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Saturday, 23 March 2019

FIRST FULL-TIME JOB, POWER STATION WEST, BELFAST...... AND THE MOGGIE SQUAD

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Power Station West, Belfast (now demolished)

I left school with 4 O-levels in 1970 (I beefed up my credentials many years later with an Open University honours degree) and got a job as a junior office clerk working at Power Station West for the Belfast Corporation Electricity Department. My miserable tally of qualifications at the time restricted the jobs I could apply for. Power Station West was a fair old trek from where I lived. It required a very early start and two buses, a bit of a slog. It didn’t help that the job was mind-numbingly boring. One of our team, a hippyish chap, couldn't wait for lunchtime when the office manager popped home for soup and a sandwich. He would stretch out on his desk and nap. He had it down to perfection because he always woke up two minutes before the boss returned.

Harry Worth
The boss was like that old comedian Harry Worth, bespectacled, soft-spoken and prone to call any paperwork a chitty. Also, he would end every phone call with the words: "Cheery-Bye in the mean time."
A cat
To tell you the truth, the most exciting thing in that office-based job was looking out of the upstairs window to watch the monthly capture of stray, wild cats by the “Moggie Squad”, as we dubbed them. The cats were a nuisance and, we were told, dangerous. The Moggie Squad, all decked out in protective gear, would corner and nab the wailing and scratching cats with nets and stunner-prongs before putting them into a caged van. Once pronged, the captured cat would stretch rigid. It was probably cruel by today’s standards but, frankly, it was exhilarating to observe. Where the cats were taken and what happened to them is unknown.

But, cat watching did not alleviate all the boredom or satisfy an active mind, so, after a year, I began to look for something else. I opted for retailing and often thought of those stunner-prongs whenever I encountered a catty customer.

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