FROM JAPAN, PAUL MEDDLE REMEMBERS
I was born in 1939. My father was William George Meddle; my mother Constance Mary Upton.
Towards the latter part of his life my father worked with/for George Osborne
on the 'Renown'. I can certainly remember my father getting up at all hours depending on the time of the tide and I can even recall taking a trip on the boat myself! Last port of call was always the 'Crooked Billet'! Many is the time that Sunday dinner (lunch) was kept waiting because my father had not yet made his way up Billet Lane. My mother also used to go there sometimes to attend meetings of the 'Glades' (I think that is how it is spelled) - a ladies only gathering to which I was sometimes taken along while I was still very young and where I gained a reputation for draining whatever might be left in the ladies glasses after they had finished drinking - not that that was a very great quantity!
My father passed away in my last year at Westcliff High, so that would be probably spring of 1957. Unfortunate as this was it meant that I was eligible for a scholarship to go to university which would not otherwise have been possible.
My mother lived on until 1987 having supplemented the family earning by working as a bookkeeper (accountant they call them now) at Garons in Southend High Street.
Looking back I now realise that in fact I rarely met any of my father's relations, the Meddles, but was much closer to my mother's side of the family which,
in true Victorian style was large.
Having lots of aunts and uncles meant that I got more presents on my birthday!!
Personally I left the UK in 1960 and have never lived there since, though I have
been back - usually on the tail of business trips to customers in London etc.
I now live in Japan and the chances of my returning to Old Leigh are pretty slim.
My memories of Leigh only reach to my 21st year - more than 50 years ago now.
The story of how I got to Japan is not that complicated. While at Westcliff High I was recommended by Harry Harden (who was Careers Master as well as next senior to Henry Cloke, the Headmaster) to take the Civil Service Exam (as it was then). I did and passed - something for the back pocket!! Languages (and math) were the only thing I was any good at so having got my three A levels in French German and Latin I proceeded to Exeter University where I scraped through the combined French and German course.
No other options appearing on the horizon I followed up on the Civil Service line, was seconded to the Foreign Office (again as it was then known) and in view of my foreign language ability(?) was offered a chance at a 'hard' language two year study course. Being offered Farsi (Persia/Iran), Burmese or Japanese, for no particular reason - except maybe that it was as far from home as you can get before you start to come back - I chose Japanese. I have been here ever since - 56 years and counting!
I am, believe it or not, still in close touch with one particular friend from high school days who now is retired in Scotland on the banks of the Dee. We Skype every now and then! Apart from that I met, once only, another guy from the same high school class. We met in Kyoto and reminisced. But I have since lost contact.