A diary of one man's utter failure, depression, frustration, cock-ups, and impecuniousness, starting in August 1947
I was working as fresh fruit/wet fish dep't manager, at the Nottingham Cooperative Society's Department store, the food hall in the basement.
It was not a happy tome for me at all. The place and staff were very cliquey.
So it surprised me when the Cashing up clerk, Obergruppenfurher ... oh I forget her name now. Let's call her Doris, asked me if I'd be in the 'Food Hall' team for the yearly General Knowledge team. I explained that my lack of education would be a handicap to the team, and perhaps an embarrassment too.
A day or two later, she approached me again, telling me that she could not get anyone else to enter - so I agreed.
1st Haberdashery Team
2nd Sportswear Team
3rd Canteen Team
4th Bank Team
5th Menswear Team
6th Maintenance Team
7th Chemist Team
8th Food Hall Team
55 pts (of which I scored one)
They did not ask me to take part again, and I was sent to Coventry for three glorious weeks.
The Night Noc Ob & Rep Assignment? You may ask. That is how the manager described the duties to me when telling me what assignment I was on the following night. Night Binocular
Observation and Report is what he meant.
Two of us were to be based in a field, opposite a Garden Centre just outside of Nottingham. The criminal elements had hit it three times in a week.
We were given a quick run-down on how to operate the night Binoculars, and sent as soon as it got dark, to the field.
We were to observe the main gates and site for any signs of intrusion. In the event of any such occurrence, we were to summon the police, and try to bar the escape routes of the raiders until the police arrived, if safe to do so.
Trevor, the chap on duty with me was a big confident lad, and this gave me some confidence that we would prevail if anything kicked off.
But there were no signs of intrusion at the premises all night, all was quiet.
I parked the van behind some trees, and we walked to roadside edge and ensconced ourselves in a ditch behind some thick bushes to do our ob's.
It was very windy, and after about two hours or so, the rain belted down. We discussed whether we should get into the van, but decided against it, as if anything happened and missed it, we would really get it in the neck.
About 0300hrs, Trev said he'd go to the van and get our nosh and flasks. I gave him the keys, and awaited his return.
When he did return, not carrying any fodder, he leant down to my head level and whispered: "Fuck me, the some bastard's nicked the bleedin' van!"
I was working at the Nottingham Power Station on cleaning duties one night. They had sent me into the underground tunnels they called the warrens.
To get through some of them, I had to go on by belly, dragging the torch, face-mask, goggles, vacuum, panic box, and guide rope along with me.
When I went down the into the drain cover, it was light, and I positioned the 'Operator Working in this Section' sign as instructed before entering.
Three hours later, as I was struggling with the weight of residue that had clung and built up on my overalls and helmet, up the ladder, it seemed five time higher than when I had descended them.
Just as I got my head above road level... what I can only describe as a scary Darth Vader bent down to me, and croaked "Your mine, I've got you!"
I really shit myself as I recoiled and fell back down the ladder!
When I came around, the ambulance-man explained, that the fire brigade did test runs at the power station regularly, to keep up their knowledge and dealings with various emergency scenarios, that night being one of them.
Nobody told me.