Home Articles A Visiting Fireman in Africa A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Twelve
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Twelve Print E-mail
Written by Ray Critchell   
Sunday, 05 July 2009 23:37
Article Index
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four
Page Five
Page Six
Page Seven
Page Eight
Page Nine
Page Ten
Page Eleven
Page Twelve
Page Thirteen
Page Fourteen
Page Fifteen
Page Sixteen
Page Seventeen
Page Eighteen
Page Nineteen
Page Twenty
All Pages

I applied, was interviewed and offered a two day trial to see if I liked the job, and was suitable for it, and promptly accepted. I was by now almost 48, and jobs were very hard to come by in those depressed days.

The job was for a non resident house parent in a local Children's Home run by the Kent county council, less than a ten minute walk from my house. This was in a very large Victorian house set in large gardens and was indistinguishable from the other similar size houses in the road. The non residential distinction was because I did not have to 'live in' as almost all of the staff there did. I just came and went. The timing was just right. I received my first pay cheque almost exactly one year after arriving in England. My leave pay and accumulated BACS allowance had seen us through - a bit slim on the ground some times, but we got there. At no time did we ask for or receive any financial help from anyone. The salary was about one fifth of my previous one but with my chicks beginning to fly the nest, we managed.

During that year, in between job hunting, I had been painting and decorating the house, inside and out, and making and fitting cupboards and wardrobes and trying to keep from under Marjorie's feet.

The work itself was domestic in nature and involved standing in locum parentis to 22 children in the care of the Council. They were mixed boys and girls aged between six months and sixteen. There was a cook and kitchen help as well as domestic cleaning staff. The superintendent and his wife, the Matron, had a secretary and the county provided full maintenance and gardening upkeep. My role was to look after the children, together with several other care staff. There was a touch of the deja vu again as I had spent about six years of my childhood in these places. My walk to work at about 6 o'clock in the morning was a pleasant routine with the occasional cheery greeting from the man in the corner shop as I went by, as well as the milkman and the paper delivery boys and girls as I got to know them.