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Oct 29, 2020, 09:19 pm

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Roneo Vickers Engineer:circa 1950 

I was regularly being called out to firms and factories all over the East Midlands. Some I enjoyed going out to but others I dreaded. First among the latter was a Mental Hospital in Northampton.
The building was a late Victorian place set in its own grounds. My visits went like this: The call would come into the office and what was usually said was,
‘The printing machine is only inking down one side!’
Until I cracked the problem I’d be frankly puzzled, for this type of breakdown was being reported even though I’d reset the inking rollers just a few days before.
Every door and gate had to be unlocked and locked in this place. I’d walk down the lane to the prefabricated reception block and knock on the door then out would pop one of the supervising male nurses who would smile and say something like,


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When I was little, my parents had two budgies, Jimmy and Jenny. Jenny couldn't fly but was very tame to the point we kids could walk outside with her on our shoulder. We had a nesting box and a number of broods which included, Sparky, my budgie!


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24 Jul 2020 - Merchant Navy 1945

MORE MEMORIES FROM NORMAN HASTINGS:
Merchant Navy 1945
We were in convoy, of course, and it was early in 1945 as we set off ‘North about’ across the North Atlantic. All was quiet apart from a few bangs in the distance. Eventually, having separated from the rest of the ships, we sailed into New York harbour where we lined up in the saloon to be photographed and have our fingerprints taken. Very shortly afterwards we received a New York dock pass which contained these identifying details. As the ship needed her bunkers replenishing we moved alongside the coal wharf and the bunker hatch covers were removed. We, the crew, were once more called into the saloon and asked ‘how much of a ‘sub’ (advance against wages) did we want.’ Armed with our dock pass we were then allowed to go ashore. We two ship’s boys ‘Galley’ and ‘Cabin’ soon found ourselves with older crew members in a bar and silly, silly, were persuaded (although it didn’t take much) to drink American Rye with beer chasers. During this session the bar tender realised we were underage and the two of us were slung out onto the street to the cheers of our shipmates. Let me emphasise I wasn’t drunk, just ‘tiddly’. ‘Cabin’ decided he was going back to the ship but with the night still being young, I set off to see the sights. Fine at the time but an hour later I realised:


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Chapter 1: The End of School Days School days, 


So they tell us, are the happiest days of our lives. In my case, certainly not so! However, my school days taught me a few tricks that were to stand me in good stead for later in life, and most certainly the old saying ‘you set one to catch one’ stood me in very good stead when I later became a School Boardman, or in modern parlance, an ‘Education Welfare and Attendance Officer.’ 


But judge for yourself and read on… 


According to ‘the book’ in my day, children left school at the age of 14 years. Not so in my case for on or around 31 July when I left school for the last time, I was still only 13 years old, my birthday being 5 days later. 


I don’t think there was anything special about my being allowed to leave a little earlier than I should have, although even I recognised that throughout my years spent in senior school I could quite easily have been described as ‘brain dead’ by the long-suffering staff who tried so hard to put knowledge into my thick skull. What a sigh of relief must have gone up when they saw the back of me after so many seemingly wasted years.



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