I left school at 16 because my Mum, by then a single parent, simply could not afford for me to stay on to do A-levels. I needed to go out to work and earn a living.
It was 1969, and back then in the UK you could choose more or less what you wanted to do if you had any qualifications. I had 5 O-levels, which was enough for most jobs. You really only needed more if you wanted to do A-levels and go on to University. That wasn’t then an option for me. Or even a vague idea.
So I went to work for ICI Pharmaceuticals Ltd in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. I moved from my council house in the industrial working-class town of Barrow-in-Furness to the one of the most wealthy, leafy, areas of Britain. It was a shock.