TTOT Chapter 1 – Working For A Living
I had left school and looked forward to the usual six weeks Summer holiday. Each year, those six weeks had been a time of wonderful happiness, simply doing things I wanted to do with no teacher telling me what that should be.
However, as I mentioned in my last burst of memoirs, Mom did not want me to become the sort of drudge that she’d been all her life, nor to end up with horrible leathery hands like Dad had earned as a manual worker. A Grammar School education should not be wasted and, though I’d been a duffer and never even sat GCEs, she found a clerical job for me.
Down our back lived Horace Griffiths who worked on the Railways. He was a general labourer at Stafford Road Loco Repair Works. His nephew would become Chief Clerk there when the present one retired. So Horace was asked to pull some strings and, there it was, a job in the offices of the factory ready and waiting for me.
I had to sit an exam first, though. Jock Davison, the then Chief Clerk, sat with me as I struggled through the paper. Apart from some (very) basic maths, the questions seemed as relevant to being a Railway clerk as a snorkel would have been to a mountaineer.
The only bit I remember was that I had to name all of the Five Towns, those places in North Staffordshire made famous by Arnold Bennett. Why British Railways’ clerks on Western Region, which covered the whole of the old Great Western, should need to know places on the London Midland Region (old LMS), I cannot imagine. Jock told me three of them, but even he couldn’t remember the other two!
Anyway, I got the job and joined the salaried staff, rather than picking up a wage like my Dad did. It was a piece of social snobbery which I resented even then: the class-system had been carefully preserved at Wolverhampton Grammar School. I had developed, totally untutored, a pleasantly Left-Wing bias.
That bias was to give me those rare moments of enjoyment in my working life.
Nevertheless, my career as a British Railways clerk was to be nearly as doomy as any of my schooldays.
Sun., 9th May, 2009.
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