I was around 19 years old and in the fourth year of my apprenticeship. Having passed my driving test, I desperately wanted to join field service. But in those days you weren’t ready for the call until you were,.. well …..ready.
The seventies were booming times for colour television and therein lay the dilema. There were quite a few monochrome engineers who never quite made the adjustment to colour TV servicing but the demand was for colour television engineers. It was going to be at least another year before I would have my final City & Guilds so I didn’t hold much hope there. Then one Friday night I was just about ready for the off when I was collared by the manager.
An engineer had dropped out of going on a colour TV training course which had been organised for monochrome engineers from all over the country. Did I fancy going, because it would mean spending the next two weeks in an all expense paid hotel? I didn’t have to be asked twice and after giving me all my instructions he gave me some fatherly advice about the dangers of late nights.
I returned slightly the worse for wear two weeks later, The course was intensive, but the nights were something else. The boys from Brum taught me the art of night-clubbing and going to bed at 2:00 am. However 2:00 am was considered an early night for the boys from Glasgow who introduced me to some amber coloured drink.
The session only ended when they ran out of the water that they had brought with them. They very kindly explained that English water was Keech and must never be mixed with precious malt under any circumstances. Thanks guys I never forgot that!
After a couple of nights back in my own bed it dawned on me that in the last two weeks I had completed a quantum leap. It was a very surreal experience and my confidence level had increased tenfold, I looked the same when I shaved in the bathroom mirror but I certainly didn’t feel the same. Monday morning I was in the managers office, he started by explaining to me that I needed to collect my per-diem allowance for the last two weeks. I did the maths in my head, I was now rich! Then he quizzed me about what I had learnt.
I amazed myself as I casually described the various aspects of vestigal sideband transmission and swinging burst in stunning detail. If you didn’t know how a colour killer works you shouldn’t be taking the back off the set., I droned on. Then I lazily drew a Philips G8 power supply schematic out of my head whilst explaining the purpose of every single component. I would have told him that the dreaded Thorn chopper stabilised power supply whose sword did smite down even the best was now my friend. I didn’t need to, he dropped the van keys into my hand and said “Welcome to Field Service”