Friday, 28 November 2008

Plastic factory

Kelly and Ollie came over the other evening and mum and dad got talking about when mum was working in the plastic factory. Now I was quite young when she worked there so I can remember some of it too.

The 'Plastic Factory' (and I am sure that is not what it was called but that was what we all named it) was owned by a polish refugee. 'Mr Michael' had been caught by the Germans but escaped to England where he had started his business. The factory turned out all sorts of stuff, as long as it was made of plastic - which alot of stuff was back then. I remember mum working there, alongside my aunt Enis and at times my aunt Jean when I was a kid back in the 60's but apparently she worked there soon after Dad and her got married, back in the 50's too.

She started off doing out-work, homework. Dad was telling of all the bits the machines spewed out that came joined together on a strip of plastic much like today's airfix model parts do, and they had to twist them to get them apart and make up the thing they were making. I recalled helping mum out with chess sets. These were small brown plastic travel sets which had to have the plastic playing board set into the middle and the chess peices placed in each side. The playing board had to have the two little tabs at each side, which the mold had left, cut off and then pushed into the outer box. All the men had to be twisted off and sorted into the boxes.

Dad then told of toy pistols that shot small round pellets. The pellets were on one long strip and had to be cut up. But they wouldnt twist off, and they wouldnt come apart no how. In the end they devised a bit of metal which you held on the table and then pulled the pellets along it so they shot off in all directions! Then the job was to get down on the floor and pick up all those hundreds of pellets!

Mum had had a job seperating some plastic bits on one production piece that had been so tough it had made her hands bleed. She was being paid pennies per hundred or something really ridiculously low. This was when they were newly married and needed the money. But eventually it became silly so mum took them back and showed the lead hand how tough it was. Later when she was working in the factory, mum was put on the same things again and the lead hand told her she was too slow. She again showed her bleeding fingers, so another two girls were put on the job with mum. Because mum had made them at home she had worked out a system and even though it was tough she still made more than the other two girls put together. The lead hand put two more girls on the job and still mum was churning out more than them. Finally the lead hand 'got' it, realised what mum was saying and put more girls on, giving mum the job of showing them the system.

Dad on the other hand would do extra work in the evening repairing and keeping running the electic in the factory. Often Mr Michael, a really lovely man, would ask mum if dad was coming in that evening. Yes she would say, but when she got home dad would come in from work, and say he didnt feel like it. Of course back in the '60's we had no phones. Only rich people had a home phone, so there was no way of letting Mr Michael know. The next morning mum would get the moaning because Mr Michael would have been waiting in the factory for dad. When dad did go in, he said Mr Michael would tell him the jobs to do then would follow him round regailing him of tales of all the things the Natzi's had done to him during the war - some pretty horrific stories so he said.

Once dad had been working on his own in the factory when a bloke rushed in, shoved a sack into dad's hands and run out again. Dad looked in the sack, it was full of stuff the factory made. He was quick on the uptake, and threw the sack behind some furniture. He was right. The bloke had been knicking the stuff but had been caught so had run in to try and get the blame put on dad. Eventually the bloke was caught and sacked. Mum on the other hand would often ask Mr Michael if she could have something they were making. Everthing they made was contracted for a major toy maker, and so was under copyright and shouldnt really have been given out but Mr Michael would say 'ok just one'. Of course if mum was caught with one item one night, then that was the one Mr Michael had said she could have!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Curry in the jungle!

Its been a while since dad told me any stories but when I mentioned today that the local Cricket Club had had a curry evening, dad soon started to reminess.

"When I was doing my service back in 1950's I was sent out to Singapore into the middle of the jungle in a disused pinapple factory - a place called Pandan. I was in charge of 20 in the electical workshop. Some of the workers were Chinese and some Malaysian, the Malaysian being lazy B**&*&s (ok not pc but then this was straight after WW2). Now being in the middle of nowhere we had to bring our own sandwiches into work as there was no way of getting food, so I was a bit surprised when one day one of the Malaysians said 'we are going to have curry today' 'How are you going to do that?' I asked 'Well if you give me a chit to go out, I will go to the village and get some' 'OK, I will sign you out if you do some work this afternoon because you didnt do any yesterday'

He agreed, and I signed his ticket. Off he went and came back with a large parcel wrapped in newspaper just like you get your fish and chips in. We all sat on the floor eating curry with our fingers, and it was the best curry I ever ate. He had got it from the village in the middle of the Malaysian Jungle, an Indian curry cooked by Chinese!

Of course he never did do any work as he complained of stomach ache so I sent him to fix the lights and check the engine of an ambulance at the back of the shed, and he spent the afternoon asleep in the back of it!"