Paper Rounds :
I did a few paper rounds in my early teens, up early and cycle to the shop by 6am, pack up the extremely heavy bag of papers and waddle off to deliver them, some days of the week we had two bags and impossible to balance on a bicycle, and on a Thursday evening we had to go back to deliver the local papers.
It was always a struggle to get the round done in time, those Financial Times were so thick they would not fit in many letterboxes, then there was the many rabid looking dogs that tried to take your fingers off, gates that were always jammed, and trying to keep ahead of the postman or milkman so that you were not fighting for space at the front doors.
It was nice in the summer months, the school holidays were not so rushed and the roads much safer, in fact I often did two or three rounds to cover other Paper boys who were on holidays. But in the winter we would have to go out no matter how deep the snow, or how torrential the rain, fingers blue from cold and black from the ink, praying to get finished in time to get home for some much needed breakfast before rushing out the door again for school.
Two hours each morning, and hour on Thursday evenings seven days a week all for 50p a week!
Hoping to get a few hours extra hours in bed each morning and not have to go out and get soaking wet before school, I decided to try a Milk Round instead of a paper round, as this was only done on a Saturday and Sunday.
It was a struggle getting up in the dark and walking to the local milk depot in Welling for 4am, we would have a hot cup of tea in the canteen then set about loading up the float with crates, bread and dairy produce before setting off, some of the rounds were miles from the depot and could take 30 - 45 mins to drive there, and those old floats did not go very fast!.
I was first assigned to work with Neville, and do the Eltham run in a three wheeled 'Wales & Edwards' float, a bumpy and rattlly ride, with no doors to the cab it was always freezing and the rain hit you no matter which direction you travelled. He reminded me of Robin Askwith and regardless of which route we were on, with all the disappearances he made throughout the day into ladies houses, I am sure he could of easily written the plot to his own film... 'Confessions of a Milkman'.
We occasionally had to cover other routes, sometimes Bexleyheath or Erith, these routes had the four wheel Smiths Floats that had a cab to keep the rain out, you entered through the back of the cab, but they were still freezing cold.
Later we were moved from our usual Eltham run and assigned to Thamesmead, at the time it was like hell on earth. Hundreds of tower blocks, and of course the lifts were always broken. We gained a warmer float, this one we called the 'Tank' as it had metal shuttering that we had to lock each time we left the float unattended, if we hadn't there would of been no milk or produce left for the remainder of the route. It was a hard and physical weekend job, from 4am through to 3pm and again all for 50p per day.
As a teen I also worked on a Saturday in a Hardware Store in the Pantiles in Bexleyheath. Weighing out Nails and screws and pricing lengths of wood, bagging up firewood and stacking the tins of paint. Feeling very much like Granville from 'Are you being served'.
I also worked in a nearby tobaconists / sweet shop at weekends.
In the school holidays I worked in the 'Homeware' store in Mottingham.
Many years later I did another stint in a hardware shop in Chislehurst, assembling and delivering lawn mowers.
Futura Book Publications
We aslo worked as a whole family to ear extra money, some of that was at Futura Book Publications which was based in Tonbridge Wells in Kent. My Dad's brother worked for them as an accountant, and we would work there on a Saturday packing up book orders ready for distribution.
Futura published the 'Confessions' series, the sexual adventures of Timothy Lee and Rosie Dixon, many of which were later made during the late 70's and early 80's into comedy films. The Night Nurse was made into a TV series too.
Confessions of a Window Cleaner, Confessions of a Driving Instructor, Confessions of a Pop Star and many others.
But it taught us the value of money, showed us money did not grow on trees, and that if we wanted to buy things we had to go out and work hard and save our money.
I can still remember the strange nervous feeling as I got off the train at London Bridge Station in 1975 and at fifteen years old stepped into Guys Hospital for the very first time. The posh diamond shaped tiles of the elegant marbled concourse that led me through to the old part of the hospital, with it's green gardens and trees which seemed a little out of place in this strange mixture of both new and ancient.
The tall tower block with its 34 floors standing 487.7 ft towering over London Bridge Station, making it the tallest Hospital in the world. Its undisturbed views across London with only the Post Office Tower high enough to keep it company.
The department where I was to work was built on the back of the old outpatients centre, it's maze of underground tunnels enabling staff to move around to almost anywhere in the hospital undetected from public view.
Where all staff had to wear a tie, and stand aside in the corridor's when Matron or a senior surgeon walked towards you. Where nurses would never be seen outside without hat or cloak and still wore the tall cloth hats and full uniform with capes.
Memories of The massive staff swimming pool, and the cool underground Staff Club which backed right on to the London Dungeons, and for those with a strong enough stomach to view it, the Gordon Museum with it's many pickled body parts.
Now the tower is dwarfed by it's new neighbour the Shard.
Back in 1975 Guys was still very much an old fashioned Hospital, full of unwritten rules both of behaviour and of etiquette, installing a respect for those senior in position and promoting them to an almost god like status. You could only approach and talk to a Matron after first approaching a sister or lower nursing staff, and only talk to a doctor or a surgeon if they talked to you first. If you had to walk past a Matron or a Surgeon in the corridor, you had to stand to the side, nurses had to stand to attention with head lowered until they had walked passed.
I trained in Audiology, I had no real qualifications so I started at the very bottom, learning three or four times what was really necessary to prove my abilities. I learned how to test hearing using an Audiometer, test inner ear pressure, take wax ear moulds, and how to issue and repair hearing aids. I covered E.N.T. clinics at Guys, New Cross hospital and St Olave's hospital, and I performed Domiciliary visiting to three London Boroughs along with Social Services for the Deaf.
I had known since before leaving school that I wanted to be in the Ambulance Service, but they kept increasing their minimum age. So after 3 years at Guys I changed roles to get a wider experience and started work in the Operating Theatre's of the Brook Hospital.
I was to do another 3 years here before I finally joined the Ambulance Service.
A&E Qualified Ambulance Personel
Grade 4 - Miller
The training for the Ambulance Service made everything I had to learn before seem like child's play. Gruelling intense classroom sessions Monday to Friday, hours of homework, you lived and breathed the ambulance service during those initial 12 weeks.
It was split into modules each lasting two weeks, although you were examined every week at the end of each two weeks was a detailed and thorough examination, fail any one of these and you were out !
After quallifying I worked for over two years in the West-end of London from Bloomsbury Ambulance Station just around the corner from Kings Cross. I also worked on the rota at Smithfield Station in the centre of the 'City Mile'.
I had many experiences, many scares, many testing and stressful times, but it was also good times. As with many other staff members though, it played its part on our long term mental health.
To explain the training, the experiences, the happy times and the sadness, I wrote a book about it.
After years in the NHS Ambulance Services I took a short break from the work, I was increasingly fed up with the violence being shown to ambulance staff and little support from the service itself. I decided I would become a Chauffeur to the Film & Music Industry, using the stretched Limousine I moved around many famous faces, but the excitement and need to use my skills was not there, so I returned to ambulance work but this time for a private service.
As 2nd in Command, we built up the service from nothing, and became very respected for our manner and professionalism by both the NHS and the private sector. We transported patients many thousands of miles around the UK and sometimes further, living up to our name. I had many strange and wonderful experiences on this service too, all included in the above mentioned book.
I finally gave up Ambulance work when I moved to Wales in 1990, and I was forced to try out a range of employment until I could get a permanent position. I did many 'fill-in' positions during that time, window cleaning, taxi driving, auxilliary Nursing, Carpet laying, delivering eggs, school cleaning and working on a building site. I also ran my own Computer Training Company.
After working as a Network Supervisor for the Council at County Hall, I began a long association with Powys County Council. Eventually becoming a manager for a Day Base for adults with Learning Disabilities.
Following this I worked for 8 years as an Assistant Manager / Residential Social Worker with Abused Children with severe challenging behaviours.
The stress of this last job added to the stress of the past eventually proved too much and I ended up with PTSD, this led to several mini-strokes and a very long period of ill health.
I now write books and have published many, and I also create websites.
I run the Wise Old Owl Information Portal for Mid-Wales.