My name is Andrew Kaye, an Old Boy of Loughton School, and this is my story.
I joined Loughton School in 1953 and left in 1958, aged 16, to finish my education at the South West Essex Technical College with the necessary GCEs, as they were then called. My years at Loughton were dominated by sports, rather than academia. Hockey became my obsession. The circuit-training and hockey practice dominated my life and friendships, even beyond my school-leaving.
Suddenly, a serious girlfriend entered life’s arena, and things of a non-hockey nature started to dominate my life. In 1966, aged 23, I married Stef, my sweetheart, and 53 years later we are still together. In 1982, our only child, Alexandra, came along and became the most wonderful daughter any parent could wish for. In 2017 Alex married Martin and they now have 20-month-old George, the best grandchild we could have wished for. As is patently obvious, we are a blessed family.
On leaving school and college in 1959, jobs seemed to be abundant. I started in a hire purchase company in Regents Street, opposite both Hamleys toy shop and the London Palladium, as a junior clerk. The exciting and vibrant London atmosphere led me to a stint in Manchester Square, opposite the Wallace Art Collection, working in a Quantity Surveyors office. A short while later, I switched to the Royal Bank of Canada as a clerk. This was a very old building in the shadow of the Bank of England: my old bank building is nowadays the Bank of Persia. I found the work and atmosphere very stuffy and old-fashioned with some senior management even wearing top hats, but the location was incredibly exciting for a youngster. A few steps outside, I found the Bank of England Museum, still there today, displaying the complete history of the monetary system in England, including a detailed history of the successful, and not-so-successful, money-forgers, through the ages; by appointment in those days, but since 1994, free walk-in entry to everyone. A visitor can actually hold and lift, if you are strong enough, a huge gold bar worth a million pounds; but you can’t go off with it, it is encapsulated and your hands go through a large, but not large enough, slot. I remember trying, and failing, to get some of that gold under my fingernails and, to this day, wonder how many other visitors also go home with broken fingernails.
London was, and still is, a magical city to explore. The Clink, the oldest London prison, the various buildings of Government, Security, Museums, Galleries etc. Working in such an environment was truly inspiring to a young man.
My introduction to Local Government in London started in 1962 at Middlesex House, the home of the, then, Middlesex County Council, based near Vauxhall Bridge, and behind the, then, Tate Gallery, now Tate Britain building. There are lots of “thens” in my memories, as London has changed so much in 60 years.
Middlesex County Council disbanded in 1965 and gave rise to the Greater London Council. At this point, my career in London ended and I transferred to Chigwell Urban District Council in Loughton, thence, years later, to Harlow Council as Accountant and Senior Cashier, followed by a 2-year appointment in Leighton Linslade Council and finally followed by my final move to Greater London, the London Borough of Redbridge. I worked until retirement in the field of O&M (organisation and methods), finally as one of the Principal O&M Officers. This was the most rewarding work of all, studying working methods and practices.
In 1984, I was lucky enough to be asked to oversee the introduction of computerisation costing £3 million, including the new desk-top PCs, to the various council departments, and saw first-hand the dramatic effect on staffing levels that computers had. Vacancies were no longer automatically filled, as a desktop PC could often replace a member of staff, with the appropriate restructuring of work practices and procedures.
Sadly, my working career had to end sometime, but I accepted my change of circumstances gracefully. I had always been involved in computer programming, repairs and installations, and this interest has continued to this day, although my sport of choice changed from hockey to golf, a smaller ball but much larger pitch.