Coming from a family of mechanics and engineers I have always had a kind of ambivalent attitude towards work. Work was something you did wearing a pair of overalls, something that dripped oil over the back of your hands and required you to walk around with a ruler in your top pocket. By such definitions I have never been a worker, for me, oil was something you cooked your chips in and a ruler was something that lived in a pencil case. For a short time I was a bus conductor and wore a uniform and that was about as close to real work as I ever managed to get. For the rest of the time I wore a suit and shuffled papers about on a desk which, although it meets the old Marxist description of "workers by hand and by brain", never seemed to produce anything.
So for Sepia Saturday this week - where the theme is WORK - I turn to my father, Albert (most of you will recognise him by now, seated just left of centre), who was a worker by any definition of the term. Here he sits in front of one of the machines he will have helped to build and install, and what a wonderful machine it is : a real machine. It has levers and dials, buttons and switches and looks set to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile into orbit. However, the only thing it would launch into orbit was an Hazelnut Cracknell or a Strawberry Delight, for my father worked for the sweet and chocolate manufacturer, John Mackintosh, makers of Quality Street.
The photograph perfectly illustrates a pride in work and workmanship. Here was a body of men (ah, in those distant and unenlightened days, the men built the machines and the women operated them) who had collectively created something; something which they no doubt thought would last for a hundred years. It didn't : the firm is gone, the factory is gone and the machine will be long gone. But the photograph has survived, so I am going to reach over and select an Orange Cream from the tin on my desk and pay homage to the world of work and workers.
To see the work of other Sepia Saturday contributors, visit the Sepia Saturday Blog and follow the links.