December 1960

In which I continue my studies at Reading University and take a job delivering mail at Christmas.

Friday 2 December
I have got a job delivering letters for the GPO (Post Office) for seven days for Christmas at 3/4d an hour.  This will mean that I will be able to earn about 10 just before Christmas.

Saturday 3 December
I went down to Reading General station with Johnny Marsh this morning.  It was vastly different from normal.  The 11.31 arrival came in on platform 5 instead of platfrom 9 and the through fromOxford, hauled by a Hall was stopped topick up passengersat 11.45.  The 11.35 arrival  (1A30, due to depart at 11.45) didn't arrive until 11.57.  I don't know if the timetable has been changed or if things were messed up.  The drivers were non-committal and inferred that this has been the state of affairs for weeks past which I know isn't the case.  I also saw a Manor No. 7820 on an up freight and a Warship class diesel going light in the Swindon direction.
I played for the 3rd XV against Newbury.  We played on the 1st XV pitch which was under about 6 inches of mud, the water in the holes was 6 inches deep. Needless to say it was a very muddy game - the mud smelt up to high heaven.  It was a scrumming game entirely which we won 6-0, both scores being from tries scored from scrums close to their line.

Wednesday 7 December
I went to a performance of Handel's Messiah in the town hall this evening.  It was very good once they had warmed up,  The trumpeter was very good indeed and the harpsichord gave a good effect.

Saturday 10 December
I went down to Reading General station this morning as usual with Johnny.  The trains were a little mixed up but most were quite good.  There were great variations, e.g. the down stopping train to Cheltenham was seven minutes early (diesel hauled - normally steam) whereas the up Mayflower was at least ten minutes late as was the 11.45 departure from Taunton to Paddington. 

Thursday 15 December
After a lecture at 10.00 I raced back, collected my bag and just managed to catch the 11.58 train train from Reading South.  I changed at Waterloo and caught the 13.30 to Orpington, arrived home at about 14.15.

Saturday 17 December
I started work this morning as Christmas Casual Officer No. 168 on Postal Round No. 81.  I had to get up at 06.00 in order to be at the Post office by 07.00.  My round is right out by Pratts Bottom and Chelsfield.  This morning I had to walk round as my bike is up at Reading but this afternoon the postman, whose route this normally is, managed to borrow a bike for me.  We walk up Sevenoaks Road to the roundabout at Green Street Green and our first stop is the Larcher Garage, then via some farm cottages to the Hillside.  After the Hillside, which is really steep, we make our way along Sevenoaks Way, cross over at the garage and then into Turnpike Drive.  After this we go up Chelsfield Hill and along Church Road, finishing up at Court Lodge.  We make our way back past Chelsfield Church, Court Road and Spur Road.  I have quite enjoyed it.

Monday 19 December
It was raining this morning and this made it quite unpleasant on the rounds.  It became heavier as time went by until it was very heavy around Turnpike Drive.  After this it became lighter and stopped by the time I went back to work at 13.00.  I couldn't borrow a bike this afternoon and had to walk except for a lift in a GPO van as far as Green Street Green roundabout.  It was quite pleasant this afternoon although the last part was done in complete darkness.  I put in an hour overtime.
I went round to the new library in the Priory Gardens which was opened today.  It will be quite good when it is in full swing although there aren't many books there.

Tuesday 20 December
Another wet day today.  Both this morning and this afternoon I caught a 51A bus up to the Rose and Crown at Green Street Green and started from there. It is much easier and the bus fare, 6d, is refunded by the Post Office.  It was particularly bleak this afternoon.  It had stopped raining by the time I had reached Turnpike Drive and a heavy mist started to come down.  It was quite bleak along Church Road - it could easily have been in the middle of Dartmoor.  I put in 1 hour 40 minutes overtime today (about 8/4d less tax).  Have been wrapping up my presents for Christmas.

Wednesday 21 December
It was raining again this morning though not really hard.  I caught a 51A up to the Rose and Crown  and carried on up to the Hillside.  After that I did Chelsfield Hill and Church Road on my own and made my way back to the office.  It wasn't difficult trying to last out the time in order not to get back before 11.00.  I went around this afternoon by bike.

Thursday 22 December
For once it hasn't rained all day.  I managed to get a bike for both times so it has been quite easy.  We had a very heavy delivery
this morning, it was two full bags, but this afternoon it was lighter than usual.  This is a really light duty really, the stress is not on the number of houses but on the distance.

Friday 23 December
I went on foot both times today.  It has been showery all day, not enough to take off a raincoat but not enough to warrant wearing one.  One old boy got a bit shirty about a magazine which had been delivered but which had got wet and was badly torn.  It wasn't me and I told him so.  Then he asked me to get in touch with the Postmaster and I told him to do it himself.

Saturday 24 December
What a strange Christmas Eve!  I have been working all day.  The first delivery was very heavy and we didn't get back until 11.25.  The second delivery took, perhaps, the longest to sort out with the result that we didn't leave until about 15.40 (and I was due to book off at 16.20!).  We did practically the whole of the second delivery by torch light although the moon did help towards the end.  It had been showery but these gradually gave way to a clear sky in the evening.  I arrived back at the Post Office at about 19.40 and stayed on sorting until abut 20.20.  I arrived home dog tired.

Sunday 25 December
Christmas Day. I had to get up at 06.30 in order to complete my commitments with the Post Office.  The cloud quickly thinned out until we had some long periods of sunshine.  Walking out in the country in the early morning with a light frost wsas really pleasant.  As I got towards the end of my round a man opened the door, wished me "Merry Christmas" and gave me an envelope with some money in it.  As my last duty I went to the Coach and Horses in the High Street and had a whisky mack with the postmen.  I came home just before 13.00 then I opened my presents.

In thinking about my postman job I don't believe "borrow" is the right word to describe how I obtained a bicycle.   "Steal" might be a better term.  My postman would go along the line up of Post Office bicycles and choose one with a low numbered route.  These were the routes closest to the Post Office and required less walking.  However, they were taken by the most senior men so we had to be careful which one we took.

I have had mostly money but also a shirt, vest and socks as well as a book on Lifemanship by Stephen Potter. The rest of mum's family came down to tea including Pam, Len and Hilary who I hadn's seen for about one and a half years. Hilary is now three and a half. Got to bed about midnight.

Saturday 31 December
This is my last entry for 1960.  I played for 'Combe 2nd Colts against the Old Brockleians this morning.  We scored first but were 5-3 down at half time.  A try put us 6-5 up but they scored again so they were 8-6 up until about 3 minutes from the end.  Then we had a penalty under the posts so we won 9-8.  A very close finish.
I spent the rest of the day at David's. I arrived home at about 1115 and saw the New Year in although I don't know why.
This has been quite an eventful year, particularly for me with the "A" level and then going from Eltham to Reading University. This was quite a break as it was the first time I have lived away from home.  Dad has had an operation and seems to have much more life in him and has redecorated half the house. Many important developments have taken place this year, perhaps the most interesting to me being the complete reorganization of the British Transport Commission.
Well I hope I can keep up my diary all next year.

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