Born 4 Feb 1929 in Birkenhead in the same room where mother was born. Elder of 2 sons of a bricksetter’s labourer, later a plate-layer for the Mersey railway and then a painter/decorator. Educated at Woodlands School (1934); Well Lane Board School (1934-43); Sunday School; night school. Married, 1951, with 1 son and 1 daughter. Moved to Tranmere in 1936; returned to Birkenhead in 1941; subsequently lived in Stockton-on-Tees (from 1967) and Low Middleton, near Darlington.
Earned first wage at age 10 as a part-time delivery boy for a cobbler; errand-boy at a cake shop; van-boy with the bakery department of the Birkenhead and District Co-op (1943); butcher’s boy (1943); shop-boy for a chemist; apprentice painter (1945-7); enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps in 1947, demobbed in 1953 but continued as a reservist until 1959; bus conductor and driver (1953); employed ‘cracking valves and reading dials’ at the UK Energy Authority at Capenhurst; joined the Police Force in 1956; after 14 years of shift work he accepted the offer of a job as representative for a firm specialising in commercial stainless steel; made redundant in 1980 when the company ceased trading.
Joined the Sea Cadet Corps in 1942; joined the Army Cadets in 1947; member of the Territorial Army; keen amateur golfer.
The opening passages provide a full genealogy, followed by a well-written and well-remembered account of the author’s early life. A happy childhood is recalled by reference to family life; domestic routines; the home; traditional remedies; markets; discipline at home; participation in street gangs; the Liverpool experience of wartime air raids; the disaster of the Thetis submarine in 1939. The worst moment of his early years appears to have been when his mother and an aunt decided to ‘save’ the author from having to go to hospital to be circumcised by treating him themselves on the kitchen floor. Having been employed in various odd jobs and serving a brief apprenticeship the author then decides, to the dismay of his parents, to join the army. Full details are given of his military training and service, at home and abroad. The remainder of the narrative deals chiefly with his family and work life after demobilisation, including a lengthy section on his police career.
‘Leslie John Robinson’ in John Burnett, David Vincent and David Mayall (eds) The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography 1790-1945, 3 vols. (Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1987, 1989): 2:671.