Author: Mac Benoy  May 2012
Wards of Dublin 
Bill’s Life CHILDHOOD
My school reports are still up in the attic here in Dalkey and reveal that I was 'top boy' in elementary school, dropping badly between the age of 10 to 12 (when mother died) but eventually gaining a technical scholarship, and later at nearly 16 a senior intermediate scholarship which I did not take up, but I attended night school for many years.  I just, foolishly, wanted independence and after seeking work at the local Labour Exchange started work at ten shillings a week as an office boy in, of all places, a solicitors office. I suppose I had immature feelings that though having served a technical education of minor sorts and limited degree, to associate with and work in dirty overalls was beneath me. Later I was a costing clerk in a wood veneer manufacturers (having been fired because I asked for a two and sixpence increase and saved the firm at least a pound a day in delivering unstamped letters), then assistant to the cashier of a large womens clothing Company, then accounts clerk in an engineering Company. Quite unhappy with life and realising I was on the wrong road career-wise, I went to Dublin by bicycle and boat in 1938 or thereabouts for about three months, being supported by Uncle Fred and Aunt Agnes seeking employment but with no work available (yes, it was still difficult to obtain even the lowliest employment and it didn't help that my educational standards were fairly pitiful against the higher levels enjoyed by youth here in Dublin). Humiliated and deflated, my 'return to Ireland' crusade died and I returned to Leeds and obtained a job as progress clerk (ensuring metal component parts subject to many stages of machining were routed correctly and on time) in a large Engineering concern earning two pounds ten shillings for a 47 hour week, now aged 19. A boring job. Before and after returning I had joined St. Cristopher's cycling club where I truthfully enjoyed the best days of my youth. I had also bought a hand built 531 semi-racing bike for seventeen pounds and ten shillings and gloried in it's RR overtones! Weekend trips with about 30 others was the apex of each week. In the club I met Marcella and from then on my life seemed to change.