Bob Beavis, my senior carpenter, was a great asset to me in that within his apprenticeship he had been taught how to become more than just a carpenter but a skilled joiner he used to overcome any technical problems. For example soon after I took over I was asked to renew some large story height window frames in various blocks of flats throughout the estate. Bob became a close friend and he also became my charge hand when I was off site at various meetings.
The months passed and true to form my old area foreman (Joe Terry) continued to snipe at me and the team at every managerial meeting called to discuss progress on the Wenlock Barn Estate. Joe Terry also had an odious charge hand with an equally hideous large cyst on his neck. The pair of them were forever trying to either overwhelm me with predictions of doom if I didn’t pull out of the experiment, or more sinister; I once discovered my performance figure, which I had to report through the main office each week and be collated for each month had been altered to show a poorer response than reality. I took the information very badly and immediately made it known that I would henceforth publish my own figures and if Joe Terry or anyone else wanted to challenge my figures we would see if my figures stacked up against theirs. Needless to say, my accounts were not altered again.
One Thursday afternoon, I was locking up the hut, when I came over all peculiar. I felt and indeed was sick, I felt weak, and my chest hurt so I decided to drive to my parent’s home in Islington rather than go all the way out to Harold Hill. On getting there Dad was concerned enough to go to the phone box in Liverpool Road and called for an ambulance and within a few minutes I was lifted on a fold-up chair and taken to St Bart’s Hospital.
I remember the talk of “heart attack” in admission but gladly not the transition from A&E up onto the “Trauma Ward” where I was forbidden to get out of bed. This was alright for the first few hours but the ward sister was a dragon and when I had agonised over my full bladder a nurse had to provide me with a bottle but despite my inner raging at my willy, I could not perform the allotted task.
Eventually, I asked the Sister if I might use the “Lav”? – How guilty did I feel when the monitor battery backup wires and the tall poll harness with the bag of fluid dripping into my arm had to be perambulated to the ward toilet, but never was such satisfaction received from a single long wee.
All the family visited, which I didn’t like as I didn’t want to be there – in an environment where I had no say in what was happening, Bob Beavis came a day or two later and made small talk which I thought was nice but silly, as I clearly had not died and just wanted to get back to work.
After a week of purgatory the stern skinny Doctor said I could go home but had to give up smoking and drinking if I wanted to avoid another potential heart attack. Of course I immediately agreed – I would have agreed to roast my Mum alive just to be out of there.