photographs are from the years when I left Oxford to serve an apprenticeship at the Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, Hayes Middlesex.
Afterwards, I continued to work for the same Company with my National Service
I became a member of the Southall
(Middlesex) Youth Hostels Association Local Group which met once a week in
premises on the Uxbridge Road (or was it called The Broadway?). It was on
the left of the main road from central London to Uxbridge, just before the
On alternate weekends we would cycle somewhere and stay overnight in a
Youth Hostel. I remember Houghton Mill and Tanners Hatch without having to
use a map to jog my memory. My YHA card with all its evocative stamps was
regrettably thrown away when moving house years ago.
On alternate Sundays we would cycle somewhere for the day.
In those days (mid 1950s) traffic on the roads was so light that the
two rearmost cyclists of the two-abreast phalanx were required to shout
"oil!" whenever a motorized vehicle came from behind.
There were also annual events such as "The Easter Tour", "Whitsun
Boating"; the latter upstream from Oxford in double camping rowing boats
Salter's at Folly Bridge.
For the best part of a year, I was engaged to Pauline Bryen, a fellow
member of the YHA. Although it is probably hard to understand now,
National Service, the
obligation to serve 2 years in one of the Armed Services was quite
a burden. Anyway, without consulting my fiancée, I decided I had to get
it over with. So, off to Cardington for RAF intake on 14 February
1955, then Hednesford for "square bashing". The summer of 1955 was spent
at RAF Yatesbury on an Air Radar Fitter's course, before being posted to
RAF Geilenkirchen in Germany.
Understandably, Pauline Bryen terminated our engagement, although we
continued to correspond and meet, until her father took steps to prevent
it. Consequently, there was never a reason to go back. Considering that
the threat of "Call-up" was over by 31 December 1960, my decision to
discontinue deferrment was premature and certainly life-changing.