IDENTIFYING "BABYLONIAN" TYPES OF EMPLOYMENT.
My earliest endeavours at the Great Western Railway workshops required that I work at whatever, and wherever, I was sent. This was to continue until they could place me in the coach workshops, fitting out interiors as an apprentice coach cabinet maker. But for some unknown reason, I found myself in the boiler shop.
Everything was fearfully large and rusty. My first thought was for my personal safety, to keep my wits about me. Huge steel components hanging from overhead cranes running on tracks above our heads were being moved around, or over, other objects. Just one man was operating them, sitting in a small enclosure. At his fingertips he had power over other men's lives, including my own!
"Jump up there on the footplate with Mansell. Work with him. He'll show you what to do," shouted the foreman as he positioned his head alongside mine, as if by habit, because of the noise.
there were two others inside the engine boiler. They nodded. We exchanged
names. Then it began
While this was going on, I was helping Mansell inside the boiler, holding the end of each steel pipe. After positioning them in their holes, he drove them through iron dividing plates situated at each end of the boiler's interior. The tool he so skilfully used to do this was a twenty-eight pound sledge hammer. My body, and in particular my hearing, became numb. This was madness! By the time morning break arrived, my inclination was simply to run away.
The thought of personal failure at my first job persuaded me not to, so I went back to it, with Mansell. Lunchtime at last arrived, and my workmate said something and beckoned me with his thumb. I just followed. We all sat in coaches outside, and were taken back to Caerphilly railway station. Apparently, they went home for lunch. I was in a daze. I explained to my father, who was at home between jobs, why I had come home. Then we all sat down to eat.
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