This is my reconstruct of a meeting with a man that changed our lives forever. As someone once told me, slightly modified:
"As is the habit of this existence, old circles close and this one was pretty significant for us.
New ones always open, so let's rejoice in the fact that we still have some time to enjoy the openings.
When the vanity and nothing but vanity gets too much, look at the sky and trees.
To have too much dynamism and no stillness one is never very happy despite one's achievements.
But the stillness eventually comes anyway."
When one 'remembers', the 'bad' things are, somehow, 'forgotten'. Retrospectively my time at ATA wasn't always 'good'. Yet, I subsequently learnt there were far worse situations impending.
Nevertheless, as my little "I" reconstructs from within the bicameral depths, I digit this story:
We first came across ATA after returning from Africa some ten months earlier. The three-year contract I had in Johannesburg had gone 'wrong' and we were 'shipped' back to the UK.
CCL gave me a 6-month 're-establishment' contract since we arrived back in UK with only 3-months wages.
I was approached by Marconi and we decided to go back to Chelmsford. It was a good salary but the economy and house costs gobbled it up.
We bought a house in Chelmsford but soon found that I had to sell sea-food round the Chelmsford pubs and Sue had to take a barmaid job three nights a week to live -- the 14% mortgage the reason. I also tried script writing to no avail.
UK seemed strange and we decided to apply to Australia for assisted emigration. We were refused.
Some time later an advertisement appeared in Electronics Weekly for an 'Electromechanical Engineer' in Albury, Australia, with ATA. I applied.
I was invited for interview in London at a St. John's Wood address so we got in our old Bedford Beagle van and boiled-over on the way to London. Sue and the kid's were parked at mum's place, (dad had died one week before we went to Africa) in Walworth and I got the tube to St. John's Wood not trusting the van.
The house there was an old rambling one, sort of something out of a Hitchcock movie.
Inside I met Lindsay Knight and a bloke who sat in the corner 'writing'. One Tony Bender. I thought 'Training Aids' would be some kind of teaching stuff but when Lindsay showed me some ATA equipment manuals I realised it was Target training stuff, livefire, radio equipment and very interesting.
Lindsay seemed only interested in 'whether I could solder' and I was asked to send him evidence of my 'hands-on' capability. This I did, an old Marconi 'lab-book' and a stripline pcb UHF amplifier I had designed. He reminded me of my father in a metaphysical sense.
A few days later Lindsay 'phoned and both Susan and I had to go to St John's, we guessed for an 'inspection'. We went down by train and met Mrs Knight. The meeting culminated with a verbal job-offer.
On the way back we stopped for a coffee at Waterloo station and spent the last two-bob we had.
Things had happened so fast. We had an offer of a new job in Australia but no written proof. This was the way Lindsay worked. If he said something it happened if it was within his power to make it happen. The old 'honourable-handshake'.
That evening we got a 'phone call from one Graham Hayward. He was in a similar state to us, a job-offer, unsubstantiated in writing. I 'phoned Lindsay and before I could say anything, "OK, you want the job-offer in writing." It arrived two days later. I gave one month notice to Marconi and subsequently commenced work in the UK office of ATA at Hartley Wintney since it would take some time to get us approval to emigrate to Australia.
In the first week my 'ATA' wage that was only 75% of that I would receive in Australia, allowed us to buy meat for meals not mince, for the first time in months. It was nearly twice the wage I received weekly from Marconi!
|The Start||UK Office||Albury Factory|
|Post Iran days||Receiver Cometh||Belvis days|
|HUB days||DART days||ADI days|
|NEW days||The PEOPLE||EXIT|
|The History of ATA|