As fashion changed I tried the ultra-tight hipster style flared trousers, with tank tops and Budgie jacket. Adam Faith had made these trendy in the TV series, Budgie, with Faith as Budgie Bird, recently released from prison. The jackets were very short bomber style, tight sleeves and lots of zips.
The decade skipped along and in 73 I got married; well we all make mistakes. By then I had completed my apprenticeship – a real one, before the modern era. I was a fully fledged Telecommunications Technician with Post Office Telephones. It was the time when it changed from the General Post Office (GPO) to The Post Office. The vans were dark green but were replaced by bright yellow ones – mostly Morris Minors, but all made by the British Motor Corporation (BMC, later BLMC, later still Austin-Rover or Leyland-DAF, now gone).
Talking of cars, my first was a green Austin Mini, a gift from my absent father. I soon changed it for a Morris Traveller, the one with the wooden framework. It took me miles up and down the country, I remember a particularly hair raising drive through Hardknott Pass in the Lake district. The pass is an old Roman road with winding gradients of 1:3 and rises to 1290 feet above sea level – brakes would have been useful! After the Traveller came a Hillman Minx, a bit of a mover this one, she was one of the first with the big 1725cc engine. Married life brought along the grown up and sober Vauxhall Viva HC Estate.
Like all sensible young men, I thought I could do better and in 74 I left the Post Office and started working on the production line in the local Ford Motor Company factory. I had never seen industrial sabotage in action until then, but boredom and ceaseless repetition have a strange effect on men. If someone felt they were working too hard a large bolt in the works brought things to a halt for about half an hour. It was there I met my first Buddhist, I worked with a member of a UFO cult and saw trade unionism at its worst.
These were dark times for British manufacturing. James Callaghan, Sunny Jim, was Prime Minister and took us into the Winter of Discontent, 1978 -1979. This period was marked by Callaghan’s Labour government restricting pay awards to below 5%, strikes ensued followed by food shortages, and power cuts. During the latter part of 78 I spent nine weeks on strike with 57,000 other Ford employees, with no pay, and no other financial assistance. Tight times, but the father-in-law and I rebuilt his Bedford Dormoblie during our idle weeks. The government had become so unpopular that in March 79 there was a vote of no confidence, and Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives won the ensuing election. I wonder if history is repeating itself?
After four years painting Ford Transit vans, each one was allotted four minutes as it travelled along the endless chain, I was overwhelmed by a need to do something useful. In January 79 I joined Hampshire Constabulary. I was whisked away from home and a pregnant wife to the Police Training College where, for 13 weeks I was educated in the ways of the British Bobby. This was the beginning of a new era, not only for me but for Great Britain with its new Prime Minister. Roll on the 80s!