Where in the world could a fourteen year old child apply for a job which they start at the age of fifteen with no way of leaving until they are twenty seven years old? Where in the world? Great Britain. Stephen Mann writes of his experience as a boy entrant to the British Royal Navy, his despair then anger at finding that he could not escape from a world of arbitrary rules and personal violence. His humour and North London independent spirit ...
Where in the world could a fourteen year old child apply for a job which they start at the age of fifteen with no way of leaving until they are twenty seven years old? Where in the world? Great Britain.
Stephen Mann writes of his experience as a boy entrant to the British Royal Navy, his despair then anger at finding that he could not escape from a world of arbitrary rules and personal violence.
His humour and North London independent spirit however shines through and despite his frustrations, the cracking momentum of the book is maintained as we enjoy adventures with Stephen and his shipmates on the High Seas.
This book describes Stephen's growing political awareness and his opposition to the war in Vietnam and also charts the battle to make a barbaric system of virtually press ganging children for 12 years, become a thing of the past.
Stephen explains: "I was in the Royal Navy for five years and ninety three days, which is five years and ninety two days longer than I had wanted to be.
"This was the 1960s. The music was fantastic, the fashion fabulous and revolution, freedom and equality were at the top of the political agenda. However, it was also a time when working class boys were encouraged to join the armed forces at the age of fifteen - and what many of these boys didn't fully realise was that once they'd signed on the dotted line there was no way out. For them the 1960s were not so great and a brutal and sadistic regime awaited them in their first year of training.
"Whilst some boys accepted their fate, others tried to escape. The people I served with did so in a variety of ways - by pretending to be daft, punching Officers, deliberately disabling themselves or they just deserted.
"As the political and anti-war movements of the 1960s began to influence me, my way out of the Royal Navy would take a different and surprising course."
Sadism, Songs and Stolen Liberty is the story of these 'reluctant servicemen', their hardships and escapades - evocatively set against the unforgettable musical soundtrack of an era.
Stephen concludes: "It was these wonderful songs of the 1960s that lifted my spirits, kept me sane and allowed me to mentally escape the worse times. I will be indebted to them forever."
Stephen Mann joined the British Royal Navy at the age of fifteen. He has written the book "Sadism, Songs and Stolen Liberty" about his experiences in the Navy and how he tried for five and a half years to get out.
He has spent his working life first as a chef, then a postal worker before becoming a telecoms engineer. Stephen has been a lifelong trade union activist and now works as a health and safety officer for the Communication Workers Union. Stephen lives in North London and supports his local football team, the Arsenal and he is active in their Independent Supporters Association. Stephen is a member of his local Labour Party and he likes music, reading, writing and enjoys a nice cup of tea.