18 March 2004

First Draft: South Shields. John Bainbridge

During the latter months of the course before my examinations a student arrived to stay at Mrs. Greenwell's. His name was John Bainbridge. John had come to South Shields Marine College to study for his 1st Class PMG Certificate before going to sea. Where he had taken his standard Certificate I have no idea now. In fact I don't know why he had come to South Shields instead of his old College.

The 1st Class PMG Certificate required a further paper to be sat delving more deeply into electrical and electronic theory plus a rise in the Morse speed to a minimum of 25 words per minute.

What I do remember is that John came from Lancashire and his father was a headmaster in his home town... was it Blackburn... I think it was, as my memory drifts back.

We seemed to click immediately as friends although John was at least 2 years older than I. Perhaps it was because both of us were studying hard and not going out too often which brought us together. For relaxation after study I remember we often went down to a local park entered from the bottom of Lawe Road although the park boundary was just across the road and a piece of open grass land from where we stayed. An iron railing fence and a steep bank prevented us entering up here.

We were not hermits of course we went up town as normal, went to the movies and down to Mill Dam. It was just that we reduced our leisure time.

John finished his course before I did and passed his 1st class PMG successfully. Soon, with a job awaiting him he said goodbye. We had exchanged addresses and a few weeks later a letter arrived from John from somewhere down around the Indonesian Islands on a cargo ship calling in on small island ports picking up and unloading cargo. It all sounded so romantic in his letters through this tropical region and this helped to spur me on with my studies. I could hardly wait to get to sea and experience this life for myself.

I was soon in my final term having re-sat and passed the Morse examination with the final hurdle soon to come of re- sitting the 2 Theory papers. I accelerated my studies, concentrating on my weaknesses and in one or two cases committing to memory more complex pieces.

I was determined not to fail this time.

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