Tag: Anchor Brewery

The Pen

Reflections on what makes us who we are.

(This is a two-part post, with the concluding part tomorrow.)

My father was born on June 15th, 1901.

Here is a photograph taken of him on his twenty-first birthday.

asasas
Frederick William Handover – June 15th, 1922

He was an architect for Barclay Perkins & Co., a London firm of brewers.  Here are the opening words of the Wikipedia entry.

The Anchor Brewery was an English brewery located in Southwark, London. Established in 1616, by the early nineteenth century it was the largest brewery in the world. From 1781 it was operated by Barclay Perkins & Co, who merged with Courage in 1955. The brewery was demolished in 1981.

A Barclays Public House in Southgate, London N1. Picture from The Brewery History Society.
A Barclays Public House in Southgate, London N1. Picture from The Brewery History Society.

I was born in November, 1944 and at the start of the school year in September 1956, me aged eleven, I started in the first term of Preston Manor County Grammar School near Preston Road, Wembley, just a few miles from where we all lived. (Mother, father, me and Elizabeth, my younger sister by four years.) Frankly, I had been regarded as a bit of a dreamer at my primary school and more than a few were surprised that I passed the ’11+’ exams, a prerequisite for attending a grammar school in those days.

I became twelve-years-old in November, 1956. Just six weeks after my twelfth birthday, on the evening of December 19th, 1956, my mother, as normal, came into my bedroom to kiss me goodnight. However, what transpired was very far from normal.

For she sat down on the edge of the bed and told me that my father was not well and may not live for much longer. To this day, I can still see her sitting on the edge of the bed, adjacent to my knees covered by the sheet and bedcover, a very drawn look on her face.

I had been aware of my father being at home in bed for a while but had no notion whatsoever, prior to this moment, that he was seriously unwell. In hindsight, it was more than I could emotionally embrace for not only did I not go back into my parent’s bedroom and again say goodnight to my father, I went off to sleep without any problem.

During that night, in the early hours of December 20th, my father died, the family doctor attended and my father’s body was removed; I slept through it all and awoke in the morning to find my father gone.

Now fast forward just a few years.

It’s too long ago now for me to recall who it was who gave me my father’s fountain pen that he used on a daily basis when he was alive. It is a Sheaffer Crest Snorkel with a 14K gold Triumph nib with a platinum plated tip.

I have had the pen for nearly sixty years and treasure it, as you can imagine.  But in recent times it was not functioning properly and I put it down to old age, and transferred to a modern pen.

By a wonderful stroke of luck I recently came across an American company, Pendemonium, who restore and service a wide range of pens, including Sheaffer pens of the age of my father’s pen; that particular model first was produced in 1952.

On Saturday, the restored Sheaffer pen was sent back to me.  It is a real joy to find that it writes so well and remains a living memory of my father from so long ago.

My father's Sheaffer fountain pen.
My father’s Sheaffer fountain pen.

Now all you dear readers must be wondering just what on earth I’m rambling on about!

My answer will be offered in Part Two that will be posted tomorrow.

But I will give you a clue.

Go across to Sue Dreamwalker’s blogsite and read her recent post Cracking our Inner Shells!

See you tomorrow.

Progressing Wisdom – the preamble.

A reflection on intelligence, learning and knowledge.

Today’s essay has been prompted by a fascinating exchange of views and comments on a post recently published by Patrice Ayme.  More of that tomorrow.

Before getting to the heart of things, I feel compelled to offer a little background on my own educational journey. It is presented today as a preamble to tomorrow’s main essay.

By rights, I should have enjoyed a stunning academic journey as a young man.  My mother holds a double degree in French and German from Cambridge University.  My father was both a Chartered Architect and Chartered Surveyor and worked for Barclay Perkins & Co at their Anchor Brewery in Southwark, London all his working life.  My uncle, Christian Schiller, took up a mathematics scholarship at Sidney Sussex college at Cambridge University and ended up HM Inspector of Schools in the United Kingdom. Notably, he was a promoter of progressive ideas in primary education.

But it was not to be so.

My father died suddenly and with very little warning five days before Christmas in 1956.  I had turned 12-years-old some six weeks previously and just completed my first term at Preston Manor County Grammar School.  My secure, comfortable young life was thrown into emotional turmoil with one of the consequences being that instead of passing a clutch of GCE ‘O-Level’ exams, I barely managed to pass two subjects and was unable to continue on with a higher level of studying and the consequent sitting of GCE ‘A-Level’ exams, a pre-requisit for university.

Somehow, I then managed to win a place as a student at the Faraday House of Electrical Engineering, in those days based at Southampton Row, London.  It was to study for a Diploma in Electrical Engineering.  The requirement was that by the end of my first year at Faraday House I should pass two A-level examinations.

I was very happy as a college student.  That first year was spent entirely learning about engineering with much time ‘hands-on’ in the engineering workshop. Then came time for me to sit those two A-level exams. I failed both of them! There was no choice but for me to leave the college.

faradayhouseplaque
So that’s enough to demonstrate that academic prowess was not my speciality.

However, being unable to jump through the hoops needed for a degree or equivalent didn’t mean that I was a poor learner; far from it.

After my father’s death, my mother remarried and my ‘new’ Dad was very supportive.  He had a background in communications and quickly encouraged me to become a radio amateur.  I joined the nearby Radio Society of Harrow (still in existence!) and their encouragement enabled me to pass the full set of exams necessary to become a licensed radio amateur and a full member of the Radio Society of Great Britain.  My amateur call sign was (and still is) G3PUK. I was 17.

 

G3PUK0001
I can still whistle the alphabet in morse code, from A to Z, and the numbers 0 to 9!

Later on, when I was an apprentice at the British Aircraft Corporation’s site in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, one of the commercial staff, Jim Jenner, spent many hours preparing me for the Institute of Advanced Motorists examination. I passed that exam and became a full member of the IAM in May, 1966.

So there’s my background that, hopefully, will set the scene to a wonderful exchange of views and ideas that flowed from Patrice’s blog. Ideas that will be explored tomorrow.

For the reason, the powerful reason, that the intelligence and wisdom of humanity has always been important.  But now, in this time of the affairs of man, our collective intelligence and wisdom has never been more important.