many of the people think they are more important than they are. Of course, they all think they work too hard !!! When in actual fact …….
Youngest is away on respite this week, and both K*** and me are attending his annual review on Thursday. That should be interesting. I am also looking into publicising the PTA of the school. At the moment, they issue the occasional letter goes to parents, whenever the PTA have an event, and that is about all. I’m looking into creating a weblog on here, together with a regular newsletter. I’ve not done anything as big as this before, but I have a few ideas. Mind you, I’ll have to talk to them and convince them of the benefits. That could be the biggest challenge. I think I will just set it all up and them present them with it. Wish me luck !!!
Mrs H was at the dentist yesterday, so that wasn’t good. In the chair for over an hour, putting a previous extraction right. Fingers crossed she won’t get an infection this time.
Youngest went off on his school adventure week yesterday. It was a difficult morning, because as usual, he said he did not want to go. As usual he was quite adamant about it. Got a txt from one of the school staff that have gone, to say he was doing fine and having a good time. To be fair, his teacher at school said he was fine when he got to school. Now whether they are just saying that to stop us worrying……
Work was, as expected a bit of a trial today. It seems to be the case, that I only have to have a single day off, for problems to mount up. Thankfully D*** takes it all in his stride. A good ally and workmate. Finance is upset with me though. For the past 5 years, I have worked on the 1st of April (start of the new financial year). This year, I having the day off. R*** is having his dental treatment, and I need to be there. So the reports that need to be run, will have to be run by someone else (probably D****).
Paint, paint and even more paint. The dining room is proving to be a little better than I first thought. A base coat of white and two top coats, should see the majority of the wall covered. Just a few patches that may need a thin third coat. Then, it will be time to move the heavy furniture, and finish up. There are two small pieces of wall that are hidden behind the two units. Hopefully, I can get some the paint done on Thursday and Friday evening, then I can wallpaper on the Saturday. It will then just be the woodwork to do, and I can do that starting on Sunday.
Youngest is going on a respite trip tomorrow. We have only just told him, and of course, he says he is not going. But that’s what he says to everything, which is why we have delayed telling him. All he wants to do is stay in his room or play on the internet. His support worker came to take him out today, and he said he did not want to go. The place he is going to looks like fun, a type of outward bound centre for disabled kids. He’ll be going with his teachers and support workers from school, so it should be a good week. Just got to get through the next few hours.
Mrs H is at the dentist tomorrow. she is not looking forward to that at all. The last treatment she had ended up with an infection and five days of pain. Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen again. I don’t think the anti-biotic worked too well last time.
Eldest manage to ring and say Happy Mothers Day !! It took a lot of prompting, and the fool rang the land line, and not her mobile (free calls 3 to 3). Still, he called, I suppose.
Car alarm keeps going off. Well ‘van’ alarm. It will probably be going off for a while yet. The guy who owns it lives a couple of streets away, so he won’t hear it. People who live nearby will not be very happy. They will both be on the lookout for the driver in the morning. Poor devil.
Today was one of those strange days. I seemed to be doing a lot of work, but did not seem to have done much. Not a lot to show for the effort, if you know what I mean.
Mrs H got the wallpaper for the downstairs today. £16.00 a roll !!!! I’m going have to make sure I don’t make any foolish mistakes. I remember once, doing a whole wall upside down. Not entirely my fault as one of the rolls had been rolled the wrong way. If I had not have used it first, I would have noticed.
I think Leeds Utd may have blown their automatic promotion. Three league defeats in a row, and now Norwich has gone top. It will be difficult to pull back from there, and there are a couple of potential hard games coming up. I’m thinking Carlisle and Huddersfield.
Youngest is still only on 1/3 of his medication. He was not very happy yesterday, and was still a bit off this morning. Seems happier tonight, but not like he has been over the past week. Must be something at school or on the bus.