Who We Are
Norman Leaver. (The writer of all the material for sale on this website.)
The philosopher Voltaire once said “Give a man a job he enjoys, and he will never work again!”
I’m pleased to say that I have never worked a day in my life!
I wanted to run away to sea when I was a child, but my mum wouldn’t let me.
We did a deal.
As soon as I turned 14 and could leave school, my parents got me into HM Royal Australian Naval Dockyards as an Apprentice Ship’s Plumber, the theory being that this would prepare me for a life at sea when I was old enough to be trusted.
It never happened.
After two and a half years at the Dockyards I discovered that not only couldn’t you sign on as a merchant seaman (of any rank) in Australia, but there was a ten year waiting list in the Uk for those wishing to sign on as a ship’s plumber.
I transferred my apprenticeship from the Dockyards to a Plumbing Company involved in Commercial and Industrial work.
I finished my apprenticeship after the obligatory five years, with a bit added on because I couldn’t, for the life of me, wipe a joint on a bit of 4” lead. A bit of rebellion to be honest, as lead pipe in any form had been banned from use in Australia two years previously and I couldn’t quite see the point of it all. (I did finally and very grudgingly wipe a joint – and have never seen one since!)
At the age of 20 I did finally run away from home. Not to go to sea, but to become a wandering construction worker. Footloose and free, I would go wherever the whim took me. Consequently I found myself working on sheep stations, scientific establishments, dams, tunnels, oil refineries, petrochemical plants, and occasionally back to my first love, working on ships.
My final job in Australia was the conversion to natural gas of Melbourne – three joyous years of buckets of cash and a job I absolutely loved. When it was over I looked around for my next little adventure, and found that London was in the throes of the North Sea Gas conversion, so I caught a ship and popped over. I should have checked the rates of pay before I got here!
Same job, same hours, quarter of the pay, and double the cost of living! Oooops!!
I got over it, as you do.. And became a self employed plumber doing emergency call out work around the London area – my kind of work! Long hours, seven days a week, problem solving, helping people, I loved it.
Off to Germany for my next move. Working on a hospital in Wiesbaden.
Worked on a couple of other construction sites in Germany, then it was off to Sardinia to install Solar energy collector panels on the rooftops of bandit country in the mountains of Nuoro.
A complete break from plumbing then as I found myself working in the leisure industry for almost thirteen years, first as the manager of swimming pools and a leisure centre in Tameside, Greater Manchester and then going on to become the guru of health and fitness with a weekly newspaper column, and lecturing on the identification and prevention of Coronary Heart Disease. (back to plumbing really. all to do with pumps and pipes when you get right down to it!)
During this period I also became a writer.. sold a short story to a publishing company in Manchester, and was then commissioned to write lots of funny books for kids. I also knocked out a load of short stories and wrote comics.
But then, as you do, I got bored of all that, packed a clean pair of socks, leaped into my trusty Transit, and headed out of Manchester to London to become a plumber again.
It was an interesting time. I was stoney broke, so at first I lived in a tent on Hackney Marshes until I could afford the rent on a flat, but working seven days a week and on call 24 hours a day soon sorted that out.
A couple of years later, and just after the wall came down in Berlin, I was back in the Transit and off to Germany again. Berlin was absolutely heaving with construction work. Another adventure.
Thoroughly enjoyed it! Became a little more fluent in German, met lots of great people, did a bit of travelling over the border into Poland, splendid stuff!
Then I became a Plumbing Teacher in West Sussex.
Which led me to writing revision and training material for Gas Engineers and Plumbers.
And that is what I do to this very day.