The War and working for the BBC
Michael Bond was born in Newbury,Berkshire in January 1926.
His earliest adult years were spent in the armed forces,although he was still doing basic training when
WW2 drew to a close so he never got to fire a shot in anger.
He spent the immediate post war years serving in the Middle East in general and Egypt in particular,
before eventually being de-mobbed in October 1947.
After a brief period of re-adjustment,he joined the BBC and worked as a nuts 'n' bolts service technician for the Monitoring Service at Caversham Park,Reading -a Government-funded news gathering organisation that had kept tabs on German communictions during the War and was to find renewed relevance during the Cold War.
He combined this slightly mundane day-to-day existence with a passion for writing,inspired by a childhood spent in a house full of books.
He had his first ever article published in August 1947 whilst still in Egypt -a short story for a magazine.
And a steady,if unremarkable stream of articles,short stories and even radio plays followed.
Although he still needed the income from his 9 to 5 job.
Bored with the routine of maintaining the same pieces of equipment week in week out,and feeling the need to do something more creative,he started to look at other avenues within the Corporation.
Although he was met with years of resistance as the Beeb were reluctant to spend resources re-training it's staff simply to hop from one department to another.
But their hand was finally forced in 1956 when Government cutbacks meant Monitoring Service staff were actually asked to re-deploy and Bond found himself a new home at the BBC's Lime Grove tv studios in London.
A move that was further enhanced by the completely coincidental creation of the Beeb's first ever media competition, Independant Commercial Television. ( aka ITV )
A new,cash-rich organisation that could offer BBC staff far better salaries for the same work.
And because so many jumped ship the opportunites greatly increased for those that didn't ie. Bond !
Inspired by a genuine love of the cinematic imagery he'd grown up watching,he chose to be a camera operator.
And promotion was rapid.
Still driven partly by the need to replace those that had left.
But also by an increase in the number of hours the Beeb were allowed to broadcast,as the government responded to the spiralling number of tv sets being sold,and the disquiet at how little there was to watch !
When he joined,7 crews were responsible for almost the entire studio output in the UK.
10 years later,as a senior cameraman,he helped form the 17th crew in London alone.
It was also during this period that he had his first book published -a collection of 8 short stories entitled "A Bear called Paddington".
It was 1958,and by Christmas the entire first print-run had been sold and a perennial kids' favourite had been born.
But it was still going to be years before he could live solely off his writing income.
And,irrespective of the money side of things,he enjoyed his job a camera operator so much that he wasn't inclined to give it up anyway.
Leaving the BBC
But by 1966,his enthusiasm had waned.
Prompted largely by the reduction in on-the-edge live transmissions in favour of pre-recorded footage.
But also by the onerous responsibilities and distractions that came with being in charge of a crew.
The days of fast-track promotions had also gone and things had settled back down to a far more ordered,and leisurely progression.
So,in April 1966,he finally took the plunge to try his hand as a full time writer .... at the age of 40.
Hardly a huge leap into the unknown.
But it probably focused his mind sufficiently to try broadening out from his Paddington heartland.
And no prizes for guessing what one of the results was ....