The Crameatorium

www.paulcrame.com

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1. Mum and Recollections
2. Kathy
3. Jo and Anthea
4. Work
5. Self Employed
6. Distractions
7. Family
8. The Problem, Highs and Lows
9. Epitaph



1. Mum and Recollections

As an only child, with one older brother and sister I never had to share my mum

She worked hard earning the money for my toys and clothes

Mrs Cook over the road in Moore’s Place had a club book, the source of my treats 

Mrs Cook was lovely, she had two daughters, Linda (the older) and Valerie, my age who I used to play with I can recall Mrs Cook even now, scarves were the fashion and I recall her bulging, separate cleavage, with affection, in an innocent mummy way

I also recall playing Twister with Linda and Valerie in their front room and the overwhelming smell of cheesy socks!

I once, when very young,  persuaded Valerie to put her finger down the barrel of my of my pop gun, promising not to pull the trigger, I did of course

Mr Cook (aka Curley) was a lorry driver for James’s Mill and used to collect grain from the local farms.

I recall going out and spending days with him in his lorry (a great adventure for a young lad)

I remember us navigating narrow country lanes of Berkshire

I was also fortunate enough to go around the town on Bob (Mr) Lewingtons coal lorry whilst it delivered coal and then back to the coal yard (now Macklins Close)

In the yard were the low wooden outbuildings full of sawdust, chickens and rats where I would play for hours

Bob (Mr) Lewington was also a drinking buddy of my dad and would, on Sunday mornings appear at the British Legion in his black Rover 90

I would join his daughters in the back, in the huge squeaky brown leather cushioned seats, my dad in the front, and off we would go, usually to the Tally Ho at Hungerford Newtown

Drinking and driving was allowed back them

Mum, I recall did the cleaning at the Brindley’s over the chemist shop

I often went with her and remember the splendour of rooms filled with furniture and cabinets

They had a Pekinese dog called Nifkey who once lived with us.

Hiding under the bed attacking dads ankles when they appeared.

Nifkey didn’t like men

Mum also worked at Franklin’s the greengrocer and fishmonger

The fishmonger being the source of our smoked haddock meals (with mashed potato and peas with plenty of vinegar)

I vividly remember the heady smell that rose from the boxes of apples I opened and put out for sale

At one point I helped out there and did some delivering in my car

For some reason I remember mum, myself and my car (actually a small van with side windows, in Prospect Road

Long before I remember the Johnny Seven multi gun bought from her earnings and my Fireball XL5 models

She was working I am sure because she had to

In those days some working class men were still cast from times of hardship

My father, one of 11, not all survived but when he was paid, the money put cash in his pocket

When you had cash in your pocket you had money to spend, something unheard of in his history, so to the boozer, the place to be and be seen

He was of a different class when stood at the bar in his trilby hat ordering the drinks

He once was a length man on the railway (so my birth certificate says) and I heard that once he worked for the local butcher

This skill was put to good use as I recall, preparing meat (both bought and some supplied by local poachers) Burning the feather stubble from chicken and pheasant, and cracking the bones in the door frame

So manual labour it was, with gardening and night watchman other occupations

He did some “watching” on the new Polyhomes estate to the side of Tarrants Hill (some connection to the actor Richard Todd)

Standard practices involved ensuring that building materials safely left the site under cover of darkness

To his credit (and the only one) he did maintain a large vegetable plot, providing all our veg

I recall no conversation with him, not one, ever.

He was not skilled in a practical sense, I once witnessed him trying to put up a  wall shelf in the Kitchen with a hammer and nails, when the nails bent he got bigger nails

On one occasion, the only one, he had procured a hand painted (brush) green post war bike, sit up and beg style with mechanical brakes, ancient even in those days!

This was for me as I needed one for the paper round

I was unappreciative and speechless

My self purchased drop handled 12 speed racing bike was the bees knees though and stayed with me for years

Mum kept me in check, even whilst at secondary school

I remember one Sunday afternoon being scolded when I got home “You’re a bit young to have girls calling for you!”

Lynne had called at the house looking for me

Unbeknown to her, Keith Talmage and myself were at Hungerford Station "sheltering" in the waiting room.

It was pouring with rain but we were in the company of Pamela, one of the “hotties” from school

I had to leave (not sure why, hence arriving home for the scolding)

Keith in the meantime had Pamela to himself

Lynne was blonde and slim (there is another story involving Lynne +2 (+1) at Sanham Green)

She had a motive for calling on me

My friend was Keith Morgan (nickname “buses”)

He was a well developed, advanced and knowledgeable in the area of women, I had barely discovered or acknowledged girls!

I was the conduit through which Lynne would advance her longings for Keith

I was incredibly naïve and unaware

Still am

On another occasion I had no idea why Lynne and Keith locked themselves in the Geography room leaving me outside

Duh!

I think Lynne was the first girl that I fancied, but I didn’t know what fancying had to do with the ideals I had for true love and partnership whilst hiding in shyness

I do remember walking down the high street, hand in hand with Lynne’s friend Brigetta Hanson, just the once, not sure why, it was just the once


I do recall that at one point in my life that a drastic change took place

Perhaps as a consequence of a spurt in growth

I found myself short sighted

When I went to secondary school I was unable to see the blackboard, even if I sat at the front of the class it was difficult, but cool people didn't do that

It would be years later, mainly thanks to John Lennon and his round specs that I managed to overcome my shyness and wear spectacles

I had gone through years of secondary schooling not being able to see what was on the blackboard

I recall the horror of a science test where the questions were written on the blackboard and I could not read them so had to make up answers to the questions I couldn't see

In hindsight surely the teachers knew or suspected?

This also may have led to some overreacting and a chip on each shoulder

There were several fights at school

And a certain 1st year gained a notoriety for beating up a 4th year bully

My days at schools were unbelievably stressing, I couldn't  see properly but  i wouldn't  admit it or wear glasses

Despite it all I still managed to get through and get my Apprenticeship when I  left


Mr Chesney had a piece of my art on his office wall

Years before Mr Chesney, the headmaster, during assembly, had called me out in front of the whole school because I was wearing a coloured jersey over my school uniform

I heard the commotion but could not see who it was aimed at till I was shoved forward

The only time my mother got to hear of anything untoward was when Keith and I (may have been others) bunked off school and had a very loud jam session at my house

Not very smart as my house was only about 200 yards from the school and everyone passing  by, on the way to school heard the noise! A teacher was sent to collect us


As a kid I was never aware that my mum was ill

I did hear a scream one night and as a young child was scared but not enquiring

I once spent a week living with my sister in Great Bedwyn

I don’t recall the detail but think my mum went to hospital

The great story, always proudly and loudly told by Bill Leach (my sisters husband) was that I kept crying because I missed my mum

Apparently I wouldn’t stop so Mr Leach, took me upstairs and hung me out of the bedroom window by the ankle till I stopped

Those were the days

How he laughed when recalling the story, which he did often

Bill was another boozer, (especially with his brothers) keen to do the rounds of the local pubs with my dad

I wish I knew where he was buried so I could piss on his grave

Another time mum fell over in the back garden, I was distressed because I did not have the strength to help her up

Mum was proud of me, she never wanted me to turn out like dad

When I got myself a paper round she was pleased I had got myself a job and was earning myself some money

Later I earned even more by marking up the newspapers and collecting the paper money on Saturdays

I saved my money and at 16 I had my first car in a council rented garage waiting for my 17th birthday, so I could drive it!

Later I got myself an apprenticeship at AERE Harwell, training to become a electrical craftsman, I am sure my mother was very proud of me (“the apple of her eye”, my sister once said)

Not long after she became ill again and went to St Margaret’s hospital in Swindon

I had no idea what was going on

Eventually she came home

I was at the bottom of the stairs when the the doctor and my father came down

As they reached the bottom of the stairs the doctor turned to my father and in a rather angry voice exclaimed..

“Mr Crame! Your wife has come home to die”

6 months later she did

The kaolin and morphine kept her going as did the Complan meals

She couldn’t understand why she wasn’t getting better

remember being shocked one day when she stood before me, there was a problem, a dressing had come adrift and a stream of grey goo was seeping out of her abdomen

I remember the trauma of having to lie to her, assuring her all was well, when clearly it wasn't, it was just taking a while for her to get better I said…

She was finding it more and more difficult to keep her mind on those things she enjoyed doing in her chair next to the Rayburn in our tiny back room

She was either doing crosswords, knitting or playing patience, with real playing cards, carefully and precariously aligned on the back of a shove halfpenny board

Later when she was bed ridden, in the front room, the doctor was increasing her dose of kaolin and morphine

She was thin, sallow and quite grey

Not really conscious, not with us

I was in the doorway of the room when she died

The lady who “sorted things” came round and said “I was dreading this day, poor Joan”


To qualify, my status as an only child...

When I was born (in the front room of 2 Weathervane Cottages) my brother had moved out to live with my gran in Little Bedwyn

There was no room for him now I had arrived.

The house only had 2  small bedrooms

Ron was 16 when i was born

We were not a close knit family though Ron did later help out with some driving lessons

I would estimate that over my entire life we (Ron and I) have been in contact less than 20 times

My sister, Phyll (married to Bill) lived in Great Bedwyn and already had a daughter older than me!

Phyll was 20 years older than me, Ron and Phyll each with their own lives with little time for a little brother


Odds and Honourable Mentions:

A great adventure, the John O'Gaunt school trip to the Lake District, camped by the lake, did orienteering in the dark, climbed Helvelyn and walked striding edge

I still have my Helvelyn Cloth sew on badge


The Primary school kid picked for the football team who hid in the sandpit after lunch so he would miss the coach taking the team to their football match

I recall being told off at the little school (before primary school but on the same site)

We were all sat cross legged when a new girl came into the classroom and joined us

The girl was Patricia Goss, daughter of the local postman, very pretty with very long dark hair I was turned round facing her, just staring, for some reason mesmerised


The doctor who attended my mum was Dr Hugh Pihlens 
He authored the book,  Hungerford - A Pictorial History


Honourable Mentions:

Lynne Francis, Brigeta Hanson, Pamela Downs, Paula Buckingham, Paula Haldene, Pearl Cobbet, Jenny Wiltshire, Barbara Edwards, Rosemary Cleverley, Pat Goss, Carol Waters, Valerie Cook, Linda Cook, Hilma Franklin, Mrs Patterson, Theresa (Topsy) Ritchens, Keith Morgan, Shawn Coles, Paul Wright, Andy Wilcox, Kipper Coles, Richard Pounds, Tim Bay, Kevin Etheridge, Ian Morley, Stephen Morley, Stephen Hetzke, John Pike, Andy Robinson, Keith Talmage, Jim Talmage, Geoff Sturgess, Raymond Escott, Brian Tuttle, Anthony Kitchen, Zephton Martin


2. Kathy


At last, the apprenticeship was over and I could escape from Harwell

With my pleasantly surprising qualification results with credits and distinctions I wanted out

Happy to turn down the position I was offered to make use of those practical skills in another environment perhaps?

The first and only job I applied for was as a Wireman Technician at a new “high tech” company based in West Mills Newbury called Micro Consultants

I got the job and decided I needed to get myself a flat (a bed sit) in Newbury

I found one in Belvedere Drive in Newbury (off the Newtown Road) But I never stayed there, not once

Across on the Andover Road, the now defunct 121 Andover Road was split into a number of bed sits

One was occupied my friend Sid Kneller

I often stayed at Sids

The house was a lively congregation of singles

Sid was an entrepreneur T Shirt printer and plant grower

Everyone knew Sid, he was a great friend who would do anything for anyone

Sid and Dawn French downstairs, Tim Bay, Kathy Warrick, and the chap with the Triumph Stag upstairs

Sid’s bedsit was the centre of the universe and the base for the group blasting Yes and Supertramp with visits from Rob and Wendy evenings started and ended in Sid’s flat

Always pub visits and trips to the Henwick ended at Sid’s

One evening we were all congregated in Sid’s flat sat about the floor listening to music, Liz, Sid’s other half, later noted that when I wasn’t looking at Kathy, Kathy was looking at me!

Later on Kathy and I ended up on Tim’s bed

Kathy’s bed sit was now my home for many years, though I always crept in and out as “guests” were not supposed to stop over (or actually live there!)

Neither of us had a car and walking was de rigour

As we were now a couple, the activity in Sid’s flat was reduced but now things were different as Sid and Liz were properly a couple, so we were two couples

I don’t remember the process but Kathy and I decided to get married (she was not yet pregnant so the reason must have been love)

We eventually bought out first house in Arthur Road Newbury, number 7, quite soon after we moved to Paynesdown Road Thatcham and Peter arrived

Our stay a Arthur Road was a nightmare

We were grateful to visit Sid and Liz at their new home in Kintbury

When we bought Arthur Road all was quiet and peaceful, but being mid terrace that could change, and it did

On one side we had a little old lady, the other an older couple (who, we didn't know it at the time had an absent son)

We had bought just prior to the summer holidays

When the holidays started next doors son appeared complete with Saxophone

The noise was intolerable and short of killing him it wasn’t going to stop

Our salvation came as the result of another catastrophe

British Gas had serviced out instantaneous gas water heater, situated in the bathroom over the kitchen

I received an urgent message at work, Kathy was screaming down the phone and I needed to get home quickly

30 seconds(!) later I found Kathy at the rear of the house, the kitchen was full of water, about a foot deep, the ceiling and just about everything else including the new kitchen was either on the floor or floating

The service engineer had not tightened a valve that subsequently blew off (denting the bathroom wall) and allowing the mains water to flow out

After a meeting with 6 British Gas people in our front room, an apology was received, paperwork signed and cheque was on its way

Off to Paynesdown Road

Work was going well, I seemed to fit in and was keen to get myself on the ladder of success

In those days there was not much money about so I was very grateful when my application for an ACCESS credit card was accepted, we could now get the stuff we needed

Kathy had stopped work, and Peter was here

Later Kathy fell pregnant with Steven I say “fell” because whilst visiting my dad (He and Kathy got on very well and always had a lot to chat about, both being gardeners) Kathy fell over on a damp patch in his kitchen

As a consequence, Kathy spent 13 weeks in hospital waiting for Steven to arrive

I am not sure how things happened or worked out, but Peter was looked after during the working day by a woman who lived near us

Another panic when Steven was born with a hole in his heart. I was not convinced when they said this was not critical and usually self-healed in a few days (just because he was a bit premature)

I remember a scene at the hospital

Eventually we were four at home

Being decidedly ambitious I had decided that I would like to have a detached house by the time I was 30

At 29 we moved out of 103 Paynesdown Road and moved into Oakhurst, 67 Paddock Road

A detached 2-bedroom bungalow with potential

The boys were sharing a bedroom, it wasn’t that huge a place, but had potential and was detached!

No Neighbours!

The first part of the expansion plan was to have a separate dining room built on the side of the house

Sean Earley and his brother Mickey Jo were procured as our local cash in hand builders of choice

Kathy got on very well with them both…..hint hint

Things between Kathy and I had reached straining point, I must admit I was not pleasant to live with at the time

Still working hard though!

Peters’ episodes did not help (youngest child ever to be excluded from West Berkshires Education system)

Now things went really strange, Kathy started smoking, lost lots of weight, made me sleep on the sofa and she started clubbing, often arriving back very late at night, being dropped off some ways down the hill

Kathy found out she was pregnant

The next day she started divorce proceedings and I had to move out



3. Jo and Anthea


In the aftermath of my first divorce, I had managed a recovery from living in a B&B (Beverley’s Borlase’s parents) with no prospect of anything except drinking myself under the table (Ironically in The Plough Inn, an old haunt of my father and uncle ‘Chubber’ in the Snuff Takers Bar) and descending into a deeper depression

My share of the divorce proceedings from the sale of the bungalow (67 Paddock Road) amounted to roughly £5000 to pay off the remaining ‘family’ debts left in my name - the rest had gone Kathy’s way after she had sold the bungalow, expecting the council to house her and the kids (no mention of the £1000 diamond ring she bought herself in reparation…) with me broke, depressed and with an impending future of bed and breakfast life

But then a moment of ‘clarity’

I saw a wretched future and saw Kathy taking me for everything forever

I took out finance on a second-hand Fiat Uno and managed to rent a 3-bed semi in Thatcham.

I now had outgoings that gave me somewhere to live (and the kids to visit) and a car to run around in

Having legitimate outgoings put the brakes on Kathy being able to take all my income in maintenance payments leaving me trapped in B&B for ever

Things looked a bit better for me ,ironically Kathy and the kids would, later on, for a time move in and live with me at Shakespeare Road, even more ironically, I was visited there by Ron and Chris

Peter even went to the local school (a nightmare waiting to unfold)

Eventually things settled and with the money I had to pay off the family debts, (which of course never happened) I went to a local Estate agent.

The Estate Agent was one with a reputation (SG) for being very generous/flexible with the multiplier they used to calculate how much mortgage could be obtained (they also arranged the mortgage, so presumably got commission there as well)

After basically fabricating a set of outgoings I managed to get a mortgage, the repayments taking a huge proportion of my actual income, but I could get back onto the housing ladder!

35 Buckingham Road was mine, ironically nor far from St George’s Avenue where Kathy and the kids now lived

I moved in and very soon rented out 2 rooms (to chaps with squash playing abilities)

The additional income allowed me to live and pay the bills

The reinvented self also lived at Northcroft Playing squash, doing weight training, swimming and running

Here I met Jo, the hard working continually busy assistant manager

She also ran the squash leagues and strangely I soon moved from the 12/13th division up to 7/8th

I fancied her and we got on quite well, but she did have a strange side, and a reputation for a degree of promiscuity (I was told that once the storeroom door opened exposing the goings on to those in the bar, she was seen naked on the floor caught in the act with a married squash player)

I often went back to her place, late night after Northcroft closed and listened to Dire Straits (nothing more)

We once went to Alton Towers; she hated the vigorous rides and her long legs buckled and wobbled uncontrollably when we got off them.

I once took her to Gatwick when she went on holiday Nearly having an accident on route!

I still have the postcard she sent me

There was a strange side to her, she would go into a disconnect null state, very distant

She said she would like to be friends but that I was not to expect anything, she said she had some problems (Tree Song, one of the first tunes I ever recorded was about Jo)

She usually wore a short tennis skirt and I often followed the travel of her athletically long legs.

I think it strange that I have no recollection of her chest, usually an area of interest, but I did notice her eyes were captivating, always dilated and subliminally inviting

One evening, after work, Jo came to my house, completely unannounced

I was very (!!!) pleased to see her

But quite soon I realised she was in that disconnected state, which I found annoying.

Then something happened that has always troubled me and still brings me down, things might have been so different?

We were on the sofa in the living room cuddling Jo said “Let’s go upstairs and make love”

And I turned her down

I said, no, not now, you are so tired…

We cuddled then she left

I never made love to Jo (not that time or any other)

I still wonder about that night

A few days later back at Northcroft Jo confided in me; she was troubled.

The fiancé of her best friend was writing her letters, he wanted to be with her.

The letters explained how bored he was with his fiancée, she was so dull and boring, he went fishing a lot to get away from her, he explained how much he wanted to be with Jo, she didn’t know what to do

She said she had not encouraged him and was very concerned and he was her best friend’s fiancé (I was a bit taken aback but pleased she confided in me, slightly confused as to what to suggest when I still had my own confused interest in her affections)

Her best friend, a girl I had not met was called Anthea

Later that month I was passing through from the squash court gallery to the restaurant/bar area when I noticed Jo sat at a table with a beautiful, petite, long red auburn-haired girl Jo introduced me to Anthea

Squash was mentioned and she played! I suggested a game sometime…

Later that month I was on court with Anthea, her wild auburn red hair and short skirt quite distracting

I remember doing false serves several times to get her attention and to enjoy her smile

I can’t remember if it was that night but one time, she came back to 35, I was bemused that she sat on top of my fridge

Another time she brought some chowder in a flask (it wasn't very nice)

I was falling for her

Later we stayed overnight at the flat she was staying in along Boundary Road, we talked for hours and slept on the floor No sex, just a lovely friendship, very soon I wanted to be with her all the time, if not in person, then on the phone, I wanted to be in total contact with her, I couldn’t stop thinking about her

One evening we had just finished a game of squash, I had already got to the gallery, watching others playing squash while I waited for Anthea, just as the door opened and Anthea appeared from the stairs, at that same moment Jo was bounding along the gallery beaming towards me, I embraced Anthea, and Jo stopped dead in her tracks then disappeared the way she came

What seemed like only seconds later there was the sound of high revs and screeching tyres, Jo had left the building

Eventually Anthea moved in with me, the friend who’s flat she was staying in had returned (I can only presume Anthea had moved out of the house in Lambourn she shared with her fiancé) she had nowhere to go and I was more than happy for her to move in I was in love with her

We agreed that  if she got pregnant, we would get married. Anthea became pregnant, we got married and Lucy Ellen Crame joined us

Years later, we were having an anniversary meal at the Valle d’Oro an Italian restaurant in Newbury

I mentioned, in conversation, how it was strange that walking though the town, i had expectations that i would meet people i knew, some kind of vibe I mentioned Jo

A strange quiet, the room seemed to darken, the moment frozen, Anthea looked as if in shock

Anthea then told me that Jo was dead

She had died a few years back (my incredulous disbelief at this news was raging as a fear, disbelief, sorrow  and anger)

Anthea continued… Jo had committed suicide, it was her second attempt

I was in shock, her best friend, my friend, why didn’t she tell me, how, why would she keep this from me?

Anthea exclaimed “I knew you would react like this” not explaining why she hadn’t told me

My brain was racing, how could she keep this from me! How long? Why!!

My mind raced back to a period when we were having phone calls at the house, but no one was there, was it Jo?

Anthea always answered the phone, was there really no one there? Looking for help? Suicide!! Second attempt!!

I was totally disbelieving that Anthea could keep this from me and for so long

Something died that night

How could she not tell me?

In my mind everything began to unravel.

Anthea thinking her best friend was taking/had taken her fiancé away from her?

How could she get back at Jo, take away something dear to her?

My whole relationship with Anthea, shattered, everything questioned, truth and honesty, those things I hold dear replaced with a deceit and dishonesty from the woman I loved

Things continued to get worse, my depression, my heath (undiagnosed diabetes and a failing thyroid) and pressures from a disenchanted work life (my 15 minutes of fame long gone)

Subsequently, amidst the divorce from Anthea everything previously taken at face value and true were questioned in my mind

Those weekend visits she made to her parents, the courses she took away from home, the visits to her brother and sister in London, the regular letters she received from her friend (Andrew) but were never mentioned.

The unmentioned bank accounts, And the saga of Jo

She even brutally and callously turned the knife in my heart when she whispered in my ear “see how deceitful I can be”

I had been found by Steven wandering the streets of Newbury near the City Playground, worse the wear from alcohol and medication.

He took me to 35.

I remember the phone calls, the Police and then that all was well, I had been found (I never perceived myself as a threat to anyone)

Anthea said she had to go upstairs to change her top

But I heard the phone call she made to her partner telling him I had been found, she came back downstairs, I said I had overheard her, she hadn’t changed her top

She came close and whispered in my ear “See how deceitful I can be” she detailed other instances of things lost and situations but I was long gone

Water under the bridge I know, but those memories linger and I can always recall those days of my infatuation diluting into my indifference and selfish behaviour and the horror of Anthea’s retribution

The final twist, whilst I loved them both was that I never bonded with Dan (similar to Laura, whose impending arrival prompted Kathy’s divorce petition)

That thought sticks with me


4. Work


Having left Harwell as a qualified Electrical Technician, “Craftsman” even, I needed to be earning!

I now had the job of a wireman technician at Micro Consultants in 5 West Mills

Working in the rework/mod 15 section the job involved making wiring looms, wire wrapping backplanes and general assembly jobs

It was a great opportunity to learn the techniques and how it should be done

But actually doing it, repeatedly was another matter

Luckily there were others who needed to be shown how to do things, and I was happy to oblige with the necessary knowledge and aptitude for training

I ended up supervising then running the section (October 1975)

Tim Hiscock became Senior Technician

Tim was a lovely chap, many years later, in my self-employed phase, I met his daughter, I was pleased to tell her what a nice man Tim was and how everyone respected and liked him (She had told me that Tim had died)

In October 1976 Martin Hayes, the Production Manager moved temporarily to Maidenhead House

I deputised for him during that period

Martin was a nice enough chap, a young, lanky, Scot. Fiery at times.

I once backed the company van into his car as I was reversing into 5 West Mills

Unbeknown to me he had slotted his car into my rearward path

Great amusement for those waiting outside to be let into the building

His passion was racing Scalextric cars and I once went to one of the “race meetings” held at his house.

Martin died within a year or two

The next step took me to QA

Here I expanded my knowledge with those who needed to make sure everything was done correctly

Now I was Chief Inspector looking after and supervising QA and Goods In (Jan 1977)

So now I was in “Management” and getting knowledgeable about Production and also ‘managing’ the sub-contractor’s work

There were perks, secret “bonuses” were possible and I was invited (April 1978) to join the newly formed “Flying Group”

A way to get a PPL with subsidised flying lessons at Thruxton

£5 per hour for the first 9 months, then £10 per hour for the next 3 months

I did 12 hours before realising in all honesty, going solo was not going to happen

For me every time when I took off, despite knowing what to do and the headings to take I became completely disorientated.

I couldn’t tell you where the airstrip had gone let alone land on it

That became a bit of a problem

Also the fee’s were going up and money was tight

I then spent time in another area of the company Micro Consultants had a twin called Quantel who were based in Maidenhead House

Here the R&D engineers worked with their own, autonomous Production unit

Now I was at the sharp end learning (or rather assisting) with the manufacturing of the new gear before it went to Production

A different prospect from the repeats of main Production

The company was changing, the Quantel products were outstripping the Micro Consultants product line

The huge emphasis with the leading edge Quantel gear was that it had to be made quickly, but in relatively small numbers commanding huge profits  and satisfying the immediate demand for "Must Have" visual effects on TV

To achieve this an autonomous manufacturing/ testing/commissioning unit was setup in new premises (actually 14 West Mills)

14 West Mills was quite close to our home in Arthur Road, which ended up being handy!

This was called the 5000 Group (formed November 1978)

With myself running the production side and Dave Bowman running the engineering

Dave was one of the very original  "Micro Consultants Group" members

A nicer chap you could not meet, in all the years I  knew him I never once saw any sign of anger or maliciousness  in him. Dave was liked and respected by everyone


Even in those days my component budget for the year way over 1 million pounds!

Aiming for 2 DPE 5000’s and 1 DSC 4000/4002 per month

We ‘helped’ Quantel win a Queens award for Export and a Queens award for Technology.

I still have the ties

Our unit (filmed at 14 West mills) was featured on Tomorrow’s World and the product stormed the tv screens - with live multiple screens, live picture in picture  and other effects on TV wrapping and warping images into any shapes the producers wanted - Dire Straits playing whilst a saxophone solo melds into the shape of a disappearing saxophone comes to mind

But the 5000 Group was temporary

First because capturing the market with new ‘must have’ special effects gear would run out of momentum once the early adopters had been satisfied and the competition caught up.

Second, because the product (and subsequent variations) was also being engineered to pass to the main Production unit at 5 West Mills (who hated the autonomous nature of the upstart 5000 Group)

So after my 15 minutes of fame, the 5000 Group was integrated into a new facility in West Street

Here new products were tested from items made in the main Production with me running a small manufacturing/rework unit

For me there was no way back to West Mills, its doors locked, noses still out of joint after the 5000 Groups success (I presume it was the success, either that or I had failed as an integrating communicator and only focussed on the goal, producing the kit)

But i also had no desire to go back to the back biting two faced mentality of the people there, even if they wanted me (and they didn't)

Unfortunately I also found that my nature was to treat everybody the same, to shoot from the hip and to give straight answers and opinions

This was limiting, also it became apparent that the "Uni Set" saw me as a non intellectual outsider with a ghastly accent. The "way up" was not open to me as I just didn't fit in

My solitary nature and non socialising preferences didn't help either!

Later West Mills was closed as the Production and test facilities move to new premises on Turnpike Road

West Street merged with R&D in a new facility in Kiln Road (later moving to Pear Tree Lane)

Whilst the writing was on the wall (PCs were becoming more powerful and able to compete with the bespoke hardware of the Quantel gear) my roles adapted, but laterally

In 1981 I transferred from West Street to Maidenhead House as Production Engineer for Broadcast Products

In 1982 I moved to Pear Tree lane as Development Project Planner with Beverley Borlase as my assistant.

The task here was to liaise between R&D’s engineering and the Production facility Nether groups saw the need of an intermediary, especially the Production units management

For a time I stayed with R&D but as Management Systems Auditor/Assessor - Because the company as a whole was seeking AQAP certification it was thought that my experience with the R&D types could assist in the writing and implementation of procedures (A week long training course was required)

A hopeless task, wasting over a year of my life doing absolutely nothing

Next I moved to Turnpike Road working with John Pollard (PPU Manager) and Geoff Titcombe in a not really defined role "Engineering" role

Then a short spell in the Drawing Office, again in a not clearly defined role (I had become a square peg in a round hole, and with attitude!)

But I was watching what was going on, the ‘conflict’ between Production wanting to gear up and produce in volume against R&D’s inability to stabilise the products and get them through to production

I decided something had to be said, something had to be done

I went for  “one last stand” and wrote an open letter to Richard Taylor (Quantel MD) detailing my thoughts

This letter caused quite a stir and lots of things changed including the coordination of R&D’s transfers to Production with a high-level appointment (Colin T used the phrase “Cream floating to the top” several times)

But for me the laterals continued and on the 6th February 1990 I moved to the newly formed IT department under Ian Walker (the inventor of the Quantel Paintbox, Ian had adapted some of Quantel’s gear to allow his daughter to paint, electronically on a computer screen, the idea took off!)

It was not like the brakes had been put on me, but there would be no more fame!

Here I got into PC’s and didn’t mind helping people

But I was now ‘one of the lads’ (in theory) on the bench, but at a rather elevated, disproportionate salary for the work I was doing (a presumption on my part, salaries were a taboo topic and were never discussed)

This put me in direct line of fire when the crumbling company started rounds of redundancies

On a flight back from Triosdorf (doing IT stuff in the German Office) I got a message from Leo Westby

The redundancies had started and there was a letter waiting for me on my desk

When I got back home I called Colin Tomkins (he was the nominated hatchet man) and asked what the score was

The letter on my desk either said I was going or that I was staying

Colin kindly confirmed I was going

Great news!

The divorce settlement from Anthea had been finalised and needed signing

I had an appointment with my solicitor on the Monday morning to sign the paperwork

The whole thing was torn up when I announced I had been made redundant

If I wasn’t depressed before (I was) then I would be now!!

I’d lost everything


5. Self Employed


I did recall a conversation, that I disregarded, not that much before the redundancy

A colleague and birder friend, John Claridge (also friend of Dale and Colin) made a suggestion that I could be busy working for myself as a self-employed PC person

How fortuitous, if only I had listened

But times were set and the falling axe of redundancy had to be waited for (especially after Richard Taylor’s - no sacred cows speech to the masses)

Leaving early and forfeiting the redundancy payment would be foolish

But waiting wasn’t fun

November 2001 arrived

After the event, the shock of the loss set in

Not to mention the ongoing divorce

In all honesty things were pretty bad

The divorce ie loosing Anthea was devastating, amplifying the loss I had suppressed from the divorce from Kathy, now my employer of 26 years no longer needed me

Things eventually got a little better when I stopped taking the mind numbing medications and stopped drinking

After a while, having discovered, from the Agency’s that IT people were aged between 19 and 25 and still fresh out of uni

I took a job with Sony

Not quite sure exactly what I did but it involved maximising the packages that could be loaded onto the distribution lorries from Sony warehouses

The hours were odd and driving home in the early hours made one a target

I was once stopped by the Police for having L plates on the car (Steven’s lessons)

An unaccompanied driver with L plates!

Next I saw an interesting job advertised

Newbury College were looking for temporary IT help

They were moving from the old site (which was being redeveloped) to the new, purpose built Newbury College

Dismantling the old kit and transferring this plus configuring the new computers was part of the task (supplementing the existing team)

I took the job, at a very low salary

But it was temporary

After the job was done, and the new Newbury College was up and running I was offered a slightly better salary to stay on, which I accepted, but the contract was only for 6 months

Long before the contract ended I found myself staring at the clock, waiting for home time, a very bad omen

Interestingly there were two incidents of note

The first was a visit to the IT room (there were quite a few people sharing the space, not just IT people) by a gentleman called Mr Ormrod to whom I was introduced, from across the room.

He had been referred to before, by the female staff member, along with his charming partner

Small world

The second was an unusual phone call

A very irate, stern sounding chap offered to break all my fingers!

I think my interpretation of being “separated” and Barbs interpretation were slightly different!


Also when I arrived at the college I discovered Kevin Dyson

Kevin had also worked at Quantel in the drawing office and later I.T.

He was mode redundant in the batch before me

We had nothing to say though (apparently) but I didn't mind

Kevin had been very good to me, even bringing me a food parcel, when things were very bad

He had also, years before, sold me his beloved 1975 hardtail Fender Stratocaster for £100

Gill had put her foot down saying if he wanted to buy a new guitar then one of the old ones had to go!


My contract was about to expire and the College generously offered me a 3 month extension

I left

Newbury College and its disillusioned teaching staff were beginning to bring me down, not to mention the salary

Finally, I was going to go it alone as a Home Computer Support Specialist, later abbreviated to PC Support (where PC of course stood for Paul Crame, not Personal Computer)

Advertising sorted, business cards printed

Slowly at first, then busier and busier

I should have done this years ago

Meeting people in their own homes and sorting their computer problems was bloody marvellous!

I got to meet all sorts of people, i got to travel the countryside, see many splendid homes as well as your average abodes

Each was interesting and very different

There was nothing more satisfying as getting thanked for doing a good job and walking away with money in my pocket (echo’s)

For years it continued

Towards the end I stopped advertising and just did repeats or word of mouth recommendations

Then, when my state pension kicked in I lost the remaining interest I had in sorting other people’s problems

The state pension, and my meagre private pension (drawn from years early as my ill Heath qualified me drawing it early) would keep me ticking over without over exertion

In realty COVID changed everything, not just my attitude but the work had almost completely dried up

So here I am Contemplating travel!

(Bloody COVID!)


6. Distractions


Apart from enjoying my work, as in when I was self-employed, not Work WORK

My greatest enjoyment and satisfaction came from photography

There had often been a camera to hand, for those odd occasions where a picture was needed to record a family event

But I had not appreciated how significant photography was to be in my life

From the early 2000’s ie single life, I grew more and more interested in taking pictures

Taking pictures at events!

Going out into the countryside and taking pictures in nature

And discovering my love of taking pictures of birds and bugs

In the early 2000’s and a bit before, I was really was on a mission, writing and recording sorrowful songs

At 35 Buckingham Road I sat in the under the stairs cupboard with my guitar (the Strat) amp and computer

I had previously used the front room, but Anthea’s therapy bench filled the room now that she had moved in and worked from home

Unable to apply myself and concentrate on the technicalities of recording competently I managed a few relevant songs of which I am proud

I still play a bit but old age and a left hand that got crushed in a fall years ago (saving the camera and lens though) had never properly recovered and has tempered my virtuosity (lol)

In recent times, immediately pre covid, I was able to enjoy a trip to Botswana (courtesy of Katrin, and I am very grateful) and later, returning in March 2020 a self-powered trip to The Gambia to photograph birds



7. Family


Dad had two brothers living locally

Chubber who lived in Newbury with wife, 2 daughters and a son called Daren

Chubber was visited infrequently and dragged to the Plough for boozy session

His distinct voiced wife obviously disapproving

The other brother Percy lived not far down the road in Hungerford with his wife Alice, 2 daughters and a son called Charles

I remember rare (thankfully) loud boozy visits from them possibly at Christmas, and could feel my mums disapproval

Alice was very loud, very Irish and liked a drink

She was known for getting pissed, falling over and wetting herself

I found them all rather challenging, especially Charles who was very ginger and a couple of years ahead of me at the John O’Gaunt

He was not the sharpest tool in the toolbox and I inherited his nickname “Crabby”

Good Grief!!

Whilst at Weathervane Cottages I vaguely remember a visit from a chap who cycled from Reading(?) and was mums’ brother(?)

Mum and Dad also had Ron and Phyll

Ronald Victor Crame born 1938

Phyllis Margaret Crame born 1934

Ron lived in Great Bedwyn with my Grandmother Edith Ellen Picking and her second husband Harold Victor Picking.

Her first husband had been killed in the First World War

Mum never knew her dad, she was 3 months old when he died

During the 2nd World War Mum worked in the NAAFI at the Croft in Hungerford

My mums full name incidentally was Francis Ellen Joan Crame (nee Harris)

But was always called Jo

Both Edith and Harold are buried in the same plot in Little Bedwyn Churchyard (where my parents are also buried)

Edith died 19th June 1960 aged 72 Harold (uncle Harold) died 11th June 1976 aged 68

I remember their tiny thatched cottage in Great Bedwyn overlooking the tennis courts across the road

I am sure my early memory recollects a pig pen, with pig in the back garden

I also have another recollection, the only other one, of wanting a pair of opera glasses (probably used to view the tennis) that I had spotted

There were two pairs, and my tantrum got me the pair I wanted (they were around for many years but I have lost them now)

This memory must have been my earliest as she died in June 1960 when I was only 5 (I would have been 6 in October 1960)

I rarely saw Ron, as detailed previously

Ron lived with his wife Chris (Christine) in Marlborough

I quite liked Chris, she was a strong character and very straightforward

I have just remembered Ron’s black motorcycle OMO 479 once parked on the path outside our front door

Ron used to drive those absolutely huge earthmoving vehicles for a living

Being was up there must have been reassuring for a not too tall Ron

On one occasion I remember waiting at the Bear Corner, Hungerford for a procession of huge machines to pass through, Ron was driving one of them

Ron later worked in a factory (Raychem) producing heat shrink tubing (Ironically used a lot by Micro Consultants/ Quantel)

Ron had 2 children Tanya and Darren I recall my dad and I visiting (Chris was not amused) and the perfunctory pub visits

Chris’s dad was involved in the ‘procurement’ of my first electric guitar

I had, on my own visited the Swindon Music Centre and put a small deposit down on a guitar

Somehow, he got to hear of this and I was whisked off to Swindon and the deposit refunded!

Chris’s brother had an electric guitar for sale (they are basically the same he said) and I was bamboozled into buying it

It was red and had a white hand painted guitar case with the word ‘Spirit’ on it

This was the guitar I played at the John ‘O Gaunt school concert

Daren was young and had a strange habit of pulling his hair out

Tanya was older Tanya, many years later she contacted me having discovered Ron’s pictures on my website

I had thought this might lead to him contacting me (if only to ask for the pictures to be taken down!) but nothing happened

Phyll

When I was born Phyll was already married and had a daughter called Lesley

She also had Neil and later Clive

Lesley was a couple of years ahead of me at the John O’Gaunt so thankfully the embarrassment of having a niece older than me did not occurred often

I do remember walking out in the wilds of Great Bedwyn with others and Lesley

Lesley visited us in later Hungerford (Priory Road)

She worked in a Hungerford bank, and despite 🙂 her lack of height managed to find a boyfriend

Her boyfriend was Barry Hall (buzzer) who was very slim, very tall and bearded

He also drove a mini (like me at the time)

He was a nice bloke, though he didn’t say much we got on well (possibly because he didn’t say much)

Barry was a carpenter (or chippy)

Neil was younger than me but went on holiday with us to Butlins

Apart from his sense of humour I don’t recall much about him other than at one stage he had to have weight reduction surgery. I believe he was pursuing a technical type occupation

Clive was very young

My only recollection was of him rummaging through my parents’ bedroom when Phyll and I were downstairs, Phyll said lyrically “He’s alright…..”

Phyll cleaned the house for my dad when my mother died and brought Clive with her

She travelled on the train from Bedwyn

Once, during a very troubled phase i walked from mum’s grave to Phylls house

It was very late at night, very cold and raining, surprised I had remembered the right house I had knocked on her door

Phyll opened the door and did not have a clue who I was (I must have been a disturbing sight)

She let me in and I slept on the sofa

In the morning we had a little chat, the first time ever I recall, and she got out some family pictures

I borrowed them to scan and put on my website

Later she phoned Ron who collected me and took me back to Newbury

It was just a journey though; nothing was said and Ron dropped me off near home


8. The Problem, highs and lows


As I have said before despite having a brother and sister, I considered myself an only child

I was mostly on my own and never experienced life in the proximity of others with views and opinions to express or challenge in the space we might have shared

There were no cross words, no arguments, no distractions

But also, no conversation

The ethic I was taught, by example, was that the thing to do was to work and keep busy

The thing not to do was to spend your wages in the pub

If this, as a consequence meant socialising and having fun then that was not the thing to do

Money must not be squandered

My mother did not drink and was hardworking

Not that my father was a shirk

He always had a job and was always earning

I have the impression that I was led to believe I was always right or rather couldn’t do any wrong


Special Moments, good and bad, highs and lows

I was not aware of my Berkshire accent for a very long time

Unaware how horrid it sounded till I first heard myself recorded and played back

Shocking

How did I end up talking like that

Even today I try and say very little

When I do people invariably take the mickey or ask me where I come from?

The others stay silent but I know I have been judged



Hearing the sound, the new-born Lucy made when I tickled her foot

The moment Lucy was conceived I am sure I felt a special moment

Barb, something broke

Barb cleaning up

Special moments with Pat (x2)

The horror and confusion at my first time

“I don’t love you in that way" 

Judi whispering in my ear

As a child mistaking a Lucky Dip basket for a waste bin and foraging inside it Are you going to pay for that dear?

The Green Bike

Leaving Helen with Andy

Hearing Dan call me Steve

The recurring guilt I felt after ending with Helena

Losing it completely when looking at pictures of the younger Josie

The feeling that hit me when three events made a simultaneous revisit - my mother’s death and the two divorces

Waking in my flat to find everything trashed and a report from the ambulance crew who had visited - I had no recollection

The absolute cold of the Little Bedwyn churchyard atop my mother’s grave

The view from the cockpit window as Stone Henge rotated in front of me

Passing my driving test on the second attempt

The unusual encounter at the Reading Mall (The lady)

The unusual encounter in Bowdown Woods (The man in the suit)

The unusual encounter in Barcelona (The lady in the crowd)

The car crash at Chieveley into the tree that never was

Falling in Kintbury, crushing my hand, damaging my knee but saving the camera

The next weekend falling at Kingsclere, winding myself and unable to move

Woody - somethings winking (Blocks on Landscape)

Flying a Cessna 150 towards Newbury and seeing the then, still intact, Greenham Common runway as a huge concrete scar across the landscape, it was 3 miles long

Meeting Jeff Beck at Goodwood

The moment A turned the knife

The 2am “woke with a start” realisation that A had been out all night (the night light was on)

Impregnated the night before saying she felt dirty meant nothing, I was distraught, possibly the worst feeling I have ever felt

The night I accidentally put my hand onto a Stanley blade. I heard a wolf howling, it was me

The day I found a wiggling tick embedded in my leg

Waiting for the neighbours music to start/stop at the flat

The absolute horror as, at night, at a heavily road worked junction I turned right into the oncoming traffic of a dual carriageway

Being driven at 60 mph in a sand storm across the desert with zero visibility following a trucks rear lights 1 metre away (Giza to Alexandria)

The Jo Hamilton concert at the Arlington Arts Centre

Managing to achieve what seemed impossible, on the way to Brighton (the London-Brighton bike ride) I managed to cycle up and over Ditchling Beacon (has to be seen, very steep and winding road)



9. Epitaph


A friend (Kim) once wrote

Explicating bitterness, pain and petty bullshit is what friends do with trusted friends.

It helps

Is it the best use of your talent?

That’s a silly question

Sorry I misunderstood you

And I will miss our correspondence

I listened to you whinge about Anthea, estranged children and bleak London days - yet I didn’t insult nor block you

Too bad that my PETTY BULLSHIT was too much for you to stomach

Thanks “friend” Bye Bye


Thanks for the memories:

Mum, Woody, Kathy, Jo, Anthea, Barb, Kim, Judi, Jackie, Julie, Josie, Pat, Helena, Liz, Katrin





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