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We all know how we became deck officers or if less fortunate, an engineering or radio officer, but how did one become a purser. I suppose some came up the hard way starting as galley boy and working their way up to Chief Steward, but what about a seventeen year old with a few GCSE 'O' levels in his CV but poor eyesight and not having an interest in engineering? I remember I nearly failed my eyesight test in 1952 but don't recall if I had a back up plan. If I did, I am sure it did not include serving the Queen for two years doing my N.S.

Nick
 

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I met a chap in about 1959 who had failed eyesight and said he had become an apprentice purser with P&O. He had an unmistakable, though intelligible, Yorkshire accent except when he mentioned his company name, "Pee and Eow."
 

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I met a chap in about 1959 who had failed eyesight and said he had become an apprentice purser with P&O. He had an unmistakable, though intelligible, Yorkshire accent except when he mentioned his company name, "Pee and Eow."
I trained as a P&O Purser Cadet with a guy from Whitby. He also had failed his eyesight test after being at Worcester for a number of years. He had a hollow leg as far as beer was concerned. He stayed at sea for quite a while and made it to Deputy Purser on the Love Boat.
Great Guy!
 

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We all know how we became deck officers or if less fortunate, an engineering or radio officer, but how did one become a purser. I suppose some came up the hard way starting as galley boy and working their way up to Chief Steward, but what about a seventeen year old with a few GCSE 'O' levels in his CV but poor eyesight and not having an interest in engineering? I remember I nearly failed my eyesight test in 1952 but don't recall if I had a back up plan. If I did, I am sure it did not include serving the Queen for two years doing my N.S.

Nick
In the early '60's, I believe P&O required 6 'O' Levels (including a foreign language) and 2 'A' Levels. Being well-connected also helped. Training involved one-year in the offices, further language courses and stand-by on docked ships.
 

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Fortunate? Of course we were. Well, who would not rather swan around the bridge in the fresh air surveying the golden sea, etc., etc. In my day, all radio officers were slightly looney Irishmen ( a great exaggeration, I'll admit) and all the engineers were nick-named Mac and spoke with an unintelligble accent. Again, another wild exaggeration.

Nick
 

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I went for Eye Test. Two of us went through at the same time. I passed. The other lad struggled. The Examiner said to him, "I'm not going to fail you. Rest a bit and come back next week and have another go." Three years I was joining as 3rd Mate. The other lad, I recognised, was joining as well... as first trip Eng. Cadet. He didn't do that second test.

Same lad was at GCNS when up for his Second's ticket. One of the lecturers asked, "What do you want to do when you eventually Chiefs, shipyard, power station etc etc." Bob (Bob Landsman)says, "I want to be Chief Engineer on a sailing ship!"
 

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Years ago there was a thread on this site that contained hundreds of clean jokes posted. Did someone steal them, publish a book and retire in the West Indies ? Can't remember the name of that thread.
 

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Thinking about eye tests. Did you 'fortunate' deckies have to pass the test without glasses, or were specs acceptable.
I was probably told this a long time ago, but ageing brain fade is setting in.
Roger.
 

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Thinking about eye tests. Did you 'fortunate' deckies have to pass the test without glasses, or were specs acceptable.
I was probably told this a long time ago, but ageing brain fade is setting in.
Roger.
1970. Vision test and also the colour lantern test. Glasses not permitted. After that a vision test for every 'ticket' examination, but not the lantern test. I believe about 1979 there was a bit of allowance, but there were limits. I didn't have a problem then so I'm not sure. My last test for driving the Quack said, "20/20." Reading etc is a different matter!
 

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5. The vision standards for all deck/dual career personnel, merchant navy and fishing vessel, are as follows:
Basic Visual Acuity Standard *
Without spectacles or contact lenses
Higher Visual Acuity
Standard - With spectacles or
contact lenses if needed
Colour Vision
Ishihara test
Better eye Other eye Better eye Other eye
6/60 6/60 6/6 6/12 Pass Ishihara test
Vision standard for serving seafarers who become monocular
6/60 N/A 6/6 N/A Pass Ishihara Test
6. The Ishihara test is carried out using either 38 or 24 colour plates.
Use of aids to vision - spectacles or contact lenses
7. All deck/dual career personnel must be able to reach the basic visual acuity standard (6/60) without
using spectacles or contact lenses. Applicants may use spectacles or contact lenses to reach the higher
standard (6/6, 6/12). All applicants who pass the seafarer vision test using aids to vision should use
them when on watch and should also carry with them a spare pair of spectacles or contact lenses.
Where to take the seafarer vision test
8. With effect from 1 December 1999 Marine Offices will no longer conduct the seafarer visual acuity
and colour vision test. From that date any registered optometrist, usually found in most optician’s, may
conduct this test. A combined information leaflet, application form and seafarer vision test report
(MSF4100) for completion by the optician, may be obtained from any Marine office. A list of Marine
Offices is at Annex 1 of this Notice. The seafarer vision test is valid for two years
 

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before we spin too many yarns, give a thought for the engineers, who may have sat at mummys right hand, winding the balls of coloured wool, for that excellent fairisle knitted jumper. Robin wools. paton and Balwins, and wenndy wools all come to mind, as well as being a mummys boys, being looked after by some gruff C/E and a soft hearted Captain, We all cannot have perfect eyesight, However we can all feel the warmth of our shipping companions? Even if it is a swift kick up the Backside?.
Maybe our school of learning was the ZILATALLE, or Herbert Strasser, all good yarns, and many a coloured thread. The engineers eye sight test was coloured wools and threads=[cotton] so one did not mistakenly connect up the wrong cables, or put back that ''machine' in the wrong order/ I just wonder/ WHO IS SPINNING A YARN HERE!
 

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I would say that a 5 year indenture as a highwayman would be the perfect qualification for a Purser!(Jester)
 

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I failed my eyesight test for deck cadet, but I did not want to be an engineer. I served a 5 years apprenticeship on shore in electrical and instrumentation. When my time was up I went for a pre sea grading and got unclassified engineer. Went to sea for a couple of years as junior to 4th then left. In hindsight not being an engineer was the best move, as I worked in instrumentation/automatic control in the oil and gas business for the rest of my working life. Instrumentation was the best job to be in.
However if I had known about purser cadets, I could have gone into that. My mum would have been happier for sure.
I recall seeing adverts for the RN. "Why be a clerk in an office when you can be a writer in the Navy" Paymaster Commander Alistair D'acre Lacy .. a chap I once knew. Top chap, boss of Tecnicare International.
 
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