Thursday 29 February 2024

Slide rule...

Scrobs has now read everything that Nevil Shute wrote, from his very first story, to his autobiography, 'Slide rule', which I finished yesterday...

Now there was one man I really would have wanted to meet! 

'Slide rule' describes all his working life in the airship and aeroplane business, from an unpaid job with de Havilland to Managing Director of Airspeed Ltd. When he was at Vickers, his close involvement with the design and development of the R100 was the commercial version of the sister ship, the R101. Both were commisioned by the Air Ministry, and Nevil Shute Norway's company was the privately organised concern, operating out of Howden, Yorkshire, while the other airship was being designed and built by government contractors at Cardington, Bedfordshire.

I need not go into the detail, because it is obvious almost from day one, that Shute's company's design was going to be superior, mainly because of interference and even ignorance from the ministry at most stages, and he pulls no punches when he descibes the pomposity and arrogance of the officials who were administering the whole project. In fact, his narrative almost spills out in anger when he describes later dealings with the powers that be in Whitehall - rather like we experience nowadays, but without the drawing board...

My mum, who was born in a village near Cardington, remembered going down and watching the work on the airship, and I wish I'd asked her more about it all!

The whole story is riveting, and, like his novels, there's a fabulous, heart-warming twist in the end!

Thursday 22 February 2024

They don't want your name, they want your number...

The Mail has this short article, which enlightens the soul...

Some years ago, a friend entered our room at the office laughing his head off!

He'd seen a car with the number PHA 111C...

I always wanted a 'normal number plate' which would reflect my yearning for an earlier time of life, when we all took number plates seriously, and indeed, often camped out on the roadside, making lists of all the numbers of vehicles which passed by! Well, it beat watching videos on YouTube back then!

I once saw a number on a police car in Eastbourne which was my dad's old number - RAP 138! I waited for ages to tell the cop, but he never appeared!

Car, van and lorry numbers these days don't have the character of the older ones, like anything the government touches! Tradition gets shoved away to make things easier for the computers which were made to make things easier for the increased numbers of people employed to flick over the keys on them and help plod to identify the culprits and then report them, via computer to - oh sod it - who knows...

Monday 19 February 2024

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Guess who's coming to dinner...

The other night, Ian Payne, who handles the 4.00am - 7.00am slot for LBC, covered a phone-in subject which seemed very interesting.

If slumbering isn't on the cards, I'll switch on the AirPods, and listen to a few sessions when he's on, because he's a pleasant sort of chap on air, knows his sport backwards, and is probably someone I'd like to chat with in a pub if he lived down the road!

The subject he mentioned was, 'If you could ask a few people to dinner - either present or past, who would you invite to your home"? It's not a new concept, but always interesting as there'll be the usual names like Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth, Jimmy Page etc., and he treats all his callers and texters equally, giving them a chance, (if on the phone), to explain why!

As I still couldn't sleep, I set myself to thinking whom I'd like to meet on such an occasion, and suddenly had a lightbulb moment - I'd like to see my dad and uncles again, and also my grandfather, whom I'd never met, as he died in 1940. It seemed a signal sort of revelation, and I've begun to think it through in some detail, as we all had something in common, which is/was building, construction and development!

My dad knew most of what I was doing when he popped off, and my uncles knew some sort of work I was up to, although it was different at the time they died. We could always chat about various aspects of the business when I was much younger. But I'd love to hear how my grandfather managed his business back in the nineteen-twenties. He was very successful then, with a thriving company, many of his own properties and employing over fifty people in Letchworth, Herts.

And more to the point, how would my grandfather talk to his three sons? Would he tell them where they could have done this or that, and would they answer back? And also, would they ask him how he fared after he lost simply everything during the depression in the 1920s, and had to start all over again! His three sons knew all about that of course, but I only have memories of discussions and some notes left by one of my uncles!

It's an absorbing conundrum, and I still haven't got very many questions I'd like to ask. I'd also like to tell them that I also made a few quid, not perhaps as much as they did, but I married successfully, provided for the family, am still living a pretty varied and happy life and could assure them that they didn't go too far wrong in begetting their next generations - I think...

Thursday 8 February 2024

Best Divorce Letter Ever...

Dear Wife,

I am writing this letter to let you know that I am leaving you forever. In our seven years of marriage, the truth is that I have been a good husband to you and I have absolutely nothing from that.

These last couple of weeks have been really hard for me. Your boss told me that you left your job just today and that, well that was the final straw.

Two weeks ago, when you came home after work, you did not even notice that I had cooked your favorite dish, I had a brand new haircut or a new pair of boxers.

You just ate for a couple of minutes, you watched all of your soaps and went straight to bed. The truth is that you don’t care about me, you don’t tell me you love me anymore, and you don’t touch me or anything.

Either you do not love me anymore, or you’re cheating on me, no matter in which case, I have to say it’s over and I’m leaving.

Your Ex-husband

P.S. Please, do not try to find me. Your sister Carla and I are moving to West Yorkshire together! Wish you the best and I hope you have a great life!


Dear Ex-Husband,

Believe me one thing. Getting your letter really made my day perfect. Yes, we have been married for seven years, but a good husband is completely different from what you have been.

Yes, I watch TV shows, but I do it because the soaps drown out your nonstop griping and whining, but this doesn’t seem to work.

And yes, I noticed your brand new haircut, but the first thing I thought was that you look like a girl. And you know I was raised not to say anything in case I cannot say something nice.

That’s why I decided not to speak about it or comment on your haircut. When you made my favourite dish, you must have gotten me mixed with my lovely sister, since I stopped consuming pork seven years ago.

When it comes to your new boxers, I didn’t comment since you still had the £49.80 price tag on them and I hoped that it was a coincidence that my lovely sister Carla had borrowed £50 from me the same day.

But even after all, I still cared about you and I loved you, and I believed that we might make this work. So, when I got lucky on the Lottery for 15 million pounds, what I did was quit my job and bought us two tickets to Hawaii.

But, by the time I got home you were already gone. I guess there is a reason for everything. I genuinely hope that you will have the life you always desired.

Moreover, according to my lawyer, the letter you sent me ensures that you won’t get a penny from what I've got now. So, there is nothing more to say but take care.

Your Ex-Wife – Free, and Rich

P.S. I believe I haven’t told you this, but my lovely sister Carla was actually born as Carl. I hope that is no issue for you.