In the 1960’s I became very unsettled with my life. I was a skilled Auto Screw Lathe setter and as proficient as any of the other setters but it was a job with no chance of any promotions, even the charge hand was the same age as me so I could not look forward to getting into his shoes. As far as promotion to foreman or off the shop floor into the planning department, there was no possibility, I was neither a footballer nor a freemason and it was an established practice that one needed to be one or the other to get these positions. I gave up smoking, using the saved money to buy a car, a brand new Mini at that time £495.00 on the road. Hire purchase repayments after deposit were £2. 5s. per week, exactly the same amount that my use of 20 cigarettes a day had cost me. I must have been hell to live with though because four weeks after I stopped smoking Jean started and she had never had a cigarette in her life before. I applied for a number of different jobs, one as a Housing Assistant, at Hitchin Urban District Council where the Manager was Trevor A C Thompson (TACT). I did not get the job and did not make much of an impression on TACT (more about him later). I made two attempts to start my own business, neither successfully. With two other chaps we hired a blacksmith’s forge and tried our hand at Die-casting. We seemed to be doing reasonably well but never got further than working all day at ICL, followed by 4 or 5 hours in the forge, eventually giving it up. One disturbing event occurred in the forge, someone drilled holes in all our ladles which caused molten aluminium to leak out and we were very lucky not to be injured. We could never prove who was responsible but were sure in our own minds it was a local foundry owner who had realised we were poaching some of his work. On my own I tried my hand as a Driving Instructor. Although I had some very good results I only did it part time, never having the courage to give up the day job because of my family commitments. That was probably the reason we had not made the grade with the Die-casting, we were all three family men and not confident enough to give up a regular guaranteed wage for the gamble of being self-employed.
Still unsettled at ICL I left and started working at Vauxhall Motors in Luton. The wages were higher, £40 per week compared with £17 at ICL but hours longer due to travelling. Within six months of starting at Vauxhall my skin became infected with Dermatitis and I was no longer able to work as an Auto Setter. This meant that my wages dropped to less than I had earned in Letchworth and I had the expense of commuting every day to Luton. It was essential that I got myself a different job, off the factory floor and away from oil, so I enrolled for evening classes in book keeping. In my late forties I was the grandfather of the course but managed to take some of it in, enough in fact to get a job in the Cost Office of Jones Cranes in Letchworth. I was never comfortable in this job, I did not like it and probably made more mistakes in my work than the rest of the office staff together. So although I had only been at Jones 18 months I looked for another change and was lucky in that a new position had just been created at Letchworth Urban District Council. I successfully applied for this and became the council’s first Rent Rebate Officer.
Copyright Eric Fitton © 2008 page last updated 30/09/2008 16:05