Re: Oh dear !
Yes, I was there from 1971 until we were stood down in 1991. Before that I was an Observer on a post at Chigwell, in No 4 Group, Colchester from 1966 until 1971.
315 posts • joined 15 Jul 2009
Some time later, on an International Exercise, I was by this time a Chief Observer (equivalent to Sergeant) and was in charge of the Tape Centre, from which messages were sent by teletype to other Group Operation Centres. We were informed that we were to be ready to receive a visit from some very top brass, including the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire. Accordingly, we all lined up in front of the equipment, and as my wife was standing next to me (she was a Woman Observer, and was working in the Tape Centre under me), I took her hand. The visit passed off successfully, I was able to answer the Lord Lieutenant's questions, and the party moved on. Some time later, another C/Obs. came to relieve me, and said that my presence was requested in the Officers' Room. I duly presented myself and was taken to task, "Why were you holding hands with Woman Observer Crane?" I explained that I wasn't holding hands with W Obs. Crane, I was holding hands with W Obs. Purvis. "Oh! you're married, are you, when did that happen?" "About ten days ago" I replied. "What the hell are you doing here then? You should be on your honeymoon". I explained that as the Corps, and this Intex exercise was important to both of us, we had decided to split our honeymoon into two parts, spending a week in the New Forest, then attending the Exercise, and then taking another week in the Lake District before returning to work. The Lord Lieutenant roared with laughter and said "That's what I like to see, dedication". Two weeks later my wife and I both received a Lord Lieutenant's Commendation, which was presented to us by a very sheepish Observer Commander.
When I was in the ROC, at the time a lowly Observer at 8 Group Headquarters, I was once asked to sit in for the Post Controller (a Leading Observer position) as we were a bit short handed. I was busy fielding queries from and supplying answers to the posts, when our crew's Observer Officer took over in the Commander's position. I smiled at her and drew two fingers across my upper arm, about where the LO's Brevet would be. She glared at me and ignored me for the rest of the shift. Afterwards, she came up to me in the canteen and asked "Why did you make a rude gesture at me?". I was surprised that she'd taken it that way, and said "Oh, no, I wasn't making a rude gesture, I was indicating that I was doing a Leading Observer's job, so where are my stripes?". The following week, when I arrived for the training session, there was a brown envelope addresssed to 98052, L/Observer Purvis IC. It contained my letter of promotion and a pair of brevets to sew onto my uniform.
When I was working for a very large electrical engineering company, building motor control gear for a well known maritime organisation, I also caused mayhem with part of my anatomy. One of the units was in Test, and the testers were doing a heat run, running the equipment at full chat whilst the observers from the customer looked on. I had gone into Test to take some photographs for the Instruction Manual that I was preparing (I was in Technical Manuals Department at the time) and I had to scrunch myself up into one corner of the roped-off area in order to get all of the cabinets in shot. Suddenly everything went dark, and the high pitched whine of the invertors wound down the scale to inaudibility. Cue furious shouts from the Test Engineers, I had inadvertently backed onto one of the emergency shutdown buttons that were located at various points around the department, and that had shut off all power to the Test area and surrounding parts of the building. A complete morning's heat run ruined, and the customer's observers were distinctly unimpressed. The heat run had to be rescheduled for the next morning as it had to start from cold. Needless to say, I was NOT allowed into Test whist a heat run was being performed on that or any further equipments.
1977, and I got a job with a large electrical manufacturer in the Midlands. Newly married and having just bought a cottage nearby, with a huge mortgage, we were financially struggling, so I wrote a sort of crude spreadsheet program to run on the Timesharing Basic system down in the computer room in order to impose some sort of control on our joint finances. We had no computer at home, and I was enrolled in the user database, so had access during working hours. I only ever used the system for personal financial reasons during the lunch hour, but one day, my boss called me over and asked me why I was running unauthorised programs on the company's system. I was told to stop it immediately, and my access rights were suspended for the rest of the accounting period (about 2½ weeks IIRC), and my paper printouts were seized and destroyed (but not until I had sneakily photocopied them and the program listing).
"Old things are gross, everybody says so, and still they insist on inflicting their disgusting presence on the rest of the world."
I'm old and gross, and still insist on inflicting my disgusting presence on the rest of the world - and proud of it. As the tramp once said on Rowan and Martin's Laugh In, "Dirty old men need loving too".
Oh! and I still use XP too.
When I was a PFY we had a lot of "Girls" in the typing pool, whose job it was to type up the minutes of various meetings and letters written or dictated by managers, etc. One of our ladies complained that her (green screen) workstation kept inserting extra spaces in the text she had typed. We had the equipment sent up to our lab, but could not get the same effect, so declared it OK and sent it back. Next day, same complaint, so workstation laboriously carried up to lab for more extensive testing, all of which it passed. When I took it back down to the typing pool (at great personal danger) I stood and watched as the lady started typing. After a sentence or two, she would lean forwards and to the right to read the next sentence on the manuscript, at which point her left boob would depress the space bar, resulting in the offending row of spaces. I went to the Pattern Makers and procured four 3 inch cubes of Deal and four 4" woodscrews. Turned the typist's chair upside down and attached one block to each leg. Problem solved, no more errant spaces.
We were sitting in the garden one sunny day, when I saw a rat emerge from under the shed and make its way across the lawn to disappear under some bushes at the side of the garden. I went to the shed and got a spade, and went back to my seat under the apple tree. Some time later, the rat poked its nose out from under the bushes to see if the coast was clear, so I quietly stood up and waited. He looked at me, looked at the shed, looked back at me, then went for it. I exploded into action, bringing the spade down several times, but each time hitting the ground just behind the fleeing rat. My wife was in hysterics, she said that it had looked like a live action reply of that famous scene from Tom and Jerry, where Tom is left holding a spade with three perfect impressions of Jerry embossed into it, and in each impression, Jerry is thumbing his nose at Tom. There were no such impressions in my spade, the rat had made a clean getaway, but we never saw him in our garden again.
When my family moved into a house in London, the previous occupants had kept birds in a large aviary at the bottom of the garden. Our cat, Mickey (long story) was extremely interested in the aviary, running back and forth across the wire mesh front, so we opened the door and let him in. We didn't see him for three days, but every morning there was a line of dead mice on the concrete slabs outside the back door, all lying with their heads pointing towards the door. Eleven on the first morning, seven the second morning, and three the third. Mickey later strolled into the house with a smug look on his face, we don't know how many of the mice didn't make it to the line-ups but were neatly stored away inside his belly.
Our TV signal slowly deteriorated over a period of about a week. I suspected a bad joint in the aerial cable, so I used the old cable to pull a new one through. On examination of the old cable, there was a three inch length where it had run through the eaves that was chewed part way through, outer PVC, coaxial copper braid, inner PTFE insulation, and the central copper multi strand core, all half gone. That night, we were lying in bed when we heard a scuffling sound from above the ceiling, so I grabbed a torch, opened the window, and shone the torch up under the eaves. The back half and tail of an enormous rat were protruding from under the roof structure, he was evidently enjoying his first nibble at the new cable. I fetched a long handled duster from the next room, and gave him a good poke up the behind, which caused him to back out into the gutter and disappear down the downspout. Next morning I went up the ladder and installed a mesh baloon grating at the top of the downspout, to prevent him climbing back up again. I pulled the new cable back out again and found that he had destroyed the outer and part of the coax braid over about an inch length, but as the inner PTFE and copper core were unaffected, I left it at that.
I learned to read upside-down before I could read the right way up. My mother used to read my Noddy books to me, and when i asked her where she was on the page, she started following her finger along the lines of text. Of course, I was sitting opposite her, so the book was upside-down to me, and that became the normal way for me to hold a book when reading. Many years later, when I was in the Forces, we oiks used to plot and write on the back side of the transparent Display A and Display B maps, so that the scientists could do their predictions (of fallout spread) on the front side, so I learned to write backwards as well. I can read and write backwards or forwards, both upside-down and upright. This also came in yseful one day at work, our draughtsman was stumped, he had been tasked with writing the word "OBSOLETE" on several hundred drawings of parts we no longer made, but with the proviso that the writing should be able to be erased without damaging the original drawing if the part was reintroduced into manufacture. I took one of the transparencies, turned it over, and wrote "OBSOLETE" backwards on the back side, then turned it right side up again to show the writing the correct way round, but which could be erased simply by turning the drawing over again and rubbing the text out.
When we moved into our new house in Rugby, it already had a telephone line connected. Some months later, the local council installed an incoming only phone at the taxi rank in North Street, with a phone number which was a very close approximation of ours. We were continually receiving calls at odd times during the night, asking for a taxi to take the caller either home from the pub, or some other essential journey. We would politely explain that they had dialled the wrong number, and told them the correct number to dial. One Christmas Morning, at about 3AM, we had another call and did the explaining bit again, only to have the same (very drunk) person call again two minutes later. He didn't believe that he was calling a private house, and became very abusive, so I had to get out of bed and go downstairs to unplug the base station from the wall socket, so he would receive the engaged signal next time he rang. The next working day I rang the telephone company to complain, and they changed our number to something that was similar but had extra digits in it to make it completely different from the taxi rank number. Blessed peace!.
Actually, I think you'll find that there were more RTs (Regent Threes) than Routemasters, if you include all the derivatives such as RTW and RTL. 2876 RMs were built, compared with 6,956 RT and derivatives, consisting of 4,825 RTs; 1,631 RTLs and 500 RTWs (Wikipedia). I grew up with RTs, and remember the first batch of RMs being delivered to Barking Garage when I was at school in 1959.
My grandfather was a roundsman for Lyon's Tea Houses in London, and drove a horse drawn four wheeled van. His horse, Pimple, knew the round so well that Grandpa never had to climb aboard, he would just whistle and Pimple would move on to the next drop. The only trouble came towards the end of the round, Pimple would be so eager to get back to his nosebag that he wouldn't wait for the command, but would take off on his own, leaving Grandpa to follow on foot. Grandpa used to have to tie the reins to a lamp post if he wanted a ride back to base. Then he was issued with a motor van, which kept breaking down in embarassing places, like at the top of Pentonville Hill, just near The Angel, Islington on a Saturday lunchtime.
I was made redundant, along with the whole of my Technical Publications Department, and our work, preparing instruction manuals for contracts, was taken over by the Sales Department. Went to work for a competitor company, and, after about five years, was head hunted back to set up a new Technical Publications Department to sort out the mess that had been caused by the Sales Department not fulfilling the legal requirements for producing the documentation. As I was on Detached Duty at the competitor company, I earned more in travelling expenses and living expenses than I did in salary during those five years, and they paid off the mortgage and bought my wife her own car, as I was using our main car for daily travelling to/from site.
We were adding some contactors to an installation at AWRE, Aldermaston, and the site security officer detailed to babysit us said that on no account were we to touch the electrical incomer master switch. When we asked why, because we did not relish connecting our kit up to live busbars, he explained that there was a reactor on the other end of it. So? That's just a big coil of wire, with maybe an iron core, isn't it?. NO! This reactor was a Nuclear Reactor. Any interruption to its control supply could have resulted in "Goodbye Basingstoke".
On a similar note, I once gave a relative of mine explicit instructions how to get to my new home. I told him to drive to a certain town, then follow a numbered road in the direction of another named town, and after about four miles, turn left at XXX village onto a B road, then stop and call me for more instructions for the last half mile. Some time later, I received a phone call from him, he had arrived at the second named town, and couldn't find the B road mentioned. I asked him "What happened to 'turn left after about four miles at XXX village'?" "Oh, I forgot about that". He had driven an extra 12 miles past the village, and now had to drive 12 miles back again to find the village and turn (now right) onto the B road.
I had a bad reaction to a Tetanus injection after I had had a road accident. I am therefor not allowed to give blood, in case I sensitize the recipient of my donation. Similarly, more recently I had a near death experience because of the inclusion of Sodium Metabisulphite as a presevative in pain killer medicine I was prescribed after a heart operation. I now have to be very carerful about reading the labels of any foods I buy because I have become sensitized to it, even something as innocuous as Branston Pickle in a cheese sandwich can set me off and confine me to bed for a couple of days. Not all Nut Jobs are actually Nut Jobs, some of us have reasons to beware.
So do I. It was issued to me (free) in 1968 by my apprenticeship employers, Ford Motor Company, so that I could learn to program the Elliott 803 at our college (Rugby College of Engineering Technology). The next year the college upgraded to an Elliott 1603, with a massive 16k of RAM, and replaced the card punches with tape punch teletypes. We students were never allowed anywhere near either of the computers, it was all done on a batch system called George, and the two (later four) acolytes were locked into the computer room with just a small hatch to communicate with us. In my final year as an undergrad, we were treated to Fortran IV upgrade, which I used until I finished my postgrad studies, by that time we were part of Lanchester Polytechnic, which is now Coventry University. In parallel with all this, our Apprentice Training department at Ford's taught us Timesharing Basic for use on the remote teletypes at various Ford locations, which stood me in good stead when I joined GEC Industrial Controls, as I had a running start over other new employees when it came to using that same system at GEC.
My father had a 1956 Chevrolet BelAir sedan. The filler cap was cunningly located behind the hinged left hand rear light cluster. Part of the chrome trim was used as the locking knob, to open it you turned the vertical strip to horizontal, and then the whole light cluster pivoted out backwards from the fender to reveal a conventional filler cap inside. Made for hours of fun as gas station attendants searched around the back and sides of the car to try to locate somewhere to insert their nozzle (oo-er missus!). Back in those days, there was no such thing as self service at the pumps, it was all done by an attendant.
I once went to an open air market and noticed a stall selling crockery. The price list included
Side plates £3
I aked the stallholder why he was selling his intestines, but the comment went straight over his head.
ElReg, we need a "Whoosh!" icon please.
When I was a kid, Mad Magazine was always referring to Pizza Pie, but being a Londoner, I wasn't familiar with the dish. It was not until I went to Uni that I was confronted with this abomination, but I soon grew to like it. Many years (and pizzas) later, we were on holiday in Italy, and neither of us spoke Italian. We fetched up at a small pizzeria in Chiavenna, on the way up to the Splügen pass into Switzerland. We asked (in fractured Italienglish with much arm waving, etc.) for two pizzas, one ham and one mushroom. What we got was two perfect ham and mushroom pizzas.
Our Curry Day was Wednesday. Curry Madras at our canteen was to die for. Long lines of factory employees trudging eagerly through the Midlands rain, followed half an hour later by the office staff. Happy beaming satiated workers and office staff wending their way back to their workstations (but still bloody raining). Those were the days, until the beancounters (who also partook of said curry) decided that the canteen was not making enough money, so had to be shut down. :-(
Happened to me, and cost me a lot of money. I went to view a house I was interested in buying, and it met most of my criteria. I then paid for several searches and a site survey, contacted the local council re planning permission, and generally spent many days and pounds deciding to buy. I phoned the agents on Friday afternoon to make an offer at the asking price. On Monday, the agents phoned me to say my offer had not been accepted. When I asked why, I was told that someone had gone into the estate agents' office on Saturday and offered £5000 more than the asking price, and was accepted. When I asked why the agents had not phoned me to tell me of this gazumping bid, they replied that they were "not in the business of conducting an auction". I then had to find another property and repeat the whole exercise, costing me a lot more money, before the collapse of Northern Rock put the kybosh on the whole deal.
In the early 80s (I think), I used to commute back and forth between Rugby, England (where my employers were) and Dormagen, Germany (where we had a test installation of one of our products). I used to drive down to the hovercraft terminal, cross the channel in 35 minutes, and drive across Belgium and so into northern Germany. I was transporting electrical equipment which was too heavy and sensitive to send by courier, so I built a special trailer and towed it with my car (Mk111 Cortina Estate). On one return journey, when the channel was positively mountainous, the hovercraft suffered a torn skirt mid channel, which meant it lost all its lift and became a rather small displacement boat. It took several hours for the propulsion fans to push us through the waves to safety, by which time everyone on board was feeling very green. (I was sitting next to a certain Mr. E. Burden, who was a member of The Animals).
Slightly off-topic (Finland, not France). I once flew from Stanstead to Oulu, supposedly a direct flight, but they make you go through Immigration in Helsinki on both the outward and return flights. We landed at Helsinki and deplaned, went into the International Arrivals hall to clear Customs, then had to walk nearly a mile to the very far end of the building to the Local Departures lounge. After some 3/4 of an hour wait, we were shepherded onto a bus and driven back up outside the length of the building to climb back on board the same plane we had just left, with the same cabin crew and everything. On the return flight we went through the whole farce again, only this time in reverse, and one of the cabin crew had been replaced by another, who had us in stitches all the way to Stanstead.
At the Sainsbury's store near where I live, they have rationalised it to "Two trolley lengths". This seems to work, most people can estimate that there is room for an extra trolley in front of the one they are pushing, although I observed that at least two people in the queue added about another four or five trolleys to that gap, until the "Queue Warden" asked them to close up to two trolley lengths. One of them was so incensed that he left the queue and went back to his car.
"I know you had XP64 but it was shonky as shit."
I have been running XP64 Professional for many years now. It is not shonky, it is stable and does everything I ask of it. Plus the fact that it is now a minority O/S, and therefor not as big a target for malware as it used to be, most of that is directed at later O/Ss such as 8.0, 8.1, and of course W10. I run a well known anti-malware suite, and have never had any infection that it can't deal with, and certainly never suffered from a DoS attack. I will not let W10 near my business, I would rather migrate to some other O/S, with which I am not yet familiar. Steep learning curve there, I wouldn't be surprised.
One of the engineers in the department in which I was a _very_ junior engineer decided that the departmental fridge needed defrosting (no auto-defrost in those days). He opened the door and emptied the milk, sandwiches, and other disgusting green objects from within and propped a fan heater up at an angle so it blew hot air into the fridge. He then went home for lunch. Some time later, our Section Leader went in to get his sandwiches and make himself a cuppa, and let out an anguished yelp. The hot air had done its job melting the frost, but had also caused the blow moulded inner lining to shrink back towards its original, flat, un-blow-moulded shape. Only the galss shelves had prevented it from going all the way, but the internal capacity was severely reduced, and said shelves could no longer be removed for cleaning. The fridge still worked OK, but the culprit was banned from going near it in future.
When I was in charge of the Energy Management System at the electrical engineering company I worked for, I once noticed that the temperature in one office was significantly lower than the setpoint, and the local heating zone was going full blast. I took a stroll through that office, and noticed that someone had suspended a plastic bag full of ice cubes in front of the temperature sensor. I strolled nonchalantly by, pretending not to have noticed. When I returned to my office, I changed the setpoint for their area to -5°C and waited for some reaction. About an hour later, the phone rang, and someone was complaining that the heating had gone off, and that they were freezing. I said "Hang on, I'll check. Oh, yes, your ice cube trick has sent the thermostat off scale and it has rolled over. Apparently you are currently basking in a 35°C heatwave. If you remove the ice cubes, it will reset itself and your heating will come on again". A few minutes later the temperature reading started to increase, so I reset the set point to 20°C, and the heating came on again. They never tried that prank again Mwahahaha!
We spent several consecutive summer holidays camping in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. We bought a Swiss Rail Card each and travelled all over the area by bus, train, cablecar, and funicular, and the longest wait we ever had between two connecting services was seven minutes. Except on one occasion when we turned up at Lauterbrunnen station at about 9PM and decided to walk up into town and get a takeaway. As a result of this, we missed the connection and had to sit on the station platform, eating our chicken, for a whole 15 minutes! The whole of the Bernese Oberland is like a huge model railway, and everything just works.
I once knew a young girl who had been taken into care at the age of six. When she was seventeen, she once asked me "You know - when the sun sets, where does it go?" I was flabbergasted. She had had virtually no education during the eleven years she was in care, she was not stupid, just uneducated. I showed her a globe and asked her what it represented. She said that she had seen one before, and thought that it was just a pretty desk lamp. I had to explain to her that it was a scale model of the Earth, and show her how day and night are caused by the rotation of the planet.
When I was a Development Engineer in a large electrical manufacturing company, we were developing a line of heavy current switches (25kA @6V) for use in chemical plant. I specified that all the hardware (ie, nuts and bolts) were to be of A4 Stainless Steel. The bean counters objected and said we had to use standard High Tensile Steel bolts, chemically stripped, replated and passivated in our own plating works, because they were so much cheaper. I looked into the cost of this plating and passivating, and found that it actually cost us more to do this post treatment than buying stainless would, but as it was performed in-house, it didn't appear on the bean counters' spreadsheets, and so wasn't factored in. It was a long battle, but I had my way in the end, and the switchgear lasted for at least five years in a highly corrosive atmosphere.
We had an ultrasonic remote for our TV, but the dog could mute the sound by having a good scratch, which jingled the address disc on her collar, and moving the fireguard would often change channels in the middle of a program. As soon as we found a TV with and infrared remote, we gave the old TV to a friend, who had neither a dog nor a fireguard.
I really can't stand the commentator (Darren Fletcher) on the Soapbox Race programmes, he has absolutely no knowledge of what is going on, and frequently can't even tell right from left. If an AI commentator were to be used instead, it would add to my enjoyment of the series. I sometimes get so annoyed with the inane drivel he is spouting that I have to mute the sound until he has finished.
When my eldest daughter was studying Electrical Engineering in sixth form, she spent the Work Experience section of the course at the local Electrical Manufacturing company, working on synthesizing Variable Voltage, Variable Frequency (VVVF) 3 Phase output from a fixed frequency single phase supply, using IGBTs. When she went back to school, she was told that, as far as the curriculum went, three phase did not exist, and that she was to forget all she had learnt in industry because she would fail her GCSE exams if she didn't. She went on to take Electrical Engineering at University.
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020