I was born in December 1928 in Berlin. I came to London as a refugee from Hitler in May 1938; it was a scary time.My late mother, by then a single parent, made a home for us in her single room in London. Presently, because of the bombing, I was evacuated via Kingham and Oxford to a charitable boarding school near Wareham in Dorset.
While living in Wareham I went to Dorchester Grammar School. Able-bodied teachers were all fighting the war, so I was lucky in my English teacher whose enthusiasm gave me a taste for English literature and poetry. The war over, in 1945 I returned to London and the Holloway School in Camden Town, where I obtained Higher School Certificates (today's A-levels) in physics, chemistry, pure maths, applied maths and (not surprisingly) German.
For me 1945-7 were great years whereas the years 1939-45 had not been easy; I had left family behind in Germany and my contemporaries at school sometimes viewed me as an alien!
I chose to become a naturalised British subject at the age of seventeen, having been warned that if I did so I would be called up to do my national service. As a boy, I felt great loyalty to the country that had rescued me from the Nazis, and indeed I still do. Call up duly came. The army trained me well and sent me to Malaya to join the Queen's Own 4th Hussars, to play a small part in suppressing the MPABA. (The Malayan Peoples' anti-British Army - who were communist terrorists keen to get us out and claim the riches of Malayan rubber and tin - had grown out of the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army, ironically armed by ourselves.)
In retrospect the army was very good for me. I went on to university as a young man rather than a schoolboy, and got a good Further Education and Training grant to fund my undergraduate life after I was demobbed.
I was fortunate to know that physics was the subject for me, and studied and took my degree at London University. Physics is a wonderful science, and it still gives me great pleasure to read of advances, talk about it with anyone interested, and go to lectures.
I first did five years industrial research in the Philips (then Mullard) research laboratories. Wonderful times, with the thrill of breaking some new ground and a research paper presented in Paris. But presently I chose to move on into technical-commercial work in the company's head office, eventually becoming a divisional director.
I much enjoyed the electronics industry, but a time came when I could not agree with the direction the company was taking, and left to become a divisional director in a firm of management consultants. Work at Mackintosh Consultants was rewarding, sometimes hair-raising and very exciting. However, after some years there I realised it was not to be my final career, and, to the dismay of the founder, left at the age of fifty to go back to university and take a Post-graduate Certificate in Education.
I enjoyed the PGCE course: we were all mature students who got on well together, did not take life too seriously, and were not too cowed by the rather tough inner-London schools where we began to learn to teach. (Throughout my industrial career I had done some part-time lecturing, which was fun, so felt that I might have the ability to teach.)
I started my teaching at Pimlico School as a rookie and ended it as Head of Science in Hounslow Manor School. Of course some experiences were not to be enjoyed: I got knocked down to the floor with a nose bleed at one school while endeavouring to separate two angry lads who were hurling laboratory stools at each other.
Overall, secondary school teaching was a great and fascinating experience, which I would absolutely not have missed. When I felt that I had fully done my bit, and more than justified the Inner London Education Authority's costs in training me (I got paid while training), it was time to move on. Believe me, teaching is every bit as taxing and tiring as teachers say it is. So I retired from school and took up part-time lecturing in a local tertiary college. A lovely college and job, where I worked for some years, gradually taking on more work, before retiring for a second time.
Following my second retirement, I started to and still teach plumbing and electrics at a local Adult and Community College. I devised the syllabus; there seems to be no other like it in London. Students come from miles away, and there is always a long waiting list to join. And, while at seventy-four years old I find it wuite hard work, it is also enormous fun, brings in some useful income and is clearly filling a need in the community.
Today, a most excellent wife (from Liverpool), my family and friends, my work, a large garden, a share in a sailing boat, some work for charity and several hobbies keep me very well occupied. Long may it continue so.
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