GOODBYE CONSETT

Excerpts from STORIES FROM A SONGWRITERS LIFE

Steve Thompson
24 min readJan 12, 2023

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by Steve Thompson

(Second Edition)

Cover image: Mark Mylchreest.

Proof reading: Jim Harle (who still calls me Stevie).

© 2020 Steve Thompson. All rights reserved.

Read the Foreword Here — ->

Chapter One

STORIES FROM A SONGWRITERS LIFE

“When you go in search of love,
it’s the greatest adventure of them all”
The Greatest Adventure, Steve Thompson

Life has provided me with tons of stories which I need very little encouragement to tell. For years people who have heard and enjoyed these stories have been saying “write a book”. I have resisted this for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m embarrassed to do something as egotistical as writing about my life and expect others to be interested in it. The second reason is that the idea of writing something “long form” worries me. I’m a songwriter and a storyteller. Everything I do is short form: a three-minute pop song, a short anecdote. How could I maintain interest over several thousand words?

Well, I’ve reached a point now where folks have been paying me to tell stories: luncheon clubs, retirement clubs, Women’s Institutes etc. People like my stories, so perhaps I need not be embarrassed to present what people have been asking me to do for years, to present all the stories in one place: a book! Speaking of Women’s Institutes a friend of mine said “you’ll need to clean up your act before you do the Women’s Institutes. At the first Women’s Institutes event that I was booked for, the Chair Woman got up and announced: “Ladies, here to tell us all about sex, drugs and rock and roll ……“. I had to quickly throw a bit of filth back into the presentation!

While considering the daunting challenge of a book, a title popped into my head. “Stories from a Songwriter’s Life”. This gave me permission to take all the anecdotes, blogs, YouTube videos and luncheon club stories and put them together. If I can make this flow in a coherent way, maybe I’ll have a book. You, dear reader, will be the judge of that.

So now the scene is set. Let me tell you some stories.

Chapter Two

EDUKASHUN

“It’ll end in tears,
It’ll end in tears,
We’re only smiling,
To hide our fears”
Tom Kelly/Steve Thompson, It’ll End In Tears

I was born in 1952 in Consett, County Durham, England. Fear not, I will not dwell on this for too long. We will arrive at the “juicy bits” in the wink of an eye. But these two facts are pertinent to my story. My arrival on this planet was just 8 years short of the most amazing decade: the sixties! Apart from being a remarkable decade for social change, the big deal for me was the seismic shift in popular music. Just as I was becoming aware of things around me the world was turning vivid Technicolor. It seemed that in the sixties the only thing that mattered was music. I was hearing music that made a big impression on me and this will become clear as my story unfolds.

The other item of importance was that Consett was a steel town (how it pains me to use the past tense). For most of my young life, I lived in the shadow of Consett Steel Works. The steelworks had a lasting impact on me. Even now, a lifetime later, I open the show with my band with a tune entitled “Red Dust Overture”. This is a reference to the red mist that overshadowed the town. It was visible from miles away and fell upon the houses and streets in Consett. In the show, I tell the stories of songs I have written for several recording artists. Coincidentally many artists from the sixties have recorded my songs. The steelworks come into the stories and songs too.

I feel duty-bound to tell you that my education was crap. If I could think of a crappier word than crap I’d use it. It was that bad.

Primary school was OK. I don’t recall much about it. I don’t think I even knew why I was there. Then junior school, I guess this was OK too but I don’t recall much about that either and I don’t remember learning anything. I’m the eldest of three siblings, two brothers and a sister. They must have followed me into these schools, but I don’t recall seeing them there. Forced to consider it, I guess I’m a bit of a loner. Towards the end of my time at this school, things got bleaker.

Moving up through the forms, one year I class-hopped because I was considered bright. I don’t know why. In my final year, the form teacher seemed to have high hopes for me. Again, I don’t know why.

Now I’m going to make an admission that I’m not proud of. I don’t know what it amounts to, but I’ll let you make your own judgment. If any shrinks are reading this, please drop me a line with your appraisal. Collierley School in Dipton taught kids to write in italics. This required a special pen which we dipped into an ink pot. I know that this sounds like the dark ages and I guess, to an extent it was. One day the teacher issued the special pens required for italic writing and she asked if any of us was left-handed. Nobody raised their hand. Aha, I thought your chance to be different Stephen. In those days I was Stephen. I had not yet morphed into Steve. I passed through a stage of being Stevie as a teenager. I can gauge how long people have known me by what they call me. It is a sad fact that the number of people who still call me Stevie is diminishing.

But I digress. To be different I put my hand up and claimed I was left-handed. To my horror, she gave me a different pen to everyone else. A left-handed pen. Now I was obliged to write with my left hand. I suffered daily pain for several weeks and at the tender age of 8, it seemed like a lifetime. It was traumatic. Then one day the teacher said “Stephen, I don’t think you are left-handed” and gave me the same pen as all the other kids. Thank you, thank you, and thank you. In one moment this teacher released me from self-inflicted purgatory. Sad to say but this was the only teacher that ever did anything good for me. I don’t know why this school taught italic writing. I just thought, hey, I’ll learn grown up, joined up writing in the big school. How wrong I was. Collierley School inflicted something on me that stayed with me for the rest of my life. To this day my handwriting is appalling.

Something happened in my last year at this school. Something called the 11-plus. One day we were all shipped off to another school and took an exam. A few weeks later in the morning assembly, the head teacher read out the names of those who had passed. It didn’t take long, there were only two names to read out. I was one of them. It transpired that these two great academic minds were to be tested once more. The second half of the 11-plus.

Then I found out what the 11-plus was. Something that could define the rest of your life. This put me in a state of anxiety and I failed. I passed the first half because I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. I failed the second half because of the pressure. The other lad passed both parts and went to Stanley Grammar School. Everyone else who failed the first half stayed in Dipton. Collierly had a secondary as well as a junior school. All my siblings failed the 11-plus too and stayed in Dipton. I went to another place. Alone!

I mentioned that the form teacher of my final class seemed to have high hopes for me. He was ecstatic when I passed the first half of the 11-plus. He was not at all happy when I failed the second half. He caned me in front of the whole class on the flimsiest of pretexts. Two whacks on each hand. Aha, I thought as I winced in pain. It may have taken four years, but this school had finally taught me something. My 11-year-old mind knew what was happening and things were turning dark.

I had half passed and half failed the 11 plus, so I went on to the hell that was Annfield Plain Secondary Modern. This was so shit that I’m going to devote a whole chapter to it. Join me there but be prepared, it is not a pleasant journey.

Chapter Three

THE SUN DOESN’T DO THAT

“Where you been now,
Where you going?
Seems you never settled down”
Steve Thompson, Distant Destination

I arrived at Annfield Plain Secondary Modern in 1963. That first day was scary. I was the only arrival from Dipton and so I didn’t know a soul. It was a lonely experience. To make matters worse one of my first lessons was English. At one point the teacher held up a piece of paper and declared “Whose handwriting is this”? Recognizing the paper, I was obliged to raise my hand. “Well sort it out”, she said. Oh, I see. I am to be given no help in transitioning from the childish italics that I had been taught to proper grown-up writing. I would have to do this myself. In fact, I had been instructed to do so. It was an impossible task. The trauma of this attempt to self-teach myself handwriting has had a lasting impact. I now use a mixture of italics from primary school and a half-baked attempt at grown-up handwriting which I was forced to figure out for myself in secondary school. It is not a pretty sight!

All the teachers I came across at this school were either incompetent, indifferent or bullies. I’m not going to list all my grievances as that would be tedious. But, I’d like to single out a few for special mention.

The French teacher, whose name escapes me, was a tyrant. Every now and then he’d give us two sets of French verbs to learn. “Je porte, tu portes, il porte etc”. For every verb you got wrong, he gave you a whack on the backside with a gym shoe. Some days that could amount to quite a few whacks, particularly with the more complicated verbs. Then on some “special” days he’d arrive and speak only French and refuse to respond to English. Nightmare!

One day in art class I was attempting a landscape in pencil. The art teacher whose name also escapes me asked me what I was drawing. I said it’s the sun coming down through the clouds in shafts. She said, “The sun doesn’t do that”. I was really crushed.

One name I do remember is Mr Knott the woodwork teacher. One day after a minor misdemeanour he said to me “Thompson, I’m going to make your life hell”. And for three years every time I encountered him, he did just that. There you are Knotty, I’ve named you, you bastard!

It was not all pain and suffering. There was something wonderful happening. I heard a lot of music. Lads (it was an all-boy school) would bring in records to play at break times. I thought the sounds I was hearing were amazing, particularly the Beatles. I was mesmerized. I could not imagine how these sounds were being made. Then one day I saw some older lads playing guitars. I was gobsmacked. Mere mortals could make this magical sound! I was totally hooked. This is what I wanted to do. It took a while, but my parents bought me my first acoustic guitar. I was headed for stardom!

As we entered our third year we got a chance to choose our educational stream for our final 2 years there. I chose a stream that did not contain art or French (the academic stream).

I also switched from woodwork to metalwork. These changes allowed me to ditch three cretins. But hang on….. I’d gone into the industrial stream. I was not headed for the world of the arts and rock ’n’ roll stardom. Like almost everyone else in Consett, I was headed for the steelworks.

I took 9 GCE “O” levels. Too many I thought but for some reason, they wouldn’t let me drop any. I failed the lot! But, I tell a lie. For years, I’ve told this lie because I thought it cooler to say I failed ALL the exams. I passed one: Technical Drawing. Yes, Technical DRAWING! The closest thing to art in the industrial steam! Roughly 11 years of education and I was an abject failure.

If all this has brought you down maybe it’s time for a spot of bragging. Yes? OK, here we go.

To this day I recall that “The sun doesn’t do that” remark. Particularly on days when I see the sun doing exactly that! It even has a scientific name: Crepuscular Rays.

Many years later I gained a bit of a reputation in education. I know, this may seem strange, but it happened. I didn’t get any more qualifications. All my life I’ve had an aversion to education and never sought out any more of it. I can only conclude that because I knew so well what bad teaching looks like, I did not dish it out myself. And no, I did not become a teacher. I became a record producer, which in many ways is a similar activity. More of all this later.

Fast forward to 2006 I was asked to give a talk in London by an organisation called Nesta. The audience consisted of educationists and researchers. I put up on the screen my drawing of the sun shining through the clouds. And then I told them about the art teacher saying, “The sun doesn’t do that”. It wasn’t really my original picture though. I had reverse-edited a real picture. I pressed a button and the hand-drawn picture morphed through a few stages. It finally became a picture of Crepuscular Rays: sunbeams! I overlaid the title “The Sun Doesn’t Do That”. The words on the next screen read:

“To be taught with indifference or incompetence, or to be met with bullshit is worse than never being taught anything at all”. There, I got that off my chest and felt a little bit vindicated.

But we’ve slipped into the future. For now, we’re still in 1968. My last day at school. I said goodbye to no one and no one said goodbye to me. I walked out of the school gates alone into the summer sun. I was confused. What on earth was I going to do now?

Chapter Four

LIKE MY FATHER’S FATHER

(And his father before him)

“Down the generations,
where do I begin”,
Like my father’s father and his father before him”
Tom Kelly/Steve Thompson, My Father’s Father

Inevitably I ended up at Consett Steel Works. Everyone did, my whole class. I was offered other apprenticeships: Ever Ready battery manufacturers and Vickers Armstrong. I chose Consett because it just seemed right. I was drawn to the steel works because for years I had been in close proximity and marvelled at the pyrotechnics as you passed by. And it was good, I learned a lot. After one year in the training centre, I went out onto the plant. I drew the short straw and was to be a blast furnace mechanic (a dangerous place). I spent the first three months of year 2 there and then moved around to other parts of the works. I was impressed by the camaraderie and the humour. And I was earning £5 a week, a vast fortune.

In the first year, something happened regarding my educational attainments which were interesting. The steelworks sent us on day release to Consett Technical College. Before I tell you what happened next please consider the previous two chapters and the crapness of my education. I took up the day release at college and enjoyed it. I also undertook an extra night class and embarked on a GCE O level in English language. I just went to the first English class and then the last one. Then I took the exam and passed! Go figure. I also passed everything else and won an award for being a top student. All these years I have been telling people I have no qualifications. I have two GCE O Levels and a shed load of engineering qualifications (distinctions).

The steelworks made a lasting impression on me. By the time I got into the second year of my apprenticeship, I was living in a real adult world. It was hard work, but it was also fun and exciting. It was quite a dangerous place and I noticed many people with fingers missing as well as other disfigurements. I was assigned for a while to a fitter called Tommy Agar. Tommy was the steam fitter specialising in the many steam pipes and systems going around the works. Steam was produced by the processes and used for heating and other things. One day we went to make a repair to a steam coupling and we arrived at a four-story building. Tommy pointed up to the top of the building. There was the shut-off valve not conveniently placed anywhere but just a couple of feet below the top of the building. Tommy said we would have to go up to the roof of the building to shut off the valve in order to make our repairs. To my surprise, he headed for the adjacent building, also four stories tall but not the one featuring the shut-off valve. I followed Tommy up the stairs to the top of this flat-roofed building. The first thing I noticed up there were globules of mercury rolling around the roof which I began to kick around. Great fun! Now, I don’t know if you know this, but Mercury is extremely poisonous. So, it’s dangerous enough being on that roof but what happened next topped the mercury danger. The building sporting the steam shut-off valve was about ten feet away from the one we were now on. Tommy went and fished out a plank of wood from somewhere. He laid it across from one roof to the other. “Okay”, he said, “off you go and close off that valve”. What could I do? Tommy couldn’t go. He was rather large with a gimpy leg. I was an apprentice: light and disposable. So with my heart in my mouth, I crossed the crevasse and shut off the valve. I knew the procedure would have to be repeated to open the valve but now I was an expert tightrope walker!

I was learning so much. I learned the art of swearing. When I say “art” I’m not exaggerating. The art is to insert the word “fuck” as many times as possible into a sentence. But the real skill is that the practitioners of this art are able to apply it only when at the steelworks. When in polite company with their families etc the F word never passes their lips. So, at the works, I bumped into various uncles of mine. “Fuck me young un, how are you fucking doing”? (This was my Uncle Brian). I was shocked and mesmerized by the verbal dexterity. Some of the exponents of the art were masters and able to insert the F word not only mid-sentence but mid-word too. “Fucking hell, that’s abso-fucking-lutely fan-fucking-tastic”. I too, learned the art and to this day, I may swear like a trooper, but my mother has never heard me use that kind of language. Fuck me! I hope she doesn’t read this book!

One of my Uncles, Gilbert, of whom I was always very fond didn’t swear at all. He worked in the welding shop. He was a terrific storyteller and told me many stories over the years. Indeed, I believe I may have adopted his style. He told me a story one day that I still have a recording of. My father had arranged for me to record some oral histories for a project I was doing. He assembled some former steelworkers at Consett Methodist Church Hall. Two of my uncles, Bill and Gilbert were there, and of course my dad too. In all, there were about half a dozen former steelworkers and I recorded all their stories.

Here is the story my Uncle Gilbert told that day: He hated the night shift (I did too). So, he found that he could make a nice bed using a wheelbarrow and some sacks. One night he was having a nice kip when he was awoken by someone announcing an emergency at the fitting shop requiring the attendance of a welder. So off Gilbert went with his kit and arrived at the fitting shop. He announced his arrival to the foreman Dougie Smallwood. Dougie hadn’t a clue what he was on about. It transpired that Gilbert had dreamed the call-out and had awoken to attend a dreamed-up incident.

Gilbert made me promise never to tell this story until he was dead. Well, he’s gone now but he was retired/redundant when he told me the story so what repercussions could there have been? Gilbert was married to my father’s sister, Dorothy. So we were related by marriage but of all my relatives Gilbert’s persona is the closest to my own. Gilbert and Dorothy were quite bohemian. They took sailing holidays on the Norfolk Broads, they were into photography, music and jewellery making. I stayed with them both one summer and they let me use their tape recorder to experiment with. I recorded several versions of “Take Me for What I’m Worth” by The Searchers. Quite prescient really as I would later work with them.

Now, let me tell you a little bit more about my relationship with music in my early teens.

During my last couple of years at school and extending into my time in the steelworks, I was learning to play the guitar. However, my main interest was in learning music in order to write songs. I was fascinated by the records I was hearing and wanted to figure out how it was done. How the songs were put together, and how the records were made. I think I had my first guitar at 13 years old and I started to figure out all those sixties songs that had so fascinated me. Like many budding guitarists of the time, I was a big fan of The Shadows and started to learn their instrumental tunes. I heard that Tyne Tees Television was holding auditions for a kid’s talent show. So I went along to their HQ of the time in Croft Street, Newcastle. There were lots of other kids there waiting to audition too. I wasn’t in the least bit nervous as I was convinced I would be a roaring success. I think I was quite possibly a bit of a strange kid, a loner. “Away with the fairies” as the saying goes. To complete the picture I should tell you that I was wearing a golden waistcoat that my Grandmother had knitted for me. I think she too believed I was destined for stardom. This eye-catching garment was not knitted from ordinary wool. It was kind of a metallic golden material and it had a nice silk lining too. Top quality clobber. So my turn came and “golden waistcoat boy” strode confidently to the centre of the room and stood before 3 judges seated at a table. My ensemble was topped off with a red Futurama electric guitar and a tiny little Selmer amp. I launched into “Apache”, the big hit for the Shadows. When I reached the end of the first verse I had arrived at the full extent of my knowledge of the tune. So what I did to extend it out a bit more was, I just went crackers on the fretboard. I was in the zone. In my defence, this predated Jimi Hendrix by several years. However, the Tyne Tees TV judges were not ready for this. In my tender years, I could not read their expressions. Looking back though, I think they may have either been horrified or suppressing an urge to break into gales of laughter. Perhaps both. The judge sitting in the centre (perhaps the lead judge) said to me, “Stephen, do you know any more tunes”? Quick as a flash, I answered back, “no, but I’m working on it”. With hindsight I can deduce two things from this exchange: Firstly it was very kind of the judge to ask if I knew any other tunes. It sort of implied that I actually knew the tune I had just attempted to play which I clearly did not. And my response showed that I was an innocent abroad, full of optimism and undaunted by uphill tasks.

This brings to mind a conversation with a friend I had just a few years ago. We were working on some project or other and she suddenly said in exasperation, “but Steve, you keep asking us to do the impossible”. Without hesitation, I answered, “Yes, I always like to aim for the impossible because sometimes it comes off”. But for now, at Tyne Tees TV the impossible, namely passing an audition with half a tune under my belt, had proved to be an elusive task.

So, me and my red Futurama and my Golden Waistcoat caught the bus home somewhat dejected. But I had learned the first lesson of show biz: rejection! But I got right back on that horse. Sometime later I heard that Tyne Tees TV was holding more auditions for some other TV show and this time the venue was to be a hotel in Gosforth. By then, I had upped my game somewhat. I had shed the golden waistcoat and become a serious 14-year-old musician. I had begun to write my own material and I intended to audition with one of my own tunes. My family owned a very early cassette player with built-in speakers. It was a hefty thing. I had recorded the backing chords onto it and I planned to play my tune over the top of that. Yes, I hear you murmur, at 14 years old I invented Karaoke! I was convinced that my originality and innovation were going to win the day. But in reality, I was about to endure more rejection. I was also about to experience something else every musician has to battle against. Underhand dodgy dealing no less. A technical-looking chap approached me and asked about my gear. I explained what I was about to do. Upon which he attached some kind of meter to the cassette player using wires and crocodile clips. He promptly declared my kit to be unsafe and informed me I would not be allowed to audition. Tough luck you may think but I know exactly what happened there. In the adjoining room, the three same Tyne Tees TV judges from my earlier audition were cautiously peering out into the hall at the various little darlings that were getting ready to assault their ears. One chap spots me. “Hey Tarquin, it’s that kid with Golden Waistcoat from the Croft Street auditions. He’s tossed that horrible glittering thing but it’s the same kid I swear. I simply can’t face another attack on my senses like the last time”. And his colleague responds, “Fear not, Bertram old chap I’ll soon fix this”. And with that, he picks up a piece of gear and heads towards me to perform the little pantomime I just described. Bastards!

And whilst I’m talking about my Grandmother’s knitting let me relate to you another tale. Fast forward a few years and I’m in a pretty successful band named Bullfrog, performing all over the North East of England to packed venues. My Gran had knitted for me a jumper of striking orange and black stripes. Each stripe was about four inches deep and when I wore it there was little danger of me getting knocked down by a bus. One evening we were appearing at St John’s Chapel Village Hall in Weardale. It was a terrific gig that we had done many times. After the show, I was giving the organiser a bit of lip backstage. I don’t recall why, it’s just the kind of thing I did. The guy looked me up and down glaring at my striped jumper and declared, “And who might you be? Mr Bumble Bee I presume”. Just a few years later a lad from Wallsend called Gordon was delivering milk by day and playing bass at night. He too had a propensity for wearing brightly striped jumpers. (I don’t know if his Gran knitted them for him but I think it is highly likely that she did). This striped attire caused him to earn the nickname “Sting”. If only the guy at St John’s Chapel had been a bit more creative I may have got there first and owned the name. I somehow think that if Gordon had been obliged to go by the moniker his parents originally gave him he would not have been half as successful.

But wait, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The point in this story that we had arrived at before I was distracted by memories of my Gran attempting to knit me a career, was this: I’m learning a trade at the Steelworks and doing amazingly well in my adult education. I’m heading for a fairly normal existence. Wrong! Music stepped in and took me on an entirely different journey. At this point, my mother supplied some practical advice. As a young girl, she had worked in Brown’s newsagents and fancy goods shop in Consett. She told me about the music weekly “Melody Maker” that had been around since 1926. It wasn’t just a fan mag, it also gave an insight into the music industry and I loved it. I read Melody Maker avidly each week.

Apart from trying to write songs, I had taken a few stabs at getting a band together but they all came to nothing. And I became a weekend hippy. Tie-dye, long hair, the lot. Overalls during the week and tie dye at the weekend. I was so into music and yet I’d not yet seen many live bands. I noticed in the Melody Maker one weekend that a pop festival featuring a bevvy of bands was taking place over two or three days. So, that summer when I was just 18, I donned my safari boots and my homemade tie-dye T-Shirt. I walked out of my parents’ house and hitch-hiked to a pop festival in Staffordshire with two bob (two shillings) in my pocket. The “Hollywood Festival” of 1970 featured among others: Free, Black Sabbath, Family, The Grateful Dead, Traffic, Mungo Jerry and Ginger Baker’s Air Force. I ate nothing for three days, smoked dope for the first time and ended up sleepwalking around Stoke on Trent. Far out man!

Back home I hung up my tie-die and it was back to the steelworks. Enter into the story a foreman called Bobby Gill. We sometimes called him Gobby Bill. A fitter at the Blast Furnace, “Swing” Thompson called him The Black Dalek. Swing was a piano player and quite crackers.

Work at the Blast Furnace was not precision engineering. There was so much silt over everything (a residue from the steelmaking process) that we could not remove bolts with a spanner. We had to use a cold chisel and a hammer to split the nut and remove the bolts. By now I was playing bass and gigging regularly with my band, and I had no wish to lose a finger or damage my hands in any way. So for the removing bolts manoeuvre, I used a tiny one-pound hammer. It took ages but if I missed and hit my hand it did hardly any damage. One day, along came Bobby Gill / Gobby Bill / The Black Dalek who observed my bolt-removing process. Bobby cried “What the fuck are you doing with that toffee-fucking-hammer” (for he was a master of the art). He produced a humongous mel hammer from his bag and declared that he would remove the bolt in three blats. One …. Two ….. WHAM !!! The hammer struck his hand which immediately started to pulsate and colour. Bobby stood up silently and dropped the hammer. Then he slowly walked off out of sight. Suddenly from behind a building we heard him, “whaaaarrrrgggghhhh”. I picked up my “toffee hammer”. I felt vindicated.

Or should I say vindi-fucking-cated! But, I digress, I could delve into steel works stories and never reach the sex drugs and rock and roll I know you are longing to hear about.

I was nearing the end of my apprenticeship but halfway through I had joined a rock band. My newfound educational attainments took a nosedive and my interest in being a steelworker declined. I was surely bound for rock stardom! More about this in chapters to come

Eventually, I was out of my time as an apprentice and I was a qualified engineer. I was also a qualified member of a rock group. I was earning so much money at the steelworks that I didn’t know what to do with it and I was also earning even more with my band. I took one week’s wages and they lasted a month or more. I threw the other wage packets into a drawer and didn’t touch them. This built up to quite a lot of money. One day I saw an advert for a Mediterranean Cruise and I booked it. I was a bit of a loner and happy to go off on a med cruise on my own. I went to see Bobby Gill and explained that a week from now I needed to take two weeks off. Bobby pointed up to a chart on the wall. It was in fact the holiday rota. He explained to me that as I was now a qualified engineer, not an apprentice, I could not just take holidays when I wished. Holidays were booked on a rota and I could only take my hols on a slot available and not taken by too many others. They needed cover.

Shit! My cruise was already booked and paid for. Quick as a flash, I hit on a solution. “Ok”, I said, “in that case, I quit”. I left. I had spent 4 years learning a trade and then I just ditched it and never went back. The fact is I had timed my holiday carefully. My band had secured a record deal and on my return, we were due in the recording studio. Rock stardom beckoned.

So it was goodbye steelworks, goodbye Consett!

Read Next ….

Naked On The Orient Express (Click to read chapters five to eight)

Collections of Chapters

Goodbye Consett (click to read chapters one to four)

Naked On The Orient Express (Click to read chapters five to eight)

The Sun Comes Up And The Bar Closes (Coming soon)

Epilogue and About The Author

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