Life Changing Events

A few days ago Stevie Turner posted on this subject, taking her cue from an earlier post by Colline Kook-Chun. It inspired me to think about some of the events that influenced the direction my life has taken.


  1. My father’s death in action in 1943. Had he survived the war, who knows what my life would have been like? I would probably have been brought up as a Londoner, since both parents were from there. I certainly would not have gone, at age 10¾ to a boarding school established for boys who had lost one or both parents. The school still exists, although the majority of pupils these days pay expensive fees. I shall be back there later this year celebrating 60 years since I left. Thanks to modern technology, many of my contemporaries communicate regularly with each other despite being scattered in different parts of the world.
  2. Meeting my wife in the summer of 1961. I was 19, she 16. I proposed in the early hours of December 27th, as I walked her home from the Boxing Night dance. We kept our engagement secret until her 17th birthday in June 1962 and were married in September 1963.
  3. Discovering, in the spring of 1965 as we moved into our first new house, that she was pregnant. We had not planned to start a family quite so soon but our son brought a new phase in our lives as a family unit and, as you will discover below, led to us coming to live in Ireland.
  4. Joining the staff at the Engineering HQ of a large corporation in the summer of 1968. That took me to South Africa and eventually to East Lincolnshire. Altogether I worked for over 18 years for that corporation and the pension I paid into now provides about 1/3rd of my annual income. It also led to:
  5. Being elected to Humberside County Council in May 1985. I was one of 4 Liberals elected that year. The other two parties had 35 and 36 members so we held the ‘balance of power’, able to veto any proposal from either of the other parties. I like to think we used this power wisely. It was certainly extremely time consuming because, in order to do the job, we had to be represented on every committee, sub-committee and working party.
    The Humber Bridge. Image via Scunthorpe Telegraph

    My employer was extraordinarily generous with allowing me time off to do this, but after a year and a half I was offered the choice: cut down on your council activities or take redundancy. The redundancy offer was generous and I accepted, having visions of a new career as a writer and politician. After working, unpaid, for the party in the run-up to the 1987 General Election I needed to find some alternative source of income which takes us to:

  6. Our shop. We decided that, since Freda had worked all of her life in shops, latterly as manager of a charity shop, we should set up our own shop. I would look after the administration whilst she worked ‘front of house’. I researched the market and decided that Cleeethorpes could benefit from having a quality glass, china and giftware outlet. A unit was available in a building belonging to a kitchen design specialist who had his show-room upstairs. This seemed like an excellent fit. I talked to potential suppliers, put together a business plan and everything looked promising until the building went on sale. The owner’s plan to increase his income by creating and letting units had not worked out. Any thought that the new owner might still be interested in having us as a tenant was dashed when planning permission to open a fast food outlet was applied for.The next premises we looked at meant a complete change of plan. It was a moderately successful food retailer. The owner, a chef, prepared a range of chilled ready-meals in a kitchen at the back which he sold in the shop, alongside the usual deli-type goods and speciality foods. His recipes had been so successful that he had taken a small factory unit in Grimsby and wanted someone to take on the retail business, with him continuing to supply the popular ready meals. We opened in September and did great business in the run up to Christmas. Then the chef lost a big contract and had to close the unit so we lost our main supplier. We struggled on for the next few months but the risk involved in food retailing is enormous and we just could not compete with the supermarkets who were starting to develop their own deli counters and chilled ready meals.

    I got a part-time job writing business profiles for a regional business magazine but in the May 1989 election I lost my council seat and returned to my original career as an Engineer.

  7. Our son’s marriage in 1993. His wife is Irish and in due course they moved to Dublin with their daughter. So, when considering retirement options in 2006, moving to Ireland to be near them was a ‘no brainer’. More than eleven years on we are still here, enjoying life in a small Irish country town where we have met many new friends, some through the writing group to which I belong, and some through the support centre for people touched by cancer where we both volunteer.

At the end of Stevie’s post are two questions, originally posed by Colline. Here they are, with my answers:

  1. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s… a Ryanair jet bringing home the owner of the Grand National winning horse and offering free drinks to all the passengers
  2. What music do you like: Jazz, Folk, Rock, Blues, Broadway/West End Musical scores.

Thanks, Colline and Stevie, for the inspiration. I wonder how many of my followers will be tempted to follow suit?

14 thoughts on “Life Changing Events

  1. Frank, your father’s death in action was the first major event that triggered all other events that followed in your life. My first major event was leaving home at 19+ years to enter a convent. My entire worldview changed.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The other side of the coin, in my case, is the huge number – literally uncountable – of lives that were changed by my father’s actions bombing German cities. That, in turn, was a consequence of the behaviour of a certain Herr Hitler! All our actions have consequences beyond those we intend, some good, some bad.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes it has got some of us thinking, I’m sure, maybe I shall do the same. Even people who have lived in the same house all their lives must have faced decisions and probably decided Not to do something!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Nowadays the school is open to both genders. As I said in the piece, the majority are fee-payers. They are also mostly day pupils, not boarders. about 60 places, out of 650, are reserved for ‘vulnerable children’. It started life as an orphanage back in 1813 in the East End of London. Follow the link to the school’s website to find out more!
      Thanks for the re-blog. Until around 1954 there were two separate schools, one for girls and one for boys. Lack of funds led to the decision to close the girls’ school. There were around 150 boys in the school across 8 academic years (the 2 sixth form classes being very small) when I was there. We had a grammar school education with quite small classes but a limited range of subjects.
      Famous alumni include Tim Henman (at the time the school was specialising in tennis), Jamie Delgado and the former chair of BAFTA Tim Corrie.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. You have had an interesting life, Frank. It is amazing how one thing can change the course of one’s life. It’s great that you have been able to keep in touch with your classmates.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Hi, Frank. Interesting stories! Thanks for sharing some of your life. It is strange how our lives can touch one another from afar. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have done so and so, or such and such wouldn’t have happened either, etc.
    My father was part of the intended invasion forces shipping to Japan before the Atomic bombs were used. When the bombs coerced Japan into surrender, he was spared with thousands of others to became part of the occupation forces that helped Japan recover. Without the bomb, his chance to return home safe and get to know his six-month-old daughter would have been nearly nil.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You would be surprised how infrequently we were able to use our ‘veto’. Quite often the other two parties would either support each other or abstain to ensure either that we could not take the credit for crowd pleasing decisions or that we got the blame for unpopular ones.


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