IN LIFE, YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU ARE GOING TO RUN INTO!
The firm I worked for in Leeds had their head office in Windsor. In the mid 1960's, life had taken an upturn for me. I was Accounts Manager for Leeds Depot and became responsible for two other northern depots at Newcastle and Wigan. Increased responsibility meant increased pay, so I was able to move into a new build house (albeit end terraced) which had central heating! I was also able to buy my first, second-hand, car. In 1968 I was instructed to travel down to Windsor for a meeting with the Managing Director and my boss the Financial Director. Had no idea what it was about. The MD started off talking about how computerisation was taking off and giving all sorts of examples. He then said that the company were building a state of the art computer centre at Windsor and were aiming to install the first computer in 1969/70. He then dropped the bombshell, 'we want you to move to Windsor to be our first Computer Manager'. Now I had never even seen a computer, didn't know what colour they were or anything. But I remember having read somewhere that you never turn down a promotion as you probably won't get another offer. So I expressed my thanks and accepted. I was told to arrange to move to Windsor in late 1968. As I was leaving the MD's office, I got to the door and the MD said 'John'. I turned, and he said 'you know that if it doesn't work out your old job won't be available'. I suppressed a gulp and confirmed I understood.
By the summer of 1968 I had details of about a dozen houses we wanted to view. The houses were in Windsor, Old Windsor, Ascot, Bracknell, Taplow and Maidenhead. I was allowed three days to view and my wife and two boys (5 and 8) accompanied me as we drove to Windsor. On the third and last day, after two gruelling days, we visited Maidenhead for our final viewing. It was my first ever visit to Maidenhead and didn't know my way around. I was driving through the centre of Maidenhead and my two boys were fighting in the back seat. I half turned to shout at them when a guy who was stood on the pavement with a bike suddenly, and without looking, put one foot on the pedal and scooted across the road right in front of me. Fortunately, I was only doing about 10mph and braked to a stop pretty quickly but I nudged the guy so he ended sitting on the bonnet of my car and his bike crashed to the ground. I got out to check that the guy was OK and a passer-by came and lifted his bike up. I said to the passer-by 'he just came straight out in front of me, I didn't have a chance'. The passer-by gave me an odd look and said 'do you know you're driving the wrong way up a one way street'? There was a small lane fairly adjacent so I quickly reversed the car into the lane. I then apologised profusely to the owner of the bike and confirmed that he was OK and his bike was OK. I explained that I was down from Leeds looking at houses and didn't know my way around Maidenhead. The man was very well spoken and obviously 'Officer class'. He told me that he had been based in Leeds during the war and asked about several places which I was able to respond to. I then suggested that perhaps we should report the incident to the police but he said that as there was no damage there was no point. We shook hands and he wished us luck in finding a house. Six months later, (January 1969) we moved into our house in Maidenhead. I had arranged with the local Newsagent to deliver our papers including the local Maidenhead Advertiser. Our first edition of the Maidenhead Advertiser arrived and there on the front page was a photo of the man I had knocked of his bike - he was Chairman of the Magistrates!