THE latest atrocity in Algeria is one more illustration of what a dire place Earth has become. This crisis brought home to me just what a different world it was when I was younger.

In the 1960s when I went to sea in the Merchant Navy, we could wander ashore in ports in, say, the Red Sea where, to do so now, would be the height of stupidity.

This country hasn’t fared much better with murder and other violent crime being such regular events they rarely make the front page.

In the 1950s, we had the world at our feet with a wealth of apprenticeships open to us plus guaranteed employment. Now there are few jobs with school-leavers being encouraged to go to university, before which some go on a gap year.

My gap year lasted a weekend. I finished school on a Friday and started work on Monday.

I opted for an engineering apprenticeship with Cooke, Troughton & Simms and, using the engineering knowledge gained, joined the Merchant Navy as a marine-engineer.

Experience gained enabled me to get a position in Botswana on a two-year contract. I moved on to industrial refrigeration working country-wide and also in Libya (completely safe), Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

I genuinely believe things were better in those far-off days.

Philip Roe, Roman Avenue South, Stamford Bridge, York.