Some notes from the web-ed:
Dave really used up all the space in his 8 pages of A4 in this issue, which caused me some problems in easily getting it into a web format.
Instead of completely re-editing his Gen, I've tried to retain the character of the printed version.
Here also I'll take the liberty to add a couple of comments.
I was surprised not to get a Christmas card from Brian Martin, then when Dave didn't include Brian in his card-list either, I was really concerned. However, a phone call to the Martins' revealed that all was well although Wendy is due to have a stent inserted into an artery feeding her heart.
Perhaps Brian's got tighter than ever and has decided not to put stamps on his cards anymore!
I've also been in contact with Dennis Isaacs who, together with his memories of his early LTS days, passed on a link to his website showing some of his work with astrophotograpy.
All I can say is, as ever, when Dennis gets into something, he does it well!
I'll add the link to his web site after the initial part of his letter that Dave has included in this issue.
I'll clear off now.
I hope you all had a pleasant Christmas and I thank you allfor your cards (over 60 received) all of which were replied to. You have had nearly two months to get over it all, so now it is "Dave's GEN" time I thank the following for sending me a Christmas/New Year card and many thanks for any monies you might have included. It all helps to keep the GEN going. So here goes: Ted Blanden, Brian Bale, lan Boniface, Gerry Bhagat, Mike Bettenson, Jim Beard, Ted Brown, Ron Cooper, Neil Caldecourt, Brian Conroy, Tony Darby, Ken Denny, Mel Ellis, Andy Ellen, Dave Eyre, Karl East- horpe, Mike Faulkner, Dennis Fisk, Terry Griffiths, Roger Glover, Paul Hindell, Tom Halsey, Reg Hooker, Dave John, Les Knightson, Dennis Laing, Norman Lawrence, Stan Mitchell, Joyce Muir, Ray Martin, Fred Margin, Arthur Monk, John Neil, Ted Nye, Dave Oliver, Muriel Parr, Pete Perry, Keth Rich, Les Roberts, Cyril Rose, Mike Stanton, Martin Sharp, Arthur Snewin, Cyril Seabrook, Dave Stanford, John Sutton, Frank Skinner, Brian Shillum, Ron Tattam, Doreen Tilley, Claire Towler, Roy Thurgood, Glen Travell, Roy Trussell, Harry Vin- cent, Alan Williams, Dave Walton, R.Wakefield, Hedley Warner, Geoff Wigley, Derek Young. Now for the brief extracts from your cards etc. David Oliver ... One more year gone past and I am now at the grand age of 80 years having been Retired from B.T. 26 years. Frank Skinner ... Thank you for the "Club Gen" Dave. I can still just about focus as I proceed along the nineties (81). Jim Beard ... Another year gone - no doubt a tough one for some but person- ally I feel rather fortunate that us ex BT have not felt too much of the down-turn. I cannot believe Dave that it is over 24 years that I left the 'fold'. Thanks again for your great efforts. Ian Torrance ... It's been a rough ride this year - so we hope 2010 will be better. Since Harry Jenn lost his wife this year - and we used to meet up in his days at Studd Street before going to South Africa, I have written a lot to him. Me not having a computer/E.Mail he doesn't communicate as often as he did with Norman Froggett. Still, he has written via Air Mail letters. His whole family are in Canada - So he's by himself in a town near Jo Berg. He said he enjoys hearing from your Club Gen. Tom & Chris Halsey ... Not much happened this year apart from numerous visits to Doctor and Hospitals, but nothing too serious in the end. Reg Hooker ... Many thanks for your Stirling efforts in keeping the "GEN" going. I enjoy reading about old friends. For the "GEN" I can only offer an accbunt of my visit to the "Historic Boatyard at Chatham" Well worth a visit if all is interested in how the warships of Nelson's navy were built. There are "modern" ships/boats on view as well. I "went over" a post war submarine. My impression of such boats have come from films. I was amazed to find how cramped subs. are. Nothing like the impression given by a film. On film we see crew members going through the "holes" with great ease. When I came to the first one my immediate impression was "How in hell do I get through that?" Can't go head first, I'm not going to be able to grab the bar and go feet first. I had to lift my left leg through first, then 1 grab the bar and push my right leg through followed by my body. Fortunately - my son went through first and was able to pull me through!! Ian Torrance ... The Olympic Waterway There are some 2 years yet before the Olympics begin. The cost will be colossal, I hope it will be worth it. The people of Sydney are still paying the price for their succesful games.. Although called the London Games not all the events are staged at Stratford, East side of London. Reading in my local Mercury paper, the Canoe/Kayak Centre is well on course to completing a year before time. The White Water Course, the 15000 seater stadium, buildings to house the teams, car parking and other outlets needed plus landscaping is being constructed on 27 acres in the Lee Valley Park at Waltham Cross/Waltham Abbey. Much comes within the Borough of Broxbourne in Herts I went to have a look at the site but security measures are in Place with high wire fencing that it was difficult to get too close, but there were huge dredging machines, cranes and vehicles on the go. Around 150,000 cublc metrres of material, enough to fill the Albert Hall has been shifted. The water for the White Water course comes via the River Lea. Apart from this, there are other Olympic Waterway developments and a multi million pound programme is also being carried out. In May2009 work began with a 60 tonne dredger which has removed around 30.000 tonnes of silt, mud, gravel and rubble and the usual debris such as bicycles and shopping trolleys found in the river. Some 1^ miles of a neglected channel at Bow and Bow Creek has been cleared. The channel opens up a section of the Lee Navigation to a wharf at 3 Mills Lock and it is to be usedfor the Olympic contractors taking supplies and commercial freight to Waltham Cross by barge. It is hoped that leisure craft and narrow boats will use the extension as a link into East London. With the growing interest in narrow boats today, more and more waterways are being revitallzed such as the Wendover Arm near Tring, Herts, linking the Grand Union Canal- I walk along beside the rivers stort and Lea frequ- ently and it is always a pleasant sight to see these colourful hand painted boats leisurely making their way along the river. No doubt, come the 2012 Olympics there will be 100's of boats moored to access the events at Waltham Cross as well those travellingby train and on congested roads in which case, I think I will see it on T.V. Ian Boniface ... National Service After completing the Youth training at LTS there came National Service for which you had to register when you approached your eighteenth birthday. Then there was the medical which was rather more thorough than the Post Ottice one of can you stand up and can you breathe?" This one took the whole day being examined by a series of doctors each specialising in a different part of the the body- They told me that I was grade 2 but would not tell me why because it was confidential. I did find out the reason at the end of basic training when I was regraded 1. I seems that I was under weight and the exercise regime in square bash- ing had caused me to put on half a stone. When registering for National Service you were given the opportunity to say which branch of the service you preferred. The conventional wisdom at the time said that in our job whatever you chose you would be allocated to the army and the Royal Signals. I was advised that you stood a better chance of something better if you accepted the army and opted for the REME but you would still probably get the Signals. I never understood what was wrong with the Signals but I asked for REME and that is where I ended up. BASIC TRAILS? My call up papers arrived complete with a railway warrant to travel to Blandford in Dorset. On arrival at Blandford station on Thurs 2nd November 1950, it seemed as though the whole train was full or rather nervous recruits. We were all herded on to Troup Carrying Vehicles (TCVs) which were canvas topped Lorries with bench seating in tne back and taken in convoy to Blandford Camp. On arrival we were 'processed', issued with Pay Books 1 and 2, then fed into a large hall of barber's chairs to be 2 shorn of our locks (despite me having had mine cut the day before) There were many protests but these were all ignored. I did hear one Sergeant remark, almost to himself, "We want you to look like soldiers not a load of b****y girls" Next we were marched to a store to face a long counter where we were issued with kitbags and a large quantity of equipment, bedding and, after being sized up by the Quartermaster Sergeant, clothing, including of course uniforms. "If we've given you the wrong size you can change it later". As it happens that was one of the rare promises that were kept, mainly because a properly fitting uniform was considered vital. Surprisingly the estimate seemed to be wrong very rarely. We emerged at the end of the stores loaded with more stuff than it was reasonable to carry but it was made clear to us that if any items were dropped we would have to clean them or if damaged pay for them. Very little was dropped until we reached our allocated bed spaces. I was assigned to a Sergeant Lowry's platoon and we were housed in what was known as a spider block. This consisted of a number of long sheds joined by corridors with wash room and toilets known as ablut- ions at the centre. Each room had about 16 bed spaces and our platoon had three rooms. Apart from Sergeant Lowry there were two corporals. Once we had been allocated our rooms, selected a bed space and dumped all our kit, we stood around rather dazed until a corporal appeared and then it all started. We were shown how to make up our beds and 'Blanco' our webbing among other things. The main concern at this early stage was that we had been issued with Officer's boots as the correct ones were not available. This may sound great but it was the Army and it had a nasty sting in its tail. The boots were brown and crinkled and for us they had to be black and smooth. First the crinkles had to be removed to the standard of perfection required, by ironing. Not as simple as it sounds, then the colour had to be changed by rubbing in lots of black polish until they shone so that the Sergeant could see his face in them. The whole process took several days of doing little else, apart that is from blancoing webbing and polishing brass We all tried very hard to achieve the polish required on the boots, with varying degrees of success. We hoped that seeing his face so many times would scare Sergeant Lowry off. It didn't, he must have been too vain. At some time during our first few days we were introduced to the NAAFI where to rub it in they were playing the latest popular records which hap- pened to be a song called 'Home Cooking' and another I remember was 'I taught I taw a puddy cat a creeping up on me' By the first Sunday we were nearly beaten down but they had a new torture. They decided that by now we should know how to lay out our kit and bedding army style. We would now have an inspection. The drill was that first thing in the morning beds had to be stripped, the blankets and sheets (yes we had sheets, only recently introduced, we were clearly being mollycoddled)folded in a certain way and assembled in a square stack on the bed. The rest of the kit had to be laid out on the bed also in a prescribed way. First In- spection Corporal storms in, takes one look and shouts disgusting, or words to that effect then proceeds to knock everyone's bedding and kit on the floor. "Do it again, I'll be back in ten minutes" he shouts and leaves. This process went on again and again all morning and we thought we would never satisfy him. Eventually he started destroying some, not all our lay- outs. By this time some of those who had seemed the toughest among us were almost reduced to tears. Then someone broke the spell and said let's just put it back roughly and let him have his fun. That had us all falling about laughing and that is what we did. Next time he came to inspect he did not destroy anyone's bed and just offered a few words of advice including get- ting some pieces of stiff card to square up our blanket pile and webbing. Some of the things I remember most about basic training were the shouting of "stand by your beds" when an NCO was approaching (I do not remember seeing an Officer other than the Doctor, until the passing out parade) and "get fell in outside" when the last man to fall in was invariably given nasty chores to do. I managed to escape any of these except 'spud-bashing once- which was probably the least bad option. We had regular visits to the gym which was fine once you were there, but falling in outside in gym kit and standing there in freezing weather until being marched off was not 3 much fun. One of our number was a circus acrobat and was able to run rings around the Physical Training Instructors(PTIs) This made for apretty good atmosphere on these occasions as the PTIs seemed to enjoy the challenge We also played a lot of basket ball after the formal exercises were complete. In contrast to the half naked marching to the gym we had to complete a five mile march in full kit. This was a timed start business in which we all started in pairs at two minute intervals. The march had to be completed in one hour and we were not allowed to run. At the end of the march we were told that some of us had been seen running, so we had to do it all again. During basic training we were given many injections on a production line basis. We all lined up and shuffled past a line of medical orderlies, some on either side of the line and each brandishing a syringe containing different fluids which they rammed into different parts of the body. At the end ofthis process the Medical Officer told us we should rest for 24 hours. Were we allowed to rest? Certainly not, the drill instructors had us drilling even harder than usual. We were interviewed for suitability for Officer training ang given trade tests. I never found out whether I was considered suitable to be trained to be an Officer as we were told that a precondition was that if chosen we would have to sign on for a three year short term Commission. I refused that option and so fell at the first fence. The trade test was a different matter and you had no choice. I never knew exactly what the test I took was for but when I was told that I had scored 96% I thought I had passed. Wrong: I failed. I later found that anyone who scored well was sel- ected for further training at a Technical training School. In my case it was Arborfield near Reading for a nine month course to become an Electrician Control Equipment (ECE). After passing out of Basic Training all my fellow sufferers departed to various postings and I never saw any of them again. Peter Stroyan . . . You may not have heard that Albert Hill of the Occupational Hygiene Group died in July - he was 77. My wife and I continue to enjoy life in Perth. It's almost six years since we came here and we still find plenty to do. I still would be unaware of my diabetes, had I not been told that I suffer from it. I behave myself reason- ably well and take my pills as instructed: Unusually for us, we took two summer holidays this year. The first was to Sri Lanka, where we visited the World Heritage Sites. The most interesting to me was the Sigiriya Rock. Naturally it's fascinating because there is no freeze fracture in Sri Lanka, so erosion is almost entirely by rain or wind leaving a smooth surface. To get to the top, British Naval Engineers built metal steps (with a handrail) about 70 years ago. This stair is now being refurbished and repaired. Another very interesting place is the Temple of the Tooth relic in Kandy. Unfortunately, the Sri Lankans' troubles with the Tamil militants have almost ruined their economy and no real resolution has been achieved. It brought back to mind the several Sri Lankans who worked in the Materials Section over the years. Don't be fooled into thinkin Buddhism is any more tolerant than any other religion when it is in the majority. However, all in all it was a most enjoyable and interesting two weeks. Our second break was a week's visit to friends in Eutin in North Germany. Eutin is the birthplace of the 19th century composer Carl Maria von Weber, and is a most attractive town with its own castle and brewery. The latter has a largish pub/restaurant in the town square. We used the Ryan Air flights from Edinburgh to Bremen and also spent a day each in Luebeck and Bremen. We haven't used Ryan Air for some years but, despite all the unex- pected extras, they are much cheaper than other carriers and the outward journey in particular was much quicker and more convenient than any other from Scotland. I SUPPOSE IT SEEMS EVEN MORE OF A SHAME TO OLDER BT pensioners than to me that the technology of our industry too has been overtaken and will probably continue to decline except for a few specialised applications. Perhaps it might have been better if BT had been given a similar role to National Grid in the gas and electricity Industries I just hope they continue to pay our pensions: 4 The original very interesting copy from Harry Jenn is rather too long so I will have to omit some of the final sentences. Thank you for the "Dave's GEN" it is greatly appreciated, it makes one feel "very nostalgic" and also shows how, over the years, how diverse our inter- ests had become.. It was apity that you never "Kept up with the Jones" and became computer literate, as it would have saved you a lot of time and money in editing and postage and electronic mailing is mighty quick and reliable. Which reminds me, lan Torrance gave a plausible explanation of why my Xmas cards and contribution never arrived if the paper money had a metallic strip through it. (it does) the Postal authorities my end would pick it out. You mentioned on the newsletter back page "Magnetic Therapy" made me smile. We also receive quite a lot of "Quack Therapy over here for all sorts of medical problems, due to the black population and their culture I would have thought you would have asked the question. Has anyone either tried or know of anyone and how successful was it? It is over a year since Betty died snd I believe I mentioned that if she had stayed alive for one more week, we would have been married for 61 years. That is a long period for a partnership, which had many ups and downs, but more of happier memories. I was also in the same clinic at that time with Bronchial Pneumonia, but I also had fluid around the heart, making me very short of breath. They drained 7Kg. of fluid from me but I was sent home be- fore Betty. 3 mornings later she suffered a severe heart attack. You asked if I am still smoking No. S.A. Telkom retired me at 65 (20 years ago) I went for an annual check-up with my G.P. who sent me for all the usual tests and the X-ray for my chest showed I had slight emphysema, his suggestion was to give up smoking altogether, I asked for medication and he said "Use your will power" For the next 6 months I was like a bear with a sore head. I have only weakened once, that was at the time Betty broke her femur 16 days before we were due to fly to Canada to see both of our famil- ies, 1 in Toronto and the other in Vancouver. She smelt my breath when I visited her and she gave me wuite a telling off so I stopped again. Now once again I have had to cancel my flight to see the families this year. As I said at the beginning of my letter I have a respiratory problem and although the Specialist felt, when I visited him in January that I was fit to fly to Canada, "but only in their Summer" Even the 24-hour trip he wasn't at all worried. On the strength of that I made a booking to go in July and August (a month with each) flying by Delta from Jo'burg to Atlanta non stop. It was the only Airline that was able to give me a shuttle flight to Toron- to and return to Atlanta from Vancouver. He thought it would be advisable to have a pre-flight check-up a month before I was to go. So when I did go in June, I mentioned I was having a bit of a problem with my breathing when walking, my bowel problem, which he said was not the tablets I was on and showed him the Radiologist's report of the BArium Enema including all the other problems I've got) He could see I was very stressed out, checked my Blood Pressure and found it very high. After his recheck we started talking of the Insurer/Airlines medical exclisions, the flight wouldn't be a problem but he foresaw the possibility of a lot of trauma when leaving the 2 famil- ies after staying a month with each and of course the Mexican 'flu has made its appearance by then. He revised my medication and he must have had a Crystal Ball as I got Brochitis 12 days before I was due to fly, so I would have had to cancel, but as he had given me a letter the last sentence says it all "and I have advised Mr. Jenn to cancel his planned overseas trip as he is not fit to fly given his deterioration over the past 3 months" I thought the contents were over explicit but he must of thought to do that so that I would get a full refund from the Airline. The flight consultant said he was confident that Delta would, with perhaps with a small sum for admin 'costs. They have just refunded me 75% of the airfare. I am truly grateful that the families had visited us while Betty was alive. Except our eldest Grandson, he was due to have his 'Varsity exams as was un- able until January this year, but of course Betty had passed on by then. I have rambled on enough, so I'll just end with a last paragraph or two. I am still independent. I still drive my car, not for long journeys or at night, which is not safe anyway. From all newspaper reports Britain is also experiencing lots of crime and belligerent teenagers, same as everywhere else. 5 Cheques to be phased out in 2018? In a recent report the Board of the UK Payments Council have set a deadline of October 2018 for all cheques to be phased out. They are hoping that other forms of payment can be encouraged and they have said there should be "no scenario" for using cheques by 2018. No doubt the needs of elderly and vulnerable people will be met and the Council accepted that cheques were still used for payments to sole traders, small businesses, clubs, charities and schools. Sounds a long way off but one concern is that once announced it will give the green light to the banks for bring the date forward as the use of cheques is in serious decline and is the most expensive way of handling transactions. Banks and credit providers have been investing in chips which allow a customer to pay when the chip is pushed against a sensor, known as contactless technology. Other technology, already in use, allows people to transfer money by mobile phone, or cheap and efficient debit card readers that could be used by small businesses. If that happens, it could also lessen the demand for cash, and the mobile phone could become a virtual wallet. Banks are already issuing personal card readers for those who do a lot of online and Internet banking. These will become widely available in the next year or so as new measures and systems are introduced to guard against fraud and criminal activity. Many stores, including all the major UK supermarket chains, have already chosen to stop accepting cheques as shoppers turned to debit cards or stick with cash. The cheque's predecessor was the Bill of Exchange - a way for traders to buy and sell goods without the need to carry cumbersome and valuable quantities of gold and silver. The earliest cheque in the UK was thought to have been written some 350 years ago and was made out for £400. Printing processes meant they started to be used by customers of commercial banks. Personal cheque payment volumes in the UK reached a peak of 2.4 billion in 1990, and have since fallen steadily to 663 million in 2008. So maybe the Oyster Card is the solution! Get on the bus or Underground; pay your fare, pay your Electricity Bill and ask for Cash Back - all as you pass through the barrier!! cont'd from page 5 Our Unions are becoming very belligerent and demanding double figures % wage increases, even though they know there is a Recession and millions of unemployed, very selfish. I still cook for myself, except Sundays when I use our dining Hall, gives me a rest from preparing, cooking and the wash- ing up. It is quite a job shopping for one person. When I was demobed from the R.A.F. in December 1946 as my parents lived across the road from Horace Lickerish. Group 7, who advised me to go for an interview for a post in the Test Section. When I started at the end of Jan- uary 1947, my first week I had to spend at home due to a lack of electricity and coal for the boilers in the basement at Studd Street. That happened to be one of the worst winters everyone had experienced for some time. And I can remember it also after spending 3i years in India and having insuffic- ient clothing coupons for a warmer suit. The "demob suit" was not of much use. Fortunately I had not grown much nor put on weight. My mother worked wonders on my 5/6 year-old suits. It was later in the August of that year Betty & I got Married and Princess Elizabeth & Prince Phillip also got mar- ried in the November.50 years later we were invited to the Golden Wedding Anniversary celebrations at the "Buckingham Palace" although we were living in b.A. at that time. Can anyone remember the mid-50s at Brimsdown Group 46, a Tech IIB, an Irishman called Paddy (of course) whose job it was to keep Freddy Eva's office clean and the Test Section. Make sure the teas were available at all times and return the tested or rejected 'Batches' ^y I ask^ I never reallv did thank hil" for his gift of a X-bred Chow puppy which'he had brought in. As I was the only bloke living nearby and as I used to ride a man's bike that had a basket on the front, I was induced to take the puppy home before Fred saw it. I 'raced' home and deposited him at the bottom of the stairs of our house. Called Betty who had just got up and was getting ready to go to work. She had to take the day off to care for him. 6 Roger (Jessie) Pye ... It is fun to read the comments from Dave's Gen from all those youthful lads I knew some 50 years ago: It really is that long but thanks to the website I might just recognise some of you. It was great reading Dave's own personal memories of when we went in the Army. Alan Parker, Brian Bale, Les Burgess, Dave Fairhurst and I, all went off to Blandford in September 1955. Travelling down on the same train. We played cards and I learnt a useful lesson on gambling - DON'T. I was, however, delighted to return to Civvy Street and my experiences must have been of benefit to me as I was put on the TO in T course straight after I got back. The rest is history - after making a name for myself on the mechanical mar- vel - Coin Box 705, I passed the A.E.s Board in 1962 and was offered a post on The Cable Test Section. When the Cable Test Section was devolved from Arnos Grove, I had already moved "Out in the Sticks" so, suddenly finding myself with an outstation office a mere 10 miles from home, life was absol- utely great - I didn't mind losing London Weighting: I had a bit of trouble getting the phone on at my new house, so decided to find who I could get to put a word in for me. To my surprise I found the new Telephone Manager at Bedford was Ray Parker who had been an E.E. in I Branch when Quality Assur- ance was being floated out. Remember the ping pong balls in the box? That was Ray. I worked with Ray's brother in law for several years, we were both Regional Testing Officers in Eastern Region. I still meet Ray Parker on the Bowls Green from time to time. He must be well into his 80s. Retirement has been no burden, well it has been for the pension fund - I've been drawing it for nearly 19 years. For the last 12 years I've mowing this bloody big piece of grass, you may laugh John Sutton, I liked your piece in the October Dave's Gen. We might meet up on the green one of these days. My Club is Stony Stratford in Bucks. Wrong County - I live in Northampton- shire but it's only 3 miles away. Our Club Secretary, John Lonergan, is another BT man - used to be my Head of Section. Our County Secretary is an- other ex BT engineer, Jeff Applegate - now a big noise in Bowls England. For my sins I am year Secretary(1948) of Trinity Grammar Old Scholars, There were over 80 in the year at Wood Green. We know of at least 10 who are dead, including my best pal who had still been in close contact with us until his death in 1990, and my ex fiancee - who sent me a "Dear John" while I was at Arborfield. Of the remainder I have managed to reach about half. About 20 of those either don't want to be involved, too far to travel or have poor health. We did however get 25 together 2 years running for re unions back in London. What a shock for us to see each other after 60 years: Try http://www.roger.j.pye.btinternet.co.uk/index.html for my latest missives, Keep up the good work Dave, nice to see the old names, Brian Bale, Brian Conroy, Brian Shillum and that's just the Brians: What happened to LouLynch? Must try to come up to Highbury but it always seems to clash. Roger (Jessie) Pye. I am assured the "Jessie" was after the wrestler? Joan & Michael Stanton ... Recently I had time to consider the last few years and realised that on 1st September 1958 I left my house, caught the 38 bus to Islington Green, sitting upstairs in the fog of smokers, looking out of the window. Alighting at Islington Green walking past Collins Music Hall along Upper Street into Theberton Street then to Studd Street finally through those heavy gates at the end of Studd Street. From there I was escorted to the first floor into Bert Turtle's Training Empire, where I changed from a teenager into a Y2YC joined by John Fineberg, Ken Cameron, Gerry Bhagat, and Derek Bettenson, we were the 1958 intake for the London Test Section part of the GPO Engineering Department. That was 51 years ago, how times have changed in every way. We recently celebrated our Ruby Wedding Anniversary here iti Spain where we have been for the last 3 years. We are planning a Family Celebration when we visit England soon. I was just wondering how I was going to fill just over the remaing space when this article was sent in by Dennis Isaacs although some of it might have to be held over for another time. So here goes: "times gone by in the London Test Section". I spent some timer as a T2A on Group 40 and followed up as a TO in T so it seemed obvious that I would stay there for some time as a TO 7 All in all, a reasonably happy time waiting for my turn on the rota to come up. There always seemed to be someone in Studd St. getting up to no good, a kind of legacy of Stan Wootton. What with various experts "thwocking" sil- icon sleeving down the length of the lab for some bugger to get an eyeful and eating competitions as a result of Paul Newman's egg-fest in Cool Hand Luke, there was never a dull moment. Someone on the video group had made a ball out of lasso tape, it must have cost fifty quid judging by the size of it. It was quite a useful device to throw the length of the lab and knock off all the bits that were at the back of somebody's bench. One day Jack Blundell, gentleman and scholar, was leav- ing the room with this thing in his hand with everyone watching from a suit- able place of safety wondering where he was going to throw it. Muggins stood up and made some comment and ended up getting it hurled straight at my head, with a power you simply would not believe. With no thought of trying to catch it I ducked and the bloody thing went through the Venetian blind and straight out through the window, taking most of the glass with it. It made one hell of a noise and Jack disappeared at high speed to the sound of the EE's door being thrown open and a very irate Dick Emery coming out demanding to know what had just occured. I had no time to do anything except sit down and look innocent. Alan Medley was sitting next to me in the trench with his head stuck in a television as if nothing had happened. It was quiet everywhere. I noticed as I sat down that there was glass all over my chair so I wasn't about to volunteer to get up for the boss and let him see it. Perhaps it was a pigeon I said, they oten fly into the windows. He couldn't see the broken window as the blind had closed over it. After making his dis- pleasure known he did the decent thing and went back into his office where- upon everyone started having quiet hysterics. We recovered the ball later, it was under one of the parked cars in the roadway around the building. On another occasion, in the summer we spied a neighbour laying in his garden on a sun lounger and thought we might give him a wake up call. At that time when a piece of equipment had been repaired a transfer was stuck on for the date stamp. In order to do this you needed a saucer of water and most every- one had a supply of water in an ex Fairy liquid bottle. Mel Ellis had seen this sleepy fellow outside and happened to have a polythene bag big enough to hold about two litres of water. I needed no prompting and we went up onto the roof by C staircase and quietly filled the bag with water. One of us, and I can't remember which one, took the bag and heaved it over the parapet across the road and down into the sleepy fellow's garden. It landed not 3 feet from his head and burst open with a tremendous crack on the concrete beside him. I swear he came off the bed horizintally and must have gone 3 or 4 feet into the air. The bag abviously burst and gave him a cold shower as he landed. We snuck back indoors helpless with laughter for ages. Lucky we didn't hit the bloke or that weight from about 85 feet up would have ended it for him. I mentioned this to Mel about '93 when he was wearing a Head of Group or Head of Section hat in Weston House and he claimed no memory. On another occasion something I had nothing to do with happened in Cross St. Apparently there was a water pistol craze going round and Jack Blundell, Mick Hitchman and one other had gone for a walk tooled up, just in case. They came across a young boy who also had a water pistol and in the time honoured tradition of young boys with water pistols he gave our three heroes a soaking Imagine his distress when three large adult males all pulled out their pist- ols and, with straight faces, soaked him back. I reckon he must have been having psychiatic treatment for years after that! I have to mention one of the not so happy times that I still remember clear- ly. After a few years of doing the Union Secretary's job with Ted Felstead as Chairman I gave it up and Mick Stanton took over. One morning Ted was late coming in which was a bit unusual. Mick Stanton came down about 8:30 and with a very shaky demeanour we knew straight away something unpleasant was about to unfold. We all stared at him and giving him nowhere to hide I said "what's up Mick?" Teddy Felstead died last night he said. Those words, said in 1982, still ring around my head. I had never worked so closely with someone before and I don't think I ever had a closer friend. Harry Green asked me to write a short obituary for the GEN. Ted was only 42. The link to Dennis' site:http://www.dens-astropics.org.uk/
For those who might be interested "Dave's GEN" will be reprinted on the LTSSAC website together with some pictures of the past at:- www.ltssac.org
Dave Fairhurst, 31 Roedean Avenue, Enfield, Middx. EN3 5QJ Tel:020 8804 1959
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