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John Farley - His story from the T.S. Indefatigable.

John Farley's - 1959/60.

John Farley and Chief Derrick

John Farley and Chief Derrick

  For some time my father and I had not seen eye to eye. Of course, in those days kids were expected to be seen and not heard. All I knew was that I did not want to be what he had in mind for me. He had made attempts before to get me into the army as a cadet. I rebelled at his attempts; in fact I rebelled against his form of discipline. He, like his father had made the Army his life, and I guess he thought it would be good enough for me. 
The last secondary school I attended was a typical school of its day, Linden Road Secondary Modern, the sort of school that movies were made from in later years, a breeding ground for young hoodlums.
In those days Britain was a huge industrial nation and I believe we were only given enough education to man the ships, factories and mines. 
I was A little kid and for protection from bullying I became involved in the school gang.
This led me on a path that must have caused my parents much grief as I know the boys in blue were involved from time to time. My father was an RSM in charge of a regiment and yet he was powerless to control a fourteen year old boy. I’m not proud of those times but I still think it adds to the general tapestry of ones life. 
My father made one last attempt and we had moved to another suburb so that I could be admitted to a different school. I believe now that I had somewhat of a breakdown. I had been moved for the last time, or so I thought. 
My older sister and I started at the new school at Longlevens in Gloucester. Something had snapped inside of me and I did not go to class. Instead I looked for somewhere to hide. On the playing field there was an old Double Decker bus. It was used as a sports equipment store room. I slid underneath and found a small trapdoor. That was my hidey- hole and for three days I happily amused myself. On the fourth day at about lunchtime the grounds man came walking towards the old bus and I freaked. I thought the game was up. Of course he had no idea I was in there but in the state I was in, my young mind went into overdrive. I crawled out from under the bus and sneaked away. I needed somewhere else to hide for a couple of hours. An unused chicken coop offered me sanctuary and I crawled inside. 
I later heard the other kids making the noises that kids do when they are released from school for the day and I knew it was time to go home.
I remember walking into the back door. My mum took one look at me and the look of shock stunned me. I didn’t realize it but I was covered from head to foot in flea bites. Of course I could offer no explanation.
She immediately called my father who would have had to leave his duties at the barracks. He was not very impressed. Before I knew it I was in his car and whisked away to the army clinic at Robinswood barracks. They recognized the rash for what it was. I was stripped and then painted from head to foot with Calamine lotion. We were soon on our way home.
Unbeknown to me, my mum had rung the school, asking what the heck was going on and they had informed her that I had not attended. The game was up! 
Something had to be done and it was at this time that my father showed me a little blue covered book. “Read this and tell me what you think.” He walked away into the kitchen leaving me to give this thing a cursory glance and put it aside to watch this new invention called a television. 
It had been an interesting little book. Boats and water, uniforms, swimming pools, tennis courts and other stuff, but at fourteen years of age I was more interested in the TV.
He came back into the room and asked. “Well what do you think?” I replied “Not much”.
He crouched down so that we were eye to eye, so close that I could smell the Woodbines on his breath. “Well think again boy because you’re not staying here!” It was not long after that and I was off to the Indefatigable. 
It was only recently that my sister told me that for her it is something she still has some trouble with. One day I was there and the next I was gone. She did not know where and nobody offered her an explanation. The only memory she has is a conversation she had much later with our mother, concerning my father pleading with the courts not to send me to a Borstal. I still don’t know if that is true.

This is a little poem I wrote. It came from my fathers eyeball comment, something that stays within me. 
The Blue Liar
I can remember clearly, when my father said to me;
“ I’ll give you a proposition, there's something I want you to see.
I want you to read this little blue book, at a series of pictures I want you to look.
I’m going to wash the things in the sink, you read the book and have a think.
I did as he asked, I read the book, and at the pictures I had a look.
I put the book down to watch TV, why did he give this book to me?.
My question was answered very soon, my father gave a look of gloom.
He must have known that I'd been bad, and what I'd done had made him sad.
The book was to show me what was to be, was he really going to get rid of me.
I read it again, but I felt fear, “Get used to it boy, your not staying here.”
What did I do, what did he mean?, I’d done good and bad, but only bad’s seen.
There’s nothing to do, my mum looked sad, Always my father, never my dad.
Some arrangement had been made and I was soon on my way. We drove up to North Wales, through Bangor, over the Menai Bridge and on to Llanfair. Driving between those sphinxes that guarded the entrance to the school was like entering another world. Finally the school emerged and my father came to a stop at the entrance to an old mansion. 
He went inside, ordering me to wait outside. I wandered around peering through the windows of what was the indoor swimming pool. I walked around the corner and the view opened up to show the grounds that led down to the Menai Straits. I heard a car start up and turned to see my father driving away. I can’t explain my feeling at that time. 
I walked back to the entrance where I was met by a large meaty faced man. He was Captain George Washington Irvin. He smiled openly and for some reason I felt at ease and a sense of peace came over me. 
Chief officer Derrick was the next in line. It was only later that I found it was best not to get on the wrong side of him. They were both in their full naval dress and very impressive. They were to be a part of my life for the next two years. 
I was taken to the store and issued with my kit. Naval uniforms with all its paraphernalia were not new to me. I had been involved with both the Sea Cadets and Sea Scouts in my past. With arms holding all the gear, I was led to one of the dormitories and shown the skills required for keeping a tidy house. 
Joe Earl’s description of the place is pretty typical and he has written it extremely well. 
I remember sometimes it was just as pleasurable not to be given leave on a Saturday afternoon. Much time was spent in the woodlands. Hazel nuts were in plentiful supply when they were in season, chestnuts too. Picking shellfish off the rocks was another pastime and cooking them in the galley always drew a hungry crowd. 
Being a drummer in the band made life pleasant and I still wonder how the locals felt about having their peaceful existence disturbed at that ungodly hour of the morning. 
The true account of daily life escape me but daily events always started with a bad rendition of reveille and a quick dip in the pool. In winter it was not too pleasant. I was one but I’m sure there were many more that would splash a bit of water on the head and then run out past the duty officer hoping he wouldn’t tumble to the ruse. 
Clean ship, inspections of both self and dorms, all timber decks were to be polished to a high shine. Normal school work of course. Seamanship was also a large part of what we did and the cutters and whalers were made good use of. Discipline was always hovering around and a boy soon learned how to exist and live within its limits. 
Only once did I err enough to be given the ultimate. On reflection it was the defining moment when I ceased to be a rebel and instead became some semblance of a decent human being. It was only after receiving six of the very best. I’d had them at other schools but nothing compared to the way it was done at this school. I described it in other writings like this:- 
Whenever punishment was dealt out, it was done properly, navy style; that’s how I know the drill.
At morning parade I and a couple of others were called out for punishment and marched off to the boiler room. I guess each of us wondering what was about to occur. The boiler room was down in the depths of the school and all bums were turned to the boiler for warming. 
I was the last to be marched out and after hearing the noises of canes cracking and the howls of protest I was feeling just a tad nervous to say the least.
Finally the duty officer came and ordered me to follow him. I did this and ended up standing before the captain who read out the charges. The chief officer asked. Do you accept the charges”? I didn’t see that I had any choice but to accept. “The punishment for such a crime is to be six cuts of the cane, do you accept the punishment”? Again, what could I say? It must have been the weakest
"Yes sir” that had ever left my lips
“ One step forward” he barked, and before me was a box which was for me to bend over and expose the area to be treated, I did this and then waited for the inevitable. Bell bottom pants were tight standing up, bending over made them even tighter. 
There was a little bit of shuffling around and then Thwack! Shit! I thought I had been cut in half. If I had to describe the pain I would have to say exquisite, there were five more to follow. I had no option but to just grit my teeth and not make a sound. When it was over and I had wobbled to an upright position, I turned to face them and all three seemed to have a look of respect on their faces.  This was something new to me. I even felt then that none of them received any pleasure from what had just occurred.
I was marched away and ordered to go to the mess for breakfast. The other boys were like me and we all stood up for breakfast, our rear ends being a bit tender. 
That was the only time I went through that sort of thing. It was so different from all the other times in other schools, a real learning experience. I felt that if you could admit your wrong and take the punishment, then you would earn respect. 
This was the defining moment for me and it was only after that time that I began earning good conduct stripes; I had all three by the time I left to go to sea. 
Who said corporal punishment doesn’t work?? 
I wrote my life story so that my children could know their father and what had shaped his life. Even more importantly they would know where those good principles passed on to them had been learned. I learned them the hard way and passed them on with love in my heart so that they could grow and prosper, hopefully passing those same indefatigable principles on to their children.
The Indefatigable will live on for ever even if the name is forgotten.
I have described the Inde as my spiritual home and I now know it is for many others.
This is my year to revisit the place that I have no memory of ever leaving.
  I just know that all the lessons, such as honesty and genuine caring, especially for the underdog or the less fortunate have stayed with me.
Integrity, able to take a practical approach to a problem and resolve issues.
To be able to take command by using natural leadership and without being bossy.
Personal things like always being true to yourself first and to always treat others as you would like to be treated.
One of the practical lessons was, never tie a knot you cannot undo. That lesson can be applied in many situations and not just when tying rope.
So many of life’s lessons were learned at the Inde. I just never realized it at the time.
I don’t know, maybe I never did leave the place. Not a bad thought when I think about it.

T.S. Indefatigable Main Page


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ex T.S. Indefatigable Stories:

Indefatigable Main Page

Chris Littlehales 1963/4

David Martin 1955/6

Joe Earl 1956/7

John Farley

John Prestwich

Peter Hammer 1963/4

Indefatigable Memoirs

Indefatigable Photos

Indefatigable Reunions

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