Not sure if this subject has been aired before; but how difficult was it to settle after the years of unalloyed pleasure and hedonism? Did we give our uniform to the Salvation Army within one week, or like me, hang it in the wardrobe for 2 years. Personally I found it difficult to close the door and as this site testifies the future was filled with memories. It was NOT all beer and skittles but there was always a sense of "belonging" not easily found in other occupations. Occupation is the wrong word. Going to sea was a way of life, demanding but satisfying more than any other. Not easy to replace.
Mine was in the closet for 37 years ...
On leaving the sea and about to get married I started looking immediately for a job in refrigeration. In the evening paper T Wall’s were advertising for a refrigeration engineer at their Willesden factory (NW London). At this time pigs were brought in live, slaughtered on site, processed and turned into pies, sausages, meat products etc. The ammonia plant room was modern with two sides having large windows and having Lightfoot “vee” block compressors direct coupled to their driving motors. After being shown around the factory I was impressed, offered the job and accepted it. The only drawback was it was the other side of London from where I lived in Bexley.
The following night a commercial refrigeration service engineer’s job was advertised in the evening paper based at London Bridge (on a direct line from Baxley). At this stage I couldn’t drive, but had booked 12 lessons with a driving school. I applied, got the job and was employed in the workshop until I got my license, which luckily I passed first time.
As for my uniform jacket I have to admit I unpicked the braid, replaced the buttons and wore it over my boiler suite when necessary. I still have my cap badge and 1st Ref Engr epaulets as a keep sake.
Although working for a commercial ref company we occasionally did a domestic call. On one occasion it was to a very large house in Chelsea where on ringing the door bell I announced who I was. The reply I got was ”go round to the tradesmen entrance”. “What me a P&O sahib”. How the mighty have fallen. Makes you think of that sketch. He is upper class I am middle class and he is lower class.
I spent the last 18 years of my working life as a Refrigeration Lecturer at the College of NW London at Willesden and travelled their daily from Bexley and never thought much about it.
Carthage, Surat, Perim, Strathmore, Himalaya, Somali
PS :Looking at some old photos on the Australian National Maritime Museum site it showed a lovely shot of Himalaya, Strathmore and Iberia berthed at Pyrmont Sydney.
I still have my cap and stripes
Well, I left the sea in November 2002 (for family reasons) and retained my full blues uniform carefully in a suit- carrier, along with a uniform white shirt and black tie. I shall be using it next Friday (November 9th) when I go up to Hertfordshire to attend the CCF Remembrance Parade at my old school, as I did last year. It still looks immaculate and it was a joy to dust it off and wear it once again.
I left my uniform in the wardrobe of my cabin on the Himalaya in Taiwan (because I knew I was going to start another stage in my life) but I still wear the memories of shipmates I’d sailed with.