It was customary for my family to get together every couple of months with other family rellies for a Sunday lunch, where the latest family news would be exchanged and the most recent losses by the favourite football teams lamented.
On this particular occasion the embarrassingly dismal results of my just completed half yearly tests surfaced for comment. For some reason I didn’t seem to be able to get my head around the set language studies of Latin and French and I seem to recall that British History was a bit of a disaster as well.
The saving grace was that my maths and science, trig and algebra were all at the top of the class, which I suppose suggested some hope of eventual redemption.
Ever helpful Uncle Eddie, himself a life-long railway-man, suggested that maybe an engineering apprenticeship would warrant investigation, and perhaps serious consideration, rather than pursuing an academic course.
Now, at the tender age of sixteen my understanding of engineering practice was near nil, but I did know that anything with wheels, wings or engines had great appeal. My hobbies at that time included model aeroplanes and steam engines and bicycle renovation. So the prospect of working with steam locomotives had some appeal.
And so it came to pass.
After going through the selection process I joined with about three hundred other young hopefuls in the intake of 1949, progressed through the practical training regime and later further engineering studies that led to Marine Engineering and Building Services employment opportunities.
Now, some sixty-eight years later, after happily working in my chosen discipline, I wonder what other direction my life’s course might have taken had I ignored Uncle Eddie’s advice and become a butcher, baker or candlestick maker instead.