A Word In Your Ear - January 7, 2016

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New Year is full of hope, but it’s also a time when I like to reflect on past times and people alongside me then. It’s so easy to forget the lessons learned, or more often overlooked, when younger.

“That reminds me of my most boring job,” I told She Who Knows, the other evening at Edmonds Towers.

We were watching a wartime naval film called The Key, starring Sophia Loren, William Holden and Trevor Howard.

“You weren’t in the Navy,” she pointed out.

“No but the boiler-man, whose assistant I was, had been. We had to keep several boilers topped up at a lorry factory.

“He craftily arranged mirrors to see all their dials from where we sat. When he noticed that one had fallen below temperature, I had to shovel coal into the furnace.”

“Doesn’t sound too bad,” She Who observed.

“The worst thing was I spent most of the day drinking pint mugs of tea, listening to endless stories of the boiler-man’s Royal Navy days in an engine room.”

Still, I thought later, that old salt had seen a lot and been clever enough to set up those mirrors, so cutting down our work. Probably, if I’d listened with more interest, I might have learned more.

“Then there was the job parcelling tool parts in the factory warehouse and, worse still, doing a stock-take of nuts and bolts,” I went on, probably boring her.

“You should write a column about it,” said She Who Knows.

“At least it taught you to wrap our Christmas gifts nicely – whatever their shape.”

That was true. Also those student jobs, along with dull other ones like canning oil, had been my first time working alongside older men. Most had been kindly and worldly wise.

The best lesson they taught me, now I think back, was to do your work well, however boring, but also share a laugh when you could. Worth remembering, I’d say.

* For Roy’s books, visit royedmonds-blackpool.com.