Friday, 30 September 2011

Driving Lessons

I had been having unofficial driving lessons on and off for a few years, but when I was legally allowed to hold a provisional license, I asked my father to teach me to drive. He had a Morris Oxford saloon at that time (which they still make in India today) which had a 4 speed manual gearbox with the gear lever mounted on the floor. Once my father thought me confidant enough, he suggested I take some formal lessons at a local driving school to iron out any bad habits I had picked up from him.
I booked six lessons with a school in Sunbury upon Thames, where I would be taking my test, driving a Ford Escort. The instructor knew all of the test routes the examiner would take me on, so I could practice in the car I would sit my test in, and this allowed me to learn the local area. I had picked up a few bad habits from my Dad but these were soon corrected. My test date duly arrived and I had a last lesson just before taking my test on the morning of 27 August 1970. I passed my driving test and had my first full driving license issued shortly after.
From then on, when Bob and I went out together, we shared the driving in his Ford Anglia, with me driving up and around Piccadilly Circus and around the West End of London. Of course I was always trying to borrow my Dad’s car when he did not need it, which I guess most young people did and still do.
The more time I spent at Hawkers, the more I realised what a great aircraft company it was. They had been responsible for a number of leading edge technical advancements throughout aviation history up and until that date. I learnt so much there including health and safety, manufacturing processes and had my first exposure to politics via the union representative.
The average age of the workforce was very high, probably as a result of the war and a number of staff died regularly on the shop floor every week (dropping like flies, was one phase I recall). 

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