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Skilfully compiled from taped conversations by his friend Nick Osmond, the book allows us a vivid encounter with this intelligent, complex and sometimes frightening man. The hitherto unexploited form of oral autobiography delivers a rivetingly readable account of the kind of life overlooked in literature and unfamiliar to many readers.
Born blind in one eye but never accepting a handicap, Peter Richards chose a life of hard physical labour, as a farm boy after the war, as a building labourer, and finally for many years as a gas mainlayer in and around Sussex. Wild Irishmen, callous gangers, corrupt officials, harsh conditions and stress, the crack, a certain kind of freedom - he gives sharp insights into life behind the red and white barricades.
He speaks just as articulately of personal life - of marriage and raising a family in cramped housing; of landlords, insecurity, friendship and fighting; of his passions for sea-fishing and allotment gardening.
Contributions from friends and family fill out the story with different perspectives. It is a compelling and occasionally shocking story of emotional growth and maturing awareness, of a marriage bond which has survived domestic violence, of family love reversing the pain of childhood. Its trenchant honesty stays in the mind.
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Peter Richards laid gas mains for over 30 years . He
started as a pieceworker but rapidly became a ganger. Known by
some as 'Rottweiler richards' he was nevertheless well-respected
by workmates and engineers alike. Heart problems forced his early
retirement in 1997. He lives in Hove, tends his allotment, keeps
his finger on the pulse and is now a doting grandfather.
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ISBN 187348710X paperback £8.99 SPECIAL OFFER
224 pp., 201 x 129 mm., 24 b&w ill. index
Published in 2001