THE FIRST DAY
On my fourteenth birthday I left a London elementary school and was flung into industrial life, or, to be exact, I left on Friday and was fourteen on Monday. There was nothing unusual about this, most of the boys at school followed that custom. I do not know what became of any after the school door closed on them and me, except one, whom I met some years later in prison. He recalled himself to my memory. I was then working in the prison kitchen.
"I was at school with you - poke us a bit of pudden through the window!" he muttered urgently from outside. The others called him my college chum.
When I left the red-brick building called the Lancastrian School, whose bell at the end of the street had so often hastened my morning toilet, I was anxious to find work and make my way in the world. I was very vague about how to do this. For although I took a vivid and romantic interest in the world around me I had no definite, practical aim. In any case I had to find a job whatever was open. It was not for me to choose.
I went to see an estate agent who advertised for a boy in his office. He was a most gentlemanly man, with