COVID Special: October No.1 2020

In the previous Newsletter, I reported on the 8th September meeting in our Chairman’s garden. Although only ten members attended, all were invited and we were able to count it as our first official meeting since March. Chairman Andrew Jurenko has offered further meetings in his garden, but the numbers are now limited due to the ‘Rule of six’. Please let me or Andrew know if you would like to get together, although this can’t be an official meeting. The Committee will look at ways they can meet (e.g. Zoom) and report to you through the Newsletter.

Roger Davis — 9th February 1937 to 10th August 2020

Roger grew up in Finsbury Park and often accompanied his father to Covent Garden Market to supply the family’s greengrocer shop. In the war Roger was evacuated to Bristol where he stayed with cousins. School was not his favourite place but back in London he did enjoy being a member of the scouts, and one of his duties was selling Coronation programmes in Regent Street in the pouring rain.

At 18, Roger was conscripted to the Royal Engineers – but rather than the world, all he saw was Malvern and Aldershot. After that he worked for Sorbo, a rubber manufacturer. He studied cost and management accountancy at evening classes and eventually became Financial Director.

Roger and Diane met in 1966 and moved to Coulsdon. Roger became Financial Director of London General Bus Services where he stayed for the rest of his career. Church was an important part of his life and he took on a range of roles and responsibilities at Coulsdon Methodist Church. Roger and Diane had two daughters, Sarah and Ruth and later three grandchildren. He was a constant support to Sarah during difficult years of disability.

Roger was a quiet, gentle and caring man, good at DIY, a volunteer driver for the Old Coulsdon Retirement Centre, a keen badminton and tennis player and, more recently, bowls. Roger always had a smile for people and was a keen member of our Coulsdon Probus Club for very many years and treasurer until 2016. In the last few years, Roger faced the challenges of Parkinson’s and last year moved to live in Purley View Nursing Home.

A big thank you to Diane for letting us use extracts from Roger’s Funeral Tribute and our best wishes go to Diane and the family.

Make yourself at Home by Vincent Fosdike

When I was very young, (about 11-14) my desire was to design formula one racing engines. Leisure time was reading textbooks, about engines and braking systems, together with developing an automatic gearbox in Meccano. I even made it work and gave demonstrations to incredulous friends. Sadly, numerous headmasters assured me there was no hope in that field for me due to my lack of maths. Why not concentrate on your spelling and handwriting, (dyslexia lurked in the swamps of pedagogical ignorance in those days).

However, my specialist knowledge was employed somewhat tangentially when mum was taken into hospital. At the age of eleven I was sent to live with a family who I had never met so that I could travel back to school daily by trolleybus and the ordinary 9.7 litre RT red bus, breaking the journey morning and evening to go into our house and feed the cat!

My new family was headed by a very distinguished man of tall, austere bearing whose wife took pains to see that all was run “as it should be”. They had a baby, their first, which was at the crawling stage and I think really that could have done without me as well! Naturally I wanted to be accepted and at our first evening meal I felt I should try to make conversation. My head as usual was filled with engine performance data and it came to the fore when Farrel asked me how my journey had been and I dreamily mentioned how strange it was that the brake horsepower of a London bus was identical to that of a four and a half litre supercharged racing Bentley that won the 24 hour Le Mans race. Eating stopped! Farrel sat up even straighter and more rigidly whilst his wife (Honey) looked from one to the other of us. Silence paralysed the domestic tableau. Children can pick up when things seem totally awry. His intense gaze rested on me; this random school child a fragment of disrupted domesticity, a cuckoo in the nest! Finally, time started to flow again. “Have you got homework tonight”? He asked in his cool measured Etonian style. I confirmed I had. “Let me know when you’ve finished it”. I felt I should have been wearing a dinner jacket and that he probably wore one often. “Oh, and by the way I’ll give you a lift tomorrow morning at least as far as the trolleybus stop.” His wife looked incredulous.

Childcare supervened and I ruined my maths homework with an in depth misunderstanding of simple Algebra.

So now it was time to report to Farrel that my homework was completed. Perhaps he felt duty bound to oversee it. No, he just said follow me and led me down to a group of sheds in the back garden and I trotted along bemused. He heaved the double doors of the largest shed open to reveal the imperious splendour of a four and a half litre supercharged Le Mans Bentley. I was overjoyed just to be close to one of my all-time favourite cars. “So, what else do you know about this car?” he drawled. My memory is only good for things like this! I identified the different pedal layout all the adjustments on the dash and steering wheel and my pièce de résistance, the pressure figure of the supercharger! In the other sheds were a Lotus Racing space frame under construction and the car which he used for commuting to the engineering company he owned. We discussed the merits of each as only enthusiasts can.

I had been accepted, I had arrived!

Next morning my lift was in an innocuous looking Austin Seven. It looked so harmless but when started there was a muted silky purr from an engine twice the size of the original. It was a really well-developed Q car. Again, I was enchanted. The plan was to drop me off at the trolleybus stop where I would get the other bus, but Farrell spotted my next bus and said, “Hold on I’ll get you ahead of it”. We sliced through the traffic easily outpacing the Ford Anglia’s and Mini’s. With a cheerful wave he left me to go on toward school (not forgetting the cat at the half-way stage).

When I finally resumed life at home Farrell presented me with a kit form of the Bentley.

So engineering is not wholly about nuts and bolts though they can help, I always knew the knowledge had value even if the school could not help with my algebra.

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