July 1944. The first day of my first job, a delivery boy for ‘The Bargain Centre’ in Guildford street.
The boy who I was succeeding was showing me the ‘ropes’, he was on the delivery bike and I was walking along next to him. As we passed Tommy Garrett’s, I found a roll of pound notes held together with an elastic band.
My friend took the notes from me and said we should hand them in to the police station. He told me to wait outside to look after the bike and the boxes of groceries while he handed the money in. When he came out, he gave me half a crown, saying it was a reward that the Police Sergeant had given us for being honest.
At the age of twelve, I was not the worldliest child, but I felt uneasy about this. It was the first time I had seen so much money—nine pounds.
Without casting doubt on my friend’s story, I have often thought of the thrill he must have felt, holding, what amounted to two weeks wages for a working man. The temptation for him to keep it must have been overwhelming.
On our way to the Police Station, we tried to think of any-one locally, who was so rich. My friend said it was most likely the winnings of a gambler—a ‘bookie’ had an office in the ‘Lodging House’ nearby.
Maybe, if he did keep the money, he may have thought, that as it was not the amount of money that could honestly be earned at that time, it would not be missed.
He told me not to say anything to anybody.
I gave ‘My reward’ to my mother, saying I had found it, she didn’t believe me and gave me a clip round the ear, she quickly put it in her pocket though.
Looking back on this little story, I realise why I have never become a billionaire.