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December 29, 2008

115 – Still A Shields Lad

Concluding his autobiography Robert Owen thinks of old friends.

To read Robert’s book from the beginning please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

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December 22, 2008

114 – Economic Effects

Robert Owen reaches the end of his teaching career.

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December 15, 2008

113 – A Suspect

Because of his North-East connections Robert Owen was questioned by the police.

To read the earlier chapters of Robert’s life story please click on
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December 08, 2008

112 – Her Harold Wilson Coat

Robert Owen’s wife Angela is drafted in as a secretary to a future Prime Minister.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s life story please click on
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December 01, 2008

111 – No Regrets

...Throughout my life I have often been asked, "Did you not want to meet your father?" My answer was always, "No," and I have no regrets. I followed the example of the family who always said that they had no desire to speak to him again after he walked out in 1939 and left his wife destitute with a three-year-old child....

Robert Owen did not attend his father's funeral.

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November 24, 2008

110 – A Major Turning Point

....After industry, working in a College was a completely new experience. The work was new, interesting and challenging, which compensated for the long hours and hard work. A new college was being built about 800 yards away, but until it opened, classrooms were at a premium. We used 17 different annexes. These included old schools, offices, mills and churches and I remember conducting one of my first lessons from the pulpit of a redundant Seamen's Mission!...

Robert Owen becomes a college lecturer.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

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November 17, 2008

109 - To The South On Itchy Feet

...During these years our versatile and cheap-to-run Lambretta scooter continued to be our main mode of transport. That was until the horrendous winter of 1963. This, with a growing family, convinced us of the need for a car. When I started working south of the river at Wright's Biscuits, this became possible. So, saving mostly Angela's hard earned part-time teaching money, the following year we bought a new car. We chose a Ford Anglia with its unique forward sloping rear window. It cost £514 and we had to pay extra for a heater, which then was classed as an optional extra but was already fitted. While driving home I recall thinking, what would our socialist and mining grandparents have thought about their grandchildren owning a car and buying a house?...

Robert Owen buys a new car and decides to move south to work in Manchester.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

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November 10, 2008

108 - Stigma On Tyneside

...When Angela arrived to visit me, she looked very worried. She showed me the previous evening's Gazette. The front page headline read, "Typhoid hits Tyneside!" This was the first we knew about it...

Robert Owen falls ill with typhoid fever.

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November 03, 2008

107 - To Europe By Lambretta

...The two-week holiday was planned with military precision. We 'did' Paris in a day and then got the overnight train to Lyon to save time. To our surprise and worry, the scooter had to go on a different train and we thought we would never see it again. Much to our relief, we found it waiting for us the next morning on the platform of Lyon station. Continuing down the Rhone Valley through Orange and Aix-en-Provence, we eventually arrived at Nice. Here we spent five sun-drenched days exploring Cannes, Monte Carlo, and San Remo in Italy...

Robert Owen recalls his first holiday abroad with his wife.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story pkease click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

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October 27, 2008

106 - The Turning Point

Robert Owen embarks on a different career path.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

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October 20, 2008

105 - Starting Out With A Lot In Common

...The flat had an outside toilet, no bathroom and not one 3-point electricity plug in the whole house. It did, however, have something we didn't want - a telephone. It's amazing to think that one of the first things we did was to have it removed. None of our family or friends had a telephone. It was an extra cost and anyway, there was a public telephone in Mowbray Road with a telephone directory...

Robert Owen marries his sweetheart, Angela, in the church where they met.

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October 13, 2008

104 - Serious Thinking

...The Lambretta scooter which I had brought back from Portsmouth was my workhorse during these busy years. It provided transport for work, leisure, football refereeing, cricket and B B activities. Angela and I even used it to attend the Old Assembly Rooms in Newcastle for Reyrolles drawing office annual dance. This was an up-market formal affair when most people arrived in taxis, the ladies wearing evening dress. There were looks of amazement when we arrived on a scooter wearing crash helmets, with Angela's long dress blowing in the wind...

Robert Owen settles back into civilian life after service in the Royal Navy.

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October 06, 2008

103 – A Time of Personal Development

...National Service also gave me the opportunity to go abroad for the first time and visit places I would never have seen in civvy street. It taught me a lot about machines, more about people and even more about myself. It caused me to reassess my possible future career as an engineer or draughtsman and to think about establishing some other goals for my life ahead...

Robert Owen concludes his service in the Royal Navy.

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September 29, 2008

102 – Indebted To Lt McCann

Robert Owen discovers that he will only have to serve 18 months in the Royal Navy, rather than the full two years of national service.

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September 22, 2008

101 – The Hound in Icelandic Waters

Robert Owen goes on a "cruise'' Royal Navy-style.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's story please click on
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September 15, 2008

100 – Life On Patrol

...After a while I found life on board Hound more relaxed than I had expected. Everyone kept telling me how lucky I was to be on a small ship as compared to a large vessel, where the organisation and discipline were much firmer. We were never at sea for more than four or five days and then usually had a different town for a run-ashore at the weekend...

Robert Owen acclimatises to life at sea in the Royal Navy.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s life story please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

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September 08, 2008

99 – Geordie On The Mill Pond

...Discovering the ship's engine room was not a pleasant experience. The place was hot, dirty, noisy and extremely claustrophobic. Hissing steam and leaking oil were everywhere. It was full of different coloured pipes, various pumps and numerous valves and dials that meant nothing to me...

Robert Owen finds out that life at sea in a Navy vessel is fraught with problems and misunderstandings.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s story please click on
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September 01, 2008

98 – The Daily Tot

...Looking at Hound, it was easy to tell it was not a new ship. Living accommodation was basic and crowded. The ERA's mess consisted of a small cabin with one porthole, 4 drop-down bunks which provided bench seating during the day, a table and two easy chairs and five standard lockers. I was given the option of using a hammock or a folding camp bed. I chose the latter....

Robert Owen joins the crew of HMS Hound and is faced with a decision concerning a Royal Navy tradition – the Daily Tot.

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August 25, 2008

97 – Victorian Ways

Robert Owen travels from Portsmouth to Edinburgh to join HMS Hound, only to discover that the ship is about to set ail for Portsmouth.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s life story please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/two_rooms_and_a_view/

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August 18, 2008

96 – Causing A Stir On Leave

...Angela and I had kept the postman busy during my absence and we spent most of my leave together. While working as a secretary in Newcastle, she continued studying shorthand and typing at evening classes. On a Wednesday night she usually went to the Majestic dance hall and I recall going with her in naval uniform during my leave. It caused quite a stir...

Robert Owen tells more of his national service days in the Navy.

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August 11, 2008

95 – More Courses

...Perhaps the highlight of this course, was the 24-hour outdoor expedition to test individual initiative. We were dropped in pairs about mid¬night in an unknown place without money, supplies or maps and instructed to make our way back to HMS Royal Arthur by a given time the next day. To make it more interesting, members of another course were detailed to look for us. On a cold and wet November night in mid-Wiltshire, not many people made it!...

Robert Owen undergoes leadership training in the Royal Navy.

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August 04, 2008

94 – National Service Sailor

...The following four weeks were spent on 'square bashing' and a variety of lectures on the history, organisation and traditions of the navy. Square bashing consisted of an hour's drill on the large parade ground before and after lunch. My experience of elementary drill in the Boys' Brigade helped a lot. Some of my colleagues had great difficulty determining their right foot...

Robert Owen begins his national service in the Royal Navy.

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July 28, 2008

93 – The Trade Test

...During the following days, I anxiously watched the post, but it was not until early September that an official looking, letter arrived at our John Clay Street address. It was my call-up papers. I was instructed to report to HMS Victory at Portsmouth between 10 am and 6 pm on Monday, 17 September, 1956...

Robert Owen is summoned to do his National Service in the Royal Navy.

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July 21, 2008

92 – In the RNVR

...One evening in the summer, we actually went to sea on the small inshore minesweeper. Although the North Sea was calm and we only went a short distance outside the twin piers, my stomach indicated that it did not approve of my joining the navy....

Robert Owen joins the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.

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July 14, 2008

91 – The Happiest Years Of My Career

Robert Owen joins Reyrolles Cricket Club and enjoys his happiest years as a player.

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July 07, 2008

90 – Professional Assistance

Robert Owen recalls the arrival of an Indian Test cricketer at South Shields Cricket Club.

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June 30, 2008

89 – The Yorkshire Tour

...I easily recall the game against the York XI because our opposition consisted of mostly farmers, and we had the best-ever ham salad tea that could ever be served at a cricket match...

Robert Owen goes on a cricketing tour.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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June 23, 2008

88 – Girls vs Sport

“In truth we were both ignorant of how to treat members of the opposite sex,’’ Robert Owen recalls. “This was clearly demonstrated one evening at the cinema when we offered to share our large, juicy Jaffa oranges with them. I don't think we saw them again!’’

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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June 16, 2008

87 - Malcolm’s Success

Robert Owen attends a show which convinces himn that hypnotism really does work.

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June 09, 2008

86 - An Accurate Prediction

…The batsman took a planned straight drive at Joe's bowling and produced the biggest hit I have ever seen at a cricket match. I was fielding at long-on and the ball was still rising when it went over my head. In his typical humorous fashion Joe shouted, "Why didn't you jump for it Bob?"

I believe a farmer from Rothbury returned the ball the next day!..,

Robert Owen continues his cricketing career.

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June 02, 2008

85 - An Eventful Evening

…I reported that Chris Peacock had sent me as the Third XI was one short for its next game on Monday. "Is there any chance of a game?" was my final comment.

He looked surprised and said, "Yes, I'm glad you called - see you on Monday at 5.15 p.m. We are travelling by private car."

I rode away as if I had been selected for the England tour of Australia…

Robert Owen becomes a cricketer, adding a new interest to his already busy life.

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May 26, 2008

84 - Joining A New Club

Robert Owen is invited to join a cricket club, but there are problems. “It meant finding suitable playing kit, raising the membership fee and amazingly finding somebody to take my money. I could manage a white shirt but buying new cricket boots, flannels and a white sweater were out of the question on my meagre wage at Reyrolles. Other methods had to be employed’’

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s life story please click Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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May 19, 2008

83 - Another Career Possibility

Robert Owen finds himself umpiring a cricket match – and his career as a sprinter ends before it begins.

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May 12, 2008

82 – An Amazingly Naive Society

…Refereeing in those days was a pleasure. Most teenage players respected authority, played to the whistle and didn't use foul language, especially within hearing distance of the referee. There were few cautions and sending a player off was extremely rare.


In many ways, society was amazingly naive compared to the present day. I remember the local Referees’ Association recommending that if I sent a player off for using foul or obscene language, I must not repeat the actual words uttered in my report to the Durham Football Association. They suggested that if the player said, "F. . . off,” I should describe the offending word as perhaps, “An old Anglo-Saxon four-letter word beginning with F!” How things change…

Robert Owen recalls his days as a football referee in more innocent times.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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May 05, 2008

81 – Birth Of A New Career

At the age of 18 Robert Owen becomes a football referee.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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April 28, 2008

80 – A Very Successful Season

Robert Owen recalls his footballing days, when manners on the pitch were much better than they are today.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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April 21, 2008

79 – In Demand

…After leaving school in 1950 I had to make a decision about my sporting future. Was I to become an active Newcastle United supporter, or should I continue to play football?

Factors to be considered were the cost of going to St James's Park every other Saturday. On the other hand, the Magpies had won promotion to the First Division in 1948, and visiting players such as Stanley Matthews, Len Shackleton and Tom Finney were a treat to watch. It was a hard decision, but I decided to continue playing football. Had I known the Magpies were to have such a good team and were to win the F.A. Cup three times in five years, I might have decided otherwise…

Robert Owen
decides that it is better to play football, rather than to merely watch it being played.

For earlier chapters of Robert’s life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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April 14, 2008

78 - A London Adventure

…Due to family and financial circumstances, I never had any sort of Christmas or birthday party while I was growing up. When I was twenty-one in April 1956 I was determined to put that right…

Robert Owen has to transport a sofa across town on a barrow on the day of his party.

To read earlier chapters of Robert’s autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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April 07, 2008

77 - Big Dame Hunting

...I eventually built up courage to ask her out and recall that our first date was to the Savoy Cinema in Ocean Road. It must have been a success because most Saturdays after that we went to one of the downtown cinemas. We also met at Church on Sundays...

Robert Owen begins the dating game.

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March 31, 2008

76 - Centenary Celebrations

Robert Owen attends the Boys' Brigade centenary celebrations in London.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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March 24, 2008

75 - Coronation Excitement

...While getting ready, I caused some more unplanned excitement. I had brought a new white shirt with a separate collar, but with not being used to wearing this type of shirt, I forgot the two essential collar studs. Without these, the new shirt and collar were useless. I had visions of coming all this way and missing the main event...

Robert Owen recalls a personal crisis on Coronation Day.

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March 17, 2008

74 - Family To The Rescue

Eighteen-year-old Robert Owen was on his way to the official opening of a new Boys Brigade headquarters, assigned to be part of a guard of honour, when...

"There were many distinguished guests and with others, I had the privilege of being part of the Guard of Honour. However, it is an incident before the event that I remember most clearly. I was crossing Sunderland Road at Westoe when I saw a mature, tall gentleman wearing Victorian-like clothes, including a winged collar and bow tie, get off the bus from town. He preceded me up to Westoe Village, and it was only when we were nearly at B B House that I realised I was following the Rt Hon. J Chuter Ede, the town's Labour MP.

Fifty years later, I wonder how many former Home Secretaries now use public transport or walk to events?''

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March 10, 2008

73 - The Exciting Adventure Of Life

...For me, the nineteen-fifties was a decade of growth, development and new experiences, many made possible by being a member of the Boys' Brigade. It all started when, as part of the Festival of Britain, the Brigade nationally decided to send a message of congratulation to the King. This was to be delivered by a team of runners carrying an inscribed scroll from the birthplace of the Brigade's founder at Thurso in northern Scotland to Buckingham Palace in London...

Robert Owen recalls life as it was way back then.

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March 03, 2008

72 - Growing Responsibilities

Robert Owen takes to the stage as a burglar.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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February 25, 2008

71 - The Company Camp

...It was often joked in the Company, that an essential prerequisite for the annual campsite was that the local farmer who owned the field had to have an attractive daughter of eligible age. It was amazing how often this turned out to be true. The result was a queue of volunteers who wanted to collect the milk from the farm each morning...

Robert Owen tells of Boys' Brigade summer camps.

To read earlier chapters in Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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February 18, 2008

70 - A Value-For-Money Holiday

When it comes to football the professional old 'uns can beat the amateur young 'uns, as Robert Owen reveals.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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February 11, 2008

69 - Football Plus

Robert Owen finds out that there is more to life in the Boys Brigade besides football and cricket.

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February 04, 2008

68 - Down At The Dragon

Robert Owen recalls footballing days at the Dragon, when the Maroons conceded far more goals than they scored.

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January 28, 2008

67 - Breaking The Law For A Good Cause

...During one evening service and a rather long sermon by a visiting preacher, the organ refused to start for the last hymn. Investigation found the two organ blowers quietly playing cards behind the organ. They were so engrossed in their activity, they hadn't noticed the warning light that indicated pumping was required. They didn't get a another chance and were deleted from the Duty List...

Robert Owen tells of pumping the church organ to earn a little pocket money.

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January 21, 2008

66 - I Was In!

Robert Owen was a member of the Boys' Brigade, a youth organisation built on the twin pillars of religion and discipline with the motto 'Sure and Steadfast'

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January 14, 2008

65 - Cinema Going

...At the end of the evening's film, most people in the audience would stand for a few minutes while 'God save the Queen' was played, then there was a mad rush for the exits to get in the queue for the last bus home...

Robert Owen tells of cinema going in the '50s.

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January 07, 2008

64 - Dance Time

...During the 1950's dress was very formal. Most young men with their hair covered in Brylcream wore a sports jacket and grey flannels, whatever the occasion. Sporty types might venture to a blazer, and most had a best suit for Sundays and important events.

It was the age of the convenient but horrible nylon shirts and ties with wide Windsor knots. A long raincoat was usually worn or carried over the arm from October to March. Mature men always wore a trilby or cap...

Robert Owen tells of social life in the 1950s. To read earlier chapters of Robert's autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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December 31, 2007

63 - The Mystery Knocker

...Two comedy/light entertainment programmes were on the radio most evenings, but due to night classes, I missed them.

Like most of my work colleagues, we listened to the repeats on a Sunday and discussed them at work on a Monday. I wonder how many people remember the well-known Jean Metcalfe in Two-Way Family Favourites, Ray's a Laugh, Take it from Here and Hancock's Half Hour. Educating Archie and Life with the Lyons were also very popular thirty-minute radio comedies...

Robert Owen recalls some of the radio programmes he listened to as a teenager.

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December 24, 2007

62 - A Happy Period

On football-mad Tyneside employees often did not turn in to work when important mid-week Cup games were being played.

A spoof memo circulated in the drawing office of the huge engineering firm where Robert Owen was serving his apprenticeship.

MEMO - Please ensure that all requests for leave of absence, for hospital appointments and grandparents' funerals etc., are handed to me at least two days before the day of the match.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's engaging life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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December 17, 2007

61 - Back-to-front Drawing

...Ernie was a very keen cyclist but it was on two legs, not two wheels, that we shared a weekend away together. At very short notice, we decided to go for a hike and camp into the Northumberland hills. What was different about it was that we went in midwinter, following some heavy snow.

Hiking was difficult.. The temperature below zero, and sleep was impossible. The scenery however, was magnificent. I think we pretended we were in Switzerland!...

Robert Owen, a man gifted with a photographic memory, continues his life story. To read earlier chapters please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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December 10, 2007

60 - An Extra Hour In Bed

Robert Owen has a rude awakening when he fails to reach the required standard on a draughtman's course.

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December 03, 2007

59 - Working Relationships

...Many new and innocent apprentices were often exploited for a laugh when they went onto the factory floor for the first time. It was not uncommon to be sent for a bucket of steam or a left-handed screw-driver. The most popular was perhaps being sent to the stores first thing in the morning for a long stand!...

Robert Owen recalls life in a huge engineering works.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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November 26, 2007

58 - National Disasters

...During engineering drawing classes we used to talk amongst ourselves, and one evening we were discussing the problems of attending night classes. My colleague from work and school football days, Joe Woodcock, was in the same class. After a few moments serious thought, I remember him saying, "In the winter, if I decide to walk to classes, I have to pass four cinemas, three snooker halls, six public houses and two nightclubs. When the light nights are here, I've also got football and cricket matches. No wonder I sometimes don't make it." ...

Robert Owen tells of the temptations which faced young engineering apprentices required to attend nightschool classes.

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November 19, 2007

57 - Politics

...I remember how quiet and reserved the department was on the afternoon of 6th February, 1952. During the morning, it had been announced that King George VI had died in his sleep. By lunchtime all the factory knew. Major public events were cancelled and the BBC played continuous religious music as the country mourned the shy man, who was forced to be king just before a major World War...

Robert Owen, who was an apprentice at the huge Reyrolles works on Tyneside, continues his life story.

To read earlier chapters please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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November 12, 2007

56 - Putting It Down To Experience

...My first apprentice placement was to the mining switchgear department at New Town Works. There I was introduced to factory assembly methods and more specially to the crude industrial language used on the factory floor!

Having had a sheltered upbringing, I had no experience of this type of language and nobody had warned me what to expect. Obviously I had heard very colourful language at football matches, usually directed at the referee, but I had no idea that people spoke like this every day at work...

Robert Owen's ears were ringing as he tackled his first tasks as an engineer.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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November 05, 2007

55 - The Factory Apprentice

...In all the years I took a packed lunch to work, I can never remember taking an apple, orange or banana, or indeed any other fruit. Nor did anyone else except perhaps for the occasional apple. Fruit was not on sale in the canteen and, apart from Christmas or when somebody was ill, we rarely had any in the house. It was seen as an unnecessary luxury and not associated with the diet of a working man...

Robert Owen recalls his training days as an engineering apprentice.

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October 29, 2007

54 - Studying Part Time

...Therefore, on the last afternoon, with great embarrassment, I stood on a chair and gave a rendering of 'Good King Wenceslas' before a collective audience of drawing office staff. For this, I received a combined Christmas and leaving present of £2.10s.Od (£2.50p) - or the equivalent of two and a half weeks' wages! I had never had so much money in my life. I gave half to my mother and saved the rest...

Robert Owen becomes an apprentice engineer and enters the world of part-time study.

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October 22, 2007

53 - A Lesson In The Canteen

Robert Owen learns a hard financial lesson.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's absorbing life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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October 15, 2007

52 - Improvised Cricket

...During the summer months, in spite of the smell from the glue factory across the water, we used to play improvised cricket on some waste ground near the redundant air raid shelters on the riverside. An old oil drum was the wicket, a funny shaped piece of wood the bat, and somebody found a well-used tennis ball...

Robert Owen tells of sporting days at Reyrolles, once one of England's biggest engineering firms.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's engaging autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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October 08, 2007

51 - Prized Possessions

...The following Monday morning I proudly joined the hundreds of other cycle riders that used to ride from Shields to Hebburn every day. It was approximately five miles and took about twenty-five minutes. I soon found out that there was a community spirit among the riders; it was like a cycling club. Although everybody started on their own, by the time they got to Jarrow, they were usually riding in a group. Also, if required, help was usually available for the unfortunate rider whose cycle chain came off, or for those who might get a puncture...

Robert Owen recalls his days of cycling to work. To read earlier chapters of Robert's engrossing life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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October 01, 2007

50 - The Office Messenger

...Even with the tools of the trade, I used to find shaving extremely embarrassing in front of my mother. In the mornings before going to work it was fine, because I usually had the living room to myself, but at the weekends, it was difficult and I recall retreating to the bedroom with a dish of warm water in an attempt to seek some privacy. Sometimes, if I was late for work, I would take my razor with me and dry shave in the toilets. The joys of growing up without a father!..

Robert Owen learns to shave before joining the giant Tyneside engineering firm Reyrolles.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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September 24, 2007

49 - Leaving School

...In 1950, very little attention was given to whether a person liked or enjoyed doing a particular job. If the average miner had been asked if he enjoyed his job, he would have laughed at the question. To most people, the philosophy of the nineteen thirties still applied: "If you want your family to eat, get yourself a job, whether you like it or not!"...

Robert Owen joins one of the North East's leading engineering firms.

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September 17, 2007

48 - The Hayden Twins

...Our fight was the last on the programme and seen as the highlight of the tournament! The only reason I lasted the three rounds was because I retreated so quickly he couldn't catch me! He was easily adjudged the winner. When the bout was over, my seconder sarcastically said, "Don't worry, you were definitely second." I nearly hit him. When I got home my mother remarked on my red face. I characteristically offered no explanation...

Robert Owen recalls the day of the school boxing tournament.

For earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "48 - The Hayden Twins" »

September 10, 2007

47 - In The Library

Robert Owen's final school report said he had held a place in the top six of the 'A' form and "played a fiery game of football''.

He had gained one other important thing during his secondary school days: a love of books and reading.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's vividly recalled life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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September 03, 2007

46 - Jake Wilson

...Mr Wilson loved to be in the classroom. He would think nothing of walking into a class in progress, usually the 'A' forms, and sitting at the back before finding an appropriate moment to interject and take over the lesson.

He took great pleasure in teaching English Literature and Language and introducing us to renowned writers of whom we were unaware. His favourite piece of literature was Pilgrim's Progress. At the same time he criticised lazy and incorrect use of the English language...

Robert Owen recalls his headmaster.

Continue reading "46 - Jake Wilson" »

August 27, 2007

45 - Cricket And Current Affairs

...Australia batted first and amassed a moderate total of 228. When Durham batted, I watched in amazement as Miller and Loxton bowled at speeds rarely seen in the Northeast. The ball was beyond human detection from the boundary. At the close, the home county was 93 for 5. Sadly, the second day of the long-awaited game was washed out due to rain....

Robert Owen recalls cricketing days. To read more of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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August 20, 2007

44 - A Talkative Personality

...Throughout the town's schoolboy football matches, many of the players were supported on the touchline, and sometimes on the away team coach, by their enthusiastic fathers. I wasn't but, unknown to me, Jimmy Owen may have been in the crowd. Sadly, I don't know to this day if my father ever found out about his only son playing for South Shields Schoolboys....

Robert Owen recalls playing schoolboy football for his home town team.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's absorbing life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "44 - A Talkative Personality" »

August 13, 2007

43 - A Lesson In Human Behaviour

Robert Owen is picked to play for his town's under-15 football team.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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August 06, 2007

42 - Inspiration

...The highlight of my four years at Stanhope from a film aspect, however, must have been two visits to the Gaumont Cinema by the whole school. The local education authority in its wisdom, had decided that educationally, it would benefit all secondary school pupils in the town to see the films 'Great Expectations' and 'Scott of the Antarctic' free of charge and on one occasion, we were lucky enough to get the best upstairs seats in the cinema. The whole school was transported there and back by corporation bus. Sadly again, an essay on the film followed the next day...

Robert Owen recalls some of the highlights of his school days.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's absorbing autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "42 - Inspiration" »

July 30, 2007

41 - Cabbage And Tapioca

...The smell of the weekly cabbage was nauseating and we always seemed to have tapioca or semolina for dessert. In addition, the lack of discipline was a major problem. Boys from the junior school came into the senior boys' hall for the meal, but there was only one teacher allocated to supervise about 200 youngsters. The result was often chaos, with pupils running around and food being thrown from table to table. Some teachers patrolled between the tables with a cane, as if controlling wild animals....

Robert Owen recalls turbulent school mealtimes.

Continue reading "41 - Cabbage And Tapioca" »

July 23, 2007

40 - A Football Period

...An old sports jacket or a jerkin worn with an open-necked shirt was the standard uniform, with a pair of gym shoes providing all-the-year-round footwear. Several pupils wore short trousers until thirteen years of age. Generally, we were a healthy lot but acne was rife, teeth misalignment common and hair-lips not unusual. During the winter, everybody seemed to have a cold and the right-hand coat sleeve was a common replacement for the handkerchief...

Robert Owen recalls his days at the "big'' school.

Continue reading "40 - A Football Period" »

July 16, 2007

39 - Friends And Enemies

...Perhaps the building we enjoyed most was the gymnasium. Here, clad only in a pair of shorts – which we had to supply ourselves – and under Jack Shipley's (the P.E. teacher) instruction we had to climb ropes, jump over vaulting boxes, walk on upturned forms and attempt team games using heavy medicine balls. At the end of the lesson, we were all perspiring, and it was then that Jack Shipley took great delight in introducing us to compulsory communal showers. This was completely new and several pupils were shy and highly embarrassed. Undeterred, the shower enforcer shouted, "Come on lads, don't be shy – you've all got the same."...

Robert Owen tells of his early days at a comprehensive school. To read earlier chapters of Robert's engrossing life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on his page.

Continue reading "39 - Friends And Enemies" »

July 09, 2007

38 - New Lad At Stanhope

Robert Owen goes on to Secondary Modern school.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's wonderfully-detailed life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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July 02, 2007

37- Losing Contact

...In those days, people who died at home were not removed to Chapels of Rest or undertakers' premises and I soon learnt the smell of death. A local undertaker – very likely from the Co-op — brought a coffin to the house and prepared my grandmother for the funeral. We lived with the coffin in the house for about five days – my mother sleeping in the same room...

Robert Owen recalls grim days when he was 15 years old and had just started work.

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June 25, 2007

38 - A Trip To The Midlands

...They used to go cycling every weekend and in August 1947, I joined them. We visited such places as Stratford-on-Avon, Evesham and Worcester. On one of these exciting days out, we took a camera with us and Dennis took a number of snaps of Addie and me. After getting nothing more than a natural frown out of me, I recall Addie taking me aside and trying to teach me to smile. With my serious disposition, she had quite a job!..

Robert Owen recalls a happy holiday with his aunt and uncle in the Midlands when he was 12-years-old.

For earlier chapters of Robert's richly-remembered life story click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "38 - A Trip To The Midlands" »

June 18, 2007

35 - A Notorious Year

...The terrible winter also extended the football season until June and I recall that it ended with the so-called 'Match of the Century'. This was a special Great Britain versus Rest of Europe match at Hampden Park to celebrate the return of international peace-time football. The home team won 6 -1. Just before the game, Wilf Mannion, the Middlesborough and England inside forward, went on strike as a protest at the low fees footballers received for international matches. (The previous year all footballers had threatened to strike for a minimum wage of £7 per week.) He lost his lonely protest...

Robert Owen recalls the winter of 1947, the worst of the century.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's vividly recounted life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "35 - A Notorious Year" »

June 11, 2007

34 - Doctors And Dentists

...In my final year at Stanhope Road School, we had separate visits from the School Nurse and School Dentist. The nurse just recorded our height and weight and tested our eyesight but the dentist found major problems. Most people's teeth required attention - in my case, several fillings.

This was not surprising considering that I had never owned a toothbrush in my life...

Robert Owen recalls boyhood visits to dentist and doctor.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "34 - Doctors And Dentists" »

June 04, 2007

33 - Back Lanes

"During out-of-school hours back lanes were always full of children of all ages. Girls would be skipping and playing hopscotch, while the boys kicked every stone or tin as a substitute football.

Every respectable back lane had a gang, who thought they had a territorial right to everything that went on in their respective patch. Rival gangs that encroached on this area were shown no mercy,'' says Robert Owen.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's engaging life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "33 - Back Lanes" »

May 28, 2007

32 - Comings And Goings

...During the post-war years, my Aunt Kate and Uncle Bob's house in Cranford Street was always the centre of family activity. In my child-like innocence, they always appeared to be much better off than the rest of the family. They had an inside toilet, a piano in the front room and got the Radio Times every week...

Continuing his entertaining life story Robert Owen tells of family visits, and busy back lanes.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "32 - Comings And Goings" »

May 21, 2007

31 - Return To Reed Street

...The school leaving age had been raised to 15 years of age and evacuees returned home to bomb-damaged houses, overcrowded schools and too few teachers. Food, coal and clothing were in short supply, power cuts and strikes were frequent and rationing got worse, not better...

Robert Owen tells of austere days after the conclusion of World War Two. For earlier chapters of Robert's vivid autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A view in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "31 - Return To Reed Street" »

May 07, 2007

29 - Peace At Last

...John and I also went to Sunday School in the afternoon. The highlight of the year for most Schools, was the Annual Recitation Service. This was a special evening service when every pupil, dressed in their Sunday best, was expected to stand up in front of the congregation and recite a piece of religious literature. The event always filled the Chapel to capacity, as families made once a year visits to hear their offspring 'say their piece'.

It therefore caused a major shock when I said I didn't want to conform. My mother wasn't bothered but I'm sure the School Superintendent only excused me because I was a townie. I was confident enough to complete the task, but I just wanted to be different...

Robert Owen recalls wartime chapel going - and the ending of World War Two.

For more of Robert's detailed and engrossing life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "29 - Peace At Last" »

April 30, 2007

28 - Asking Questions

...As a child, I was always asking questions. The trouble was most of these questions were well in advance of my years. Perhaps this was demonstrated one day on the No 62 bus as we returned to Fence Houses? I was nine years of age and after passing RAF Usworth, I started asking many questions about why the Second World War started. After answering me to the best of her ability, my mother later told the family that I then said in a loud voice, "Why didn't England always have a large army, navy and airforce and then nobody would declare war against us?"

That remark must have been heard by half the bus because, as an aged gentleman alighted, he slipped a 3d piece into my hand and said to my mother, "You've got a right one there Missus"...

Robert Owen has written that wonderfully detailed autobiography that all of us intend to write one day. Make sure you read it chapter by chapter in Open Writing. To catch up on episodes which you may have missed please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "28 - Asking Questions" »

April 23, 2007

Always Something New

...Making home-made kites was very popular for a while until the local shop ran out of string. Playing marbles, conkers, collecting cigarette cards and swopping comics all came and went. We even tried making our own telephone system with two old cans and a length of taut string. It never worked. Another time we tried to make a bogie with an old set of pram wheels. It didn’t work either...

Robert Owen recalls the fun and games of childhood. To read earlier chapters of Robert's fascinating life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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April 16, 2007

Juniors And Professionals

...Christmas was rather an austere time during the war. For a young enthusiastic Newcastle United supporter like myself there was no club shop, and no football kits for sale. Therefore in December 1944, when I got a striped black and white tie for a Christmas present, I was thrilled to bits. It was my pride and joy and I wore it every time I went to St James's Park...

Robert Owen tells further tales from his football-mad boyhood. To reader earlier chapters of Robert's absorbing life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "Juniors And Professionals" »

April 09, 2007

25 - Football Crazy

...Most of my free time while at Fence Houses was spent at the local recreation ground, commonly known as the 'rec'. If it was not raining, the rec was always full of youngsters playing on the swings, in the sand, flying a kite, kicking a football or swinging a cricket bat. Aided by the long daylight hours provided by double summertime, we were often still out playing until 10 p.m...

Robert Owen tells how he became a football fan and an enthusiastic follower of Newcastle United - the Magpies.

For earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "25 - Football Crazy" »

April 02, 2007

24 - Keeping A Cautious Lookout

...When I was about nine and a half years of age, I started to grow very quickly. By the time I was ten, I was the tallest in the class and the only one wearing long trousers. My mother saw this as a good enough reason to tell everyone I was going to be a policeman when I left school...

Robert Owen tells in fascinating detail of his early life in a Durahm pit village. For more of Robert's story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "24 - Keeping A Cautious Lookout" »

March 26, 2007

23 - Term Time And Holidays

...Our next teacher was known as Miss 'Slapface' Dinsdale -a female I will never forget. She was an older woman, very matronly with a long black dress down to the floor. She seemed left over from the Victorian age. Miss Dinsdale would hear pupils reading at her desk and for every mistake, the unfortunate pupil got a hard slap across the face. Most days, several of the class, particularly the girls, were reduced to tears. Nobody complained. Perhaps that was because we knew if we went home crying to our parents, we would get another slap from them for not working hard enough...

Robert Owen has vivid memories of his schooldays in a Durham pit village. For more of Robert's engaging autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on his page.

Continue reading "23 - Term Time And Holidays" »

March 19, 2007

22- A Townie In A Mining Village

...Bob Charlton - I always called him Mr Charlton - was about the same age as my mother and of the build expected of a colliery blacksmith - tall, thick-set, muscular and strong. Time would tell that he was also kind, patient and instructive. His allotment was his main leisure activity. He smoked a pipe, was a Newcastle United supporter and enjoyed a weekend drink and a bet on the horses...

Robert Owen, continuing his vivid life story, tells of a time in a County Durham mining village when his mother became housekeeper to a pit blacksmith.

For earlier chapters of Robert's engaging autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on his page.

Continue reading "22- A Townie In A Mining Village" »

March 12, 2007

21 - Cycling To Work

Robert Owen gets his first bike - and soon has his first brush with the law.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's engaging life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "21 - Cycling To Work" »

March 05, 2007

20 - Entertainment

...We used to go about once a week and use the cheapest entrance in Havelock Street. It was here at the Palace where I was introduced to the classic comedy of Abbott and Costello and the traditional cowboys of Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey. However, my favourite was Hopalong Cassidy, (William Boyd) and his sidekicks, Lucky and Gabby. I also remember the Pathe News, which in the age before television, was the main source of images of war, political and sporting activities...

Robert Owen, continuing his engaging life story, tells of wartime cinema going in South Shields.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "20 - Entertainment" »

February 26, 2007

19 - Poor But Proud

...My grandmother always wore long dark clothes. Whenever asked how she was, her standard reply was, "Canny yer na." She also used such expressions as, 'Neva', 'gerraway' and 'yur bugger', which I later found out meant varying degrees of surprise or amazement. I remember her talking to us once and saying, "The bus coined the corner, dunshed and went allower the flags." I had to ask my mother to translate...

Conitnuing his life story, remembered in the most vivid detail, Robert Owen tells of wartime austerity, and the pride and refusal to accept charity by the poor and disadvantaged.

For earlier chapters of Robert's story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "19 - Poor But Proud" »

February 19, 2007

18 - War Games

...The aftermath of the bombing provided a new source of activity and excitement for youngsters like myself. The transport system of the town was disrupted and trolley buses could no longer get around Tyne Dock or along King Street.

We used to go to the junction of Barnes Road and Eldon Street, or near the Pavilion Cinema to watch the buses being de-trollied, manoevred and re-connected to the trolleys. This operation required a degree of skill with a long pole, and if the operator was not experienced, it could take a great deal of time and cause a lot of amusement for the watching crowd. Cheering and booing were not unusual.

The bombing also gave birth to a new game called 'shrapnel hunting'. The day after a bombing, gangs of kids would tour the streets and back lanes looking for any metal fragments that might be redundant parts of bombs or shells...

Continuing his absorbing life story Robert Owen recalls wartime games and a wartime diet.

Continue reading "18 - War Games" »

February 12, 2007

17 - Air Raids

...Whenever the siren sounded during the day, it was natural to look to the sky to seek the cause. Most of the time, nothing could be seen. On this occasion, looking skywards I was amazed to see a German aeroplane flying low over the town.

This was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me and I must have stood like a statue staring towards the enemy in the sky. Unknown to me, someone else was watching my movements. This was a man standing at the door of his house in South Palmerston Street. Without a word being spoken, I was grabbed from behind by a strong pair of arms, carried indoors through a strange house and put into an air raid shelter in the yard. I was placed on a stool, given a drink and asked, "Where do you live?"...

Robert Owen recalls bombing raids on his home town, South Shields, during World War Two. To read earlier chapters of Robert's autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "17 - Air Raids" »

February 05, 2007

16 - A Self-Contained Community

...Living in the Frederick Street area during the war years was like living in a self-contained community. It was a closely-knit neighbourhood with often the poor, extended families living in adjacent streets. Few journeys outside the immediate area were required for work, school, shopping, church or entertainment....

Robert Owen, who was born and brought up in South Shields, continues his heart-warming life story. For earlier chapters please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "16 - A Self-Contained Community" »

January 29, 2007

15 - Family Circumstances

Robert Owen's mother, with no man in the household, was often at a loss as to how to treat him, and what standards to set. "Looking back, in many ways, I think I benefited from this uncertainty,'' he says. "She allowed me freedom, gave me responsibility and expected me to do things that were well in advance of my years. For example, at six years of age, I must have been the youngest window cleaner in town!''

Robert, who grew up in South Shields, paints so vivid a portrait of his boyhood that you feel you are living it with him. For earlier chapters please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "15 - Family Circumstances" »

January 22, 2007

14 - The Wandering Evacuee

...On the day of my evacuation, my mother was too upset to take me to the station and the unpleasant duty fell to my sister Addie. She later told me she had to lever my fingers out of her hand to get me on the train. This was the first time I had been on a train or away from home....

After the first bombing raid on South Shields during World War Two, children - including Robert Owen - were evacuating to Cumbria on the other side of the country.

Continuing his vividly-written life story. Robert recalls those times. For earlier chapters of the story please click on Two Rooms And a View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "14 - The Wandering Evacuee" »

January 15, 2007

13 - A Much Greater Conflict

...Another effect of the outbreak of war was the rush to get married. Young men didn't know when they would be 'called up' and sent abroad, and young women knew that if they got wed, they would get a service marriage allowance. After each wedding it was the tradition of the time for the groom to throw a handful of small change out of the car window as it drove away. At the church opposite, I recall scrambling on the ground with other youngsters and searching for such coins...

Robert Owen, in this episode of his life story, recalls the changes that war brought to his home town.

For earlier chapters of Robert's story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "13 - A Much Greater Conflict" »

January 08, 2007

12 - The Value Of Money

Robert Owen recalls the hard-up days of his South Shields childhood, when gas and electricity was paid for by putting pennies in the slots of meters. "Many's the time the last penny dropped and the lights went out. Access to a box of matches and a candle was always essential. It was then I was sent out onto Frederick Street to ask a passer-by 'Have you three pennies for a three-penny piece please?'''

To read earlier chapters of Robert's engaging life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "12 - The Value Of Money" »

January 01, 2007

11 - Neighbours

...No alarm clocks - even if we had had one - were necessary whilst living at Reed Street. Most of the dockyard workers started work at 7.30 a.m. This meant that from about ten past seven every morning, there was a slow continuous build up of noise caused by the dockers' hobnailed boots on the pavement outside our window. This built up to a crescendo before suddenly stopping at about 7.25 a.m. After this it went quiet, apart from the running of a few dockers who had overslept and did not want to lose fifteen minutes pay for being a few minutes late...

Robert Owen, continuing his life story, gives a vivid account of growing up in a working class area of South Shields in the 1930s.

Continue reading "11 - Neighbours" »

December 18, 2006

10 - Brazen Mice

Robert Owen, who during his boyhood lived in a two-roomed flat in South Shields, recalls hard-grafting wash days, a plague of brazen mice, and the terrible fate of a cat that liked to be warm.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

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December 11, 2006

9 - At The Bottom Of The Hill

"Our furniture was extremely sparse. In the living room it consisted of a table, three chairs of varying age and size, a large sideboard with mirror, one easy chair, an old horsehair sofa, a marble top wash-stand and a small table. The table held the accumulator-operated wireless and my sister's wind-up gramophone. In the other room were two beds, a bed-side table, an old dressing table and a set of drawers. The backs of doors were our wardrobes and the floor was covered by lino and a variety of mats and runners...

In many contemporary biographies, the writer states that their family didn't have a bathroom and they washed in the sink. We didn't have a sink!''

After his father had walked out of the family home, three-year-old Robert Owen, his mother and his sister moved into an old, small upstairs flat in South Shields.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's autobiography please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "9 - At The Bottom Of The Hill" »

December 04, 2006

8 - Walking Out

When Robert Owen was three years old his unemplyed father packed a suitcase and, without a word, walked out of the family home on Tyneside. Robert's mother then had to learn quickly to stand up for herself.

...One of the first to hear the power of her tongue was the Magistrate's Clerk at the local court when she went for help and advice.

"Come back next week!" he suggested.

"We might be dead next week - we have no money NOW!" was my mother's sharp reply...

To read earlier chapters of Robert's life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "8 - Walking Out" »

November 27, 2006

7 - The Youngest Paper Boy

...I am told that I was a healthy, quiet and serious baby who walked and talked early. Others claim I was never a typical baby and was always in advance of my years. Whatever my personal characteristics, I must have been fairly active because at a very early age, I hauled a large sideboard over while pulling myself up to walk at my aunt's house in Newcastle. I believe it caused a lot of damage. When I was a little older and had observed someone shouting 'Gazette, Gazette' in the town, I must have been the youngest paper boy ever, when I put some newspapers under my arm and paraded up and down the passage shouting, 'Gallet, Gallet'...

Robert Owen continues his absorbing life story, recalling that long before starting school he had decided what he wanted to be when he grew up.

Continue reading "7 - The Youngest Paper Boy" »

November 20, 2006

6 - A Strange Place Like London

...As soon as the family had finished their evening meal and with little consultation, she announced, "If I am to have another bairn at my age, it will not be born in a strange place like London where we know nobody, but amongst family and friends where we used to live - in West Harton, in South Shields!"...

Robert Owen, continuing his life story, tells how, during the 1930s Depression years, members of his family moved to the London area. However, when Mary found out that she was pregnant at the age of 41, they decided to return to Tyneside.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's story please click on Two Rooms And A view in the menu on this page.

Continue reading "6 - A Strange Place Like London" »

November 13, 2006

5 - The Three Rows

...Single and Double Row were part of a group of very old houses adjacent to the colliery. Alongside, there existed a number of houses reserved for colliery officials. This was appropriately named Quality Row. Families born in this very close environment tended to form friendships that lasted a lifetime. This was certainly true of two particular families who lived in Double Row during the early years of the twentieth century...

Robert Owen tells us of the Durham miners who were his forebears.

Continue reading "5 - The Three Rows" »

November 06, 2006

4 - Mysteries And Manipulation

Robert Owen, a son of South Shields, continues his life story by introducing his maternal relatives.

Continue reading "4 - Mysteries And Manipulation" »

October 30, 2006

3 - To The River Tyne

Robert Owen tells of some of his forebears - along with other notable folk bearing the name Owen.

Continue reading "3 - To The River Tyne" »

October 23, 2006

2 - The Master Mariner

"Going to sea in the late 19th century was a very dangerous occupation as John Connell sadly found out. Whilst in command of a vessel named Pelton, he was unfortunately involved in a disastrous incident at sea...''

Robert Owen, continuing his life story, tells us something of his family, which included an ill-fated forebear, Master Mariner John O'Connell.

Continue reading "2 - The Master Mariner" »

October 16, 2006

1 - Caer Urfa

Today Open Writing begins the serialisation of Robert Owen's autobiography, Two Rooms And A view.

The book was born out of an attempt to trace his family history. His efforts were greatly hindered by the lack of written records left by his progenitors. He vowed not to let this happen to his descendents.

The title refers to a small, upstairs flat in Reed Street, South Shields, where the Robert lived in very sparse conditions from 1939 to 1954.

Robert says: "My advance apologies go to the many relatives, friends and former colleagues who are mentioned in the text and may not be aware of this publication. They have nothing to fear. Unfortunately, many are no longer with us. I hope this book acts as a contribution to their memory.

"If the truth were known, many books are written for the enjoyment of the writer just as much as any prospective readers. This is one of them. It was a labour of love.

"I hope the result makes some contribution to the social history of the period. Personally however, if the contents bring back memories or provide enjoyment for any reader, I shall be very pleased. In addition if it motivates anyone to research their family history, write about their lifetime experiences, or to renew contact with former friends and colleagues, that is a bonus.''


Continue reading "1 - Caer Urfa" »

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