Club News – Ian Payne
We have to report the sad death of Roger Davis who died on 10th August after a long illness. Roger was a very long-standing member, our Treasurer for some years and much loved by all. We send out heartfelt condolences to his wife Diane and family.
We are holding a ‘bring your own’ outdoor meeting on Tuesday 8th September in our Chairman’s garden. Please see covering email or letter. Thank you to Andrew Jurenko for his hospitality.
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“The Hills are Alive” by Andrew Banfield part of our “School days recalled” series
I was born and brought up in Battersea. In 1953 I went to Aristotle School, Clapham, which was a Boys Central School, with all male staff, catering for boys who had not done well in the eleven plus exam. The school endeavoured to compensate for this by outdoing the local grammar school. We had a sixth form, fancy uniforms and an active sports programme. About 400 boys were at the school. In particular we had an active foreign travel programme. These trips were led by Mr. Hourihan, inevitably known as Mr. Urine, or Sir. I went on a trip in 1956 to France aged 14. This was meant to introduce us to culture but mostly we were only interested in beer, girls and smoking.
In 1958, aged 16, I went abroad again, this time to Florence. After a long train journey from Victoria to Florence during which our carriage was involved in a marathon game of pontoon we arrived in Florence to go to our accommodation. To our surprise the hostel was a religious establishment run by a Roman Catholic order of nuns. We were on the first floor in a separate wing to the nuns. The food was basic but plentiful. As growing boys the nuns felt we needed filling with pasta every day. Over the week we tramped round art galleries, saw the leaning tower of Pisa, and visited other historical parts of Italy.
On the last day a number of us, about 20, all from the fifth form were told we were going out for a meal in a restaurant. The only master going with us was Mr. U. I think it was a treat as we were all going on to college or sixth form. We were quite excited and set off on foot to a Trattoria around the corner. I remember us going through the restaurant to a garden at the rear with a vine-covered wooden roof. We had a great time and were all allowed one glass of wine. After a coffee, Italian style, we left to return to the hostel in great spirits. We were noisy and Sir told us to be quiet.
However on arrival at the hostel we found it closed, it was after 10pm. Sir knocked quietly, after a long time a flap in the door opened and a nun’s face appeared. Sir started to explain but she snapped the flap shut quite firmly and left us there. After a long time, at least 10 minutes, the flap snapped open and the Mother Superior’s face appeared, clearly very angry. Sir again tried to explain but was cut off with a curt comment. On gaining access we boys, young men really, were ordered off to bed with a curt gesture, Sir waited still in the hall. We crept up the stairs and four of us waited in the dark to see what was to happen. The Mother Superior then proceeded to tell Sir off in the most emphatic terms, a most rewarding experience for us! I suppose it was lucky that smart phones had not been invented or the whole school could have enjoyed his discomfort. We were clearly out after lights out. It was nothing like the “Sound of Music” and I never saw nuns in quite the same light after that. As soon as he was dismissed, we shot into our rooms unobserved.
In the morning we had breakfast, collected our packed lunches, said goodbye to the nuns and walked with our suitcases to the station. The events of the previous night were not mentioned. Probably we were forgiven but you never really know do you?
Bar Room Reminiscence – Anon
I spent the early days of my career in the City of London, and later at Bromley and Epsom as a Business Analyst in the Logistics Industry. Sounds boring but it is now an essential part of many businesses, or at least they are affected by it.
However, there are many stories I can tell which certainly made my days more interesting. One day in the early 1980s I went to our London Airport Office, in Radius Park, at Hatton Cross, which is at the end of one of the LHR runways, to give a demonstration of our Cargo Tracking System. This is an essential tool to enable the tracking of goods Imports / Exports cargo worldwide. I gave this demonstration on a laptop with an attached screen.
We were using a very small and cramped narrow board room, with a long wooden table. Around this table were seated 14 senior managers from our main offices around the UK. All was going well, and I had their attention until the door burst open, and into the room came an attractive girl in a dress with considerable décolletage – her hair awry, mascara running down her face, and in floods of tears. In her hand she held two parts of a solid steel steering wheel lock, which she threw across the room at a chap I shall refer to just as B, the branch Manager of that area. He ducked and fell off his chair, the missile smashed into a glass partition. By the time she threw the second bit can you imagine the sight of fourteen smartly dressed gentlemen either under the table or knocked off their chairs onto the floor, paperwork strewn everywhere.
I was on the floor at the end of the table. The woman was still trying to reach Mr. B. We were all starting to recover composure. Can you then picture the sight of all of us trying to hold down this demented woman, and grabbing hold of any bits of anatomy to calm her down. I think I had a leg. Eventually we got her out of the room, and put her in the care of some of our female staff, and the police were called. But B. pleaded for her to be let go, and no action was taken by the police. No one was hurt, only our collective pride.
It turns out that B. had been two-timing this Lady and she was out for revenge – a solid steel missile can kill. This does not say much for our security at HEATHROW. After a calming coffee, B. apologised and said we could continue the demonstration. He was shouted down, and we decamped to ‘The Green Man’ at Feltham, a short walk away, for a stiff drink, no pun intended. (This is the famous pub at the end of the runway; when Concorde took off in those days it literally shook the glasses of beer off the bar).
So Office Work can be exciting and dangerous. Or “just another day at the office then”?