Rod Patterson's Story

The Army Game

By Peter J Stoker

Photo:Rod (centre) in the Sergeant's Mess, 1979

Rod (centre) in the Sergeant's Mess, 1979

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Rod's family friends (West sisters), Portslade, 1940s

Rod's family friends (West sisters), Portslade, 1940s

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Rod Patterson in Army in Belize 1976

Rod Patterson in Army in Belize 1976

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Rod Patterson in Belize 1976

Rod Patterson in Belize 1976

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Rod Patterson Catterick Barracks 1977

Rod Patterson Catterick Barracks 1977

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Rod Patterson with Father and Father in Law in Sergeant's Mess

Rod Patterson with Father and Father in Law in Sergeant's Mess

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Rod Patterson's Wife Sue in Kent in 1978

Rod Patterson's Wife Sue in Kent in 1978

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

Photo:Rod Paterson in the Army

Rod Paterson in the Army

Photo from WRVS Heritage Plus Archive

So far, sew good

I had been taught how to sew which was very useful in the army. We'd be given our uniforms and then would have to sew the buttons on ourselves. Some of the soldiers hadn't handled a needle and thread before so I'd charge them sixpence a button to sew the buttons on their uniform; and I'd charge 10 shillings for a greatcoat.  This was quite handy as we only earned £2 10/- a week.

A lift in a 'Roller'

We only went out in uniform for training but it made it easy to get a lift. One day a big, shiny Rolls Royce stopped. There was a couple in the back and they had a chauffeur and everything. They gave me a lift to Portslade, right to the door and gave me a 10 bob note - a lot of money back in 1956. I think because the war was still so fresh in everyone's minds then you got a lot of respect if you were in uniform.  But I think by the 1970s attitudes had changed a lot.  This was partly due, I believe, to the unflattering TV pictures people saw of the army on the streets of Northern Ireland.

A Spanish romance

For a while I was stationed at La Linea near Gibraltar.  I met a Spanish girl. She didn't speak any English and I didn't speak Spanish but we spent six months together with her sister, mother and aunt chaperoning all the time! Then Franco closed the border with Gibraltar and I didn't get to see her again.

Milk Bar Kid

Back in the early 1950s through to the sixties I used to go to the Eldorado milk bar. There was a huge Knickerbocker Glory in the window and a gurgling Gaggia coffee machine inside. We also used to go to another café on the Old Shoreham Road to have milkshakes once a week for tuppence. Another place of leisure was the cinema in North Street - a right 'flea pit' that was! I can still smell the disinfectant spray they used to clean it with and hear the hum of the generator out the back.  I particular remember seeing lots of Laurel and Hardy films there.

Something borrowed...

I remember when my wife and I got married. Wedding dresses were very expensive and we'd spent our money on all the other things for the wedding, so my wife borrowed the gown that her sister had worn at her own wedding only a month previously. My wife wasn't very happy about it though, and always wished that she'd been able to have a dress of her own.

A new suit ruined

As a kid I never had much money to get clothes, so they used to last about six years. I was bought my first suit at 14 just before I left school and immediately fell into a water tank with the new suit on! I scrambled out and went to near my house. I lay in Harry Reaves' orchard - I could see the house from there - until mum and dad went out, then sneaked in.  Unfortunately I didn't know how to clean the suit so I left it at the bottom of the wardrobe and it went all mildewy. They found out when my auntie came to visit one Sunday and my dad told me to put the suit on for her. My dad didn't hit me but I was grounded. That was alright though, because my old man did shift work, so I used to sneak out of the window. And mum was so soft that she never did anything.

'Tyred' Old Soles

My old man was a bit tight and never splashed out on clothes for us. But he had all his clothes made for him: suits, coats, shoes. He used to inspect our shoes each night and would patch them up with bicycle tyres if they needed mending! We got the mickey taken out of us when we went on the swings because kids could see the tyre treads on the soles.

Dating Disasters

I was 12 years old the first time a girl asked me out - she asked me to meet her in Victoria Park, Portslade. I borrowed my dad's overcoat to wear. It was miles too big for me, the sleeves went over my hands and the hem of it went down to my feet. I'd put soap on my hair and was setting off down Lock's Hill when it started raining. The soap came down my ears, all bubbling and frothing. I looked a right state and I didn't dare go and meet her in the end.  Mum was an usherette at the Rothbury, so I used to get in free. And there was another cinema called the 'Granada'. I had a date there once, too. I got the bus from old Portslade village and as I went past I saw my date standing outside the cinema. She was wearing a red coat but I lost my bottle and stayed on the bus!

Horrible Merger

When they amalgamated Hove and Portslade, there was uproar. I went to a meeting about it. They had taken all the Portslade signs down but we caused such a stink that they had to put one back up again in the end.

A surprise next-door-neighbour

I came out of the army in 1981. I asked my wife where she wanted to live, she's from Yorkshire originally, and she said she wanted to stay here in Portslade. I went to the council and they re-housed us because I was army and they had a duty to. Anyway they allocated us a place on Drove Road - in the flat next door to me mum! It was a total coincidence. The flat was completely unfurnished and I was still just finishing in the army, and coming back at weekends, so I had to bring sheets and things home.  I paid for everything in cash: no credit - my wife doesn't believe in it.

This page was added by Peter J Stoker on 05/12/2007.
Comments about this page

Rodney Patterson is my cousin, his father is my father's half brother.
I went to school with Rod's brother, Melvin, and I sometimes see one of his sisters, Christine. I now live in Beddington, Surrey.

By barrie lawson
On 05/10/2009

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