My main interests at the time were motorbikes, fishing, model making, pop music and pretty unsuccessfully, trying to get off with young women. The careers officer asked me what I wanted to be.
"An AA man", I said (this would have enabled me to ride a motorbike and sidecar and get paid for it).
"Don't be ridiculous" he said "you're at grammar school. Have you thought of joining the forces?"
"No, I'm a pacifist" I replied confident in my status as I had been on two Aldermaston marches. I knew the words of the songs:
"Can't you hear the H Bomb thunder
Echo like the crack of doom
As it rends the sky asunder
Fall out makes the earth a tomb
Men and women stand together
Do not heed the men of war
Make your mind up now or never
Ban the Bomb for evermore"This was obviously not a line of discussion he came up against frequently and he abandoned trying to get me to "join the Army and see the world" as I think the saying went at the time. After half an hours careers counselling I left his room with the names of five engineering firms in Lincoln in my hand. The first one, Allen Gwynnes Pumps was the first to offer me an interview and gave me a job. So much for my resolve.
I started in September 1963. The firm was making huge cooling pumps for Wylfa nuclear power station (pictured above) and I was roped in to help film the mock up of the project. Not as bad as I thought this engineering. Alas this was a temporary highspot. Within a couple of weeks all the new apprentices were in the training shop where we would remain for one year. The majority of the work was the completion of fitting and turning tests which I found deadly dull. It was not for me and I left at the end of the first year. We were indentured apprentices then and the firm could insist you stayed. In my case they didn't so I assume we were in agreement about my suitability.
The experience was not without it's benefits. Most notably you had to make a rapid transition from schoolboy to developing adult. If you were unlucky you might undergo initiations like having your testicles smeared with grease or engineers blue. Less unpleasant would be to be sent to the tool store for "a long rest". The storeman would tell you to wait. After some time you would ask again, only to be told you had now had the rest and could return to your bench. Bollocking from foreman likely. Every industry has these tricks to make you realise how little you know. In later life when working as a ward assistant in a hospital I was told by a group of worried looking female nurses grouped round a patient that there was an emergency and I should run and get the Fallopian tubes. I realised I had been duped as I arrived panting at the door of the room which I had been told contained them.
Anyway I left in 1964 and the firm went bust and closed soon afterwards. See they should never have let me go.