Rencontres particulières 8 : My favorite docker, Albert E. Golding

Life has sometimes funny ways to put things together. This story begins when I was working at the International Labour Organisation, Geneva, in the 1980s and continues in Neuchâtel in 2018.

I was in charge of analysing the survey done by the international dockers union based in London. It was the time when different ports were facing the introduction of containers which obliged the ports to construct special platforms for the containers that were moved by cranes and not any more by dockers. The unions hoped to be able to do something and wanted to have a worldwide view before acting. The questionnaires I had to analyse were in different languages and I remember that I went to ask a few questions to my neighbour, Mrs Bourquin, whose husband was the son of one of my former mathematics teachers, she was Hungarian. By the way, Mr Bourquin, the teacher, had been my teacher, my friend’s (André) teacher and the teacher of Gilbert Facchinetti ! Life is so funny sometimes…

The results were to be presented by the department for which I was working at that time, « Maritime », in London. So I went to London. At the seating I only saw men and I could see from far who was a docker and who was working with a crane. There was such a difference between those from Liverpool and those from Vienna! Those from Liverpool looked like the movies dockers, solid and with a whisky bottle in the pocket (I precise that I never saw anybody drinking) besides the slim ones working on cranes and in some way « alone ». Between those from Liverpool I could feel a real union. I cannot explain why I was marked by those examples as there were much more at the seating.

You already know the result. Liverpool had resisted and refused to see containers landing in their port… and the port had been bypassed, the situation was really difficult. Hereby you have a picture of some dockers in the 1950s. You can see their strength, their personality, they are just « one ».

Liverpool had been the major port of the British Empire and the first enclosed commercial dock of the world and a pioneer in the development of port technology, transportation systems, port management and building construction. So, you can imagine the situation with the new technology…

I was sad feeling that I could do nothing in this situation. I have been carrying this in my heart, in my « self » until 2018.

Years later after the survey, working at my ballet studio I see an English family take place into the apartment next to my studio in Neuchâtel. We had a nice relationship for a longtime. I had put some plants into their court yard that leads to my studio, they had appreciated and that was all. At Christmas 2016 I saw Do’s parents (Do and Martin are the names of my neighbours) and that was nice. In 2018 I see them again, it was the Summer, we have a talk and I discover that Albert, Do’s father, had been one of those Liverpool dockers that was working at the port by the time I had analysed the survey… In the end he had been obliged to change his profession! I couldn’t believe that I had in face of me one of these wonderful dockers. Immediately a love story started. His wife is not jealous, his daughter neither! It is as if I had History in face of me. And hereby you have Albert, my favorite docker, posing before the recent Liverpool football victory and he is wearing a T-shirt with « Never give up » written! That is fabulous ! Somehow I feel much better and have not any more this sadness I had for years. I cannot explain how it happened but it is so.

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