He wanted to be a carpenter did our Ned, in that last year at school when every 16 year old gets to make their career choices he only ever wanted to be a carpenter.
In his school there was no question that you’d stay on to do A levels, his school was a School for Dummies, the school that all the 11 plus failures went to, they didn’t have a sixth form because to get into sixth form you needed GCE O Levels and GCE O Levels is what they didn’t do at his school, at his school they churned out blue collar workers, factory floor fodder, manual labour for the factories, you only needed to be able to read a bit and do simple maths and that was fine, machines would do the rest.
So he left school and then he started to look around for an apprenticeship, not as hard a job as it is now for in 1974 every company in the city was recruiting apprentices, and these were the genuine article, proper old fashioned five year apprenticeships where young lads learned the job on the job and did one day and one or two nights at building college, he spotted an advertisement in the Yorkshire Evening Post that sounded just right.
“16 year old apprenticeship” he read, slowly for they just taught you enough reading to get by at his school “College fees paid, full carpentry apprenticeship, varied work, industry rates paid” he put the newspaper down and circled the advert in biro, slowly for they just taught you enough about writing to draw a very wonky circle at his school.
“Thats all well and good” said our dad, “but where is it, how will you get to work”
“Its in Horsforth” he replied
Our dad nodded his head, “Sounds good” he said, “where is it ?”
“New Road Side” our Ned replied.
There was a silence, we knew where New Road Side was, it was where our Great Auntie Beattie lived, a lovely old lady, our mothers aunt, always stood at the door to welcome you with a “Hello love”, but none of us could think where the carpenters was on New Road Side.
“Can’t think where the carpenters is on New Road Side” our dad said.
“Auntie Beattie will know” said our mother, “I’ll ask her when I see her tomorrow”, and it was true, if only one person in Horsforth knew where the carpenters yard would be it would be our Great Auntie Beattie, she’d lived in Horsforth nearly all her long life.
Our Ned rang the carpenters the next morning, got the address, got an appointment to go for an interview the following day, that’s how it worked in the 1970s, you just rang up and got an interview, lets say it was a buyers market for jobs.
Our mother wrote down the address, still couldn’t think where it was and so she took it to our Great Auntie Beattie’s that afternoon.
She came home much later, shut the door, took her coat off, put the kettle on, came into the living room and leaned on the back of the chair that our Ned was sitting on…
“You can cancel that interview for tomorrow” she told our Ned in no uncertain terms, “You’re not working there”
Our Ned sat up, sixteen years of age but you still have to do what your mother says, “Eh” he said, “Why?”
“You are NOT working there” is all she’d say and then she went into the kitchen to get the tea ready, our dad followed her in.
He came back a minute later, laughing.
“What are you like walking in front of a horse ?” he asked our Ned
“Eh ?” said our Ned
“Walking in front of a horse, wearing a top hat and looking sad ?”
“Eh ?” said our Ned
“Its Gelderts” our dad replied, “the funeral directors”
We all LOL’d, a lot
“You’ll be making coffins and then three times a day you’ll be walking up the road in front of the horse looking sad, just like Oliver Twist had to”
Well someone has to.
So he didn’t go to the interview, instead he got a carpenters apprenticeship with some Jehovahs Witnesses who had constant accountancy problems, being that their church took most of the money from them, but that’s another story…