Over Christmas my dad was telling some stories from a life pretty much spent on or around the sea. My father was with the Merchant Navy for around 16 years (from the age of 16 until 32), starting off as a galley boy. The Merchant Navy consisted of various private shipping companies, but my father worked pretty much exclusively for the Cunard line.
He rose up the ranks whilst working at Cunard, and by his mid-twenties had become a second steward. He had a number of men working for him at this point, one of whom was a gentleman by the name of 'Ted'. Ted was in his 50's, and my dad took a real shine to him. He was always keen to help out, and from the conversations they used to have, seemed like a very proud family man. My dad clearly remembers him talking about his sons, and in particular his twin boys who had recently started their own business. Ted would often remark to dad that he was the same age as his boys (about 27 or 28 at that time).
Anyway, during his time with Cunard, Ted was caught carrying out some misdemeanour or other, and my father was tasked with the job of having to let him go. This upset my dad, as he was genuinely very fond of him (and he was a terrific worker too!). But 'orders is orders' as they say, so he carried out the job. Still, the gentleman that he was, Ted took the news with grace, shook my fathers hand and bid him farewell.
My dad always wondered about old Ted and what happened to him, and a few years later he found out..... It transpired that 'Ted' was in fact a World War II deserter, and as such, even in the late 50's was still technically a wanted man. His real name was Charles David Kray, his wife was Violet Kray, his eldest boy was also called Charles, and those entrepreneurial twins? Yes, you guessed it, Ronald and Reginald Kray!
Looking back, I think my father was very grateful that old Ted took his dismissal so well!
Happy New Year!