IT HAPPENED TO ME
1915 - 1997
His Biography takes you through his boyhood days in a
Victorian type household. At school, his main interest was sport.
He became a member of the scout movement, from the cub stage
through to becoming a rover, as did his friend Sam.
Their claim to adventure in their early teens was climbing the Glyders and Snowdon with a 20 mile hike back to base at Llyn Ogwen in one day.
He left grammar school without a certificate but won his school colours at football. After 3 months working in his first job in the cellars of a Manchester warehouse, he moved into the soft furnishing department. He suffered from colour blindness. This resulted in an early transfer to another job at an insurance company. He quickly moved from the filing section to the claims department and became part of the team which specialised in repudiating claims.
At the age of 17, his family moved to Wolverhampton, where his father became area representative for his wholesale Manchester warehouse. This was the early period of the 1930s, years of depression. Without work for many months, he ultimately secured work at a lock manufacturer in Willenhall as a progress chaser. He gained knowledge in their products and was moved into the ordering office, but failed to receive an increase in salary. This caused him to apply for another post at Ever Ready, where he was successful and was placed on the efficiency section on work study and costing. At the age of 22, he was promoted to production manager, in charge of many hundreds of production workers, producing daily cycle lamps and torches in huge quantities for firms like Woolworth. Hitlers dictatorship caused many to join the territorial army, as did Alan Rayment in early 1938. On the invasion of Germany, he was recalled to his AA artillery unit at the drill hall, following the outbreak of war, to wed his betrothed, Gladys. By midday, he had rejoined his unit, which had been ordered to Coventry to position their 3-inch mobile anti-aircraft gun on the outskirts of this city.
This was the beginning of his war service, taking him to France in October and finally escaping a month after the Dunkirk episode from St Nazaire in June 1940. He remained in this country for the rest of the war in ack ack units employed on predictors and radar tracking duties. He returned to Ever Ready where he was given a 3 year task to lay out the factory for flow production of newly designed articles. During this period, he designed purpose equipment to fit in the parameters of the factory building. Parallel with his daily work, he became father to Harry and also concentrated on technical evening studies immediately on being demobbed. In his third year, he obtained his Higher National Certificate in Engineering, which gained him entrance to the admiralty scientific service. Whilst working at the admiralty research laboratory, Teddington, he continued to gain further technical and management qualifications enabling him to be accepted as a chartered engineer.
From birth, Harry showed behavioural problems, crying continuously night and day through into his early childhood days. It was only when his brother, Andrew, was born that his parents knew that it was possible to have a happy child. Harrys behaviour pattern became an increasing problem, not being able to settle at school or at work and was finally diagnosed as paranoia schizophrenic at the age of 18. The domestic scene caused by this illness meant that Andrew atended Bearwood College, Berkshire, where he obtained A-levels.
The years that followed were dominated by Harrys bizarre actions, including a number of attempted suicides, self-inflicted facial and head injuries. The mental hospitals failed to contain him and finally told his parents they had discharged him, withdrawing all medication in his late 30s. For 3 years, Harry lived with drop-outs of the community, living in communes, but always within a distance that his parents could support him. He returned to the Portsmouth area and was accepted by a new consultant at the local mental hospital.
At the retirement of his Dad, Gladys died of cancer, with Harry, who appeared to vie for attention with acts of violence, causing the local hospital to place him in a secure ward. Three years later, Alan married Sams ex-wife, Ella, all of whom were in the same gang in their childhood days. She also died 10 years later. Andrew entered the civil service marrying Linda at an early age and had 6 children, the eldest, Joy, is midwife.
Harry, at the age of 40, was placed in the community at Southsea and became reasonably stable, being supported by St James medical staff and housed with 6 other long term mental patients by the Portsmouth Housing Trust. He had always an interest in art and during his late 40s, the staff at the Grove Centre, a part of the Portsmouth University support for the community with disadvantages, he has found a purpose in life. The fellowship in his residence, especially Sylvia, their housekeeper, has had a mellow effect on him and his main concern is for his octogenarian Dads health and welfare. A success case for Barbara Castles policy of placing mental patients in the community!
The author of this book gives space to the world affairs and even to development in outer space, and it seems fitting to include the tributes Princess Diana received at her State Funeral in his epilogue wake.
© 1998 Alan Rayment
Last revised: February 28, 1998.