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The Prudential

With money needed at home, he could not continue his music atudics. In July, before leaving school, the search began for work. With two other boys he went to Hampton's Furniture Shop wher he was offered work at ten shillings a week. Dissatisfied, he tried elsewhere in the hope of a better job. Fortunately he was recommended by a Mr. Allen to the Prudential. After a holiday at his Aunt Ada's in Gravesend, Stanley started work in August (officially commencing in October) at the Prudential offices in Holborn, as a clerk (4th class) for £65 per annum. However, by December he was able to do overtime of one hour daily for eightpence extra. Although he was quite impractical, John kept lists for everything that needed attention; just one glance at his father's diaries reveals the source of this habit. It was this daily keeping of lists rather than mathematics which suited him to book-keeping. In addition, he would earn a shilling by tuning pianos in local church halls.
It was customary during the Depression for a number of seats - at concerts to be set aside for the unemployed for sixpence. Often, following a disagreement, Stanley gave his father the money needed to attend. Little did Albert realise that this was his son's way of deflecting attention, of 'buying him off.
Inheriting a propensity for bronchial problems, which had prevented him from doing gym during his last year at school, he was frequently absent froin work. Finally, after a bout of chicken-pox in May 1938, Stanley was admitted to the Connaught Hospital suffering from pleurisy and was hospitalised for a month before being ordered to the seaside for a three month convalescence. The local vicar of St Stephen's gave Amy 12s.6d for the hire of a taxi to Victoria and Eddie took his brother to the Surrey Convalescent Home at Seaford. Together with Eddie and Will, Amy visited him for a couple of weeks, staying in lodgings. She discovered Stanley was enjoying his time with the other twelve male patients, had put on weight and would be able to resume work in October. This illness was later given as the reason why he was not accepted by the army during the war.
When Italy invaded Abyssinia during the period leading up to the Second World War, there was heated debate amongst the British public as to the appropriate method of dealing with aggression. The Pritchard family attended several such discussions at their Church, as to whether 'pacifism should be the true attitude of a Christian'; an attitude that was alien to Albert's patriotism.
With the actual outbreak of war in September 1939, the Prudential moved their headquarters to Torquay but the section to which Stanley belonged was evacuated to Wakefidd in Yorkshire where hefound lodgings at 4 Westfield Grove. A month after his son had supposedly registered for the army, Albert was shocked to hear that Stanley had registered as a conscientious objector.
There was a tremendous row at home but the old man was mollified when the prodigal, returning home for the weekend, played a sonata with him, as well as visiting Raie Hinde for sonata practice. Peace was finally restored after Stanley had his medical examination for the army in Huddersfield in January 1940 and was graded '3', medically unfit for army service.
In September 1940, Amy was away visiting her brother Stanley in Glasgow. With frequent air-raid warnings, Eddie lent his father a camp bed so that he could spend his nights in their neighbour's shelter. Fortunately Albert was in the shelter when a bomb dropped in nearby Grove Road at 4.40am. With two holes in the roof of 17 Cromwell Road, ceilings were damaged, the front door destroyed and many window panes broken. With Eddie's help the house was made habitable again before Amy arrived home.
ln November, the lease of their home in Walthamstow came to an end. Notifying the Labour Exchange of a proposed change of address, they said their goodbyes to their friends at the church. With Eddie and Win seeing them off and the ex-mayor sending a cheque to pay their fares, they departed from Paddington Station for 6 Victoria Terrace, Brinscombe near Stroud in Gloucestershire where they looked after Amy's elderly aunt, Edith Pearce, who was able to assist them financially in return. Stanley visited them frequently at weekends.
Stanley hated the name Frederick and like many teenagers had toyed with various alternatives, rather fancying 'Davenport'. Stressing the importance of a person's name there was a time when, in deference to his mother, he wished to be known as Stanley Shaylor Pritchard. Eddie took the name Shaylor Pritchard. To the Prudential he remained Stanley Frederick Pritchard but from this period, dreaming of a career in music, he was generally known as Stanley John Pritchard, later dropping the Stanley. The opening page of his scrapbook is headed with a picture of a pilchard, cut from the wrapping of a tin of that wartimc food: 'John Pilchard the famous conductor!'
Continuing with his piano playing and on good terms with his fellow clerks, gravitating to the Wakefield Music Circle, it was the small beginning of his conducting career. The orchestra of twenty string players whose ability, like that of its conductor, was strictly limited, gave teir first concert in July 1941 in the Hall of the Wakefield Grammar School. In a programme of works by Purcell, J.S. Bach, Handel, Delius and an early Classic Suite arranged by Anthony Collins, John played a number of piano duos with Erica East in the second half of the concert. Again, at the same venue, he had the opportunity in December 1941 to conduct the choir of the Pontefract High School for girls in the Pastoral Symphony from Bach's Christmas Oratorio. The following year, at the Grammar School Carol Concert, he conducted the Old Savilians' String Orchestra, opening with the overture for John Blow's Venus and Adonis. The concert, in aid of the Red Cross, raised the then large sum of £10. His services in Wakefield required only for a short period, he was transferred in January 1942 to the Prudential offices in Derby.