I had left school at the age of fourteen years and nine months secure in the knowledge that I was going to be employed by my father in his printing company. After all I had worked there every Saturday for the last four years and had spent every school holiday for the same period......cleaning machines and doing odd jobs that earned me the sort of money that gained respect from all of my school mates.
I had no need for a greater education. I knew it all ....or so I thought.
But, (and there always is a but) reality set in. I was going to be standing in front of a machine in one spot day in day out ....clickity clack, clickity clack paper and cardboard disappearing through the mouth of the machine I was feeding every hour. NO! I did not want this for the rest of my life.
Things had to change.
The next step in my life started with my rejection from the Royal Marines. Having spent months researching the Service and convincing myself that I was prepared to sign away nine years of my life to "Queen and Country", I was to be disappointed in the eleventh hour. My friends and boss tried to talk me out of signing up, but I was sure. So off I went to the Recruitment Office and applied. Some weeks later I was called for an interview, so dressed in one of my good suits (in those days I owned more than one) I proceeded to the Armed Services Headquarters.
Whilst awaiting my turn in the reception, I noted the other applicants having difficulties with the many forms we had to fill out. It struck me that what my friends had said about people not being particularly bright that joined up, may in fact be true. Still I struggled through my forms hoping the spelling was good enough, and tried to appear relaxed. Eventually my name was called and very soon I was being praised as a very acceptable recruit.
I completed my entrance test during the morning, and then to my surprise I was given ten shillings by the officer in charge and sent out to buy myself lunch. Things were starting to look good. Ten bob for lunch and I had not even been put on the payroll. After lunch I was greeted by a huge Marine officer who was hoping to have me in uniform by the end of the week. Alas this was not to be. The very last test to be performed on my anatomy was for colour perception. Perhaps I should have been a little prepared for what I was about to hear, having worn a dark green jumper for years thinking it was black, but no, I was totally unprepared for the statement that I was classed as CP4 and my colour perception was not good enough for the "Senior Service" had I been CP3 I would have been suitable - but maybe I should lower my sights and try for the Army. Stunned would be an under-statement. I walked out of the building hardly hearing the sympathetic comments from the big Marine on the door.