I was born in Aintree Liverpool October 1942. First school St Johns infants Aintree Moved to Watford Herts in 1948 due to fathers occupation as as a printer. Attended Malvern Way infants school Croxley Green. An early memory - a friend asked me if I would like to see his television. “Whats television?” I asked. TV had not reached the north by then - “radio with pictures”, he replied. The kids made fun of my Liverpool accent and kept asking me to speak. Moved to Harvey Rd. Junior school then to Durrants Secondary school. I left school aged 15 Xmas 1956. Started work Jan 1957 as apprentice photographer specialising in weddings and horse shows,very boring and poorly paid. Left in 1959 and joined Cassio Photographic in the Lab,testing photogaphic paper, Joined White Paper print union, I had to keep quiet due to union not recognised in Lab, I left 1961 and joined Rank Labs Denham, also ACTT, worked in printing room on Bell and Howel and Sound Union printing machines. Monochrome was king,Technicolor where the colour lab,worked on many TV progs, “Man in a Suitcase”,”William Tell”,”Danger Man” among others. We enjoyed good conditions and pay and soon realised this was due to ACTT union. As a young man I enjoyed working with about 300 young women. It was great times what with all those dark rooms. After a couple of years I transferred into Travelling Matte as a camera operator doing blue background and flying etc I moved to BBC dept as Assistant Contact 2 years later. My duties included viewing rushes , progress chasing, keeping in contact with editors and producers at BBC on progs .Most Assistants go on to become Contactmen, and they were all men. It became clear pretty soon that my trade union activities would bar me from any further promotion, so when I left 30 years later I had the same job. .
Joined ACTT in 1961/2 became a member of the local Rank Labs Committee mid to late 1960s after being told by the then Shop Steward Monica Toy to "put up or shut up" Did not always agree with Mon but came to admire her and like her. Later became Secretary Vice-Chair, Chair, Dayshift Steward and finally Convenor in early 1980s a job I did until I left Ranks – but I did return as Shop Chair in my last year. Took redundancy offer in 1993 due to being informed that, if I stayed on, I’d probably be sent to the Printing Room, a job I had done 30 years before so on the advice of my partner Jenny, I left one day before my 50th birthday. Three months later was appointed a National Official at BECTU, on maternity cover. I remained in the job, which I enjoyed off and on, due to being on contract for part of that time, until 1999 when I left due to ill health, until 2001 when I was asked to return on a 3-day week until June 2002, when I finally left and went travelling. More about this later. Between 1999 and 2001 I did various jobs to make ends meet: plasterer’s labourer, fish delivery, Pathé film library, Arion Post Production, as well as lay work for BECTU, including visiting the film studios once a week to keep BECTU’s profile up, a job I loved.
I first attended ACTT’s annual conference in 1971, I believe when former General Secretary George Elvin was President for one year. I really enjoyed it, the debates and particularly the fights between the Trots and the CP [Communist Party] members who ran NEC [National Executive Council]. I have attended most Annual Conferences since then. At about that time I started to attend the Laboratory Committee of which I later became Secretary, Vice-Chair and then Chair, until I became an official. I started to attend ACTT General Council and was voted onto the NEC and the Financial & General Purposes Committee in the mid-1980s. I remained on the NEC of both ACTT and BECTU until I became an official.
I attended my first TUC [Trades Union Congress] as a delegate in 1982 when Alan Sapper was the President and attended every year until becoming an official; became a delegate to SERTUC [South East Regional TUC] in the mid-80s which I still am . In the mid-1980s I became the Labs representative to FISTAV [?] and attended many conferences at home and abroad during that time: Prague, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Montreal and of course, Moscow.