Russ Stewart: London, December 2022
To date I have had four different careers, none of which featured in my childhood expectations.
Aged about seven I was keen on being a bus conductor.
The manual ticket machine, strapped to the conductor, looked like fun and would have kept me amused for at least forty years. Who would guess that technology would crush that dream?
I quite liked the peaked cap look too.
Then, when I was about ten years old I was captivated by the Apollo space programme (and the preceding Mercury and Gemini programmes).
I could recall the crews of every US space mission in the same manner that school pals recounted football line ups from Scottish Cup finals.
Astronaut was my next career aspiration.
I was reasonably good at, and interested in, maths and science-oriented subjects and was confident that I would remember the names of my space crew.
However, the British Interplanetary Association was short on spacecraft (seemed limited to Patrick Moore and some other dodgy quiffed astronomers).
Around fourteen I started playing guitar and taking double bass lessons at school.
Thankfully “Skunk” Baxter quashed any idea of a musical career.
Hearing him play on Steely Dan’s debut album, “Cant Buy a Thrill” brought me down to earth.
However, I am getting 100 quid and free drinks playing a pub, with a band, in Twickenham this new year’s eve (7th year in a row).
Graduated in 1979.
Missed my graduation ceremony as I skipped off to travel the summer, with John Allan, around western Canada and USA.
To placate my parents I did some job hunting before travelling. I got into the last four, from about one hundred applicants, for a trainee manager job with J&B Whisky.
Did not get job.
November 1979, sitting in pub off Charing Cross in Glasgow, avoiding the rain, I read the appointment page in the Guardian.
Colour newspaper printing was a recent innovation.
Quarter page ad for recruitment of trainee police inspectors in Hong Kong. Featured an upright chap in khaki uniform and peaked cap (box ticked). However, it was the bright blue sky in the background that convinced me to apply.
Three months later I left 10 degree London for 5 degree Hong Kong.
Early 1982 I attend a briefing at Seung Kwai Cheung police station.
It was just before night shift so just me and duty officer involved. Scottish chap (lots of us were in RHKP).
Turns out he got the job I failed to get at J&B Whisky.
He quit after six months and joined the Royal Hong Kong Police.
The rigours of the RHKP training….