28 November 2003

Milnthorpe 1948 A Turning Point in my Life

Within 12 months of arriving at Kidside I was getting close to, my 15th birthday and decisions would soon need to be made. What was to be my career path? One day I saw an advert in a magazine that aroused my interest and set me daydreaming... it seemed somehow to bring all my dreams together.

As a boy at Sharrow Bay, the Nelson’s had whetted my appetite for travel. In addition, when at Sharrow Bay we had gone into Penrith one day to pick up our radio that was in the repair shop for a volume fault. The owner took us up to his workshop to show us our radio on test and to tell us why he could not find the intermittent fault. The insides were hanging out and I was fascinated with the glowing valves, coloured parts and the mass of wires. I can today remember my words when the man noticing my interest said to me would I like to learn to fix radios. My answer was "yes, I want to know where every wire goes and what every part does". I remember he smiled.

The advert in the magazine seemed bring everything together. It was Colwyn Bay Marine Radio College, which trained sea-going Radio Officers, and I thought, that is what I wanted to do, go to sea.

I have only a vague memory of the next sequence of events but I must have mentioned it to my mother and she must have contacted Joe Cookson the headmaster at Milnthorpe School to explore the possibilities. The next thing I remember was an interview for my mother and I at the Education Department at the County Hall in Kendal. I remember a long conversation between the official and my mother then he turned to me with a number of questions.

I was informed that this interview was to discuss an application for a scholarship, which had not been applied for before, and they were considering using my application as a test run.

I remember the official smiled and said that the application would be considered and we would be advised in due course.

We went home and we waited. Eventually we were informed of the decision. Apparently, the scholarship would be conditional on me sitting and passing an examination in written English and Mathematics. Joe Cookson also had been informed. My English would be no problem said Mr. Cookson but Mathematics would be a problem. At that time, algebra was not in the syllabus of a non Grammar school education and as he explained algebra with some higher mathematics was very necessary in my proposed training.

One day shortly afterwards Mr. Cookson said to me "call at my house directly after school and wait for me". I did as he directed and soon he came puffing into the house. He directed me into his lounge, sat me down and said "I'm going to teach you algebra, can you come each day at this time?” I indicated yes.

I went each day after School and he taught me algebra. Gone was the short-tempered angry old Joe of the classroom and I saw a different old Joe. This one was a patient, quietly spoken old Joe who, in the more difficult parts would patiently explain and show me until I had mastered the particular problem. At the end, he said to me "well, you will not have much trouble passing that exam".

I sat the exam, again the venue was at the Kendal County Hall, written English in the morning and Maths in the afternoon and as Mr. Cookson forecast, I did not have much trouble passing the exam.

I do remember thanking him for his help after the final tuition period but I do sometimes wish I had gone back at a later stage in life and shown him the results of his voluntary coaching efforts.

It was a turning point in my life and, it was the start, although I did not know it, of 2 very trying years for me.

No comments: