CHAPTER 13. BACK TO REALITY

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Stanley
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CHAPTER 13. BACK TO REALITY

Post by Stanley » 15 May 2012, 05:12

BACK TO REALITY

I am not going to suggest for one moment that academics don’t work hard for their money or that university is a place where no work is done but I have to say that I have, at times, noted a certain air of detachment from the affairs of the world outside. I have been institutionalised enough times in my life to recognise the signs when it happens. This syndrome was never mentioned by anyone at the university and I reckon it would be a good thing if, during the run-up to final exams, students were warned of the effects of termination of the life support they have enjoyed for three years and post-exam depression. Leaving university with a degree is a life event that ranks somewhere near divorce, bereavement and flitting! Being older, I knew this but when I do the Careers Fair at Lancaster every November I always mention these effects to anybody who consults me.
When I started this account I described one of the incidents that happened during the limbo/purgatory (depending on your mental attitude) between the exams and the results. Results day was, to put it mildly, a good day! People react in different ways and I’m afraid my day culminated in me leading a young man astray! It was like this, I was wandering down the corridor in the History Department when, passing Bob Bliss’s door, I realised he was in. I went in to thank him for all his help and we opened a bottle of whisky. That wasn’t too bad but we then made the mistake of forgetting to close it! After a while it dawned on Bob that he ought to be going home soon but we were slightly the worse for wear so we decided to go for a walk on the canal bank in Lancaster. This seemed sensible so off we went. The plan went pear shaped when we found a canal-side pub and to cut a long and sorry tale short we finally presented ourselves at the front door of the Bliss residence in the late afternoon. If I remember rightly, Bob knocked on his own front door for admission, I feel this was significant!
Paulette came to the door, took one look at us, sized up the situation precisely and took us into the kitchen where she got nourishment and caffeine down us. She very soon had us in a more civilised state and eventually I was sufficiently recovered to drive home. There are many different kinds of women in this world, some of them are best avoided but others are possessed of qualities which we males can’t even aspire to, Paulette is one of these. I don’t think envy is in my nature but I come as near to it as is possible for me when I look at a relationship like the partnership of Paulette and Bob. It’s a privilege to have access to it and be accepted as a friend. Years later, when they had just moved into a new house and were suffering the worst effects of ‘builders in residence’ Paulette paid me a memorable compliment when she said that I was the only one of their friends who they would even consider allowing to stay with them while the house was in such a mess. Medals and honours are one thing but commendations like that are much rarer and valuable.
So, in July 1982 I found myself in King Street with no income, no work, no money but there was a piece of paper hung on mother’s front room wall that said I was clever! At times like these the handiest thing to have about is a bunch of friends. Time and time again I have noted that the best way of assessing and refining your circle of friends is to pass through a life event and note who drops off the bandwagon in the process. It’s a hard way of finding out but you can be fairly sure of your assessments when the dust settles. While I was sat at home plotting, the phone rang, it was David and he suggested I pop down to the college and have a word with him.
Unknown to me, DJ had been working on my behalf. He presented me with a variety of options like going for teacher training or some sort of vocational course like an MBA but in the end we both decided that it looked as though my best bet might be to apply for a job at Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford
Pendle Heritage centre was yet another example of college participation in the local community. At one time, Barrowford had been an independent administrative unit with its own Council Offices. These were located in an old house called Park Hill in Barrowford. With the re-organisation of local government this property became available for other uses and the college joined with other interested parties to find an alternative use for the building. Eventually it was decided to start a centre for the study of local history and vernacular architecture, the college seconded a teacher, John Miller, to run it and limited start up funding was obtained. John went in and, by 1982, starting from nothing had converted what was essentially a derelict house and some innovative ideas into a fully functioning heritage resource with a friends organisation, good links to the Council and College and access to funding via Manpower Services which was a government organisation dedicated to finding work for the unemployed. It was through Pendle Heritage that Daniel had first come into the area.
PH were starting a major interpretative scheme to help explain the buildings and other aspects of local vernacular architecture to the public and were inviting applications for positions on the team. The wage was not good but would keep the wolf from the door, it was a limited contract funded by the Manpower Services Commission and it looked like just the thing to give me interesting work, keep contact with DJ and give me some space to make longer term decisions. I applied and nobody was more surprised than I when I came out with the job of Manager. I had a team, a brief, an office and even a secretary! The interview panel was drawn from all the people who had a hand in the organisation and though at first I thought I had detected the hand of DJ in the appointment I soon found out that this was not the case. Mother was right, my inferiority complex wouldn’t let me believe that I had got the job on my own qualifications. As it turned out, the panel made a good choice even though I say it myself, we did good work and laid the foundations for many later research projects and exhibitions.
It would probably be a good idea to explain what Manpower Services was at this point because, one way or another, it was going to figure largely in my life for the next ten years. The Tories gained power in 1979 and were to hold office for 18 years. They had the benefits of North Sea oil revenues and my version of what they did is that this financial base was used to attack the unions, deprive them of power and either reduce or hold wages down because these were seen as the reason why British industry wasn’t profitable. I could never see this as being a viable theory because if it was right, every high wage economy in the world ought to be in trouble. Whatever, by the time they lost power, coal, steel, engineering and transport had been either destroyed as industries or deprived of power. This created a large pool of unemployment which was seen as a good thing by anyone wanting to screw the lid down on wages, we saw the start of the ‘You should be grateful you’ve got a job’ syndrome. The big problem with all this was the fact that the young people were the hardest hit. I happen to believe that there are few things we are actually entitled to in this life but one of them is work when we leave full time education. This was the first area to really suffer and youth unemployment rose rapidly.
It was fairly easy to make connections between this fact and rising levels of crime and erosion of the country’s future skills base. Some people will argue with this but in my book it’s a reasonable assumption. This had all been exacerbated by the fact that because industry’s profit margins were cut, many firms who had once had good apprenticeship schemes dropped out of training. The erosion of the power of the unions made this worse because, to a large extent, they had policed the apprenticeship schemes. ‘Job Creation’ became the buzzword. If there weren’t enough jobs for the young the government would have to create them and structure the way they were created so that it looked like training. One thing that soon became obvious was that there was little to be served by allowing these young workers to do work that would otherwise be done by normally employed workers or this would make unemployment worse so imaginative job creation schemes were called for.
At first, MSC was used to supply low cost labour for things like cleaning streams, estuaries and garage sites and soon got a bad name, how could anyone learn anything doing jobs like that? It didn’t take the government long to realise that if MSC resources were put into areas like the arts and heritage there would be no repercussions and it would be a useful way of keeping demands for funding from these areas of enterprise down. By 1980 MSC had become the biggest subsidy the heritage industry and the arts in this country had ever had. The scheme at Pendle Heritage was conceived to take advantage of MSC and the workers were paid out of funds provided by the government. The normal contract was for twelve months but a key worker such as a manager could be kept on longer, many stayed in post for years in some organisations.
There was another advantage to MSC which I didn’t realise at the time, this was the fact that any funds provided by this route could, to a certain extent, be used as parallel funding in plural funding applications. It gets complicated here because there were what is known as Treasury Rules which stated that no more than a certain percentage of government funding could be used on a project. The rest had to be made up from non-government sources. Much later as we will see I became fairly expert at this game and once had a fight with the Treasury as to what exactly constituted government funding. I had obtained a large grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and argued that since the basis of their capital was the sale of war surplus government stocks after WWII, the funding they provided out of the interest could not be described as government money even though NHMF was a Quasi Autonomous Government Organisation (QUANGO). I won the case and set an interesting precedent which many other people took advantage of. This all comes alter and will be revealed at the proper time but here was as good a place as any to give some clues about MSC and funding.
Managing a team frightened me to death at first, I hadn’t any confidence in myself and foresaw disaster ahead. In the event, I made some classic mistakes but took advice, learned quickly and was soon totally at home in my job. I was very lucky because, due to early retirement I had Doug Barber on the team. He was actually better qualified than me to be manager in terms of his experience as a teacher at the College but he didn’t want to be a chief, he was looking for less responsibility and being an Indian suited him down to the ground. He was always available for a quiet word and some advice. I soon found out that he had been a Hoover salesman in a previous life. Doug using a vacuum cleaner was a study in grace and efficiency! He also ran the local Talking Newspapers for the Blind, Pendle Voice and every week turned out scores of tapes for local distribution based on the local newspapers. In short, he was an able and thoroughly nice man, how could anybody fail with resources like that.
John Miller soon found out that I was useful in other ways. I often went with him on visits to interesting buildings and did the pics for him. I also got called in whenever there was an unusual circumstance. One example was when we were building a tea room as an addition to the Centre’s facilities and a change of plan meant the roof had to be raised three feet. I was involved in the discussion and after listening to them talking about the cost of dismantling all the work that had been done and rebuilding the roof I asked why we didn’t just jack it up and build the walls up to it. They let me have a go and I remember Mavis Cash my secretary ringing round all the likely places to borrow oil drums and jacks to do the job. The lads soon got the hang of the procedure and I left them to it. The roof was raised and three brownie points to Stanley.
There was another satisfying occasion at the centre in March 1983, I was invited to do the Wilfred Spencer Memorial Lecture and Helen Spencer was there to hear it. It was a good lecture even though I say it myself and was marred for me by one small thing, I don’t remember a lot about it! I didn’t realise it at the time but I was starting a severe attack of old fashioned influenza which almost developed into pneumonia in the end. I was off work for about three weeks and was quite poorly.
Mavis was my secretary for about a year and was wonderful. I began to realise how indispensable Elsie was to DJ. I lost count of the number of times a sensible conversation with her gave me a new idea or kept me on the straight and narrow. We enjoyed working with each other and one of the ways I measure the success of my time at PH is the fact that Mavis and I are still firm friends and she says that working with me was the happiest job she ever had in her life. She was so good that I recommended her for a new initiative from the College, a Drop In Skills Centre in Nelson. I was delighted when she got a full time job there but privately wished she had never gone as it made my life much harder.

I had two secretaries after that who caused me nothing but trouble, indeed, one of them nearly got me sacked by accusing me of sexual harassment. This was my own fault, she was epileptic and I interviewed her on her disability and what we should do if she had a fit on my own. I should have had another member of staff there. Luckily, the people who had to decide on the matter recognised that I had laid myself wide open through inexperience and the matter was dropped. It was very unsettling for me because the whole thing had happened because I had given a job to somebody who was disadvantaged by her disability and a murky employment history. It was not a mistake I would ever make again.
I wouldn’t like you to think that this experience inhibited me from making imaginative appointments. I remember we were doing a series of interviews to fill posts left vacant after people had left at the end of their twelve months contract. I had Bob Smith on the interview panel with me. Bob was a rock, when it came to common sense and experience he was brilliant. We had an American called Ed Furgol in to interview for the job of picture researcher. After a few questions it transpired that he had a doctorate in history and was better qualified than any of the panel! I asked him to withdraw and we had a discussion about him. Bob suggested we invent the job of Head Researcher at the same wage and give it to him. Brilliant suggestion, brilliant appointment and Ed Furgol was a good addition to the team. Shortly after this round of appointments I was taken to task for appointing two other people, one was a lady who was totally blind and the other was young lad who was a Thalidomide victim and had two vestigial arms. This was seen as dangerous stuff because they were a liability. I pointed out that the lad drove a perfectly normal car at excessive speeds and the only concession to his disability was the fact that all the switches were installed in a console on the door so they were within reach. The girl had gone to Kathmandu on her holidays the year before, on her own! I didn’t think she’d have too much trouble finding her way around.
John Miller wasn’t the easiest bloke in the world to work for. I doubt if you could have found two men so different from each other as he and I. However, on the whole we worked well together, I was responsible directly to him and the only problem I ever had was getting him to make a decision. I wasn’t the only person to experience this and at one point I had a list of aphorisms pinned up on the wall and told everyone to feel free to use them in internal communications. “Time shall fling a dart at thee.” and “Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” became commonplace expressions in the Toll House where we were based. I soon learned that John had a unique management style, he would set the parameters for a task and than, at the last minute, change them so that everyone was working against an impossibly tight deadline. This could be ascribed to indecision but I think it was his way of proving that he had complete control. It was very destructive and wasteful and I do not recommend it to anyone.
All this on one side it was a pleasure to get out in the country with John and look at buildings. We went up the Dales and looked at cruck barns and ling thatch, he showed me what he believed to be the earliest semi-detached houses in England near Long Preston and we door-stepped people and went in to see curious survivals of old buildings like wattle and daub and ornate plaster friezes. I learned a lot about architecture from John and it was to be very useful in days to come.
I was given an interesting job one day. At some time in the past, the location of the main staircase to the upper storey had been changed and one of the main beams in the large room at Park Hill had been cut and modified to allow the staircase to be altered. It was decided to replace this beam and put the stair back in it’s original position. I had to find a beam and install it. We decided that as it was so large we had better get a new one. Ed Furgol and I went up to Boddy’s timber yard on the Great North Road at Boroughbridge to select a tree and get the beam cut. We went into the yard with the foreman and he took us right to the back where there was a massive oak trunk lay on timbers to raise it off the ground. He said it was the only ‘stick’ as he called it in the yard big enough to get our beam out of. It had been felled in 1940 on the Hovingham Estate and he reckoned it would be dry! The agreement was that they sawed the beam out and then converted what was left in whatever manner they thought best and we took the lot. I forget the price now but at the time I thought it was very reasonable. They lifted the stick out while we watched and put it on the bandsaw. Twenty minutes later we had our beam and very impressive it was too. One strange thing about Boddy’s was that old Mr Boddy was still about though he had been retired for many years. As we were leaving the men were coming back into the yard after lunch and clocking on. Old Mr Boddy was going up and down the queue poking the blokes with his stick and telling them they’d have to work harder to keep their jobs. I looked askance at the bloke who was running the yard and he told me that they’d tried to stop him but couldn’t, he still acted as though it was the turn of the century and the men didn’t seem to mind. I don’t know what it says about me but I’m afraid I’d have taken his stick off him and broken it! Ed thought it was hilarious that men would put up with this sort of treatment!
A few days later the beam and the scantlings were delivered at PH and we set two lads on with adzes to shape it as we wanted. We finally got it into position and it was magnificent but then the management decided they wanted it staining to match the other beams in the room. I thought this was sacrilege but they had their way. What it did teach me was that what we regard as a typical Jacobean or Elizabethan interior of dark oak panels and furniture is actually wrong. It was only the years that sent the wood that colour. When first built the interiors would be a beautiful straw colour and the whole effect would be more what we would describe today as Scandinavian. Ed got quite excited about this and did some research of his own. We are all familiar with tapestries and needlework of the period. Ed came up with the suggestion that the colours were a lot clearer and brighter in those days so the overall effect of a room would be of light and space and plenty of brightly coloured scatter cushions and tapestries. This was regarded as heresy at PH but I think it’s pretty close to the truth.
Another fault I found with our interpretation of Park Hill was the fact that we never seriously addressed the problem of what people did when they had to make water or move their bowels. These are pretty fundamental facts and even though some interpreters may have difficulty with anything to do with bodily functions, young people are fascinated by them. We once discovered that there had been what we thought was a water cress bed on the hillside above the house and I speculated on the fact that a watercress bed is probably a very good biological filter and could this be where the original water supply came from? I’d love to see some experiments done with watercress beds analysing the water going in and again on emerging at the other end. I would lay a small shade of odds that it would be purer. I came across an instance the other day where a reed bed was being used to filter run off from a parking area on an ecologically friendly site. I still reckon there’s mileage in this theory, perhaps one day someone will have a go and produce some hard evidence.
There was plenty of contact with DJ during this time. I was very handy for him, he treated me like his personal Exocet missile and would ring me up if he wanted anything and expect me to drop everything and attend to his call. This was usually OK and John Miller knew we were all in thrall to the College but occasionally DJ was a bit naughty in the scale of his demands. At that time he had an enormous Mercedes car which I christened the Graf Spee. He had a young lad driving him at the time because he was usually slightly under the influence of drink and didn’t want to be hitting any headlines. One day it snowed heavily and DJ decided he would rather have me driving him. I think we went to Chorley to the Lancashire College and we managed well enough. DJ had always been scathing about my Fulvia but after that trip he told me to remind him of the virtues of small cars with front wheel drive when he got another. He never consulted me and the next one was a V6 Capri!
It was about this time that David’s contacts with Granada TV started to pay off. He became educational adviser to a programme fronted by Lord Winstanley, it was called ‘This is Your Right’ and I was called on frequently to ferry him down to the studio in Manchester and occasionally to appear on the programme when a body was needed. We always used to finish up in the Stables Bar which was the Granada social club at the time and I rubbed shoulders with household names from Coronation Street to World in Action. I was having a drink in there one night with a bloke from one of the production teams while DJ was doing his thing for the public when I noticed a group of very handsome women sat around a table. I sensed there was something out of the ordinary about them and enquired of my companion who they were. He said they were all women who worked for Granada in various capacities but had all started as ‘obligatory crumpet’ on game shows. When the first bloom of youth wore off they were relegated to other tasks and none of the ones round the table were married. I thought this was very sad and it reinforces the impression I have gained over the years that TV is a voracious beast which consumes talent, enthusiasm, script material and in this case, youth simply to support air time.
Daniel was working for Granada and living in Barlick at the time. He was a researcher and told me many stories about the strange things which were done in the cause of programme making. We had had our share of attention at Bancroft before we closed and were to receive more later on. It always seemed to me that their interest in the human stories behind the images they filmed was secondary to good footage. I suppose it’s their privilege, they control the medium and have a living to make but it felt like an intrusion at the time. At one point Daniel started a project which contrasted the life of an engine tenter with the media folk. The working title was ‘Mr Graham and the Little Yellow Gnomes’ What I saw looked good and perhaps one day he’ll revive it. By the way, the little yellow gnomes was Daniel’s description of the media folk because at one point they were all issued with yellow waterproof jackets.
One thing that was very noticeable about David at this time was the amount he was drinking. Booze had always been an essential part of his life but it seemed to me that as stress levels built up he needed more and more drink to insulate him from the worst effects. I have little doubt there were other pressures on him as well that I knew nothing about. It wasn’t long after this that there was a complete break with his family, he divorced Nanette and never spoke to his son Patrick again. I find all this incredibly sad to relate but at the time I knew David he was like a rocket soaring skywards, many of us benefited from the brilliant light but it couldn’t go on for ever.
There were some good people associated with the Centre as volunteers. I soon made the acquaintance of Helen Spencer, widow of Wilfred Spencer who used to be the librarian in Nelson. Wilfred had a consuming interest in local history and during his term as librarian amassed a good collection of important documents like estate maps, wills etc. The tragedy was that he never wrote any of his research up and, when he died, due to some terrible mistake, much of the material he collected was destroyed as rubbish. Ironically, his death was caused by a chest complaint contracted by inhaling the dust off old papers! The fate of Wilfred’s research was a powerful lesson for me and this memoir is the start of my attempt to leave a coherent record of what I did and the results of my experience and research. Someone once told me that the only things we can leave behind are our kids and our work. I’ll go with that and don’t intend to make the mistake Wilfred did about the work.
Helen and I got on well, we spent a lot of time together and had some very happy outings. She was very interested in history as well and I got a lot of pleasure showing her some of the local examples of my particular loves, old water sources and engines. Sadly, she contracted cancer. She had a mastectomy but unfortunately it was too diffused and after about a year of remission she died. She was a good friend and a very interesting lady, I still miss her.
Another great historian connected with the Centre is Doreen Crowther. What can I say about Doreen that will do her justice? I think probably the best way to describe her is that anything I say to her credit will be dismissed as the vapid ramblings of an errant boy! She is a wonderful researcher and so generous with her work. For years she has been ferreting out wills, inventories, deeds, court rolls and a host of other details. I remember once mentioning to her that I was interested in water mills in the district and within a fortnight a sheaf of papers arrived on my desk written in her small but perfect handwriting. She had gone through the manorial rolls for the district and pulled out every reference that pertained to water mills for me. The work I did was recently used as the basis for an exhibition at PH and I doubt if either of us got a mention! I called down to see her recently and she is still alert and active, long may it continue!
In the later stages of my spell at university we had got some more funding for the LTP and the aim was to transcribe all the tapes and index them. The whole ethos of the LTP was to do everything perfectly and act as an example to everyone else in the field. This couldn’t be said to be the case until we had the texts and the index. When I was in California for the first time with Susi she took me to UCAL at Berkeley and I saw the work of the team that was transcribing the Nixon tapes. I went into a room and saw an IBM Golfball typewriter running automatically on punched tape. I thought it was a miracle and said so to the lady who was showing me round. “You aint seen nothing yet!” she said and took me into a small room where there was a box on the table. It had a screen and an apple logo on the front!
She showed me what this box could do and I was overwhelmed, it was the first practical computer and word processor I had ever seen. I recognised the possibilities straight away. When I got back to Lancaster there was a meeting of the LTP Steering Committee and when we got to Any Other Business I said that I had something to report, I had seen the future and it worked! I told them about the Apple and said we had to have a rethink and consider computerising the whole archive. I have to report they laughed, this was Stanley doing one of his wild man acts. Years later I talked about this to Peter White the Inspector of Ancient Monuments who ran the committee for the DOE and he agreed that I was right at the time but it was too soon, nobody would listen. We bought a manual typewriter, lots of paper and carbon paper and set an Italian lady on to do the transcribing.
Adriana O’Brien, the Italian typist was a brilliant choice for the work. Her English wasn’t very good and as a panel, we were taken to task for appointing her, the thinking was that if she couldn’t speak English well, how could she understand and transcribe dialect? Our theory, that she would have to listen harder was not understood. I’m happy to report that she was a brilliant choice and her error rate was the lowest I ever saw during the massive task of transcription. I checked all the transcripts against the tapes and so I was the one finding the mistakes. I can still remember the headline in the local paper when she was appointed, “Mama Mia!”, I don’t know how they got hold of the story but they splashed it across the front page, they must have thought it was funny too! Thanks to the help we got from Pendle Heritage and the DOE, the transcription and index were finished by mid 1984 and the archive lodged in the Library at Lancaster University.
During my last year at Lancaster a project that had been rumbling on for a couple of years came to fruition. In 1979 Daniel introduced me to a bloke called Ed Barber who was an exhibition designer. He and Daniel helped me make a selection of pictures for an exhibition and by 1981 I had found some funding through Pendle Heritage and North West Arts. In early 1982 the exhibition, ‘Bancroft Shed’ opened at Park Hill and went from there to the Scott Gallery at Lancaster. It got very good reviews and is still wheeled out occasionally twenty years later. On Daniel’s advice it was fully laminated as individual, standard sized panels and is as good now as the day it was printed.
Life at Pendle Heritage was good. The pay was low but I had my own empire located in the Old Toll House which stands on the end of the bridge over Pendle Water on the side of the old Nelson to Settle turnpike which is now the main road. The house was a hexagonal structure, made that way so that the front windows gave a good view of the road in each direction and my office was on the top floor facing down the road towards Nelson. I had a good view of everything that was going on because my desk was in front of the window. I always said that the view and the entertainment it afforded made up for the lack of wage.
I mentioned earlier on that I got into trouble because I was accused of sexual harassment while in charge of the team. This was a shocking thing to me at the time as I couldn’t understand how it had happened. It was interesting how, at the time, I became a pariah, the world divided itself into three camps, the ones who wanted me sacked, the ones who avoided me like the plague and the ones who supported me. I have to say that the last group was a small and select body of men and women! There was a full investigation and I was cleared of all charges, it never made the papers and was kept ‘in house’ but the panel that looked into the matter included representatives of all the funders. When the dust had settled, David told me that the mistake I had made was to assume two things: First that my staff was as adult and worldly-wise as myself. Second, and this was the biggest mistake, that they all liked me and regarded me as one of the team. I should have known better, years earlier when I worked at the mill as engineer I had a lot of trouble with the bloke who lived in the house on Colne Road next to the mill. He was a bobby in Barlick called Lacey. His problem was that when he was in uniform he was a bobby and when he was out of it he expected to be one of the lads. I recognised at the time that this didn’t work, you had to be one thing or the other. I should have put this principle into practice at the Toll House and been nothing but the gaffer. It was a valuable lesson and one I didn’t forget.
There was an amusing sequel to all this. Keith Joseph, Margaret Thatcher’s eminence grise, paid a visit to the college one day and I was invited down as part of the welcoming party. We were all lined up outside the college waiting for the visitors and the first car to draw up was the Mayoral Limousine, out stepped Winifred, she was niece to Florence from Open College days and the current mayor of Pendle! The first person she spoke to was me. She told me she had heard about the trouble I had got into and Florence had said I was a silly boy! The only problem was that while she was talking to me we were holding the Important Visitor up because he couldn’t get out of his car until Winifred had got out of the way! David grabbed us and told us we would have to carry on our affair somewhere else but I know he thought it was hilarious in view of all that had happened. He was most scathing about this visit and showed me the list of demands that had been made to cater for Keith Joseph’s visit. It included separate toilet and the provision of lunch which was to be one lightly boiled egg, colour not specified!
Round about the same time Lord Young who at that time was in charge of Manpower Services Commission, made a visit to the college and I had the opportunity of letting him know some of the ways I thought MSC could be improved. The main problem was that the contracts were only for twelve months and everyone knew this so there was no opportunity for keeping a worker on longer even if you knew it would do them good. The same strict time limit meant that for the final three months the worker tended to wind down because they knew they were going to be out on their ear no matter how well they performed. I was quite impressed by Young and even though there was never any change, I got the feeling he was actually listening and understood the problem. Years later I was to meet him again and he hadn’t forgotten the conversation.
You may remember that earlier on I mentioned that I had a full beard and moustache at this time. I was at home one weekend and decided that it was about time I did a tidy up round the edges as I was getting a bit hirsute to say the least. I started to trim my beard back and in the process of getting it symmetrical I reached the stage where there was hardly anything left. I realised I had passed the point of no return and cut the lot off. I then decided that a moustache on its own looked silly so I cut that off as well. I then got my old shaving brush out and had a good shave for the first time for about twelve years! You can have no idea what a strange thing it is to shave of facial hair after a long period unless you have done it. I didn’t recognise the fresh faced lad who looked back at me through the mirror! I went across to mother’s house to let her see what I had done and she said I looked twenty years younger! This was a Good Thing!
I went in to the centre the following morning and the first person I saw was Fay, who was John Miller’s secretary. “You look different. Have you got some new teeth?” I digested this and said no, try again. “New glasses?” No. “You’ve had your hair cut!” Then the penny dropped and she realised I had removed the beard. I’ve mentioned this to a lot of people and some of them have had the same experience. It appears that when you are interacting with someone you know well, all you look at are the eyes and so something radical like getting rid of a beard doesn’t register. Fascinating how our minds work.
Later that day I began to get an inkling there was something wrong, my face began to itch and after a couple of days it was breaking out in sores and the top layer of skin was dropping off. I went to see Arthur Morrison and he told me that one of the nice things about having me as a patient was the fact that when I came to see him I always had classic symptoms. He told me I had the best case of Barber’s Rash he had seen for years! He questioned me closely and then pointed out that where I had gone wrong was to use my old shaving brush. It had been sat in the bathroom cabinet all those years festering and I had simply transferred its load of bacteria onto my face. He said it would clear up in about a week
At this time I was teaching local history and had a Worker’s Educational Association lecture that evening. When I went in I told them I had a problem and they all thought it was very funny. They thought it was even funnier when my bottom set of false teeth fell in two during the talk and I had to carry on without them! I for one will always remember that occasion! I was talking to a local farmer the next day and he told me that when he had the same thing his wife had got him some cream that was usually used for nappy rash. I got some that day and it was magic, I had a completely new skin in about five days.
I got another new secretary at about this time, Audrey Woodcock. She was to be with me until the end of my time at the centre and was another Mavis. She had been secretary to Stephen Pickles who was millowner at Long Ing Shed in Barlick and she was a proper office queen bee. Every time I go to a filing cabinet to put a paper in a folder I can hear her telling me to take the folder out and not just slip it in because that way, mistakes can be made and documents wrongly filed. She was right of course and I haven’t forgotten it. She lives in Barlick and we are still in touch. I am often surprised by the fact that she looks back on her time in the Toll House as the best job she ever had in terms of job satisfaction and happiness. Perhaps I was getting some things right.
My last major task was to write a big exhibition and research it using the team. We really put a lot of work into this and then the dreaded Miller syndrome struck at the last minute and it was decided it would be a purely photographic exhibit. We bit the bullet, started again and got the whole thing completed on time but on a very low budget. When it came to putting the pictures up it was decided that we should simply attach them to the baize covered panels with double sided sticky tape. What a disaster! The photos started to curl and drop off and for weeks there was a patrol each morning to pick up pictures and re-fix them to the panels. I knew the answer of course but it involved expense so it never got done.
Part of the exhibition was a back projection audio-visual show and I was allowed my head on this one. I designed the mounting and got the equipment from York and it worked OK. We picked the slides and wrote the voice over and got it recorded, I have an idea Doug Barber’s wife did it but I’m not sure about that. Where we hit the problem was the introductory music, I soon found myself bogged down in copyright issues and the Performing Rights Society. I have to tell you that it was the biggest minefield I’ve ever walked into in my life. In the end, with only a fortnight to go, we decided that the only thing to do was to set up a recording studio, get some instrumentalists and record an out of copyright traditional air specially for the show. Ed Furgol chose Lilliburlero because it was a contemporary piece.
With Doug’s help we found a group of musicians in Nelson who specialised in old English music and instruments. I borrowed a room in the old Colne Grammar School because it was well away from main roads and so would be quiet. We arranged to do the recording late at night and I borrowed a good stereo tape recorder and associated equipment from the college and we set it all up. On the night I decided to do a fall-back recording on the Uher that I had bought to do the LTP tapes on and we did a couple of takes. We had no time to play them back because the caretaker wanted to go home so we had to wrap up and get out. When we played the master tape back the following day we found it was a disaster, we had the local radio cabs breaking in and at one point even had Nordwest Deutche Rundfunk! There must have been an unshielded microphone lead. With a sinking heart I tried the Uher tape and it was perfect, if anything, apart from the extraneous transmissions, it was better overall quality than the big tape deck. That was the version we used and I have to say it drove everyone mad in the end playing every ten minutes throughout the day when the centre was open.
In late summer 1984 MSC decided that my contract couldn’t be renewed for another year so I faced the prospect of being out of work yet again. I decided to start some serious job searching and enlisted the help of Mary Hunter. While I had been pursuing my university career and working down at PHC Mary had been beavering away on her own account. When her contract with Granada on the programme at Liverpool came to an end David advised Mary to apply for a job at Yorkshire Television. At this time, as part of the renewal of the commercial television franchises the government had decided that it would be a good thing if there was an obligation placed on the commercial companies to include an element of public service broadcasting in their franchise agreements. This new post was designated as Community Education Officer, the only problem was that nobody ever bothered to formulate a job description for the post!

Mary applied for the job and with her background as a teacher, her experience at Granada and a bit of lobbying from DJ she got the job of first CEO in commercial television and so had the responsibility of writing her own job description. In effect, she was set on to invent the job! She did this so well that her job description at YTV became the criterion for all the other companies and Mary had to put up with being described as ‘The Doyen of CEO’s’ ever after! One of the first programmes she was associated with was ‘Be Your Own Boss’, aimed at encouraging and assisting people to become self-employed. This sort of guidance was just what I needed so I got the pack of materials off Mary and with her help started to identify my skills and work out possible ways in which these could be used to make money. I took this very seriously naturally and put a lot of effort into it then one day the phone rang and everything was up for grabs again!

8,160
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

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