|Mike Callaghan’s “Potted History”
After leaving Conway several of us entrained to Chester where we had a final lunch at “The Blossoms”.
Soon after I joined the ill fated Shaw Savill and Albion’s SS Runic in Glasgow for a round the world trip to Australia and NZ. Why ill fated? The trip after(without me aboard needless to say) the ship was steaming in ballast from Brisbane to Auckland under overcast skies with no sights taken in those pre sat nav days. She ended up on the infamous Middleton Reef on the midnight to four watch; ballast was hurriedly pumped out before any ocean going tugs arrived just in time for a heavy cyclone came and carried the ship further on to the Reef ruling out any salvage.prospects.
The rest of my apprenticeship was relatively uneventful. After Second Mates I tried life ashore as a trainee manager “in women’s stockings” at Bear Brands Liverpool factory. That was to last for 3 months before I rejoined SSA( Slow Starvation and Agony). Falling for the various attractions of The Antipodes I later signed a two year contract with Union Steamship Co. of NZ and was flown out to join one of their ships in Mt Mauganui.. Their ships were primitive – no radar, all magnetic compass with a maximum speed of 12 knots with God speed and a fair wind behind you. But the pay (with overtime) was fantastic compared with that meted out by the barons of Leadenhall St.
Two years later I did a spell of shore leave in Sydney for my First Mates and met my wife to be, Margaret, in Sydney which was to be my home port. Returning to USSCo (Usual Saturday Sailing) after our Great Barrier Reef honeymoon I was immediately assigned a Melbourne based ship plying the Tasmanian trade. To rub salt into the wound I had to fly to sign on in Melbourne on Christmas Day leaving my new bride in Sydney!
Not terribly impressed with their personnel policy I vowed to swallow the proverbial anchor and restarted my career as a lowly paid shipping clerk. Two years later containerization came along and soon an opportunity to accept an offer with a US container leasing company. In 1972 we and our young family were off to San Francisco where I had been appointed Pacific Operations Manager. A year later we were moved to New York in preparation to head south to Sao Paulo, Brazil to start up the company’s South American office. Seeing the corruption and appalling sprawl in this city I decided to take up the company’s offer to stay in Manhattan. Three years later we returned to Sydney where I headed up the Australian branch.
Eventually I became Sea Containers GM. Aspiring to be my own boss I formed our own company MHC Services where we traded in container brokerage and represented a French tank container leasing and built them up to a respectable presence in Australia.
We sold our business in 1997 for an early retirement at the age of 57 to enjoy our two children and six grandchildren all of whom live fairly close by in Sydney and of course do a fair bit of non business travel within Australasia and overseas.
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