43 Hobbs Crescent, Saltash, Cornwall PL12 4JJ
August 1969. This little semi-detached starter home was built on an old market garden, though they’d carted away all the good soil and sold it off elsewhere. It had a steeply sloped driveway that was unmanageable on a frosty morning, but we loved it!
We also joined an amazing organisation while here, Round Table. Saltash Round Table had 23 members and if we had, say, a cricket match then 21 would show up and the other two would have a good reason not to be there. As I moved progressively closer towards London I found rather less comprehensive commitment within other Tables.
I was selling well but Sweda had very limited production, so each month my commission would only bring us back up to zero in our bank account and we had to live into the red for the next month. Bank managers then were a little more understanding, or perhaps I was a better salesman than I realised?
Fortunately a small supermarket group sprang up in North Devon, Ford & Lock (bought later by Gateway, then Somerfield). This, plus the growth in voluntary grocery buying groups like Mace, Spar and Vivo, all needing new cash registers to handle the decimalisation, was what kept us going.
It was the time of the ‘Maud Report’. All the county boundaries were changed and there was a ‘Hands off Cornwall campaign’. Some windbeaten old Cornishman, surely a Tre-, Pol- or Pen-, explained that Cornwall was an island and that before WWII they’d had a meeting to decide which side to join – they had of course picked the winners! But Maud could not have been more disruptive, creating new boundaries that left the two chairmen of Devon and Cornwall County Councils each living in the wrong county.
I also remember asking my manager, Ken Turner, to come to a meeting in Penzance with West Penryn Rural District Council to help me in selling a complicated rates system to them. Ken, a Londoner, was allowed to enter the county, but the sales prospect, having been quiet throughout, spoke for the first time to say ‘What a bloody shirt!’. Ken was wearing a pink shirt and in those times white or grey was deemed to be quite sufficient variety.
I played rugby for Saltash. When you came off at the end of the game you were given a steaming ‘tiggy’, a Cornish pasty. When I played later, back in Bristol, a cup of tea never quite hit the spot.
I guess it was too early in my career to see all the benefits of staying put in Cornwall. I sought and got promotion, we moved to Thornbury.