My First Job – Bill And I

John Brown Motor Engineers  Fielden Street Glasgow

The older I get, the more I seem to think about the past.

When I get a few spare minutes, I like to scratch out a tale, and while writing about starting my first job, and a guardian angel that a friend’s wife had encountered, I began thinking about my own guardian angel moment.

I started my working life, John Brown Motor Engineers, Fielden street Glasgow (seen in the photo above). Through those big double doors were the petrol and diesel pumps. To the left of the highest part of the building, is the main repair shop, and inside the highest part is a forecourt. It was there that I pumped gas and washed cars, and was a general dogsbody, running errands and helping wherever I could. Eventually, I would start my apprenticeship as a mechanic, but you had to be sixteen years old (when I started I was fifteen). Apprenticeships back then were five years long, and were usually served from sixteen to twenty one years of age.

One day, after I’d been there for a few months, I was helping a man named Bill. Bill was a plumber by trade, but he was one of those guys who could turn his hand to just about anything. He could weld most things, or repair bashed bodywork on trucks and cars, but on this particular day, it was repairing roofs. Bill and I were on the lower part of the roof, repairing the high side nearest to the lower roof. I was doing the fetching and carrying for Bill. We were just about finished, and I was coming down the roof with some tools, when a couple of feet from the lower roof my foot went straight through the slates and timber.




Fortunately, I fell forward onto a flat piece of the lower roof. Had I gone downward, instead of forward, I most likely would not have been writing this story today, because forty or fifty feet below the hole I’d made, was the concrete floor. My only hope would have been to land on a large display cabinet for oil and accessories to break my fall, before it bounced me onto the metal safety cage the truck wheels were put into when they were getting inflated. Luckily, Bill gave me a hand getting up, and we managed to avoid any more rotten pieces of roof as we got down safely. So now, I sit and wonder, was it just good luck that I fell the way I did, or did my guardian angel push me forward onto the flat roof?


Colin Black is a 62 year old truck driver (and has been for over 40 years), and author from Bellshill, Bonnie Scotland.

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  1. Val Enders