Born in Walstead Road, Walsall (Next door to “The Tiger”)
My first school was Delves Infants, Bell Lane, Walsall.
My second school was Whitehall Junior, West Bromwich Road, Walsall.
The first day at this school, age 7, we had an assessment test to stream us into the four class intake. A friend suggested that doing well would put us into a high class where the work would be harder. Being clever I knew the wrong answers so got put into the dunces’ class. My parents and teacher complained but the head was intransigent so I stayed there learning little for one year. At the start of the second year I was put up to the second class but struggled because I had missed much of what they had learned in the first year.
I scraped through the 11+ at a re-sit. Walsall had a grammar school for the top few percent, other 11+ passers went onto grammar sections of other secondary schools.
My secondary school was Joseph Leckie, Walstead Road West, Walsall.
At the first half-yearly exams I was near the bottom of the class. At each of the eight subsequent exams I was higher in the class and was near the top in ‘O’ level results. I went onto ‘A’ levels because I didn’t like the idea of working, and a careers advisor said I’d need ‘A’ levels to be a research scientist. I didn’t aspire to University – not knowing anyone who had been. I realised I could qualify for university just in time to apply.
BSc Metallurgy (the first UK Pitcock to get a Degree)
This was a sandwich course. The first industrial experience was five months in Rubery Owen factory’s metallurgy testing lab in Wednesbury; the second was at the steel works in Scunthorpe where I did various small jobs, and the third was at Windscale where I did a project on corrosion in an AGR reactor.
1st Walsall Company (West Bromwich Batallion), I started as Life-Boy. Became an officer in my late teens. Boy’s Brigade was based at Delves Baptist Church. I was also a church youth-club leader and helped to build the new building. I left the church age 24.
W. Cannings (metal finishing suppliers, Hockley). I specialised in electroless nickel plating and corrosion testing. After 11 years there, with the general industrial recession and there being less chrome trim on cars, Cannings were looking for reduncances. I wanted a change and the offer was reasonable so I volunteered.
I then took a TOPS course in Systems Analysis and Computer Programming.
Wagon Repairs / Rail Car Services / Procor in Bournville Lane (it kept changing it’s name). I used COBOL and RPG3. There was a clash of personalities with a new manager and I was troubled by being in a smoky office. After two years, when my daughter was about to start school, someone would have to walk her to school and collect her and look after her during holidays. As my wife had a steadier, better paid, job it was me who gave up full-time work.
I did all the cooking, cleaning, gardening car and house maintenance, decoration & improvements.
I also did some freelance computer work for Powerjog a local family business (DOS / BASIC) through Jeremy Fowell, an IVC member.
Queen Alexandra College
www.qac.ac.uk (a college for the Visually Impaired)
After a while the freelance work work dried up and I started asking round. IVC’s Mike Mellors said that QAC needed someone like me . I worked there from 1990 to 2011 as a Transcriber (this involved using a computer to convert text into Braile, large print etc. for staff and students). I started as a probationer on 2 days per week. After two years they persuaded me to take on extra work and do 3 days (by offering me a 100% pay increase), I changed this to 19 hours over 4 days to avoid cycling to/from work in the dark in winter. After my wife retired work was getting in the way of our social life: so in 2003 I was allowed to go on to 11 hours per week over 2 days, term-time only (equivalent to 1/4 of full time).
I have a clean record in an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check
I enjoy excellent health. I’ve not had NHS treaetment, except dental and two courses of antiobiotics, since about 1969. I had one day off sick since 1991. My only problem is short sightedness. (I have excellent acuity but I need -9 dioptre spectacles, without them my farthest focussing distance is 11cm)