« The Rose Of Australia | Main | 41 Rescue Of The Innocents »

Two Rooms And A View: 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.

On 17th March, 1958, the Royal Navy and I parted company. A few days later I recommenced employment as a Junior Draughtsman on Eddie Allison's section at Reyrolles.

Angela and I also resumed a more serious relationship; we got engaged and started saving up to get married. A helpful addition to these savings was Angela's new evening class earnings. While I had been away, she had progressed with her studies of shorthand and typing and also obtained a Faculty of Teachers in Commerce qualification. She was in demand as an evening class teacher of Office Skills.

In September 1958, after much thought, I also restarted evening classes. This was to have a fourth attempt to pass the mathematical element of the grouped O.N.C. course. There was no pressure from work to return to evening classes, but not doing so would mean that I had wasted six years of part-time study. After much hard work, fortunately this time I was successful and the following September was awarded an Ordinary National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering. It was to become a vital qualification during the coming years in the job market.

On return from National Service, I found the 18th Boys' Brigade Company had disbanded. In September 1959, after my exam success and with enthusiastic help from Jimmy Stobbs, Tommy Brown and Neil Westgarth, we re-started the Company. I found being Captain of a B B Company a near full-time job. As a team we made a point of visiting the parents of every member of the company, had monthly Church Parades, started 'Interest Visits' for older boys, including a visit down the pit at Boldon Colliery, held a summer Garden Party and invited the Mayor to our annual inspection. In addition, I also remember cooking for 18 at our summer camp at Brampton in 1960.

About this time, I also gave serious thought to my future career. The navy had convinced me that I was never going to be a practical engineer and I was only going through the motions as a draughtsman. I knew I had the ability to instruct and that I enjoyed working with people, not machines. Therefore, when a vacancy occurred for an Assistant Training Officer at the B B at National Headquarters, I enthusiastically applied, only to be told that I was too young and inexperienced.

I applied for an Assistant Housemaster's post at Newton Ayecliffe Approved School, which said, 'No qualifications required.' Their reply said I was unsuitable because I had no qualifications! I then explored Social Work and spent an evening with the local Probation Officer, whose lack of enthusiasm put paid to any keenness I had for that profession. Teaching was the obvious conclusion, but teaching what? I decided to wait and see!

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.

We also used it for days away. Although both of us were over twenty years of age, society norms of the time ruled that we should not stay away overnight. On a day visit to Blackpool in 1959, we drove on Britain's first motorway, saw a twenty-seven year old comedian by the name of Ken Dodd at an early performance at the Pier Theatre, had a fish and chip supper on the way home - in a telephone box because it was so cold - and were safely back in Shields before midnight.

My swan-song on the cricket field took place at Wood Terrace in August 1960, surprisingly playing for a South Shields A.F.C. XI. The roundabout story began when the Cricket Club replaced C S Nayudu as professional in 1959 with none other than Alex Coxon, the former England and Yorkshire fast bowler. During his first season, he played very little due to injury. At the end of a much more successful second year, an informal benefit match was arranged for him against a team from the town's Football Club.

A member of that team was Baden Powell, the well-known forward and a colleague of mine in the drawing office at Reyrolles. Unfortunately, Baden was injured just before the benefit match. As the footballers couldn't find a replacement at such short notice, and with the approval of John Burn, the Captain - who also worked at Reyrolles - I was asked to replace him. Arguments that I didn't play for South Shields A.F.C. were brushed aside by counter arguments that my refereeing experience was a good enough qualification.

It was an exciting game. The Cricketers got a shock and only won off the last ball. The amusing part was that the captain of the successful South Shields football team at the time was another Bob Owen. He did not play in Coxon's benefit match, but I guarantee that most people who read 'R Owen, not out 3' in the Gazette the following evening thought it was him - not me.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.