A New Job inWales!
Well, it was sorted quickly, because the next day by about 5 pm, I was standing in the queue at the ticket office, in Lime Street Station, and within ten minutes of arriving at the station I was sitting on the Shrewsbury train, holding my breath and waiting for it to pull away. And I don’t think I let go of that breath till the train passed through Edge Hill Station, and the reason for that was I knew I would never be able to come back to the city that I loved, and had grown up in.
Let me explain, you don’t just walk away from dealing with the drug firm I was involved with. Why? Because the information you have. I could have sent dozens of people to goal, and disrupted the flow of the drugs chain, costing the firm millions of pounds.
This wasn’t a decision I had taken lightly, or something I had decided to do without knowing the dire consequences. If something had gone wrong- but anyway, that’s another story.
After a very long and tiresome journey, I finally arrived in Aberystwyth at around eleven thirty that night, carrying the only possessions I had in just two plastic carrier bags.
After walking the short distance from the station to the hotel, I presented myself at the reception, and was welcomed by the owner, a friendly looking woman, who eyed me with a slight air of suspicion. To tell the truth, I would have been a bit suspicious myself if someone with two plastic carrier bags had turned up at my hotel to fill the chef’s vacancy. But I suppose she was in no position to be to fussy as she had no chef, and was being inundated with contractors that the council had brought in to fix a major water leak in town.
She smiled and said, ‘You must be tired after your journey, so I will show you to your room.’
Smiling back, I just said ‘Thanks, I could do with a good night’s sleep.’ And I followed her up stairs to the attic, where the chef’s room was.
The next morning I made my way downstairs and into the kitchen. It was complete and utter chaos! There were dirty trays, and burnt pans everywhere, and the second chef was attempting to cook some breakfasts, while also trying to make pastry. As he barked orders at the commis chef I shook my head, and thought ‘Jesus, what the hell’s going on here.’ Then I introduced myself, and started to get things under control.
Without wishing to put people off visiting Aberystwyth, for me, after spending just two weeks there, I was bored out of my head. Mind you, it was out of season, mid- October, but it was, as far as I am concerned, the first step along a road of discovery. And I think you will agree with that as you read on, because it was the start of a succession of coincidences that have changed my life completely.
It’s only in retrospect that you can reflect upon the regularity of those life-changing moments, and then question everything that has ever happened, and try to make some sense of it.
The one good thing about being in Aberystwyth when it was so quiet, was that it gave me plenty of opportunity to go for long walks, which I always, and still do, find, clears my head. It helped me at that time to try and plan for my future.
The thought of getting back to sea in the Merchant Navy was always something I dreamed about, and had for years, but not a dream that I thought would ever be achievable, given my drugs record, and the fact that I had had a big bust up with a union official in Liverpool when I first came ashore. A bust up that had left him screaming, ‘I will make sure you never get another ship!’ and a few other very choice words.
But the thought of it just kept on popping into my mind, more and more often, until one night while I was lying on my bed, with everything racing around in my mind like a whirlwind, I had a moment of clarity, and decided to at least give it a try, but where to start? That was the problem.
Liverpoolwas out of the question, andLondonwas just a bit too far. I couldn’t really see me getting anywhere fast down there anyway, so, ‘what do I do now?’ was the question.
But as for so many things at that time, since then, and even till this present day, the answer came in an unexpected and coincidental way.
I rarely went into the hotel bar, not just because I was teetotal, but because it was too quiet and I much preferred the cellar bar because that’s were the students used to go, and it was lively.
But this particular night I was meeting up with the head waiter and the second chef to start sorting out Christmas menus, and for me to see what they were capable of handling. And did that choice of venue pay dividends, because I ended speaking with a young lad who was about to begin a career in the Merchant Navy, and he told me about a union official in Swansea, and how he had helped him get his discharge book and a few other helpful bits of information.
The next morning I was on the phone to the National Union of Seamen rep inSwansea, whose name I had been given, and arranged to meet him in his office the next Monday at lunchtime.