Saturday, 11 July 2015

Trying to better myself - part 1

After a long hunt I found a letter that my school sent me over 40 years ago pretending to be sorry that I wasn't going into the sixth form. I wasn't allowed to go because the sixth form had a different uniform and I didn't have the money to buy it. No uniform meant you couldn't go. My foster parents wouldn't pay, the Council said it wasn't their responsibility and the school said "no exceptions can be made". I hope things have improved since then! 

In those days it wasn't hard finding work at 16 and I worked for a small engineering firm down one of the alleyways off the main shopping street in St Albans. I didn't expect any support once I left the foster home and I didn't get any. My foster parents did it for the money as Mrs X was a bit disabled. I do wonder about "what if this" or "what if that" sometimes but not often because it wasn't going to change anything. Some kids like me went to the National Children's Home in Harpenden, the next station north, but fostering was supposed to be much better than going there!
The National Children's Home

I found maths quite easy so the boss started to give me the job of doing the costings for the different jobs people wanted him to do. He was glad to get rid of that particular job and the small bit of extra responsibility meant that I got a small pay rise. We had 30 minutes for our lunch break and some of the men used to go off to the nearest pub for a "liquid lunch". I used to stay in the factory and eat the sandwiches that Mrs H had made for me. Sometimes the boss would sit with me and it was him that suggested that I try to get some extra qualification.

A typical small engineering factory

Eventually I took his advice and I did some City and Guilds qualifications at the college in St Albans and ended up as a technician at a school helping in what they call Design Technology now. I ended up working at the school by accident. The lecturer who taught me for most of my C&G courses also worked at a school and when there was a job going there he encouraged me to apply and then helped me prepare for the interview. Mr T was an all-around good bloke and had a big impact on how I became a man. He would be shocked if he ever found out that I saw him as a bit of a father figure to make up for the Dad I never had!

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