Jack didn't write much about his very early years but I will leave the story to his own words written shortly before his death, he had been ill and I think suddenly wanted to record his life. I have transcribed this directly from his manuscript with no editing.
"After I left school, unwillingly, at the age of 14, the prospect of WORK, meaning a JOB, had to be faced. I had no idea of what I was going to do, and this was a good thing in some ways because there was no choice - one took the first job for which one was accepted - one applied for any and every job advertised in the local rag or hinted at by friends as "going". I was sure I didn't want to work with my father, not that there was much chance of that at this time - it was hard enough for him to get work for himself - but he did make a noise or two about being able to get me on a tea-boy for Albert Reading a builder and decorator for whom he was currently working, but although I like doing the things he did( the rudiments of which he taught me) carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, decorating. I didn't like his rough treatment of me. Very early I had gone out with him on jobs during holidays etc., jobs he was doing on his own, for he was a Master-man and preferred to work as such when possible. My main jobs were 'footing' a ladder for hours on end, fetching a quart of Mild and Bitter (in a bottle which he always carried!) At intervals as soon as the pubs were open, occasional humping of a bucket of heavy things up or down the ladder, but mostly just being there, not trusted to do anything. I had been doing a paper round for a year or two and one summer during the holidays I had run a WH Smith's stall on the Down platform of the station so during this time I was up at the crack to go to the station, collect the papers take them to the shop, sort and arrange them into that heavy canvass bag and then deliver them. Home for a very quick breakfast and back to the station to open up and lay out the stall - very small (being the down line). The old stock with which I was lumbered - anything with a date was of course, returned if not sold and daily returns had to be made, but every day I was aware of these terrible 1/- books, sort of blood and thunder, crimes or 'he took her in his big strong arms' love stories - paper backs that over the weeks had become dog-eared and unsavoury - but I had to display them. Every day a small blond, exquisitely turned out and totally beautiful lady used to use my platform and her scented presence haunted me. At first she would walk by, but , by dint of coughing, grimacing and staring I got her to notice me and one morning I was reduced to speechlessness when she bought a woman's glossy - I fell about, dropped her change, giggled, made strange strangled noises and found she had gone before I had discovered that I was 2d in hand - I loved her so I would have left the stall and run after her with the 2d only I didn't know where she'd gone. I pressed that part of my palm that her gloved hand had touched to my lips - I could smell her perfume - I was in love, I was in love. I waylaid her on her return that evening and offered her the 2d only to be told that it was for me to buy chocolate with! She knew I was in love with her and me all of 12 and she, well she was 'grown up' she took to spending a little while talking to me nearly every day- I think she worked in films and theatre - I told about my shabby books, for something to talk about one day and she made a funny bargain with me - for fun I suppose. She bought one and when she'd read it she gave it back to me and I gave her another, until she'd been thro' them all!! In the end I was 1/- better off and at least all the books had been read and they were, anyway much more valuable now that SHE had had them in her hands - they smelt better too."
The first of many sexual encounters.