Work

‘An octopus that strangles many railmen in its tentacles,’ is how jl describes the railways on which he has worked for 25 years. Aged 45, married with three children, he is a technician in British Rail’s Midlands signal and telegraphic department, and has been an nur Branch Secretary for 11 years.

I am employed by The British Railways Board as a technician.

The qualifications for the job are many and varied. A sound knowledge of electricity from a practical and technical point of view is essential. So is a knowledge of mechanics, practical psychology, and an inexhaustible capacity to suffer, with infinite patience, the prattling of the ill-informed, impatient and often idiotic.

Amenities provided by British Rail at my depot are excellent, which is a nice change from washing in a bucket, no piped water, archaic gas lighting and outside lavatories, bunged up and foetid all winter and most of the summer too. A very well-equipped mess room, with all the facilities for preparing and eating one’s food is something we used to dream about, but only in the last year or two, a dream come true. Dear God, I swear they heretofore considered us subhuman! No proper supplies of toilet paper, mind you, we can’t have everything.