“Tom couldn’t wait to get home and tell Shirley the good news.
Tom had worked in the Archers bakery since he left Linskill high school in 1955 as a fifteen year old. Son of Carpenter; Tom didn’t like school much, in fact he played the wag most of the time.
He had been caught by the wag man Colin Prince umpteen times and no amount of leathering his arse from both Mr Cook the headmaster or his father would stop him.
He wanted to be like his hero James Dean in “A Rebel without a Cause” he took to growing his hair in the same style and begged his mother to by him sweaters; tight fitted jeans and black winkle picker boots.
Tom was a handsome lad and always had the girls chasing after him. He was five feet eleven then, he was tall but skinny looking. He bought himself a set of chest expanders with his milk round money and he built his body up. He would run around the streets in his black and white base ball boots with a white bubble on the side.’
His father tried to get him to cut his hair in a short back and sides but Tommy refused instead he saved up his money and spent three shillings and sixpence every two weeks at Gino’s on Stowell Street in Newcastle. His father said that he had more money than sense. He was the first kid in his street to get a tattoo. He hid it from his father because that would have been taken into his room and given the belt.’
Tom went to all the local dances usually held in Church halls. Tom was also anti church as well and no matter how hard his parents tried Tom would not go.
His father called him a delinquent and he told him if he carried on the way he was going on he’d probably end up in borstal.’
Tom had always liked cooking and would help his grandmother Katie Holland to make the bread and tarts when ever he went around which was most days when he should have been at school. His gran never told on him because he was learning practical skills that would stand him in good stead when he grew up and left school. He would help his Granda Jim in the garden where he kept chickens and grew a wide variety of vegetables. After helping him, his granda would make him a shandy out of Brown ale and lemonade but he wasn’t to tell his father.
Every week they gave him a half crown pocket money which he saved then later would later spend on clothes.
Tom went to his interview in his one and only suit that had been passed down from his uncle Ted. He looked like a pound of sugar in a hundred weight bag as he stood in front of Mr Norman Archer who asked him if he had any experience.
Looking up at the man with greying hair and a black walrus moustache he told him that he helped his Gran made bread and pies.
“Alright I will set you on as an apprentice; you will earn two pounds ten bob a week;
You will need to wear whites which I will supply you with but you will pay for them out of your wages understood?’
“Yes, thank you Mr Archer; what time do I need to be here?’
“You will start at four thirty each morning and don’t be late or I will dock you a half hours pay.
“I won’t Mr Archer and thanks again.’
“Young Tom ran all the way home to tell his mother that he’d got a job as an apprentice baker and confectioner.
He told his mother the wage and what time he had to start in the morning.
“You had better start getting early nights then if you are to be up that early every morning.’
“Aye no more late nights for me.’