By Ken FrancisAirframes

Congratulations to Kevin Hutchison for getting first prize in the "Now I'm 81 stakes".

It made me think what a difference age made, back in those ever receding Halton years.

As I remember, although I am open to correction on this, we were paid 17/6 per week initially; part of which was paid weekly and the balance held back. The weekly split was either in the ratio of 10/- to 7/6 or 7/6 to 10/-, I can't remember which. The balance was paid as a lump sum at the end of term.

That end of term pay parade prior to the first Christmas leave was a revelation. Most of us were paid similar amounts - £6, £7 or £8 comes to mind - but a few were paid sums going into the £20+ range. The reason for this was, of course, that a few of us - not myself - had reached the magic age of 17½ during, or even before, that first term.

At 17½ years of age the pay increased to 49/- per week - man's pay - and indeed at 18 year of age it further increased to 56/- per week - superman's pay!! However, those more aged apprentices were still paid at the 10/- to 7/6 per week rate. The big difference came at the end of term pay parades when the backlog was paid. Truly there were then "barons" amongst us!

Of course it all evened out as we progressively reached the 17½/18 years of age milestones. It took me eighteen months to reach the first one of those. At the time I always felt that the younger you were the more financially disadvantaged you were, considering that we were all doing the same thing.

I remember arriving home on one end of term leave, during those early terms, and finding a £5 note tucked away in a jacket that I had worn on a previous leave. I couldn't believe my luck, it seemed like a fortune. Perhaps it really belonged to someone else, but I blew it on wild living anyway - some hope! Money tucked away in a jacket at home has just reminded me that it must have been a civilian jacket - no civvies at Halton remember? Just another thing that made us what we are today - no civvies for three years - if you ignore the belated blazer and flannels setup; I always thought of that as a hybrid form of uniform anyway.

As for the no motorcycles or cars regime, this was overcome by certain individuals keeping their vehicles illicitly in local lockups or rented garages. (Like my uncle's pub in Tring - but that's another story. Brian.)

(Re. Ken's third paragraph; I seem to remember us having the option to have the amount held over - which I think initially was 7/6 - paid into a Post Office Savings Bank account; from which was derived the sarcastic comment 'He's a posbie b*****d!' when referring to someone with deep pockets and short arms. Is my memory correct or just another figment of my imagination? Brian.)