2019 - two steps forward and one step back
- but it's happening
When I was 4 I started at Cook Street infants school but 4 weeks later we moved to a brand new 3 bedroomed council house on a new estate in Sandford Hill. I remember as my mother and her friends prepared the house we ate bacon, mashed potatoes and parsley sauce on the stone window ledges. I started a new school - Adderley Green County Primary School and went to the nursery where we slept in the afternoon on fold up beds under grey blankets and had to have cod liver oil and malt on a big spoon and orange juice from little glass bottles with sliver tops like little milk bottles. The nursery had a coke fire with a huge fire guard around it plus huge hot water pipes which you could sit on if you were cold.
I remember Mrs Steele, Mrs Oldfield and Mr Hunt (who was Irish) who were my teachers in latter years at the school. My pals were Jimmy Taylor, Paul Goostry and Keith Smallwood. We learnt to write with our paper on wooden tables which sat eight and had pens with nibs but no ink reservoir except the one sat on the table. The table tops were covered by hardboard. We saved for the school trip by taking money to school each week a had a card with our contribution noted down. The trips went to Rhyl or Morecombe but only for a day and we left from Longton Station on long trains hauled by steam locomotives. Those that were considered able (an I was considered so) were given extra lessons before the 11+ exam. These lessons started at 8:30am so we had to be in school early. For my 11+ exam I went to Longton High School (the one before the one in Box Lane) which became Sandon High Scool. I was successful at the exam and obviously those making the decision saw the potential and sent me to Stanfield Technical High School which was 9 or 10 miles and two bus journeys away from Sandford Hill.
I never really enjoyed high school but my memories include creating a multiple accident in the dining room annexe after I dropped a jug full of custard on the floor creating a skid pan for boys carrying trays of dirty dishes and being sick over Mr Rainbow, our French teacher, after having eaten rolly polly pud. I built a model aircraft in woodwork and made a rake in metal work but I excelled in art and was first in the class for my picture of Longton’s railway bridge viewed from up The Strand. I also remember coming fouth in Mathematics when we had a very attractive woman teacher. Corporal punishment was alive and well in those days with the teachers competing for the most cruel punishment although psychologically I think Mr Jones, our English Literature teacher had it with his self inflicted wrap across the knuckles. If you didn’t hit yourself hard enough he made you do it again.
I took my 'O' Levels and after a dismal performance (when compared to today's figures) decided to go into the 6th form and retake my failed exams. I managed to pass Geography but Chemistry illuded me for many years but my disillusionment with school increased to such an extent that I decided to leave school by applying for a job as a 'Student Apprentice' with the West Midlands Gas Board. In this i was successful and so, without any regret, I left school for the outside world
This involved going to college in Coventry and living
in bed and breakfast accommodation during the week and travelling home at
After two years at college those in the know suggested that I might try for a degree in Gas Engineering at Salford University so I sold the car (for £35 - the same I had paid for it 12 months earlier) and caught the train for Manchester. We found digs in Salford with a mad Welsh woman who had a husband and two kids. The place was crazy with 8 students and 4 family. The brother was knocking off the sister, mum insisted on using our toilet and not locking the door. We had lots of unofficial guests and got beaten up by skinheads. After that we movied to sedate suburb of Peel Green where there was only 6 of us plus central heating and sanity. The course work went over my head so after the year was complete I stole away to do a sandwich course in Mechanical Engineering in Smethwick. I moved in with my aunt and had three great years.
After 4 years as an Engineering Assistant I transferred to the Industrial Department and became a Technical Consultancy Service Engineer and started the best job I've ever had. I spent much of my time visiting factories and making recommendations on energy useage. This involved the works manager showing me the production process and I still love to visit factories to see the same thing.
Just when things were busy enough I married her. She joined me working in Solihull and we eventually moved to Warwickshire - to a house that was even more isolated with only arable crops, pheasant and partridge for neighbours. Then I promptly left on secondment to work in Brazil and shortly afterwards Egypt as a market analyst.
I returned to the UK and began work in Transco as a business analyst and chopped down trees at the house. This led to a hernia and so to an operation and 6 weeks off work. Having never really settled down since my international stint I tried a couple more jobs in Transco before leaving to start up Mearsecroft Limited. Our house had the name Mearsecroft and a unique postcode so the company address was Mearsecroft Limited B49 6JP!
I guess we spent 10 years as swallows, spending the European summer in Portugal and the European winter in South Africa. In 2012 it was all change and, at the age of 60 I turned over a new leaf and for the last few years life became a more 'singular' experience. I have travelled alone to South Africa, camped in Zambia, lived with a local family in Uganda. I have met lots of amazing new people and enjoyed their company if not their lifestyle.
The Nomadic Life
As time moves on I seem to become less European and more nomadic. In the last 2 years or so I have spent 4 months in Europe, 3 months in the Pacific, a month in Tanzania, time in Mauritius and Zanzibar and the rest of the time charging around South Africa. I have made lots of new friends on my travels and enjoy keeping, if not in touch, up to date with their activities. Whatsapp and Messenger are my best friends. My business interests have diversified and I seem to focus on ventures in East Africa. It's hard work but a lot of fun and I think my small effort is life changing for a few people. I hope I can expand this business to the benefit of all
To be embelished. More later...............