Stuff About Me

        So... Who am I and what am I?

        Call me John.

        Hmmmm... Doesn't have quite the same ring to it as 'Call me Ishmael' does it?

        Briefly... My name is John Ward and I was born at a very early age (yes, I know... the old ones are... well, just the old ones). I'm the first-born son of my working class mum & dad and my story starts way back, just after the World War II. Dad was 'de-mobbed' on the 10th September, 1945, having volunteered for and been accepted into, the Royal Air Force just after his 19th birthday on the 8th October, 1941. His sevice number was 1713561, a number that he never, ever forgot. That didn't please his father at all... Father, grandfather and uncles had all been soldiers and had expected him to join the army. (More about that in the 'Ancestry' stuff). He spent most of his service in 'Coastal Command' based initially in Scotland at Ardersier on the Moray Firth near Inverness and later, at Castle Archdale and Killadeas on Lower Lough Erne in Northern Ireland, maintaining 'Catalina' flying boats which flew out on anti-submaine patrols over the North Atlantic. Mum worked as a capstan operator at the Vauxhall car factory in Luton. They were producing Churchill tanks amongst other things at that time.

        When hostilities ended, building new houses became a priority and dad went back to his former trade. He'd been an apprentice carpenter and joiner before he 'joined up' and he returned to his former employer to finish his apprenticeship. It was an occupation much in demand during the reconstruction. He'd met Ida at a Methodist Youth Club before the war and they were married in August 1942. The story of that event deserves a chapter all of it's own and maybe I'll get around to telling it at some point. I was born in March 1946. Some aspects of my life are (will be) told on other pages of this website so I'll not repeat any of that stuff here. My sister, Gillian, was born 3 years later in January 1949 and my brother, Robert, another 10 years after that in November 1958.

My Dad

        For the first couple of year of my life, we lived with my grandparents, dad's mum & dad. Then mum became pregnant with my sister and in doing so, accrued enough 'points' to be allocated a council house so on 31st July 1948, my folks moved into a newly built house on a newly built council estate; one, in fact, that dad had helped build. The rent was 21 shillings a week; probably more than half a weeks wages for dad at that time. Mum and dad lived there for the rest of their lives.

        I attended the local infants school from the age of five and two years later moved up to the 'juniors'. Much to the total disbelief of my teachers, parents and probably the Queen, if she was told, I passed the 11+ exams and was offered a place at the local grammar school, which my folks accepted on my behalf. Very proud they were, too. My five years there were not wasted, apparently, as in my last year I won the 'Form Prize' for gaining the most GCE 'O' Level passes in the class. I left school in the summer of '62 and started work as a technician in the Science / Engineering Department of a local Technical College. That lasted for two years, during which time I studied Electrical Engineering to S2 level. Then I had a fairly major disagreement with the management and walked out. Seem to recollect it was over parking facilities for my motorbike. There weren't any, apparently, and they got a bit ticked off with me leaving it in the lecturers' allocated parking spaces.

        I spent the next five years working in the Research Department and finally, running the Process Development Department for British Glues and Chemicals Ltd., a company that specialised in making gelatine and adhesives. Mostly from animal by-products, you know the sort of stuff - skin & bones. Contrary to popular belief, hooves and horns don't make good glue but they do make exceedingly fine buttons so that's where they went.
It was while I was working here that I spent one day a week at the local college learning all I now know about Chemical Engineering. We were eventually taken over by a bigger company and I again fell foul of the new management. My mouth never was my best friend in situations like that. I tended to call a 'spade' a 'spade' and didn't much care who I was talking too. Directors or toilet cleaners, I treated them all the same. If they chose to call me 'John' then I considered it only right that I should call them by their first name too. There was no "Yes, sir" and tugging of the forelock (I said "foreLOCK") from me! No respect for authority, they said. Idiots, what did they know?

        Anyway, I then went to work for my uncle. He owned his own engineering company and I worked the 'blister end' of Bridgeport milling machine for a year. Twelve hours a day, six days a week with Sundays optional. My Uncle was a skilled engineer and a clockmaker to boot. He was the one who taught me all about metalworking. After twelve months, I'd had enough though and joined a big, multi-national outfit now based in Germany and I worked my way up to the position of Senior Process Engineer. Here I added hydraulics, pneumatics and process control to my already quite broad knowledge base. Senior Process Engineer... What that really means is sorting out other people cock-ups. If all else fails, call for John and they did, from all over the world. I've sorted problems for our associated companies in most of the European countries, Puerto Rico, The Middle and Far East, Australasia and a few other places as well. I never travelled to them all but did visit quite a few. I particularly enjoyed the time I spent working in Puerto Rico. It was up the 'rough end' of the island at Aguadilla, fairly close to the Arecibo Radio Telescope. I met some great 'characters' and the beaches were grand.

        Hilary worked for the same Company; in the Purchasing Department. Word had come down the 'grapevine' that she was interested in me so I plucked up the courage to ask her out. I think that must have been in the Summer of 1988. Some months later I asked her to marry me. She agreed and we were duly wed at Luton Registry Office on Friday, 7th July, 1989. That was quite an up and down year. Hilary's mum had died in January, a sad start. Hil and I got engaged in February, which cheered things up again. Then my mum died suddenly and unexpectedly in March so that screwed things up again. Our wedding in July did brighten things up a little but it was still a year that left everyone with a lot of very mixed feelings.

        Our marriage lasted 14 years. I loved Hilary to bits but somehow seemed unable to show it. No excuses... my fault entirely. In the end, we just couldn't live together and we separated in 2003. We divorced, amicably, in 2009 and are probably better friends now than we were when we were married. I still see her and her new partner, Richard, a few times a year. Now a successful 'Story Singer', more can be found about Hilary by clicking her name in the 'LINKS' section on the left.

        In December 2008, after 39 years of working for the same Company, I decided I'd had enough and had made up my mind to take an early retirement. I'd planned to hand in my notice at the end of February 2009 and leave at the end of March, just after my 63rd birthday. Fate, however, had other ideas. The financial down-turn was starting to bite and in January 2009 the company asked for volunteers for redundancy. I applied, more in hope than expectation; well, I was only 2 years off compulsory retirement anyway. To my surprise, they accepted and I left the company for the last time on Friday, 27th February 2009, a month earlier than planned, with an unexpected chunk of wedge in my pocket and time on my hands. If the company had waited a few more weeks, they would have got rid of me for nothing! Don't you just love it when stuff like that happens?

        Most of the plans I'd made for the remainder of 2009, however, were put on hold when in March, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. We celebrated his 87th birthday in July and he passed away, peacefully, on the 4th September 2009... My mother's birthday, she would have been 86.

Last updated 10.1.2015