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In 1961 we had one holiday together "up country" in Frasers Hill, not too far from Kuala Lumpur. Mum would not fly but went up by car, whilst Dad June and I flew in a DC3, with a brief stop in Malacca, which had a grass runway. We paid a visit to a surface (alluvial) Tin Mine, where the ore is washed from the surface with monitors (water jets), pumped up an incline and then slowly runs down, settling out (as in panning). We were shown a vertical cylinder standing idle and were told the owner had ordered a pump at great cost from England. After many difficulties and delays it arrived at last and was entirely unsuitable. He had pumps made in Malaya - and I think all subsequent pumps were also made in Malaya. We all returned to Singapore by overnight train.In the same locality we were shown a lone survivor - when rubber was brought to Malaya from Brazil, another experimental transfer took place, of Brazil nut trees, but these were not as successful. The Brazil nut tree we saw in Malaya (and a Brazil nut from it) was large and mature.
I passed both the 11 plus and the (Scottish) Murray House exams and moved on to Alexandra Grammar School. School in Singapore was mornings only.
In 1961, due to ill health Dad had to live nearer work, and we obtained rather unusually, an Army house- a large one at 1 Winchester Road which we moved to around April 1961.This was a large single story house, built above ground level, with a large living room, a dining room, small cooking room, washing room, three bedrooms all ensuite, a dressing room, and a separate two room building for the maid. We moved with our maid(="ahma") (Anne) and also took up a part time gardener.
The house was on an army estate and was ranked as being for a senior officer. It was a little unusual to have a civilian living there. Many years later I heard that during the occupation of WW2 the house had been occupied by the Japanese (not too surprising as it was one of the grander houses in the vicinity) and that two or three Australian soldiers had been beheaded in the garden. I have been told that before our ahmah would move in a Chinese priest had to be called in to exorcise the place. I am told that whilst we were there a road being built near the school uncovered a mass grave of Australian soldiers. From Winchester Road road you could see Kent Ridge, the scene of the battle of Pasir Panjang.
When my sister revisited in 2004 it had changed very little, there was now an outdoor swimming pool.
In the garden we had pineapple, bananas, hibiscus, and growing as a weed, poinsettia. We had a pot plant called locally "keng fwa" which flowered once, at night time. Since then we have flowered what must be very similar plants in Stockport, being various night time flowering Cereus.
To the side was a small stand of jungle, where I built a lovely tree house. Before we left the trees were cleared as they were harbouring snakes - they never came in the house, unlike the dinner plate size spiders and moths. There were bats in the garden at night and little lizards living in the house (chickchacks). The kitchen also harboured some lively cockroaches which were large and jumpy. At the bottom of the garden was a small squash court, whilst elsewhere on the estate were some tennis courts. From the back garden, to the right of our jungle patch we could see the grounds of the Mess, and sometimes they showed outdoor films there on a screen which we could clearly see the back of.
My sister June became friendly with the son of one of the nearby ahmas, and before we left he presented us with a pleasant tropical watercolour which I presently have hanging in my house. Fifty years on the hanging string snapped and the picture was badly damaged, but I have rehung it, covering the damaged quarter with a print from a scan I had taken previously. For reasons neither June nor myself can fathom, we had a regular house guest, a gentleman called Paddy Bailey, but we have no information regarding this man who for a short time was virtually family.We now travelled to school in a forces bus - usually Army but sometimes Navy and rarely Air Force- and from time to time we had an armed guard on board. On rare occaisions we travelled in a large Army truck, always a challenge to climb into.
I enjoyed roaming around the estate, and shopping in the Ayer Rajah shops, where there was a lovely cafe called the Q Cat with a juke box and chilled bottles of Cola or 7-Up. Near to the Ayer Rajah taxi stand was a salesman selling tasty tropical fruit (rambultans), very similar to lychee, but the outer skin had soft prickles. And was usually accompanied by some red ants (which had a powerful bite).
More on Singapore in the early 1960's
The three year stay came to an end and we had to leave, travelling on a cargo ship of the Glen Line, the Glenorchy, together with 8 other passengers, who included Gerald and Jaquie Durrell. Gerry showed us some slides of the Malay turtles laying eggs- later to be shown on film on BBC TV as part of his series "Two In the Bush" (also a book). We were six weeks on this ship, with an extended stay in Ceylon, with visits to Kandy, Peredenaya, Sigaria, and Polonnorua. The ship was anchored off the sleepy port of Trincomolee. No civil war fighting in those days.
We also spent some time in Genoa, Italy, visiting Portofino and Santa Marguerita Ligura. First time I have been a passenger on a bus stopped for speeding.
The Glenorchy was on the return leg of a voyage that had started on 22nd May 1962. The Master was Captain H S Clarke, Chief Engineer H G M Thompson, Chief Officer R M Simpson, Surgeon Dr D G Harries, and Chief Steward C S Jones.
Returning to England our first tv show- seen in a London hotel- was I Love Lucy and the strangely flickering screen gave us all headaches.
After briefly staying with Gran in Northop we moved to a rented house - 25 Brownsville Road, Stockport, Cheshire, and I started school at Stockport School, Mile End Lane. This was an all boys grammar school, and it was by no means the happiest of the schools I attended. I did however stay to take my "A" levels, getting Maths and Physics. Nobody took any interest in my education or career choices, and I was left to the idle fortunes of chance and luck. Our first Winter in the old country was quite severe, probably not been as cold since.
Stockport School: The school moved to Mile End Lane in 1938. At that time (and at least until 1970) the head master was Leslie Shave, who had been playing organ since age 12. The new school had a large auditorium and in it was installed a brand new Compton Electrone organ with the huge wardrobe sized cabinets on the side of the stage. This pipeless organ style was introduced in 1938 so the school organ was quite an early one although the tall metal cabinets I recall may relate to a post war model 347. Later Electrones by Compton used cabinets of console height. Pre war cabinets are reportedly made of wood but the school could have had a custom model with earlier metal cabinets. The date of the school and of the technology may suggest an early custom build with metal cabinets. The electrone used spinning wheels or disks with engraved waveforms to produce sound by electrostatic means. The school Compton was still played regularly when I left in 1968. The console was of classical plain wood style.
When I was there the organist and head of drama and music was Geoffrey Barber (at one time a Chairman of Manchester Organists Association). Later on the senior German master was Reg Holmes who was a great organ player and also became chairman of the MOA. The organ was voiced and was played as a straight classical church organ.
At the back of the hall was a Bluthner grand piano with a splendid tone. One of the pupils was Peter Lawson, who was to go on to international fame (I have his recording of Satie) and became senior tutor at Chethams and the RNCM.
I was never consulted on what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, given no guidance or help, and so rather drifted aimlessley through the school, never reaching any potential at all, and left with just two A levels. I was placed into a science stream (good bye history) and placed into a metal work stream. I was offered and took the opportunity of adding English Literature to my syllabus, and I passed Lit and also the French whose lessons I was taken from to fit in the Lit.
Dad purchased his first (and last) house, a semi detached house on Gower Road, behind the old Empress Cinema, by then a night club.
Stockport was undergoing change as the old town centre was torn up and a new shopping centre was built (Aug 67) , Merseyway, which straddles the River Mersey. Steam trains were on the way out. Bank Holidays were spent visiting Lyme Park outside Stockport- at this time they ran a diesel road train from the park entrance to the hall and the local 92 bus was extended to the Hall entrance, well past its usual terminus in Hazel Grove. The grounds were then quite full.
I spent a little time with short wave radio- Dad bought me a Trio valved radio. From listening to amateur radio I also made my first contact with a real live Science Fiction author- Francis George Rayer, who wrote as Francis G but was known as George - I recall -perhaps incorrectly- his call sign was G3OGR. I also attended local events of the Stockport Amateur Radio Society at the Blossoms Hotel in Stockport.; visited Jodrell Bank radio telescope (1965).
I visited with several local radio amateurs, notably Tom Hayhurst G3NJE and Ernie Houldsworth, G6NM. Ernie passed to me a bundle of very old radio magazines, and as I also am now getting older, I am adding some articles from these to my web site under "early radio".
I made contact with the local Christian community, starting to attend an evangelical local church (The Coach House). The Coach House has now been demolished to allow a neighboring Roman Catholic secondary school to be rebuilt.
During holidays with my aunt in Cornwall I visited a church in St Ives (informally associated with The Coach House), a "Countess of Huntingdon Connexion" church ("Zion"), and morning services across the road at a former "Primitive Methodist" church and a nearby "Bible Christian" Methodist church, as well as evening services at an upmarket and very formal "Wesleyan" Methodist church. The latter was bottom of my list of churches to attend (but well above the very high nearby "Anglican" church!). Since the 70s the Methodist church in England has very much moved away from socialism to conservative anglican conformity (it was the Church of England which rejected a proposed union) but as numbers of members decline and modern pseudo-methodists move to rather anonymous "United Churches", those remaining are showing welcome flickers of revival.
In St Ives I also went to a "Countess of Huntingdon Connexion" church, not entirely without historic links to Methodism, but then a Congregational church and now independant, one of just 21 "Connexion" churches left. The two first listed Methodist churches remain active in St Ives, with the Primitive Methodist church thought of as a "single chapel Methodist circuit", which has sad meaning for us elderly folk, but nice to see a town has two active methodist churches when so many have been closed and demolished.
I had always thought of the Methodist church as having female ministers but apparently that went by the board in the first and second rounds of union in 1907 and 1933, not reappearing until 1974.
I helped out at the local Stockport Youth for Christ, which held meetings in Pendlebury Hall (now a nursing home), and I spent Saturday mornings in Stockport handing out fliers for the odd Billy Graham film that was shown. I also participated in the Christian group at Stockport School, on one occaision we went across the road to Stockport Grammar to watch a "Fact and Faith" film, City of the Bees, from the Moody Institute of Science. Later I went with my sister to a meeting at Manchester Albert Hall (opposite the Free Trade Hall) for a live presentation based on their film "Windows of the Soul"- was it Dr Irwin Moon who presented it? I can't recall.
I paid the occaisional visit to St Andrews Church in Cheadle Hulme who had a "youth club" called Koinonia, sometimes with visits from the new trend in Christian pop groups such as The Cobblers, The Crossbeats and so on. Apparently the UK Christian coffee bar concept started in the UK in this area - at nearby Cheadle.
After a short period at the Coach House, I found some of the views out of sync with my concepts of brotherly love (just a tad right wing / racist), and the worship a little too extrovert, and moved to Reddish Green Methodist Church. This was a small church (former Wesleyan chapel) with quiet small services but it suited me.
Subsequently this church was demolished (its organ transferred to the (!) united church nearby) -to make way for sheltered accomodation, and - in the next decade, the 70's- I moved down the road to the local Church of England, St Thomas's (at that time a "low" church with no plaster saints, no stations of the cross, no crucifix, no fancy robes...), where subsequently my wife and I joined the Parochial Church Council, I became a sidesman and then Church Treasurer and my wife the PCC secretary. St Thomas was an old church, but without a written history. But back to the 60's...
In 1964 Dad had problems at work, lost his job and took what he could working at a steel plant in Stockport, on work study, earning extra cash cleaning windows. Difficult times which June and I were largely protected from. Around this time Mum got a job at a mail order company, John Myers in Reddish.
On 5th February 1966 my sister June married Ron Dadswell, at that time serving with the Blue Funnel shipping company, and away from home for long periods. The reception was in the Rudyard Hotel, then just one large Victorian house - it has changed remarkably since, but is still there, although no longer sporting its original name.
In 1966 Dad was seriously ill - and diabetes, which he may have had since 1960, was diagnosed and insulin prescribed.
December 1966 saw the birth of my niece Tracy.
Holidays were spent with an Aunt in St Ives (3 visits 1965, 1966, 1967) - on the last of these I noticed Girls. Especially one called Sue Gibson from Maldon in Essex, of whom I took several photos. Aunt Cas ran a nursing home (The Belyars) and through one of her guests I was able to visit the fledgling GPO Earth Receiving Station at Goonhilly and have a conducted tour in 1965. The one large dish then at Goonhilly is to remain, as a monument, although the receiving station has now been closed, as modern technology no longer requires such a remote site. Also visited the memorial to Marconi's transatlantic experiment in nearby Poldhu.I have a detailed memo of the 1965 visit, and can report in more detail. The day of departure July 2nd 1965 was the local Hazel Grove show which I attended with Stockport Amateur Radio Society, leaving at 1840. The coach pick up was at 2004 from the Edward St/Wellington Road junction and I travelled down with Dad, with a long wait between coaches in Exeter. For this journey we actually lugged my Trio Short Wave receiver- quite a weight.
5/7/65 a quick trip to Falmouth. 6/7/65 was my first short visit to Mousehole, known for the book and tv film "The Mousehole Cat". On 7.7.65 it was a trip to Newquay. In July 1965 the St Ives Salvation Army Band seemed to play every night at 8pm on the slipway. On 8/7/65 Dad and I had a trip in a small motor boat (just us two) at 60p per hour. There was a great deal of rain in St Ives in 1965. 13/7/65 was a visit to Lands End. July 13th was also a television novelty which we saw- the Daily Mail had paid for a live transatlantic tv advert (the first) sent over the Atlantic by the Early Bird satellite and the Earth Receiving Station at Goonhilly.
15th July 1965 and a private visit to the GPO Earth Receiving Station at Goonhilly, as the 2nd in command's wife's father was in Aunt Cas' nursing home and had arranged it for us. Since the Early Bird satellite had gone live, they had ceased accepting visitors there but we had a special tour. The dish had a very visible blinking red light to indicate that it was transmitting and would damage anyone standing closer than 50 yards in the beam. There were four ways to move the dish, from remote computer to man pushing. The transmitter valves were bathed in liquid helium. The helium canisters were prone to frequent venting and one did as we were close, our feet were soon lost in the mist. Pause to demonstrate effect of liquid nitrogen ... . On our return journey to St Ives we visited the Marconi monument at Poldhu marking an early transatlantic radio communication.
16/7/65 left St Ives at 6pm by coach, arriving in Exeter a whole hour early giving us a two hour wait for our coach to Stockport. Arriving early on 17th, not a huge rest as I was off again on a SARS visit this time to Jodrell Bank radio telescope. We were to have a group visit and be shown around, but the boss (Sir Bernard Lovell) had decided to visit so instead we sat and heard him chatting about the work there.
25/7/1965- to the Essoldo with June to watch Mary Poppins. The site of the cinema was for many years a park and now has a big office on it. 10/10/65 was another amateur radio event at the Pleasure Gardens and Zoo at Belle Vue, Manchester. June and Mum came to the evening quiz. The funfair and zoo site is now a second hand car dealers. Present in the daytime was a sweet little baby elephant called Ellie. Many years later, as Belle Vue closed down, she was the last animal from the collection, alone and without a keeper, in the end she was shot at what for an elephant would be a young age, a mere teenager.
1967 was the "Flower Power" year, and St Ives was a local hot spot for hippydom, with lots of bare feet and bells around necks, primary colors and simplified cartoon flowers. It was a hot summer and ideal for the mood. This is when Scott McKenzie asked "are you going to San Fransisco". Fait l'amour non la guerre.
After St Ives it was not long before my first girlfriend (Vivien Worthington) - although as I was at an all boys school and she at an all girls school, (Cheadle Hulme) there was little hope for a lasting relationship as we were both adjusting to the differences between boys and girls. We did have some interesting outings to the cinema, discos, attended Church together and walked about a bit. Vivien was responsible for showing me the joys of developing and printing your own photographs, which I was to take up later in the 70's. Her efforts to introduce me to the joys of smoking were not so successful- there was nothing remotely pleasing in it for me.
Vivien had a close friend (Elizabeth Ruth Banks) also known as Fred, who was responsible for my first kiss (26th July 1967).
And was sweet enough to immediately apologise.
Only in 2015 did I learn that although Ruth was in the same school year as me, she was 16 months younger, so only just turned 16 when she taught me what a kiss was. Later on I took some photos of Ruth (who thanked me for not making rude advances).
29 & 30.3.68 Iolanthe at Stockport School (with all parts played by boys) - 29th with Viv; 30th with Fred (Ruth Banks of Gatley)
The outing with Ruth was a watershed, as we stood outside in the interval, and that moment came and was let pass - we were very different people and nothing could have happened / succeeded. In 1972 Ruth went to Canada.
My role as an extra! In an orgy... at a party scene for an independant film strip, nothing happened, nothing was seen, all just imaginary. Unusually Apple Records gave their consent to the use of a Beatles record (Revolution) for the strip, part of which was also filmed at a local cinema, the now demolished Davenport. A few years later a rather less famous film was made there- "Yanks". For this evening I had to borrow a Paisley shirt (then all the rage) from my more fashionable school friend Derek Bedford.
My first job- University education was not mentioned in the Shaw household, and my school never mentioned it either. My parents took little interest in my secondary education and never discussed work. I did leave school with two A levels - Mathematics and Physics. Work - at Williams Deacons Bank, Stockport. What a horrid smoky green-tiled Victorian place it was (soon to be demolished). Not a happy time. I spent some time in the little two man sub branch on Wellington Road North with a young RAF pensioner, Mr Harrod. (The office later closed); took part in the "local cheque exchange" (reps from each bank gathered at the table in the local Westminster Bank- now a pub) which ceased quite soon; and collected the cheques from the local offices of the Inland Revenue (where I briefly met an old school chum, Peter Scanlon) with a WW1 veteran called Danny, a lovely friendly man who had left something behind in Europe.
It was not long before I was producing the then manual branch balance sheet by extracting the figures from the ledgers, and even made my way up to being in charge of the little two man office!At the time I considered Williams Deacons to be an English bank with its Head Office located in Manchester. I now know that it was an English bank, rescued in the 1930's depression by the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1930. So throughout my work in banks of differing names later on, I always worked for the Royal Bank of Scotland - not until after its own rescue by the government in the following banking crisis some seventy years after the 30's recession, did the Royal Bank of Scotland come very close to losing its former Williams Deacons English branches to a foreign bank- by which time it had bought another set of branches, having made a hostile takeover of National Westminster, but again retaining the English trademark name.
I worked at the bank in: August 1968 stockport & 1969 Levenshulme ===========
Around this time I had a pleasant weekend in York, as guest of my school friend Derek Bedford who was at St John's learning to be a teacher. He was also a member of a civil war reenactment society (The Sealed Knot), and for his birthday held a costumed event at the Treasurers House, York. We changed into costume in the stables on the ground level before going up to the real splendour of the first floor. It turned out that my hired Royalist costume was in the colours of the local "regiment". The following day, munching on french bread, we found the York backstreets paved with mud and straw for a tv program, very apt.
Of course, Vivien also went off to University (Newcastle Poly) - to study to be a librarian - staying in Whitley Bay- and it was inevitable that we would rapidly drift apart. Vivien worked as an Assistant Librarian for a very short time after graduating, married, and stayed in the Newcastle area, becoming a mother, grandmother, and moving into Legal Costing as a Legal Executive, after writing a research paper (1975) for Newcastle Uni on Information Retrieval. Easter 1969 was bitter sweet after Viv chose to not proceed with our relationship (a traumatic moment or two for me there!) but we did have a weekend in London together after that in May 1969, (contrary to modern times, we didn't ... , if you catch my drift...) where we showed a German visiting girl around town.
September 1968 was a sad period for Czechoslovakia as invading tanks rumbled in. At this time I was still listening to short wave radio, and in due course I received a letter from Prague dated 17th September 1968. Recall that the radio station had been shut down by the invaders who were paying close attention to everything that was going on (and out). The poignant letter included:
"We are sure you will appreciate that at the present time it is not possible for us to write to you all individually. If, for the time being, we are unable to answer all your questions, we are sure you will understand. Your letters are of great help to us. With all good wishes..."
July 1969 was the first moon landing, which I stayed up to watch on tv (was it 4am?) and then on to work a few hours later.
About this time I started attending concerts - I have included a full list for 12 months under 1970 - generally pop at first but covering a wide range. My appreciation quickly included Classical music and I visited the concerts of the Halle Orchestra, organ recitals in Manchester Cathedral and Manchester Town Hall (a Cavaille-Colle organ not really playable by 2005) and so on. There were also brass band concerts in Manchester Town Hall.
It is hard to imagine many years on, but I also attended "gramophone recitals" which were held in a Manchester music shop. We dont seem to have those anymore.
1969 hols- stayed with Aunt Cas in Shaldon Devon- very quiet place
After that I was moved to the Levenshulme Branch of the Bank, which was a happy experience, with all good staff. I recall well Jayne Scott, a lovely lass from Disley, and Assistant Manager Mr Davies. When the Manager retired he was replaced by a genial gentleman (Mr Glover) who was alcohol dependent and it turned out was not to live for much longer.
As I was transferred from Stockport whilst working on relief at another office, I never did say goodbye to the folks there. One young girl (Julie) did write to me and for a few months we did go out together a few times, but there was never any close relationship. Julie did encourage me to go to the firework display at Cale Green Cricket Club in November, and on Christmas Eve 1969 I went with her family to the big pantomime at the Davenport Theatre (now demolished) followed by a meal at a nearby restaurant and then an evening on a sofa in her front room. Her dad drove me home, and neither of us bothered contacting the other again.
Based at Levenshulme I did do a lot of relief work at outlying branches -see the 70's.
29.11.69 Vienna Boys Choir concert at Manchester Free Trade Hall
I took my Banking Exams in the evenings at Stockport College and of course introduced myself to the one or two girls in class. Including Catherine Wainwright. We went for drinks after college, walks around town... and started going steady. Cathy had had previous boyfriends (and in the spirit of the age had slept with them) but that was not an issue with me- although Cathy is the only woman I have made love to.
Interestingly we both come from very stable family backgrounds- there is no divorce in any recent generation. Neither of us smoke either.
Time for a little controversy perhaps. But as a part of my life I feel the need to communicate this bit...
Pass on to the next decade now if you wish!
This is an appropriate place to record my experiences of ESP, which blossomed in my life in the 60's.
Note my Welsh heritage. The Welsh are great storytellers. And have many stories of magic. During the witch hunts, despite many known "witches" in Wales there were only 4 prosecutions - why? Because in Wales the witch was known, and the Church was unable to convince anyone that witches were evil or worshipped the devil- they didnt.
What was a Welsh witch? An excellent research project!
My early experiences of ESP included future sight - which enabled me to save money amongst other things, and no the future can be changed.
Telepathy was strong especially with Vivien, and we made contact (both ways) over several hundred miles. Experiments with friends showed that some communication could be achieved with anyone in the right circumstances. And that formal testing was doomed to failure because of the conditions. Relaxation and surprised immediate unthinking response seemed to be important.
Think of a baby brought up in a household where the parents spoke only nonsense but communicated with hand signs. The baby will learn hand signs and sound will not be a meaningfull medium for communication. Now think of speech and telepathy this way. I suspect that like all things, atrophy occurs from none-use and training and active use may increase ability.
I have deliberately allowed my senses to decay, as it involves a very basic (primitive?) communication - we don't always say in speech what we mean, often hiding our real thoughts even from ourselves. You don't keep friends if you listen to their inner thoughts (which can sometimes be as clear as real speech) but which differ from what they say or even think.
When my son was born, I was awake and ready for the call from the hospital at 4am. I can tell you that as a male, contractions are very strange!!
When our first cat Chloe died, the moment of her death was communicated to me (I was at work, and confirmed the time with my wife) as a feeling of lightness and happiness.
When my mother died, she waited until I had returned home from an outing before passing on- she also called herself a witch, but was also a great story teller.
When my father died- after several months indoors- I was compelled to take a walk outside as he departed - death of course is not an event but rather a process taking maybe 20 minutes or more. Dad had spent a long time indoors and in darkness due to being blind.
The Welsh traditionally have no problem in fitting such things into Christianity, they are a part of life and in no way opposed to anything, certainly not bad in any sense - it is the person who behaves badly not their senses!
End that bit. Now on to the next decade