Monday, June 29, 2009

Decisions, decisions - part 1

Except when we are asleep, we are faced with decisions almost every minute of our life. The vast majority are of a minor nature. Shall I have another cup of coffee? Shall I wear this shirt or that one?, and so on. However, some decisions are of a much more important nature, life-changing in fact.

As I was expanding this thought, my mind wandered back to what, I suppose, was my first life-forming decision. As I was approaching graduation from college in 1960, and contemplating my future career I had arranged interviews with three local companies each involved in completely different industries, all of which I had expressed an interest in. As all would involve me and my father signing indentures for a five-year apprenticeship, Dad had to accompany me.

Dad, from childhood always wanted to be a carpenter, a skill which came natural to him. However, he was under pressure from his father to join the family dairy business, which he loyally did. So Dad was keen for me to "do my own thing", albeit with all the help, guidance and support he could muster. Naturally enough, the first company tour and interview was with a joinery firm.
Hmmm, a lot different from the woodworking shop at school, but there was a spark of interest. Next came a noisey, smelly, tour of a local shipwrights foundry. That was a non-starter for me, even though it would have included some woodworking skill in the preparation of moulds.

The third interview, at a small jobbing printing works, clinched my future career. I was struck immediately by a feeling that this "was for me". Within 24 hours, I was offered an apprenticeship and Dad and I signed my Indenture on August 8, 1960. The document is a work of art, the company secretary completed his part in beautiful copperplate script.

I'm reading this wonderful document as I write this and several of the terms stand out. For example, Paragraph 2(e) reads "That the Apprentice shall not gamble with cards or dice or play unlawful games or frequent taverns but that in all things he shall demean and behave himself towards his Employer and others having authority over him during the said term as a good and faithful apprentice ought".

Pictured with my "clicker" and mentor, the great Cliff Cooper, during the first year of my apprenticeship.

Then, exactly five years later on August 8, 1965, the Indenture states "We hereby certify that the hereinbeforenamed has well and faithfully served the full period of his Apprenticeship in accordance with the terms of the before written Deed".

Six years later, as a journeyman compositor at the Monotype keyboard

In 1960 I composed (typeset) by hand, but after keying via Monotype, Monophoto, Then by computer typesetting, by my retirement in 2000 we were ready for "customer-to-plate files".

My first life-forming decision was a great one, which not once did I regret making. To be able to say that in forty years I enjoyed every working day would be an
exaggeration, but there were not many days I didn't enjoy, and as family and friends will testify, I still love the smell of a newly printed book!

. . . . . . . to be continued.


Maggie said...

Thanks for sharing your story, Mick.

NorfolkBoy said...

Thanks Maggie. Watch this space for more life-changing decisions. I bet you can guess two of them.