8 May 2005

Sea Life. 1951. A Seagoing Life - Preparations.

First draft:

Summary: I arrived back home at Kidside from South Shields around the end of June. I had passed all my examinations at the Marine College to become a merchant navy radio officer, been accepted in to the Marconi Company and I now was waiting in limbo for my appointment to my first ship. I was still 17 years old.

The wait seemed long, it was around 6 weeks in fact. During this waiting period I received an unexpected present from the Kenyon's, my fathers' employers. They gave me new case for my forthcoming travels. It was blue, expandable and of medium size, not too big to be a nuisance to carry or fit on a train rack. Over the next few days my mother managed to shoe-horn me out of the house and down the lane to the Kenyon's to say thank-you for their kindness. I was very shy in those days and still had a teenagers unsureness of myself. Coming back up the lane after my ordeal I felt pleased that I had been down to see the Kenyon's, they were kind people, interested and full of questions in my coming life.

A few days later I made up a template and painted my initials on both sides of the case for quick identification. Later, that case travelled the world with me and it acquired many stuck-on labels from various exotic places. Dad and Mum dragged out a yellow/orange coloured trunk, somewhat bigger than a very large suitcase. It had come originally from Sharrow Bay and it too had travelled to many exotic places but with the Nelson's. On this too I stencilled my initials. I needed plenty of room for summer and winter uniforms, dress shirts spare shoes, mufti clothes and shoes, and all manner of other things I might need. When you are at sea you cannot just slip into town to buy forgotten items.

I was now all prepared for my big adventure. I waited impatiently for word from Marconi, looking for a letter. It was early August, there was a knock at the door, a post office van, a buff envelope, a telegram. Yes, addressed to me. With shaky fingers, I opened it. Be prepared, sailing orders following by post, it said.

With shaking hands I pulled out my suitcase and trunk to pack. My mother with a long list quietly took control and in a short time the packing was complete.

Next morning the post arrived and a large bulky envelope was pushed through our letterbox with my orders. I was to join the S.S. Modasa as 2nd Radio Officer now berthed at Tilbury Docks on the Thames in London. A travel permit was enclosed for the rail journey and it was my cost to travel to and from the stations. I was to travel tomorrow.

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