Work and a schoolboy
My first foray into the demanding world of work was as a newspaper delivery boy. I worked for Pollards the newsagents and sweet shop along the Arterial Road situated between Church Road and Pound Lane. My round took me all the way out to my furthest delivery in Crays Hill. Why this customer ordered newspapers from Pollards was always a puzzle to me, surely there was a newsagents closer to that address? One morning I was stopped by the local bobby as my front light had ceased working and for this heinous crime I was fined 10 shillings, which meant that I worked from an ungodly hour each morning for a whole week for nothing. Not a happy chappy! Gave up this job as a result of the fine and my inability to stop sulking.
My next employment was with D.C.Jeakins whose yard was along the High Road, between the Laindon Hotel and Simmons Stores. My tasks were many and varied, some exciting, others interesting, at least they were to a lad of my age. After school on weekdays I would feed and walk the two Alsatian dogs that were kept in the yard as guard dogs, while they looked and acted fierce they were really soft. I walked miles with them right out as far as Dunton caravan park, all through the unmade roads. I would then answer the phone to take taxi bookings up until pub closing time. Saturdays I helped carry furniture from the shop to the front of the shop to be sold. Next I would either wash any lorries or taxis that were in the yard or I would wash and polish and tie ribbons to a black and grey Mk2 Zodiac that was used as a wedding car. Two of the lorry drivers there at that time were my heroes, Tony Spencer and Kenny Slaughter. They didn’t appear to be much older than me, although obviously they were and I so wanted to be like them, driving lorries. If I was lippy to them they would punish me by dipping me head first into a galvanised tank of cold stinking water. Sundays were the most interesting as I got to wear my own overalls and help with the maintenance of the vehicles. Climbing underneath lorries checking and topping up oil in the back axles, greasing up the many grease nipples found on lorries back then Checking engine oils, water in the radiators and distilled water in the batteries, it all made me feel so important. So many hours each week and all for 15 shillings, but I felt that I learned a lot of interesting stuff which made it all seem worthwhile.
After Jeakins I went to Coles the greengrocers who had a shop in Langdon Hills. This was only a Saturday job which involved me riding my bike to the shop at about 5 O’clock in the morning, filling a copper boiler with water, lighting the gas under it and emptying several boxes of beetroot into it to cook them. Some time later the lorry would arrive having been to Covent Garden to pick up all the fruit and vegetables to be taken to the market in Basildon town centre, as well as those intended to stock the shop. I don’t know how I managed it but I had to carry 1 hundredweight sacks of potatoes from the lorry to the market stall throughout the day as well as all the other sacks and boxes of goodies. I don’t recall what the wage was, but I did get to take home, on the handlebars of my bike, a box of mixed fruits and vegetables for free.
Job number 4 was a bit special, it made me feel really grown up as it was in a factory. Not really that special, but it seemed like it at the time as I had never been in a factory before. Working with sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, chromic acid and caustic soda was for a schoolboy quite scary. These were all used in the many different processes used to anodise aluminium products. My time at Chromadising seemed like more of an adventure than a job and on top of that it paid a proper wage. Chromadising was along the Arterial Road nestled in between the petrol filling station and the dartboard factory.
As can be seen that in just a couple of years, I had had 4 jobs and that rather set the tone for the whole of my adult life. I got to be fed up with jobs so left them and moved on to another. Work was for me too regular with not enough holiday time, even at school they used to let me have 6 weeks off in the summer!