1941-1950

The Winter of 1939/40 was particularly bad, with very low temperatures and lots of snow. The British Expeditionary Force was in France and felt its effects badly. It was cold in February 1941, with snow in Scotland and the North of England and above average rainfall throughout the country and below average temperatures. I was born in the Four Gables nursing home, Horseforth, near Leeds on Sunday 16th Feb 1941, around 3am. In 2017 it is the Yorkshire Regional office of the Barnado's children's charity.

Four Gables Nursing Home in 2017.

The Gloster-Whittle E28/39

Although the first flight of any jet aircraft was the German Heinkel He 17, first test-flown on 27 August 1939, the first flight of an allied aircraft was the Gloster Whittle E.28/39. Frank Whittle had proposed the principles of a jet engine while at training as an engineering officer/pilot at RAF Cranwell. He filed a patent for it's design in 1930. On 15 May 1941, Gloster's Chief Test Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Gerry Sayer flew the aircraft under jet power for the first time from RAF Cranwell, near Sleaford in Lincolnshire. Guess this means that the first operational jet aircraft took to the skies during my lifetime.

Dad was at the time in a protected occupation. He was taken away from teaching to go around adjacent counties trying to find accommodation for youngsters from Leeds who were to be evacuated away from centres of population. He was later called up, and joined RAF at Padgate in August 1941, and spent the war at various RAF bomber airfields in East Yorkshire. I know he was at Church Fenton at some time. I believe I spent a little time with Mother at my grandparents' house, 59, Parkland Drive, Meanwood, Leeds, but most of my early childhood was spent in Bramhope, a small village just North of Leeds. We lived at 56, The Rowans, a brand new two bed-roomed bungalow. Dad was away from home most of the time and so I spent my early days with my mother. I remember Cycling with Mum on my three-wheeler "bike" visiting local places and even visiting my grandfather, her father, at Yeadon, where Lancasters were made and he was a carpenter. I can't imagine we cycled all that distance.

Dad and me around 1943/44

The offices of one of the Yorkshire newspapers, possibly the Yorkshire Evening Post, was in Bramhope village. I remember the offices burning down one day which seemed a big drama at the time.

Mum used to delight in telling people how naughty I was as a child. Mind you, she seems to have had an attitude to parenting which we would find strange today. She often spoke of these times in such terms as "I controlled you all the time Dad was away". She told of my washing a brand new overcoat in a puddle, though I have no I dea why I thought it was a good idea. Apparently shortly after she had made me my own siren suit (just like Winston Churchill wore) I managed to find a pile of soot remaining after the chimney had been swept and found it a great place to play. In preparation for Bonfire Night there was often a large bonfire in an adjoining field which cried out to be investigated. She told that I had been in her view "naughty" when we were out, but as she didn't feel she could smack me while we were in public, on a 'bus, she had to wait until we got home. She apparently had said, on the 'bus. "Just wait 'til we get home. I'm then going to smack you". Whe we got home she hoped I would forget as she didn't really want to smack me. Looking back now, it seems daft to threaten a child with a smack you hoped you wouldn't need to administer. Anyway, apparently when we got home I asked "Are you going to smack me now?"

When Dad came back after the war was over, it took quite some time for a family unit of three people to be created. I was never aware of Dad being a particular forthcoming, or affectionate. He did make me a magnificent wooden model of a Halifax bomber, but far too many years in advance of an age when I might have appreciated the workmanship which went into it. It was beautifully made, but I really only remember playing with it in the bath, which must have upset him. He was an excellent modelmaker. He made Mum a model Hurricane out of a penny. It was delicately beaten, filed and polished. I still have it today.

When Dad had settled in he made a model railway in the loft of the house, but it was only rarely used and seemed soon to be dismantled. I had a rabbit, which we thought had escaped. Dad decided to fill in his burrow. We later learned that the rabbit was still in it.

We often visted Grandfather James Cox and Hilda at 59, Parkland Drive. They later moved to probably 93 or 95, Parkland Drive, a bungalow with a small garden, because Hilda’s arthritis made it difficult for her to get up stairs.

Grandfather James Cox liked working in wood and his garage was full of woodworking tools, or so it seemed. He often had a pot of traditional fish glue warming on a stove. I thought he was a woodwork teacher, but brother Malc has told me that a friend of his knew Grandfatherand he was a Maths teacher. He often smoked a pipe (it may have been Rubicon tobacco) and after his death the tobacco smells lingered in his workshop for a long time. He made a weathercock for the garage roof, liked marquetry/inlaid work, made tables and on one occasion made a set of working traffic lights for use in a Road Safety course at school.

He was a keen gardener. His lawn at 59 Parkland Drive was like a billiard table. He grew sweet peas, and vegetables. Everywhere was immaculate. There was a huge Beech tree at the bottom of the garden.

Malcolm was born while we were living in Bramhope but we moved from there in mid 1947 to 4, Moor Allerton Crescent, Moortown. It was second from the bottom of the hill which was Moor Allerton Crescent. At the time we moved many of the houses higher up the hill wwere unfinished and enjoyed (aged 8 or 9) "helping" the builders, carrying materials. One even made me a ring out of old ladies stockings which they used to put on their heads so they could balance a board on their heads to carry bricks and other materials up their ladders. One day I was playing with a friend in a part-built house at the top of the hill. We were running around the first floor, jumping across the joists where there were not yet planks. My friend fell to the gound and lost consciousness. It was pretty frightening, but by the time I had found Dad and brought to the scene, my friend had recovered and was OK.

The house itself was set below street level with a steep drive leading up to the road from the house’s own drive. On freezing winter days we couldn’t get a vehicle up our drive onto the road without spreading ashes from the household fires. In the kitchen there was a coke stove, which had a clothes airer made of wooden strips suspended above it.

It had a gas cooking stove and oven and a gas-fired refrigerator. There was a unit with cupboards above and a fold down flap which served as a table which Dad and I used for our breakfasts. A serving hatch opened onto the dining room .. which was rarely used.

One day Ewan and I were poring over a copy of Health and Efficiency in the dining room while Mum and Dad were out. Looking at pictures of naked women was pretty exciting at that time. Ewan leaped up with excitement at one stage, knocked the ceiling light which fell to the floor and broke. We made up a suitable half truth for Mum and Dad, but Mum was pretty upset as it had been a wedding present.

There was a single car garage made of asbestos panels attached to a metal frame. Dad had made garage-wide shelves which he used for storage. To the uninformed observer it was a shambles .. but Dad seemed to know where anything he needed could be found. Aunty Joan and Uncle Jack move to No 2, soon after. I don’t remember where they moved from .. but it might have been Riviera Gardens. I do remember that they had bought a brand new house (before Moor Allerton Crescent) which had a very poor garden. 1950-1960

Broad Lane CP School from around 1949 to 1951.

Travelled every day with Dad in his motorbike and sidecar. He introduced me to rugby which he had enjoyed at college. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t understand the game and didn’t want to get hurt. One embarrassing day I smeared mud on my face to make it look as if I had been in the thick of it. No one was fooled. Played marbles on the bare earth in the playing fields (“Layking at taws”) in Yorkshire dialect .. which meant “Playing at Marbles”. Made model aeroplanes in the craft classes (a KielKraft Sabre F86, I remember. The same kits were still available in about 2000 as I bought a Spitfire kit .. the same kit which I had once made so much earlier in my life … but which now I bought to make on an early visit to France on holiday.)

Broad Lane County Primary School

I remember Dad taking a girl behind his desk to inspect her knickers as she had been accused of stealing something from another kid. Girls were required to wear knickers at school and most had a small pocket in which to keep small items. It was this pocket which Dad wanted to inspect.

I had read somewhere of a boys’ prank which involved putting a drawing pin on another boy’s chair or bench. It seemed like a good idea, so I did just that. The other boy yelped in pain and Dad whacked me with a pencil box as punishment.

Later in life I came to realise that our home had no reading, no music, no culture. I found “Biggles” books at school and loved the stories of daring and adventure. I think I must have borrowed pretty well all of them from the school library over time. However, the school librarian would have liked to introduce me to a wider range of reading material and decided to ban me from reading any more Biggles books in the hope that I’d choose something else. It didn’t work. I simply stopped taking books from the school library. What if she had introduced me instead to some of the autobiographies written by the wartime fighter and bomber pilots? There must have been some by that date (around 1950) even if there weren’t many of those, there were the books written by, say, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French pilot of the 1920s and 30s and others. Anyway, I simply stopped reading.

In the final year, there was a draw to select the kids who would go with Dad and another teacher to the Rugby Union final at Wembley. I think Bramley was playing and possibly Featherstone Rovers. Dad had fixed the draw by marking the folded pieces of paper with Xs… but he hadn’t told me and I hadn’t worked it out for myself. I didn’t pick a marked one, but I went on the trip anyway. The rest of my classmates knew what had happened and gave me trouble. They couldn’t understand why Dad hadn’t simply decided that as I was his son I would be going anyway .. which was what happened in the end. Why go through the charade of the false draw? … and if you are going to the trouble of setting up a charade like that, why not do it properly and tell me in advance what I am supposed to do?

I sat the entrance exam for Leeds Grammar School in the majestic main hall. It really was a most imposing place. Leeds Grammar School was unquestionably the best school in Leeds, possibly in Yorkshire, so it would have been a feather in Mum and Dad’s caps if I had passed .. but I didn’t. I went to Roundhay Grammar School instead, September 1951. This was no failure. At the time selection for grammar school places was very tight and the selection was thought to be very important in determining how the rest of your life worked out. At the time, never mind how the Government explained it, it was thought to be a success to get into a grammar school and a failure to be allocated to a Secondary Modern. Roundhay School had a very good reputation, so we were all pleased.

ROUNDHAY SCHOOL Sept 1950 - July 1958

Roundhay School

Obviously I didn’t do that well in the first year as I was allocated to 2B for the second year. I did better in the second year and joined (and stayed in) the top stream thereafter .. 3A then 4S1. I did sufficiently well to be offered the chance to go straight into the 6th, missing the 5th year. Because Roundhay was a very academic school, it was thought that there was a real benefit in being able to get to university a year earlier. As it turned out that had no relevance for me as I didn’t feel confident enough at the critical time, two years later, about going to university. Every year there subject choices to be made.

Malc and I, 1954

In the second year we had to choose between Latin and Greek and I chose Latin. I did so badly that I dumped the subject at the end of the 2nd form. For the 3rd year we had to make other choices though I can’t remember today what they were. I did try German briefly when in 4S1, I think, but I and another had to sit at the back of the class while trying to learn Stage 1 while the rest of the class were studying for their O Levels. It didn’t work for me.

I joined the Cubs around 1949/1950 and later, when I was old enough, joined the Boy Scouts. The Scout troup was attached to a church as were most Boy Scout troups of that time. I joined the Congregational Church because it seemed to have the best Scout troup. Ewan Cameron was also very interested and later Ian Higgins. When we reached 15yrs, we formed a Senior Scout troup. We were very interested in outdoor activities. Ewan and I did our First Class treck together, spending a couple of nights sleeping in a tent and walking across the fells near home. We had a strong troup leader who encouraged us in outdoor activities. It was he who took us into Dowk Cave near Kettlewell in our first experience of caving/potholing. He also took us on what was called a “Midnight Hike” in the Pennines. We hiked through almost the whole night in total darkness across the moors, eventually catching some sleep in some outbuildings we found which were occupied by sheep. Apparently we smelled terrible.

Climbing "Crucifix"
on Armscliffe Crags,
Sept 1958

Our troup leader introduced Ian, Ewan and I to rock climbing. Here and there I had some frightening moments but, overall, it was my sport. I climbed on Armscliffe Crags, near Harrogate, The Cow and Calf near Ilkley Moor, Tryffan, in Snowdonia and in the Lake District. I often climbed VS (Very Severe) routes which were at that time among the hardest of climbs. Friends often used to say that I was brave, but I replied saying I couldn't be brave as I didn't feel scared.

Ewan’s family were very proud of their Scottishness. He had a brother, Ian?, and a Down’s Syndrome sister called Nans. Ewan’s father was Chief Engineer at Yorkshire Copper Works, later taken over by ICI and renamed Yorkshire Imperial Metals. All the time I knew him he was making a model steam engine in his workshop in the cellar. He seemed to be fabricating everything himself. Whether he did or not it didn't seem to advance at all.

I earned extra money to supplement my pocket money by delivering groceries on Saturday mornings. This involved stacking customers’ orders in cardboard boxes in the carrying basket of a special delivery bicycle. John Sykes also worked at the same mini-market on Street Lane. It was a great game to see how many orders you could pile on top of each other. Sometimes they fell off. I also did a newspaper round over many years, sometimes the evening papers after school and other times morning papers before school. There was an incident involving a knife. One day police came to our house asking if I had a knife. I did have a small pen-knife. The policemen said that that was not the knife they were looking for. Apparently a boy called “John” who worked at the mini-market had threatened another boy with a knife. I told them John Sykes’ address and never heard any more about it. I don’t actually know what had happened. I was worried about the incident and decided to have nothing more to do with John Sykes. Many years later I found , via Friends Reunited, that John Sykes had emigrated to Australia and we exchanged a few e-mails.

I joined the 6th in either 6S1 or 6S2, specialising in Maths, Physics and Chemistry. These were small, intensive classes. I think we had less than 10 in our class. The 6th Form classrooms were in a separate building, called “The Mansion”, within the school grounds but about 60 yds away .. nearer to Roundhay Girls Grammar School. One of their playing fields ran next to The Mansion, so we could watch them playing hockey rather listem to the teachers, one of whom (“Jimmy” Gentle, the English teacher, I think) said “Stop looking through the window or I’ll close it”. He said other strange things, too, like “Hands up the absentees”. I actually heard him say them … they weren’t simply apocryphal. Just scraped through A Levels with 40%, 45% and 50% respectively June 1958. Those who missed the 5th were only allowed to take 4 O Level subjects. I took French, Geography, English Language and English Literature of which I failed English Literature.

Used to cycle to school every day and for periods of time to cycle back home at lunch time .. though this was very tight .. I had barely enough time to get home, eat a meal and get back to school on time. I remember the fights in the playground. Up went the cry “fight” .. and a crowd would gather round in a circle until a prefect or teacher would arrive to break it up. I was never involved in a fight myself. Joined the Combined Cadet Force (Army Section) and the band, where I played the drums and bugle (and briefly the fife until the instructor stopped coming).

Ewan and I played The Last Post on the school’s two silver bugles at the back of the school hall on Remembrance Day each year. There was a Roll of Honour in the main Assembly Hall, or maybe it was called the Book of Remembrance. It was a large book with the names of, I suppose, every pupil who had been killed in the war. All the names were written in formal illuminated style and the book was, I think, of parchment.

The school was especially proud of Flt. Sgt. Aaron VC. His was one of only two VCs awarded to Stirling aircrew during the war. He was also unusual in that, according to the entirely false prejudice of the time, jews were less willing to join the armed services of their adopted country. (Note: 1)

Memorial to
Flt.Sgt. Arthur Aaron DFM VC,
Eastgate, Leeds

*****Marching with CCF band pic *****Going to school on bike

To mark the new Millennium, the Leeds Civic Trust organised a public vote to choose a statue to mark the occasion, and to publicise the city's past heroes and heroines. Candidates included Benjamin Latrobe and Sir Henry Moore. Arthur Aaron won the vote. Located on a roundabout in Eastgate, on the northern edge of the city centre, close to the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the statue of Aaron was unveiled on 24 March 2001 by Malcolm Mitchem, the last survivor of the aircraft. The five-metre bronze sculpture by Graham Ibbeson takes the form of Aaron standing next to a tree, up which are climbing three children progressively representing the passage of time between 1950 and 2000, with the last a girl releasing a dove of peace, all representing the freedom his sacrifice helped ensure.

After a year in the Army section we were permitted to transfer to either the RAF or the Navy sections instead. I joined the RAF Section. The section had a Slingsby T.38 Grasshopper TX1. It was launched on the playing fields with rubber bungees pulled by two teams of lads, though very rarely. Very disappointed that I was never allowed to sit in the pilot’s seat. (Note: 2) Went to RAF Manby with the Summer Camp for a couple of years and flew in a Lincoln and an Anson.

Went to Hastings with the Army section and stayed in a tented camp. One member of the section had disgusting sores on his bottom for which the camp MO had prescribed a khaki coloured ointment. This bully of a lad made the other members of his tent apply this ointment to his bottom.

The Slingsby T38 Grasshopper TX 1

I remember some time in the 6th Form, a group of us went over to the public playing fields after lunch. We found a cricket changing hut which was open so we went in. Ian, who was with us climbed over into the other half and was there when a “Parky” came in and caught us .. took our names and reported us to the Head, Mr Howarth (a brute of a man .. who would catch new school students on their first day of term when they had not yet learned the rules and bellow at them for talking during assembly. They were usually thrashed with the cane.) We were all (except Ian) summoned in turn to be thrashed in the Headmaster’s office. He said to me “I know why you went in that hut. It was to smoke, wasn’t it?”. I said “I don’t smoke, Sir”, but received 6 of the best anyway. I remember looking at him afterwards with a look which said “You poor man. You needed to do that to meet your own needs” .. and he knew it. Poor Ian, his conscience was very disturbed because he was there, too. He felt he was just as guilty as the rest of us so should be thrashed as well. I remember telling him not to be so daft. None of us held it against him.

A very-nearly-a-human-disaster. We would often go down into the surface water drains under the main road at lunch time, to explore. Seemed like a good idea at the time. They were over 4 feet in diameter so we could nearly stand up. We’d take candles and torches and try to find out where they went. I believe we explored the whole network in that area over a period of time. One summer lunch time, a competing gang of boys went in the sewers before us and we decided to scare them by piling up dried hay at all the entrances and exits and then setting fire to it. It was madness and could have caused a tragedy, but we and they were very lucky and they all got out safely and nothing more was said. They couldn’t have said anything as they shouldn’t have been in there anyway.

Who do I remember? Bernard Harrison (pole vault). We exchanged a few e-mails perhaps around 2005 via Friends re-United, Geoff Green, who I met at an Institute of Personnel Management conference at Harrogate in around 1979. I had obtained my pilot's licence in 1978 and I flew to Leeds Bradford in a rented Cessna 150 and then caught a 'bus into the town of Harrogate for the conference, which caused much amusement. I can't forget briefly “Cess” Poole, an unfortunate "southern" lad who I christened "Cess" and the nickname stuck. For whatever reason he didn't stay more than about 6 months. My big friends were Ian Higgins, John Horne and Ewan Cameron. Ian died in a boating accident off South Africa where he was living with his wife and three children, around 1975. He was practising for a passage from South Africa to the UK when his boat was mown down in the night. I kept in touch with his mother until she died and she kept me, indirectly in touch with his sister and his children. of which more later. I have met John Horne and his delightful Burmese wife, Sandra a few times. They have stayed at La Martinie with us. He told me that Ewan had commited suicide.

Ian and I had lots of fun when we were about 14/15, putting fireworks ("bangers") into the large dried milk tins, which were used during the wartime rationning years to provide dried milk for children. We would put a lighted “banger” in the tin while it was fizzing prior to exploding and pop the lid on. We would throw the dried milk tin back and forth between us .. hoping that it didn’t explode while you were holding it!!!

I made a short barrelled gun. It had a wooden stock. The barrel was made out of a piece of rolled steel conduit, normally used for electrical cabling. I made a “bolt” out of a piece of tube which had the internal diameter which closely matched the diameter of one of the standard range of bangers. I beat the conduit tube until the bolt was be a close fit inside it. I could then put a banger into the bolt, light it, ram it into the conduit barrel and pop a projectile .. typically a marble .. into the muzzle and bingo … a weapon!!!

Mischievous Night was a curious custom in the north of England. On November the 4th, groups (some might say “gangs”) of teenagers (mostly boys) would wander the streets essentially marauding … swapping peoples’ gates, putting flour into letterboxes, making false telephone calls. In today’s world this wouldn’t be called “mischief” .. it would be called vandalism. We learned that if you drop a banger down a drain in the middle of the street, you can hear the drain covers rattle all down the road. Ian and I put bangers into the hearts of Uncle Jack’s cabbages .. he lived directly across the road from us .. and then filled the space with clay. It wasn’t that we didn’t like him. I’m sorry to say that when modern teenagers say they “just lark about” sadly, I think I understand that. I guess we did the same. Ian was skilled at shooting out the gas street lights with his air rifle as he cycled underneath. He was much more accurate than me.

We had moved to 4, Moor Allerton Crescent, Moor Allerton, a northern suburb of Leeds, in about 1947/8. Trams ran up from Leeds, around Moortown Corner and along Street Lane before returning to Leeds centre. The house had threadbare carpets and coal fires. Mum would sit by the fire with her legs spread apart. She would soon have a strange mottled, blotched appearance to the inside of her legs. In the winter frost settled on the inside of windows. Times were hard for Mum and Dad. I know we had a lodger for a while. I can’t remember anything about him now, but I do remember he was there. Malc and I shared a bedroom. The beds were located head to head in one corner with a built in fitment between them which Dad had made to hold books and other things. There was a two (or was it three) bar electric fire in the chimney breast. A Morris 8 open tourer, I think DFC493, was our first car after years of motorcycles and cycles. At some stage its chassis broke and Dad repaired it. Dad obviously felt short of money and made some half-hearted attempts at buying up old cars, renovating them and selling them on. It was not a success.

THE RAF Sept 1958 - Sept 1970

Applied to join the RAF as an Engineering Officer at Henlow. Failed, but was offered Pilot training instead, which I preferred to do anyway. Actually, it was rather more than that. I never wanted to be anything other than a military pilot. With the advantage of hindsight I can see that I was taken in by the wartime and immediate post-war euphoria much of which was focussed on the excitement, bravery and vital contribution of the military ... and for me ... the pilots. Mother often said that she didn’t mind what I did so long as I went in at the highest level. I did pick up various comments along the way which left me with the feeling that she thought the military was not the career for me. She was right.

I started at South Cerney, 27th September 1958 as an Officer Cadet, Service Number 4230375. Passed out as Acting Pilot Officer 23rd December 1958 and then went on to No 6 Flying Training School, Ternhill in January 1959 to train on Piston Provosts. I made unsteady progress. I went solo soon enough, but didn’t manage to get to grips with “pilot navigation” .. often referred to as “guestimation” as it was a very rough and ready science. I had an instructor with whom I got on pretty well, Flt.Lt. Boyce, but he contracted a stomach ulcer and was taken off flying for several weeks and I was switched from one to another until the arrival of Fg.Off. Bradley on his first tour as an instructor. I didn’t make progress. Although I was selected to fly the aerobatics competition (only the top six were chosen) in fact I failed the final navigation test. I failed the re-test and was ultimately taken off the course just a few hours before the final celebration “dining out night”. Fellow students were somewhat surprised that I wasn’t preparing to go to the dinner.

I was offered the chance to re-train as a navigator but, although I was clearly advised that this wouldn’t be the same kind of navigation as pilot navigation I didn’t feel confident enough to switch to navigator training. I elected to retrain instead as an Air Electronics Officer. Perhaps not the best decision with the advantage of hindsight. Writing this today, it now seems I may well have been quite well suited for the role of navigator I love lots about flying as a private pilot, but the aspects I get the greatest pleasure from are the route planning and navigation .. especially now we have GPS .. which gives a greater precision. Furthermore, now I have taken up sailing, I am just loving the whole business of nautical navigation .. tides, winds, buoys .. all of it. For many years I held a grudge that I had been badly treated by the RAF. But now I see it rather differently. I have come to realise that I probably wasn’t up to the job of military pilot and the instructors at Ternhill sensed it. They gave me a harder than average Final Navigation Test because they guessed I could be set up to fail it and I duly obliged. Not a very fair way of dealing with their suspicions .. but probably the right result, nevertheless.

After Ternhill, I was sent to 60 MU, Church Fenton, as a fill-in job until my future was sorted out. The aircrew position of Air Electronics Officer was created for the V-Bombers (the three 4-jet bombers designed to deliver nuclear weapons into the heart of Russia during the Cold War .. the Valiant, the crescent-winged Victor and the delta winged Vulcan) .. each had a crew of 5 .. two pilots, two navigators (Nav. Plotter .. who got the crew there, Nav Radar .. who handled target acquisition and weapon delivery) and the Air Electronics Officer … who handled Electronics Counter Measures .. that is to say getting the aircraft through missile defences and enemy radars and to manage the aircraft electrics. The Vulcan used enough electricity to feed the needs of a small town. With the advantage of hindsight I can see that the V-Bomber needed someone to do the work done by the AEO. The Shackleton did not. There were already quite enough senior NCOs perfectly capable of doing the job. The AEO on a Shackleton did exactly the same job as his subordinates, the senior NCOs, but he happened to be the officer. Why was it necessary to create this role? Possibly because they wanted an all-officer crew on a V-Bomber, then needed a commissioned AEO. But it wasn’t realistic to set up a training system just to create AEOs for the V-Force, so they cobbled up this job for Shackletons, too. Now they did have enough of a training need to set up a formal training system for AEOs. But on the Shackleton, at least, it was a non-job. I was told later (actually by Malcolm Gare, who became a Shackleton Captain) that the AEO’s job was to motivate and inspire the Senior NCO members of his team. Maybe so, but no-one ever told me that and I certainly never heard any other AEO speak of his job in those terms.

I arrived at RAF Hullavington to join AE19, a one year course to train as an Air Electronics Officer, in … 1960. I wasn’t really interested, but passed the course nevertheless. Dad came to the Passing Out Parade on …1961 ***********Canoe race Devizes to Westminster and across the Channel in 4:56min

I didn’t much fancy V Bombers .. seemed far too dangerous to me … so I opted for the only alternative .. Shackletons. (Note: 4)

A Shackleton Mk3 of 120 Sqn

In fact Shackletons killed several crews as well, due to accidents of one kind or another, or mechanical failure. (Note: 5)

Posted to Kinloss for MOTU (Maritime Operational Training Unit) and then on to 204 Sqn, Ballykelly. Ballykelly was a terrible place, located on the SE corner of Lough Neagh in the NW of Northern Ireland. At the SW corner is Londonderry, or some would say these days “Derry”. To the East of the airfield was a modest ridge of hills, to the East of Limavady. I think it may have been Tintagh Mountain, or Binevenagh, but we called it Ben Twitch. They would say “If you can see Ben Twitch it’s going to rain .. if you can’t, it is raining”. It had been built on re-claimed land. I remember my batman, Marcus, telling me one day that the navvies who had built the earth barriers around the airfield had often been drunk and that therefore the earth had not been properly compacted. The barriers were therefore at risk of collapse until several years had passed and the grass covering had properly knitted together.

Shackleton crews loved low flying

My first crew, Crew 1 as it happened, had Flt.Lt. Bill Holdsworth as it's captain. He was a dedicated servant .. always seemed to be totally loyal to the “requirements of the Service”. But he was an interferring busybody, too. He interferred with everyone’s job on the crew, presumably because he felt acutely his ultimate responsibility for the success of every sortie. Just before I joined the squadron, “Cap’n Bill” bounced an aircraft off the sea on a night bombing exercise. The co-pilot was flying the aircraft and “Cap’n Bill” was in the co-pilot’s seat .. that job being to monitor the radar altimeter to ensure the aircraft maintained 300ft above the waves .. which eyesight couldn’t as it was pitch black. But Bill couldn’t let go .. he looked out for the target, too. The result was that no-one was watching the radar altimeter and the aircraft hit the sea, right next to the target .. to the horror of the crew member who was lying in the tailcone ready to report where the bombs had fallen. The radar scanner was swiped off . The propellor tips were damaged as were the bottom edges of the tail fins.

One morning, actually 20 Oct 61, my batman, Marcus rushed into my room "There an aircraft burning on the runway, Sir. Hurry!!" So I leaped out of bed to see what was happening. A dawn landing after a long flight was badly handled. A Shackleton of 210 Sqn, based at Ballykelly, had bounced on its big mainwheel tyres and then skipped off the runway. The undercarriage collapsed and the aircraft caught fire. No-one was hurt.

******24h 35min endurance flight. ******the bulldozer.

*******My first (black) Triumph Spitfire.

Once met ex flying instructor, Fg.Off. Bradley, while participating in a static flying display at some UK base. He was coming down the control tower steps as we were going up when he said to me “I bet you hate me”, I paused but said nothing and then walked on. I wondered later if was actually him who had first raised the doubt that I could never be a military pilot. I was told he had been taken off instructional duties.

201 Sqn, St Mawgan and Kinloss

Shackleton interior looking forward

Mike Greatorex and I were returning to Ballykelly via Belfast on the night ferry. We decided to go down to the truck drivers' bar for a change and, under the influence, I'm afraid, began to sing the songs we knew and loved from the Officer's Mess. Sadly the drivers didn't seem to appreciate this and when I was in the WC one came up to me and said "If you don't stop singing yer dirty songs I'll have to fill yerse in!". We tok the hint and went off to our cabins.

For all of my time in the RAF were were engaged in the Cold War. We flew long . 18-20hrs patrols of the seas to the North of the UK, around the North of Norway and up to Bear Island or the Greenland coast, sometimes liaising with RN submarines engaged in their anti-submarine role.

Shackleton interior looking aft

In April/May 1964, Mum, Dad & Malc moved from Moor Allerton Crescent to a new property, 28 Springmead Drive, in a parade of shops in Garforth, East of Leeds. The shop was to become a haberdashery/children's clothes with acommodation above, and gave Mum the entrepreneurial opportunity she had always wanted

We carried out operations from the Norwegian air base of Bodo several time, where I saw the sun disappear behind an island and re-appear just after midnight. It was truly wierd having no darkness at all for 24hrs. The Norwegians had a very different attitude to snow compared to the Brits. They wouldn't bother to clear the snow off the runways .. simply roll it flat. And as for their driving. It was quite an experience to be driven around the air base in a VW mini-bus on packed snow at speeds which would be pretty terrifying if it had been clear tarmac. Food in the 'mess seemed strange to us. Firstly, because it was so difficult to kee it piping hot, they didn't bother. So, often, hot food was only luke warm. Their breakfasts were also pretty strange, with lots of cold meats and sliced , often smoked, cheeses. Not at all what we were used .

I flew with Dave Perry’s crew for a while until they were killed on the 8th December 1965. (Note: 3)

It was announced that I was to be posted to Changi, Singapore in Spring 1966 and I couldn't face the prospect of going there on my own, so I asked Michele to marry me .. for no other reason, I very much regret. We married on the 5th February 1966 at the Methodist Church, Banff, Scotland. (In fact Dave Bray, who had been killed in the crash and was a competent organist, was to have played the organ at our wedding). We flew out to Singapore in a Britannia and I joined 205 Sqn at RAF Changi, Singapore on 6th April 1966.

205 Squadron, Changi

.. 4, then 3 Scimitars.

Phil Burton posted to become ADC to the AOC and we re started rallying, forming the Far East Air Force Motor Sports Club. Won prizes rallying, obtained my International Competition licence 03745 in 1966. Went to the Philippines for the amazing annual rally, Phil and I (plus the Hillman agent from Singapore) in Hillman Hunter, his wife Sandy and Michele in a Hillman Imp. They retired after a short time and we continued to the end but were humiliated by the locals who fiddled the scoring system to make us look stupid. ****Learned later that Michele started screwing around soon after we got to Singapore.

04-Nov-67, 205 Sqn crew killed after translation unit broke and crashed in the sea between Gan Island and Indonesia. (Note: 5) We were 1st SAR that day. Mike Greatorex was one of the navigators. He and I had been great drinking friends at Ballykelly. We were given the nicknames “Pixie” and “Dixie” after the two small mice in a kids TV cartoon series, both of us being small. My nickname stuck, but his did not. He was a very reserved, quite kind of guy. However, …

When I was on 205 for a time my co-pilot was Malcolm Gare who was later to become a BA captain and sailing friend. We had far too much to drink one evening when he told me he thought he was in love with the wife of a friend of his. No-one has ever confided with me in such a way before or since. I made platitudinous noises and the subject wasn’t pursued further. Much later I began to wonder what he meant.

Dad's interest in competitive motorcycle sport waned over the years, though he did compete in "The Old Man's trial", around 1968. The man leaning over a pearing at Dad's feet to check that he didn't "dab", is "Uncle" Glynn Owen, my godfather.

Dad in the Old Man's Trial around 1968

He died suddenley in the night of 18th December 1969, a rupture of an artery in the brain. Some time later Mum designed a trophy to be competed for in his memory. Many years later Malc came across a reference to "The Stan Cox Memorial trial 2 and I wondered if this trophy was involved. After much research I discovered that it is organised by the Wetherby and District Motorcycle Club and is competed for by young riders. Some years after my initial enquires I finally received a photo of the trophy with many names engraved on it from the first date 1976 until last year, 2016. So, almost 50yrs after his death, Dad's name lives on in the sport he loved.

The Stan Cox Memorial Trophy in 2016

My last months in the RAF up 'til Sept 1970 had been spent on 42 Sqn at St Mawgan, and we had lived in married quarters on the old wartime airfield at St. Eval, now disused, I obtained a job at Glaxo Laboratories Ltd, as a training Officer, at their Greenford site. So we found a house in Beaconsfied, within reasonable communting distance. Or first first civilian house was at 84, Heath Road, Beaconsfield, a three-bedroom (just) semi. Not long after, Michele became pregnant and we started to prepare the nursery for our first child. We were both very excited. I remember buying or making up furniture to paint ourselves, painting the room, Michele making curtains, all the sorts of thing expectant parents do.

Glaxo Laboratories Ltd Sep 1970 - Apr 1973

My first civilian job was with Glaxo Laboratories, Greenford as Training Officer assisting Peter Seebohm until he was moved to Group HQ. I was allocated to Len Campbell with special responsibilities for training in the Factory and Research company. Found it very hard to settle in to this new working environment where how people reacted to you depended on what you said and how you said it rather than the badges of rank you wore on your uniform.

Alison was born in the middle of the night on 28th April 1971 at Amersham Hospital after what for Michele was a long and uncomfortable labour. I attempted to be there at the birth but was very relieved when the midwife asked me to leave so they could do some snipping and sewing.

Gala Cosmetics Group Apr 1973 - Oct 1980

Joined Gala Cosmetics Group as Senior training Officer 1973. Promoted quickly after the Personnel Manager, Roger Monk, was fired following his unfair dismissal of one of his staff. In fact this dismissal became an important piece of case law in the early days of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act … “Crystal Products v Mrs Smith”. She was a difficult lady. She would refuse to respond when anyone put out a "Tannoy" message for her if they addressed her as "Mrs Smith" as she wanted to be known by her maiden name only.

Became Training Manager, then Offices Personnel Manager, Personnel Manager with responsibility for Security and Catering (got rid of those so I could concentrate on Personnel alone). It was the most stressful time of my life so far. I had many migraines and on one occasion I couldn't drive home as I was being sick in the gutter. I stayed in Les and Trudy's (ex in-laws) near Heathrow.

We won an unfair dismissal case against our Senior Shop Steward who was fired for throwing a fire extinguisher at a colleague through his car windscreen outside the Sports and Social Club. It was clearly not an anti-Trade Union dismissal. Whether we would have won the case if it had gone to a full hearing is another matter as the Sports and Social Club where the offence happened was, strictly speaking, outsiede the company premises.

Won a sex discrimination case against a job applicant who claimed we didn’t appoint him as a Personnel Officer on the grounds that he wasn’t female. He had studied law at university and it seemed to me that he thought he'd have a go. His claim was nonsense and based simply on the fact that the department included more women than men. I was able to explain our reasoning in choosing not to appoint him and the tribunal was satisfied and threw out his claim. It was a good time for me as I arrived when the UK employment law was changing rapidly and, as I enjoyed learning about it and managers were worried about it, I gained a position of considerable influence. Promoted, I think, 6 times in 18 months.

The company was not commercially successful. In the 1950s cosmetics were cheap and the fashion was to buy-and-try which meant manufacturers were sure of profitable production. Changing product safety legislation meant that manufacturers had to use more expensive substitutes and in addition, the fashion for natural look, minimal cosmetic decoration meant that sales volumes fell. First Smith & Nephew, a Northern-based textile and sanitory/hospital products company bought a share in the company. Then 51%, then 100% and the name was changed to Smith & Nephew Cosmetics Ltd. It still didn’t make any money.

The top man at Smith & Nephew called in a retired Trade Union official who he knew well and respected, to see if he could get under the skin of the company and offer any insight into the best ways forward. He just didn’t have the understanding.

Margaret Lawrence, meanwhile, marched forward with her view that Marketing should control everything. They certainly rose in political significance, though the company still didn’t become profitable. Once a valued sales rep lost his driving licence and Margaret and her team attempted to keep him on the payroll contrary to his contract of employment. I insisted he was fired which was what happened.

Mike Hawksley went to the US to run the US-based operation for Smith & Nephew and Margaret Lawrence took over as MD which meant for the first time she was responsible for Personnel. She sought to build bridges and for a while we worked quite well together. There was one big battle when one of her sales managers fixed up his own management training course for one of his staff without consultation with me and I protested. Margaret agreed to tell him to cancel the course. Whether this actually happened is another matter.

I hadn't realised it at the time, but neighbours, especially Wyn Graham, were getting concerned about Michele's treatment of Alison. She later said she had thought about calling in the Council over Michele’s behaviour. We went through a period of considerable uncertainty with Michele screwing around again. One night when she returned home around 01:30, I said "I've had enough. You can leave if you want to .. but you leave Alison behind" That is what happened. She left and divorce followed 10th March 1980. Michele didn't contest the custody arrangements which had Alison living with me .. very unusual at the time. The divorce court judge wasn't at all sure and asked me "How do you think you are going to manage when Alison is a teenager?" I replied to the effect "I really can't say. I expect it will be dificult" And so it proved to be.

Life as self-Employed

In the early period after the divorce, Alison went to stay with Michele and her husband every second weekend. On one of those weekends I decided to go away. I stabbed with a pin the holiday page of the daily newspaper I read at the time and it fell on The Cottage Hotel, Dove Cove, Devon … not too far from Dartmouth. After checking in and arriving in the dining room for dinner, I was allocated my table. The dining room was beautifully located, with outstanding views over the cove and out to sea through the floor-to-ceiling picture windows. Unfortunately I was allocated a table adjacent to the wall between the windows. I called the head waiter and asked if I could have a table by a window. He told me that wouldn’t be possible as all such tables were already allocated. A female voice from the adjacent table with a sea view, asked the head waiter to invite me to join her. I couldn’t believe my luck .. here I was on my first night away and I was being invited to share a table with an unattached woman!! She was delightful company. We talked about anything and everything and in due course I asked how long she had been separated. She said “About and hour and a half!!” It seems that her husband had only just left her, having told her that they weren’t going on holiday together as she had thought .. he was going to France with his secretary. So here she was, at The Cottage Hotel, with the kids, all on her own. We had a delightful evening, but it wasn’t going anywhere. I contacted her a couple of times afterwards, but it soon became clear that she was going to have her husband back.

I had three accountants in succession, each moved one chose to move on to do something else and sold me to his successor. One of them sold me to Ashley Doggett around 1987/88. Ashley introduced me to another client who was also busily going broke. This client was Roger Cullingham. His company, Thameslink Ltd, had offices adjacent to Windsor Theatre. He had no idea about marketing, cost control or anything very much about running a business. When I looked at the accounts it was clear this was not a situation which could be rescued. Nevertheless we sort of worked together, with some dificulty, for some years until we had to go our separate ways. He was Mac zealot which drove me into the arms of Bill Gates and Windows, though at the time the Mac had better technology. He was a very reserved man, impossible to have a relationship with. He married a Polish woman who he had gone to the airport to collect for a friend. They had a child and then divorced. The last I heard of him he was running a local website for Windsor.

I was reading the local paper one day and came across an advertisment by a lady who wanted to form a Bridge group. The intention was clearly to both play bridge and have a social time. I went along to meet Mary Smith somewhere near Crowthorne and joined up straight away. It became a source of some very good times. We played bridge every Friday night .. mostly two or three tables. Sometimes players would take their kids, who would sleep upstairs until the adults had finished. We were all of an age when the kids could do that. Sometimes we would play at other houses. Often we would have a party or a dinner at someone else’s house.

New relationships were formed and in due course I had a relationship with Mary herself. I didn’t want to get involved with her kids. She warned me one day that her son had once asked her partner “Are you going to marry Mummy?” The day came when he asked me the same question, in her presence. When I said I didn’t think so, you could feel the immediate chill in the atmosphere and the relationship didn’t last much longer. Until then, we’d had some great times.

One Friday evening, the cards had fallen badly and the bridge had been very boring. When I’d just about had enough, I said “This is bloody boring. Let’s go to Paris in my aeroplane!!” It certainly woke everyone up. In fact everyone wanted to go, so we did. We obviously couldn’t go there and then, but we went the next weekend in GATJG, my aircraft group’s Cherokee 140 from Biggin Hill, where it was kept, to Paris, Le Bourget. The VFR route into Le Bourget was superb, with Eiffel Tower just off the starboard wing. Le Bourget was closed to private aircraft shortly after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on the twin towers, so that particular flight is no longer possible. In fact we had so much fun that the four of us flew to Amsterdam, Schipol, Holland soon after, in fact in August 1983. Schipol was an amazing airfield. Again they had strict VFR routes and if you displayed any irregularities in your flight they would terminate your permission and tell you to go somewhere else. In fact we reached Schipol within a minute or so of our ETA, which pleased me no end. Schipol is huge, with 6 runways, three of them reserved for light aircraft. After landing were were met by a “Follow Me” truck and parked among the airliners to await a crew bus. My friends were immensely impressed when we got on the crew bus along with the airline crews and entered the airport building through the crew entrance. We had another great time, including going to the Van Gough museum. I learned that the Dutch pub is often called a “brown café”, because they mostly have dark brown panelled walls. They served both alcoholic drinks and coffee.

The aircraft group (GATJG) always had marginal finances… the members preferred to pay the minimum montly subscription and future major expenditure would be paid for by group members digging into their pockets. Finally, the group decided to sell the aircraft. A buyer was found. He had operated from a private strip near Kings Lynn. A price was agreed .. £3,500 .. actually less than the aircraft was insured for. It was decided that I would take JG up there with Alison and his friend would fly Alison and I back to Biggin Hill. I had a briefing from the purchaser as to the location of the strip on the old wartime airfield at Kings Lynn.

It is actually a large grass wartime airfield, with landing strip in one corner. So Alison and I set off. All was fine until we got to the vicinity of Kings Lynn when we found 100% cloud cover. I decided to continue out over The Wash and let down to see if I could break cloud at a safe height. I had an IMC rating at the time (a sort of private pilot’s Instrument Rating, permitting legal but limited flight in cloud) .

We broke cloud around 1800 ft, if I remember correctly, and turned back towards the airfield. Alison was by now crying, partly from the stress she was experiencing and partly because her ears hadn’t cleared after the let down and she was experiencing some ear pain.

Although it was easy to locate the airfield, I couldn’t work out which bit of it was supposed to be the landing strip. Then I saw this small group of people in one corner of the airfield and assumed that this was the purchaser and his friends. I just assumed .. I had no confirmatory evidence. So I set up an approach to land near them. After a practice approach, I came in a second time for the actual landing.

As we got down to less than 100ft I saw one of them throw his scarf into the air. But instead of seeing it as a warning .. which he had intended .. I read it as an over-the-top greeting. We touched down a bit too fast and shortly after the nose dug into the rough ground and we overturned.

This was not the landing strip .. which was hard to see, in another part of the airfield. This group had gathered to fly their model aircraft. In fact the owner and his wife were in the car park the other side of the hangers and had seen JG approach, though not the crash. It was rather poignant that the owner had bought JG from us with the insurance money he obtained as a result of crashing his own aircraft and he had planned to take his wife to Paris in JG the following weekend. When the aircraft came to a halt, upside down, the door wouldn't open because the only door ona Cherokee turns over the top of the fuselage and as we were upside down it wouldn't move. Strange how you find much increased force when you need it. I just pushed with my shoulders and broke the Perspex window in the door so we could crawl out. It wasn't quite that easy as Alison was underneath the control panel, tied up with intercom leads. Neither of was injured. It wasn't long before the fire brigade and ambulances arrived, though they weren't needed. On our way back home by train Alison said to me "Dad, thank you for saving my life". I replied "Al, you should have said .. Dad you nearly killed me!!"

The insurance company paid out the full insured value of the aircraft, which was actually more than we had agreed to sell it for. Fortunately no money had yet changed hands!!

We bought GBAHO, a Beech Sundowner with the insurance money and had lots of fun flying to various places. One group member was coming back frok from Geneva at around 8,000ft when he collided with an eagle. This is most unusual as birds can easily avoid slow flying light aircraft. Perhaps the eagle actually attacked the aircraft? When he landed at Biggin Hill, the aircraft was immediately grounded as the damage to the wing was very serious. On day I was flying in another light airacft into Bembridge, Isle of Wight, when I saw GBAHO parked, without a propellor. The Air Traffic Controller on duty told me that two prisonoers from Parkhurst had tried to escape by stealing the aircraft .. even though it had no propellor! *************** Meeting Annie.

Learning to fly gyroplanes .. Henstridge, Tony Melody, whatsisname, Magni M16, My Bensen. Magni M18 and crashing it. *******The double dealing over Jayflex taking over the lease of St Leonard’s Road. Finchlea come on the scene. **************Sold 22, Montrose Avenue and moved to 15, Ascot Towers, Ascot Road, Ascot. Rented out for a while and then moved in with Annie and sold the place to the rich Arab. Bought Agincourt, another property in Ascot. 6, Imperial Court., Sunningdale. Looked at many more. 79, Knight’s Place bought and sold. Bought 98 KP and 71FG. Bought The Old Council Offices … and sold to Finchlea. Created TSRBC and terminated the relationship with RC. The many trials with RC … Bojena. Got slightly involved with Annie’s friends from The Red Lion. Played squash with Monday- and Thursday-Bobs. Alison’s various troubles with boyfriends (the canoist screwing her) and running away with her schoolfriend Michelle by train to London. Tried to get Alison into Windsor Girls, but they wouldn’t have her. Got her into boarding school (St David’s, Ashford, Middlesex) as a weekly boarder , but only on condition that she went back a year. Alison had been visiting Michele every second weekend since our separation but had become more and more unhappy. I suspect that she was awkward. She told me that she spent much of the time at these visits banished to her room. She told me that she didn’t want to go any more. I told her that she should tell her mother herself and explained that there could be serious consequences. She telephoned Michele while we were on a riding holiday in Devon, probably Summer 1984 (when Alison would have been 13), but it might have been the previous year. Michael answered the ‘phone and wouldn’t let Alison speak to her mother. Alison told him that she’d decided to stay with Phyl and Ray instead of staying with them .. and Mike slammed the ‘phone down. The Master’s Course .. wanted to build an aeroplane and decided to do something more useful. Started with Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management for one year, followed by a two year programme leading to a CNAA Masters in Manpower Studies. Got a distinction for my last year, the dissertation studying the behaviour characteristics of nurses in three cancer units at the Ryal Marsden Hospital, using .. Personal Construct Theory and the Repertory Grid technique. 1990-2000 After a 10yr wait, offered immigration to US, 20th Jan 1999. Declined. **********Alison married Neil Harland in Stanwix, Carlisle, 17th September 1994. ********Crashing the tug at the gliding club. **********Went to spend a day with DL looking at properties in London. ******Sued Michele for maintenance. ******* Family history research and the Alan Cox history. ****** Bought La Martinie December 1999 2000-2010 Closed the offices of The Short Run Book Company in the UK and moved permanently to France 22nd July 2002. I wrote to all clients saying that the business was closing down and I was going to retire. To about 6 special clients I mentioned that I would be pleased to help them with their books if they wanted. I have produced two further books for Colin Cummings on that basis. Andrew Lamb made contact again and in fact he and his wife Wendy stayed with us as B & B guests in 2010. I continued to run the business from France though most of the work was handled by Linda. I invited 20 plus people to visit for a big party to celebrate my 65th birthday. It was to be held at the end of June 2006. As that year was also brother Malcolm’s 60th we declared it a joint party and some of his friends came, too. Around 65 people came. John Horne, a childhood friend, said as he met me in our car park after many, many years “Goodness it’s like meeting your Father again!!!” The party extended over 4 days and included dancing, golfing, flying in an aircraft from the flying club, go-karting and an amazing, impromptu firework display which was hilarious for everyone .. mainly because of the incompetence with which it was organised by me, Brother Malc and Brother-in-Law Jim. A few weeks later we visited Roger and Lindy Wood at their holiday home in Brittany, and were joined by Malcolm Gare who sailed his yacht across from Jersey. We all went out for the day and I loved it so much I got Annie to agree we could go on a flotilla holiday in Greece in June 2007. Although the sailing aspects of that holiday were not a success (as Annie was very nervous), I decided to continue with sailing and took the RYA Day Skipper’s course at 5 Star Sailing, Warsach, near Hamble on the Solent in September of that year. In June 2008 Malcolm Gare invited me to join him and another friend for a week’s sailing around the Brittany coast. Malcolm has invited me every year since for what he calls “The Bear’s Summer Cruise”. “The Bear” is a 11.1m Southerly 115 yacht, named “The Dancing Bear”, based in Jersey, where he lives with his wife Jenni.

The La Trinité race ******Learning welding .. the lady B & B guest who said “I know how to weld” ******Alison’s Planning course. University of Central England in Birmingham, (later changed to Birmingham City University) **********Annie’s two hip operations and her operation to remove the osteo-arthritic growth on her right big toe *********Alison married Kevin Barker, August, 2008? ********* ********Lilian’s book. Doctors and Nurses, Méthode d’apprentissage de l’anglais medical, published by Presses Universitaires de Limoges, written by Lilian Penniston Rossi *********Linda’s cremation. Linda had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 1997 after some months of pain in various parts of her body and a number of wrong diagnoses. She had three periods of remission and finally died on Sunday 15th February 2009. She was cremated at Easthampstead Park Crematorium on Tuesday 3rd March. It was not a religious service .. some said more “humanist”. It was conducted by Alexis Savage without any religious framework at all .. though there was one hymn and a member of the family said a prayer. Six of us gave short speaches. Mine was focussed on her time working with me in The Short Run Book Company Ltd. There were no tears. It was a warm celebration of her life. That’s how I’d like to be dealt with when my time comes. **********Bought M18 from Thiérry Gobert, a university lecturer from Perpignan. There are two kinds of approved landing strips in France. The one is for temporary operations. The other is for permanent operations. I obtained permission for temporary operations from The Mairie, Champagnac la Riviere in ... My first flight after having had my conversion training with Eric Changeur, took place on ... I decided to fly over to La Martinie to check out my landing strip .. only about 130m, but Eric had seen the plans and said it should be OK. I approached for an overshoot and everything seemed fine until I applied full power to climb away. I felt sure I ‘d felt a cough from the engine. “Perhaps not. I said. Just imagination” . I decided to continue to St. Junien, my flying club. “There’s a long runway and a workshop so if there’s any problem it can be sorted out there, I thought”. I pressed on north. When I got to Champagnac La Riviere, only 5km away, it slowly became clear that there was a serious problem. After reflecting for a while, I decided I had to find a field for an emergency landing. I chose a good-sized field, adjacent to the cemetery, as it turned out, and set up for an emergency landing. At rather less than 100ft on the final approach, the engine stopped. A gyroplane doesn’t glide. It’s more like a controlled crash. So I came down very steeply. I could see the fence around this field looming large and decided I couldn’t reach the field but may crash into the fence. I decided to put it down firmly before the fence. It transpired that this “landing” damaged the aircraft structure which needed major repairs later. I extracted myself and walked to the bar in the main street for a beer. After a few minutes I asked the bar owner if he would mind taking me home, which he did. Then I had to sort out how to get the aircraft back to the strip at St. Ciers, where it lived. I contacted Eric again to ask if I could borrow his aircraft trailer. Annie, in the meantime had crashed her car on the way to play golf in the east of the Limousin, so her car wasn’t available. My car was, of course, at St. Ciers. Jeff Morton had his own commitment to collect Heather, I think, but we worked out a way we could get to St. Ciers to collect the trailer. Peter Burden came to help Jeff and I get the rotors off and get it on the trailer. Jeff was a pain, I’m afraid, .. making silly comments all the time when we obviously had a real problem getting the rotors off undamaged. We did manage, in the end, to get the damaged gyroplane onto the trailer and I took it to St. Ciers. Jeff got his car back and I returned home with my own car. Eric found a suitable welder to repair the structural damage. Bit disappointing as he would only work on the “black” .. refusing to give any guarantee for his work or even a receipt for the payment he received. The work seemed to have been done satisfactorily and Eric checked it out. *******Low flying in the field near St. Ciers waving at cars.

Learning to fly gliders in France, and taking French licence ******Sept 2009 started a new book for Colin Cummings .. Category Five .. a re-make and amalgamation of his earlier books covering accidents from 1954 to August 2009.

Coastal Skipper’s Course, Sept 2009 on the Hamble.

The sailing trip to the Caribbean, Jan 2010, see Appendix 1 ******** First US trip. Introduction to vintage racing in Malc’s MGA 9,10,11 April 2010, Thunderhill , California. Second trip, Hooked on Driving course, Thunderhill, Sept 9,10, 2010, then Charity Challenge, Oct 1,2,3, Sears Point for my first race. Made that into a video, posted on YouTube, reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FteXwh31ka4 Third trip, April 2011, MG Reunion, Infineon Raceway again. Made a video and posted on YouTube. It was very well received by the MG enthusiasts.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ey3Box-r8E. A month or so later Malc received his copy of The Vintage and Historic racing Magazine “Victory Lane”. There on the front cover is his car pictured in the race .. driven by me!!! The racing was great though I’m saddened by the clear evidence that Malc does not have the same expectations about my visits as mine. It seems to me that he lives his life as normal, happy enough to see me, pleased that I’m enjoying the racing he introduced me to, but not much caring whether I’m there or not. I’ll spend much less time with them my next visit. *********

Wrote off my gyro at home on my own landing strip, 31st July 2010. I wanted to be a big poser .. wanted to have my own landing strip on my own land.  Didn’t think deeply enough about it.  Very short strip .. just about acceptable if everything else is OK.  Difficult approach coming in over the trees ... hmmm .. that’s now two.  This particular marque of gyroplane well known to be tricky on/near the ground .. oh, oh .. that’s three.  Tricky wind that day .. never mind .. I’m going in anyway .. that’s four.  An exceptional pilot might have managed it all, but I’m only an average pilot. So it was an accident just waiting to happen.  What happens next?   Don’t know yet .. depends how much it will cost to repair.  Unrepaired it’s a second hand engine and a few rescued bits and pieces.  18th August 2011, Hubert, a gyro enthusiast who lives in Switzerland, has offered €1,700 for the engine “no guarantee”. I have decided to accept his offer. Eric has sold the rotor head for €250, but neither he not I have yet seen any money.

Hubert later withdrew his offer after messing me about for several months. Eric’s sale of the rotor head came to nothing either. Eventually sold the engine to Tony Melody, my UK gyro flying instructor, for £1,500. Days after I returned to France, Eric Changeur contacted me to tell me had a buyer for the engine - for $1,899 (about £1,500)!!! **************

Alison surprisingly announces she’s pregnant with Jim the father. I’m very disappointed that a promising career seems now, inevitably, to be curtailed. If only she had bitten the bullet and finished her university course and possibly been promoted to match her new qualification, she’d have been in a much better financial position to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. During a routine maternity check Alison was found to have extraordinarily high BP and was sent to hospital for a check-up. They decided to keep her in and the condition improved somewhat. While there it was discovered that the placenta was not working properly and the baby was been deprived of nourishment. It was decided his best chance would be to be born early and spend the first few weeks of his life in intensive care being fed glucose and other nourishment rather than to wait in the womb until his due date while being relatively underfed. He was born about 3 weeks early at about 1600 on the 8th June after 22 hours of contractions and an hour of labour. Alison had an epidural analgesic with a patient controllable release which Alison said she didn’t use. She said the gynaecologist commented that she had the highest pain tolerance she’d ever seen. He’s been named Craig Andrew Sneddon. After a couple of weeks or so in intensive care he was sent home on Saturday 25th June. Alison and Jim had to spent a whole 24hr in the hospital proving they could properly look after him before the hospital would let them take him home. ******* Been attending golf coaching on Wednesday mornings. It’s been going really well. The climax was when I played for B Team at Souillac, near Brive, and got 7 pars and scored 49 Stableford points ********** Had my 70th birthday weekend 12/13/14th August 2011. On Friday evening the 12th 10 of us, the people who came from afar, went to The Roc du Boeuf in Rochechouart for an evening meal to introduce each other. Len and Penny Warner (he a retired solicitor, she a childhood friend of Annie), David and Glynis Wilkinson (friends we met through Neil and Christine .. all live in Baildon. David is an ex-fireman. Glynis was a senior manager with Morrison’s, the northern supermarket company), Mike and Betty Hawkesley (he was my boss in the mid-1970s in Smith and Nephew Cosmetics .. I re-met them through Chris and Gordon Field) and John and Sandra Horne (John and I were friends from childhood. Sandra, of Anglo-Burmese origin, and John met 20 yrs ago while he was on holiday in Thailand). Great food, fair price (€35 per head) and fine company. Saturday afternoon we played games in the garden, the egg and spoon race was OK, as was the blindfolded race, but the real successes were the croquet (brought by Len & Penny) and the boules. This was all followed by a mass swim in the pool, with the old men being silly and some ladies being less than amused. In the evening we had a normal party with about 50 guests .. all “live wires”, according to Mike Hawkesley. I wore my white tuxedo .. which most people thought was entirely appropriate. We managed to have a few French guests, though some cried off .. one couple because of a health crisis, but others because of “family commitments”. On Sunday, we went karting at Pegeas. Jeff James beat me. Jane, his wife, later sent me an e-mail saying “Today the go-karting was also excellent.  Geoff apologises for overtaking you John.   We forgot to tell you he was the original STIG !!  Love Jayne”. In case you don’t know, the STIG, is the anonymous racing driver who appears on the TV motoring program “Top Gear” ************ Wednesday 17th August 2011, bought a May 2007 Mazda MX5 from M. Souchiere, of Cahors, for €17,500. It has done 20,200km and is immaculate .. gun-metal grey with black leather upholstery and retractable hard-top. It’s quoted top speed is 134mph with a 0-60mph time of 7+secs. I’ve never driven anything like it. She is a real joy .. holds the road like a tramcar .. wonderful acceleration and all of this in an environment which feels luxurious. Yes I know it’s an indulgence and I know some friends will be very jealous, but that’s sad for them. I call her “The Grey Lady”. One friend, Graham Hey sent this e-mail today (19th) after I went round to talk about going cycling together (and just happened to be in the car at the time!!!) and found Peter and Pam Burden were there. “Hi John, Thanks for bringing the car round this morning.  It looks lovely and I bet it drives a treat!  Well done searching one out and taking the plunge, I’m sure you will have lots of fun motoring.  I have fond memories of my old 2 seater, I had a Merc SLK as a fun car between 2000-2003 and really enjoyed the open top motoring experience. It strikes me that you will have lots of envious nay sayers muttering about age and trying to make the odd cutting remark - in fact I heard one or two this morning on my patio.  I’m sure you couldn’t care a stuff, and quite right.  Envy is a terrible thing...... Enjoy the car John, we live in a fantastic area for the kind of driving that suites the MX5.  When you get back from your little trip give me a call, I’d love to have a sit in the passenger seat - with the top down of course! And get out there in the sun, the car is made for it!! G”. I replied “Graham, you are such a sweety!!!  You’re right .. I don’t give a stuff .. but I do feel a bit sad for those who are so up their own ... that they can’t just vicariously enjoy the pleasure of one of their friends.  Sure we’ll go and have a blast when I get back!! .. and you can take the wheel, too if you want!! Thanks JC” I Learned About Flying From That Kings Lynn crash Long Mynd tug accident Engine stopped through fuel cockup coming back from Manchester Barton or Chester Buying Ostrevant VARIOUS DATES MA 10th December 1984, Presentation Queen Elizabeth Hall, 9th November 1985 (with Mum and Malc. Survival Course in Malayan Jungle, 6/1967 Joined Glaxo Laboratories Ltd, Greenford, as Training Officer, Sept 1970 Moved to Gala Cosmetic Group, 2nd April 1973 as Senior Training Officer under David J. Mabbs on a salary of £ 2652pa plus a company Ford Cortina to Acting Group Training Manager 3rd August 1973 on £3211pa, to Group Manpower Development Manager, 16th Jan 1974 on£3,750pa to Head Office Personnel Manager 19th May 1975 on £4350pa to Personnel Manager 13th July 1975 on £5200pa Redundant 31st October 1980, final annual pay £?? Grad IPM 24th August 1971, Fellow 8th Oct 1981

APPENDIX 1

Blog: Guadeloupe sailing holiday 6th – 25th Jan 2010, around Annie's 60th birthday.

Left Paris, Orly, 6th Jan, CorsairFly 747-400 after delayed start due to ice, at c 1800. Left our car at Hotel IBIS Rungis, near the airport. Hotel management were perfectly happy for us to leave it there free of charge for a fortnight. Heathrow parking charges!!??? Landed Pointe a Pitre after 8h30, at around 1800 local. Collected rental car. Checked into Creole Beach resort, Mahogany block, had a hamburger and chips and went to collect Malc and Di c 2230.

Day 2, 7th Jan. Went to Marina bas du Fort to meet Frederick and check boat arrangements. Found that boat won’t be available until 1700 Saturday. Stayed around hotel that day. Ate in local restaurant just outside hotel and tasted Colombo sauce for the first time.

Day 3, 8th Jan. Went across the “island” of Basse Terre with Malc and Di via Ile du Pigeon and down the west coast, returning up east coast and back to hotel by lunch time. Went to Marie-Rose’s house to have aperitifs with Jaqueline & Marcel, Marie-Rose and Olivier accompanied by Malc and Di. Ate in a different local restaurant next door to the first one.

Day 4 , 9th Jan, Annie’s 60th birthday. Morning swimming and pottering about. Checked out .. argument about cancellation fees offset by loss of our laundry .. which turned up later. Went to do a big shop in the local Cora and got to the boat just in time around 1700. Frederick accompanied JC back to the hotel to deposit the car .. they didn’t seem in the least worried about the small slippage in the return time. Went out to local restaurant for meal for Annie’s birthday with Malc and Di .. their treat and a delightful meal it was.

Day 5, 10th Jan. Finished administration and set off late for Marie Galante (18nm). After an hour or so it became clear we weren’t going to make it by sail, so motored the rest of the way arriving before dark and anchoring in the bay north of St Louis for the night. A bit rolly, but OK. Malc and Di had brought some LED reading lights which worked really well in providing for our evening meals on the table in the cockpit. Di was going to BBQ some tuna, no suitable beef being found in any supermarket. The supplied BBQ wasn’t gas, and the charcoal we had on the boat was not in the form of standardised pellets. It proved too difficult to light in time to cook an evening meal and the part-cooked tuna was eventually trown away. We ate the emergency can of confit du canard instead.

Day 6, 11th Jan. A very nice sail to Iles des Saintes (16nm). We stopped first in the bay on the south side of Ilet a Cabrit next to a boat named Vanille .. which was anchored there every time we visited Les Saintes. Lots of fish to see and then off the the main anchorage off Bourg les Saintes. A discussion with an American and a squabble with Canadian about anchoring and eventually we found space to the NE of the bay. Strong winds that night and very rolly. So bad, in fact, that JC felt he had to get up on deck … JC just didn’t feel sure enough about the boat. Next day Malc, Di and Annie set off to do the shopping in the dinghy. JC felt he should stay on board the boat. We didn’t load the oars on the dinghy and believed there was enough fuel in the header tank for the journey. Wrong!! The motor ran out of fuel. Malc and Di swam back to the boat to find JC asleep. They picked up the oars and swam back to the commercial quay with the intention of taking them back to the dinghy and rowing it back to the boat to collect the portable fuel tank and returning to collect Annie and the shopping. They found it very difficult to mount the ladder up the side of the quay because of the propellor wake from the ferry moored at the other side of the quay blowing them away from the steps. While they were away, JC rigged a floating line out to the side of the boat in case closing with the boat turned out to be difficult on their return. They returned safely with the shopping. Annie did mexican meatballs.

Day 7, 12th Jan. Around Les Saintes. Went to Anse Fideling on Terre d’en Bas, where Malc, Di and JC went ashore in the dinghy .. getting caught in a rain shower .. and walked around the village. We met some other sailors with bread, but we never found a bread shop. Di found a small, almost hidden, store in which she bought a T shirt. It seems that one of the restaurants sells bread, but we didn’t buy any. Returned to Bourg des Saintes and found an anchorage further into the bay, where it was more peaceful Noted that “grumpy” Canadian was still anchored in the bay. Diane cooked chicken legs in Colombo sauce for dinner.

Day 8, 13th Jan. To Ile du Pigeon (18nm). Nice sail through winds which shifted direction leaving us with a lull half way, but with a following tide of perhaps a knot or so. This following tide seemed to be with us almost whatever we did, on pretty well every day!! Ile du Pigeon was disappointing. This was one of the main destinations of the holiday, but when we got there there no visitors buoys available and even if there had been the wind and sea would have made tying up to them very uncomfortable. As it was we anchored in the bay and that was pretty rolly, too. Malc and JC tried to set up a Bahamian moor with the kedge anchor, but it had insufficient holding power. The French man from the adjacent boat came over in his dinghy to help us but we really didn’t have a sufficiently powerful second anchor and we abandonned the attempt. This night, as with many nights people moved about the boat in the night trying to get comfortable .. now in the cockpit .. now in the main saloon .. now back to their own bunk.

Day 9, 14th Jan. First thing in the morning we tried to tie up to a visitors buoy on the most sheltered side of the island so we could get at least some snorkelling before sailing on but after a number of attempts we abandonned it and left Ile du Pigeon rather disappointed and set off for Les Saintes. Wind and tide seemd to change quite a bit with a dead spot roughly halfway down the west coast. Eventually settled into a decent sail. Annie’s responses to her growing nervousness had led to behaviours which other people found difficult. A crew meeting aired the difficulties and some people found the discussions helpful. Somewhere on this leg we realised we had run out of water and couldn’t find the water gauge. After an e-mail to Frederick, we had a telephone call and the gauge was found. We had run out of water. Fortunately there is water available at Les Saintes though not as easy as the guide book would have us believe. Water is available at “The Yacht Club” it said. However it took some time to find out that the water isn’t at the Yacht Club at all. It is available from a bar called “The Yacht Club”. Arrangements are made with Jerome on Channel 68. We tied up to the water buoy, recovered the hose pipe and asked for water. None came. Jerome said, the pipe had become disconnected and we (not him, note, but WE) should re-connect it. Diane offered to dive down and pick up the detached hose pipe which she did. The hose was reconnected and we refilled the tank. Malc and JC went ashore to the bar to pay Jerome .. who sat behind the bar with an air of mystery .. a cool customer, he took our €20 without comment. If there is a “Mr Big” on the island it must be him!!! Our attempts to depart in the dinghy were simply a joke and the bar’s customers had much pleasure in poking fun at us. Annie and Di did a quick shop as it was nearly dark and Annie prepared a seafood and pasta dish.

Day 10, 15th Jan. Returned to Pointe a Pitre from Les Saintes (18nm) in good winds and had a nice sail. Moored nicely at the diesel dock with wind on, in benign conditions and were met by Frederick. Only used about 40 litres of diesel in the week. Frederick took the boat back to its mooring .. in reverse. Malc and Di set off to the Hotel Village Soleil to check in and leave their luggage. Annie and JC set off to do some shopping. Met up with Debs by accident in a taxi outside the Champion supermarket in Bas du Fort. JC set off to find Clive and found him by the waterside. All six of us had a noisy meal in the same restaurant with much laughter. However, from an organisational perspective it was a shambles. Annie and Clive had ordered a shared starter which was missed and had to be re-ordered. Problems with other dishes, too. The proprietor gave us all a vintage rum as a digestif, as an apology. Clive and Debs slept on board.

Day 11, 16th Jan. Departed for St Anne, just a few miles east of Pointe a Pitre and spent the night in the anchoarge. Reasonably comfortable, though a bit rolly. Annie went to the beach and the rest of us went out for a couple of hours sailing. A nice tack due south and a return on the other tack. All very nice. This was Clive’s most successful day of the week. Two sets of lure and tackle were snatched by unknown monsters of the deep and one fish, said to be a trumpet fish, was caught. Don’t know about a trumpet .. looked more like an alligator fish to JC. It was about 35cm long and Debs said it smelled very bad. Clive cooked barbequed pork, previously marinated in all kinds of stuff by Annie, which was delicious. When we taking the BBQ off to clean and store it we dropped the key which locks the BBQ to the rail into the sea. Looks like no more BBQing

Day 12, 17th Jan. Departed for Marie Galante. After an hour or so ran into an unexpected squall with winds around 25kts, rain and a heavy swell. The ropes holding the main sail bag upright broke, meaning that the main sail would flop onto the deck every time it was lowered. There would be no servicing facilities in Marie Galante and so JC decided we should divert to St Francois. Everyone agreed so that’s what we did. It was also decided that we should reef the main sail. Clive said he didn’t know how to do this so JC went forward. In his hurry to do this he didn’t think to put on either lifejacket or safety harness. That was an error of judgement. When he returned, he asked everyone to put on lifejackets and this was done. When Clive and JC went forward later to stow the main more satisfactorily we both put on harnesses that time. St Francois was a very pleasant place with a well equipped marina and helpful staff. JC called Frederick to tell him the problem and he agreed to send a technician the next day, including a new BBQ key .. the current day being Sunday. We anchored outside the marina on Sunday and went in on Monday to tie up at a mooring so the technician could have access to the boat. He arrived before lunch and everything was sorted within an hour or so. We spent the night in the marina having moved to a normal mooring. Space was tight for the appointed mooring and JC tried to enter backwards .. three times he failed .. the wind was off the quay and from a direction which meant that whenever the stern was nearly in position, the bow swung away. Couldn’t get it right, so abandoned it and moored bow first which was straightforward. Had a delightful dinner at a local restaurant courtesy Clive and Debs .. as a gift for Annie’s birthday.

Day 13, 18th Jan. JC had decided yesterday that he wanted a “special” breakfast at least once. He found some smoked herrings in the supermarket at St Francois and bought them for today’s breakfast. Not a good decision!! Don’t know what this product was .. Clive thought they might be bloaters. In his best north eastern accent he explained that kippers are gutted but bloaters retain their innards before smoking. Whatever they were, they were rigid with salt and proved impossible to cook in a frying pan. We decided that they should probably have been soaked in water for ages before cooking to remove the salt. In a downbeat moment Clive thought the best solution would have been to soak them in water and then throw both the fish and the water away. So much for our special breakfast. Departed for Marie Galante (18nm). An excellent sail in fine conditions. Stopped for lunch in a delightful bay, Anse Canot, at the NW of the island, with sandy beach and clear water. After lunch and a swim we left Anse carot and tied up to a vacant buoy off Grand Bourg for the night. Woke up to find a small French navy warship of some kind moored next to us. May have been a minesweeper or possibly a simple patrol boat ... it hadn’t any obvious weapons on deck.

Day 14, 19th Jan. Put the sails up while on the buoy and set off for Les Saintes. A truly delightful sail, though no luck for Clive. Anchored off Bourg des Saintes in the early afternoon. Had lunch and went off to do some shopping on shore. Annie and Debs had very strong Daiquiri’s. Clive and JC had beers in the Sunset Bar which was obviously the place people gathered to watch the sunset … which was great. Travelled back to the boat in the outboard in the dark for dinner. Clive cooked barbequed pork again, also marinated in all kinds of stuff by Annie, which was again delicious.

Day 15, 20th Jan. Set off Marie Galante again, but abandonned it as the wind was pretty well on the bow and it would have taken all day to get there. Pottered around Les Saintes, spending a very pleasant afternoon and night anchored in the bay next to Pain du Sucre. In the manoeuvering to our anchorage, JC forgot the dinghy was on a long rope astern … we wrapped the dinghy rope around the propellor and the engine stopped. Clive dived down to untangle it. We won’t do that again!! The fish seemed to know Clive was after them. We had some pork fat, trimmed off the last pork purchase, so Clive cut it into small pieces and threw some on the water. The fish rose to it straight away. They loved it. When he put it on a hook as bait they were nowhere to be seen!!

Day 16, 21st Jan. Went round into the bay of Bourg des Saintes to get water and stay the night once more. “Mr Big” tried to charge Debs €30, but she told him we’d paid €20 the week before, which he silently accepted. Anchored in the more sheltered side of the bay. The aircraft approaches through a dip in the hills onto the local runway seem pretty spectacular. Found a YouTube video of landings on the airfield and it certainly looks fun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5moJSQGB7U.

Day 17, 22nd Jan. Left for Pointe a Pitre. We were close hauled most of the way and had to motor part of the way to get clear of the headland at Pointe Capesterre so as to avoid multiple tacks. Many fishing pots to avoid as was often the case. Stopped at Ile du Gosier for lunch and a swim and returned to the diesel dock around 1600. Moored nicely, in benign conditions with the wind on. Used less than 30 litres of diesel this week.

Day 18, 23rd Jan. Clive and Debs left for Antigua early. Final boat inventory and check. No problems. Had dispute about the lost day’s sailing. The management view is that they are are only obliged to refund in the case of a technical failure and the collapse of the sail bag doesn’t meet their criteria. The staff confirmed that the boat shouldn’t go to sea in that condition. In JC’s view the case is clear. It was suggested that he might have climbed the mast to effect our own repairs but we’re not expected to repair a rental car and he doesn’t see why he should be expected to repair a rental boat not considered fit to go to sea. Spent the night in Hotel Villages Soleil. Ate our evening meal, yet again, in the same restaurant. That’s three times on this holiday. The proprietor gave us free coffees.

Day 19, 24th Jan. Left for the airport by taxi just after 1500. Aircraft was about 30mins late departing at around 1900. The flight was unremarkable except for the fact that I couldn’t find any position comfortable enough to contemplate sleeping. Watched “Bridget Jones’ Diary” again and that satisfactorily passed an hour and a half. Landed at Paris, Orly around 0800 and had to wait 40mins for them to get their act together with the luggage carousel. Arrived at La Martinie around 1400 in a temperature of around zero deg C. What a change a temperature … a drop of about 30deg C in 8 hrs!!

NOTES

1. Flt.Sgt. Aaron VC, DFM Aaron was 21 years old, flying Stirling serial number EF452 on his 20th sortie. Nearing the target, his bomber was struck by machine gun fire. The bomber's Canadian navigator, Cornelius A. Brennan, was killed and other members of the crew were wounded.

The Stirling 4 engined bomber

Air Ministry, 5th November, 1943.

The King has been graciously pleased to confer the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned airman in recognition of most conspicuous bravery:—

458181 Acting Flight Sergeant Arthur Louis Aaron, D.F.M., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 218 Squadron (deceased).

On the night of 12 August 1943, Flight Sergeant Aaron was captain and pilot of a Stirling aircraft detailed to attack Turin. When approaching to attack, the bomber received devastating bursts of fire from an enemy fighter. Three engines were hit, the windscreen shattered, the front and rear turrets put out of action and the elevator control damaged, causing the aircraft to become unstable and difficult to control. The navigator was killed and other members of the crew were wounded.

Nine hours after landing, Flight Sergeant Aaron died from exhaustion. Had he been content, when grievously wounded, to lie still and conserve his failing strength, he would probably have recovered, but he saw it as his duty to exert himself to the utmost, if necessary with his last breath, to ensure that his aircraft and crew did not fall into enemy hands. In appalling conditions he showed the greatest qualities of courage, determination and leadership and, though wounded and dying, he set an example of devotion to duty which has seldom been equalled and never surpassed.

The gunfire that hit Flight Sergeant Aaron's aircraft was thought to have been from an enemy night fighter, but may have been friendly fire from another Stirling

2. The Grasshopper. The design is based on the pre-World War II German SG 38 Schulgleiter, modified to use the wing design of the Slingsby T.7 Kirby Cadet glider. The design was cheap to manufacture and was designed to be stored dismantled. The type was used by Air Training Corps Squadrons between 1952 and the late 1980s.

The RAF designated the glider the Grasshopper TX.1 and the first order was for 65 aircraft which were delivered in 1952 and 1953. It was later followed by two further orders for an additional 50 aircraft, the final delivery was made in 1963.

Launch is achieved through the use of a V shaped bungee or elastic rope pulled by a team of helpers. The glider can also be mounted on a pivoting tripod, developed from the German "Pendelbok", pointed into wind to demonstrate the effect of controls and give a very basic idea of how to control an aircraft. The Grasshopper is virtually identical to the EoN Eton.

3.08-Dec-65, XF704, Shackleton MR3, 201 Sqn, location of crash Moray Firth 8 Miles Off RAF Kinloss.

The crew was on a pilot training exercise and as such carried what used to be referred to as a "skeleton crew". This meant to only 2 of my team which was normally 5 or six and 1 of the 2 navigators were on the aircraft. Although I had been scheduled to fly this trip, one of my team offered to go in my place. Because this was a pilot training exercise the captain of the aircraft for this sortie was the squadron's Chief Flying Instructor, Chris Taylor. Chris had recently married a woman widowed after her first husband, a RN Fleet Air Arm pilot, had been killed. The following is an extract from the book "Category Five", produced by my company, "The Short Run Book Company Ltd" for the editor, Wg. Cdr.(rtd) Colin Cummings, in 2009. It summarises what happened.

The aircraft took off and climbed away before starting a controlled descent and GCA pickup and having called that it was in position, the aircraft was homed to the overhead and then turned on the outbound heading, being monitored initially by the GCA radar. The aircraft was subsequently turned on instructions from Kinloss approach controller and began its inbound leg, the crew acknowledging the change of heading and also confirming that they were steady on course. A minute later, the aircraft was advised that the GCA radar had failed but this call was not acknowledged. Some 20 minutes later, the crew of another Shackleton saw wreckage on the water. It is surmised that the aircraft had probably been stalled violently whilst in a turn and had crashed into the sea before recovery could be made. The whole crew were killed ..Flight Lieutenant Christopher Brian TAYLOR 28 Pilot Captain & Instructor, Flight Lieutenant David William PERRY 27 Pilot, Flying Officer George William PATRICK 26, Master Engineer Brian TIMMS 35, Flight Sergeant Brian Stanley ORME 30, Sergeant Major David Anthony BRAY 26 (David Bray's first name was in fact "Major" .. he wasn't a "Sergeant Major", Sergeant Anthony George BROMLEY 24

4. The Avro Shackleton was a British long-range maritime patrol aircraft used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the South African Air Force (SAAF). It was developed by Avro from the Avro Lincoln bomber, itself being a development of the famous wartime Avro Lancaster bomber. It was replaced by Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft in the 1970s. The aircraft was also adapted for airborne early warning (AEW) roles within the RAF, replaced by the Boeing E-3 Sentry in 1990. The type is named after the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton.

During the 1960s, the typical Shackleton crew comprised two pilots, two navigators, a flight engineer, an air electronics officer, and four air electronics operators. During this period, equipment upgrades had become routine in order to keep pace with ever more capable submarines; problems with airframe fatigue were identified, leading to several programs being carried out to strengthen the aircraft and thus extend its viable service life. In 1966, nuclear depth charges were introduced to the Shackleton's arsenal with the aim of countering the Soviets' development of deep-diving submarines.

The aircraft was capable fo flying for many hours. Most maritime patrols would be of between 15 and 20hrs duration. I was a member of the crew of Shackleton ??? Mk 2, of 204 Sqn which flew for over 24hrs .. the longest ever flight of a Shackleton, in .. 1962?

Maritime reconnaissance was a large element of the Shackleton's service. This mission was often performed to identify and monitor naval and merchant shipping and to demonstrate sovereignty. During the early 1960s, the USSR modified long-range trawlers with electronic intelligence gathering equippment. They would embed these "Elint" trawlers within large fleets of normal fishing trawlers and it was our job to find them. Once located their usfulness was then severely limited as they could no longer carry out covert operations. During the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation in the 1960s, Shackletons monitored the seas for vessels involved in arms smuggling. Similar operations were conducted in Cyprus, and Shackletons operating from bases in Madagascar cooperated with Royal Navy vessels to enforce a United Nation-mandated oil blockade of Rhodesia.

RAF Shackleton performing a mail drop in July 1970 for Royal Navy ships on the "Beira Patrol", blockading Beira to prevent Rhodesian oil imports

The Shackleton would often be used to perform search and rescue missions, at all times one crew being kept on standby somewhere across the UK for this role. In the time I was in Singapore (1966 to 1968) one aircraft was kept on permanent search and rescue standby on Gan island in the Maldives, to provide cover for Lightnings flying from Aden to Singapore. The Shackleton had also replaced the Avro Lincoln in the colonial policing mission, aircraft often being stationed in the Aden Protectorate and Oman to carry out various support missions, including convoy escorting, supply dropping, photo reconnaissance, communication relaying, and ground-attack missions; the Shackleton was also employed in several short-term bombing operations. Other roles included weather reconnaissance and transport duties, in the latter role each Shackleton could carry freight panniers in the bomb bay or up to 16 fully equipped soldiers.

In 1969, a jet-powered replacement patrol aircraft, the Hawker Siddeley Nimrod, began to enter RAF service, which was to spell the end for the Shackleton in most roles. While radically differing in external appearance, the Shackleton and the initial version of the Nimrod shared many sensor systems and onboard equipment. AN/APS-20 radar scanner

The intention to retire the Shackleton was thwarted by the need to provide AEW coverage in the North Sea and northern Atlantic following the withdrawal of the Fleet Air Arm's Fairey Gannet aircraft used in the AEW role in the 1970s. As an interim replacement, the existing AN/APS-20 radar was installed in modified Shackleton MR 2s, redesignated the AEW 2, as an interim measure from 1972. These were operated by No. 8 Sqn, based at RAF Lossiemouth. All 12 AEW aircraft were given names from The Magic Roundabout and The Herbs TV series. The intended replacement, the British Aerospace Nimrod AEW3, suffered considerable development difficulties which culminated in the Nimrod AEW 3 being cancelled in favor of an off-the-shelf purchasing of the Boeing E-3 Sentry, which allowed the last Shackletons to be retired in 1991. Entering service with the RAF in 1951, the Shackleton was used primarily in the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) roles; it also became used as a search and rescue (SAR) platform and for performing several other secondary roles such as being a troop-transport. In later life, a small number of the RAF's Shackletons were subsequently adapted for airborne early warning (AEW) duties, performing in this capacity until the type's retirement in 1991. The Shackleton was also procured by South Africa, and was operated by the SAAF between 1957 and 1984.

5. Shackleton accidents during my service in the RAF, the 1960s.

20 May 1961 Shackleton MR.1A WB818 had an accident on the ground at RAF Gan, it was flown to RAF Seletar and withdrawn from use.

20 October 1961 Shackleton MR.2 WR968 crashed at RAF Ballykelly and was destroyed by fire. A dawn landing after many hours airborne contributed to a badly judged landing. The aircraft bounced on its large mainwheel tyres, left the runway, ruptured its undercarriage and caught fire. No-one was injured.

15 May 1962 Shackleton MR.1 VP294 damaged beyond repair landing at RAF Gan.

8 August 1963 Shackleton MR.3 1718 of the South African Air Force crashed in the Wemmershoek Mountains, all 13 onboard killed.

10 January 1964 Shackleton MR.3 XF710 crashed landed on Culloden Moor, Scotland following an engine fire, which itself was caused by a translation unit failure which caused the propellors to overspeed and fuel lines to be ruptured. After a night forced landing during which the captain later said that he saw the ground in the light of its burning wing, checked back on the controls and executed perfectly satisfactory forced landing. All the crew servived. The flight engineer was one of the first out and dashed to a nearby pub to report the incident. The story going round the squadron at the time said that The co-pilot, Fg Off J A W Lee, realising the engineer was missing went back into the blazing wreck to look for him. It was said that he been recommended for a medal, though none was awarded. What is certain is that the crew, no doubt both surprised and delighted to be alive, went into a nearby hostelry at Smithton from whence they were 'reluctantly' rescued in due course.

8 December 1965 Shackleton MR.3 XF704 crashed into the Moray Firth Scotland on a local training flight from RAF Kinloss, all 7 201 Sqn crew on board killed. This was my crew, Dave Perry was the the captain, though on this flight the squadron CFI was aboard. I should have been flying that day, but ... on of my AEOps, F.Sgt Dave Bray, offered to fly in my place so that I could get on with preparations for my forthcoming marriage and posting to Singapore.

17 May 1967 Shackleton T.4 WB831 of the Maritime Operational Training Unit, RAF sank back onto runway following premature landing gear retraction on take off from RAF St. Mawgan, Cornwall.

5 November 1967 Shackleton MR.2 WL786 crashed into the sea 120 miles west of Lhokkruet in Indonesia, following an engine fire, which itself was caused by a translation unit failure which caused the propellors to overspeed and fuel lines to be ruptured. Eight killed, three survivors including flight engineer, one signaller and a passenger on his way to his Sons's wedding in Singapore. We were 1st SAR that day. The C.O. had dropped a hint that we may have a practice all-out, When we were scrambled we aexpected to taxi to the holding point for take-off and for the flight to be cancelled. Instead, we were given take-off clearance and ordered to rout to the Indian Ocean straight over Indonesia, with whom we were in a state of near-war called "confrontation". When we asked what was our mission and were told a Shackleton had gone down in the Indian Ocean. Someone said "The Gan crew are returning today" .. The silence in our aircraft was powerful. Mike Greatorex was one of the navigators on the downed aircraft. He and I had been great drinking friends at Ballykelly. We were given the nicknames “Pixie” and “Dixie” after the two small mice in a kids TV cartoon series, both of us being small. My nickname stuck, but his did not. He was a very reserved, quite kind of guy.

19 November 1967 Shackleton MR.3 WR976 crashed into the sea off Land's End during a low-level anti-submarine exercise, all eight on board killed.

21 December 1967 Shackleton MR.3 XF702 crashed at Creag Bhan, Inverness, Scotland. The Shackleton was never fitted with any de-icing capability on the tailplane, though after this crash, all aircraft had a kind of rubber solution painted on their tailplanes to make it difficult for ice to adhere. This aircraft entered cloud in icing conditions soons after take-off and the build-up of ice on the tailplane eventually reached a level where the aircraft stalled

1 April 1968 Shackleton Mk 2 WR956 skidded off the runway in wet weather whilst landing at RAF Ballykelly and was written off.

19 April 1968 Shackleton T.2 prototype WB833 of No. 204 Squadron RAF crashed into rising ground on the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland in bad weather, all 11 on board killed. The aircraft had lost its radar and while the crew were trying to identify their exact location, the southerly wind blew them onto the Mull. ********Once met ex flying instructor, Fg.Off. Bradley, while participating in a static flying display at some UK base. He was coming down the control tower steps as we were going up when he said to me “I bet you hate me”, I paused but said nothing and then walked on. I was told he had been taken off instructional duties. **********Then 201 Sqn St Mawgan, which was transferred to Kinloss. Ski-ing Saturday mornings. My second (white) Triumph Spitfire, 210 FGW Started rallying with Phil Burton in his Mini Cooper. Rented a flat in the big house (Moray?) nearby with three or four friends. **********Dave Perry’s crew killed 18th December 1965. Married Michele 5th February 1966 at the Methodist Church, Banff, Scotland. Posted to 205 Sqn, Singapore, Spring/Summer 1965. Initially we lived in ******** Road, Katong and then moved into an officers’ hiring 5, Miriam Close, Changi. We had a live-in housekeeper all the time. Most were unremarkable until a young woman came along, Juleera bte Julee. The bte, an abbreviation for binte, was a married title. She had a daughter ********. Juleera was able to provide a housekeeping service for us without behaving like a servant. Chinese housekeepers (amahs), always addressed their employer as “Master” and “Missy”, but clearly hated it. Juleera was in many ways like a friend. We visited her house and she gave me a songkok, the traditional Malayan male headgear, and a Malayan Panga .. native knife when we left Singapore in 1968. “AL-FATIHAH We, the family of the late Allahyarhamha JULEERA BTE JULEE (KINTAN) Age: 72 Departed on 20 Jan 2009 wish to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the family of Md Noor Juri for their kind assistance, donations and prayers during our recent bereavement. Mariana Sam Nada” Straights Times 28th January 2009 *********** 6th April 1966 .. 4, then 3 Scimitars. Phil Burton posted to become ADC to the AOC and we re started rallying, forming the Far East Air Force Motor Sports Club. Won prizes rallying, obtained my International Competition licence 03745 in 1966. Went to the Philippines for the amazing annual rally, Phil and I (plus the Hillman agent from Singapore) in Hillman Hunter, his wife Sandy and Michele in a Hillman Imp. They retired after a short time and we continued to the end but were humiliated by the locals who fiddled the scoring system to make us look stupid. ****Learned later that Michele started screwing around soon after we got to Singapore. ******* 04-Nov-67, 205 Sqn crew killed after translation unit broke and crashed in the sea between Gan Island and Indonesia. However, ********* the bulldozer. When I was on 205 for a time my co-pilot was Malcolm Gare who was later to become a BA captain and sailing friend. We had far too much to drink one evening when he told me he thought he was in love with the wife of a friend of his. No-one has ever confided with me in such a way before or since. I made platitudinous noises and the subject wasn’t pursued further. Much later I began to wonder what he meant. 1960-1970 Bought our first civilian house, 84, Heath Road, Beaconsfield, a three-bedroom (just) semi. Not long after, Michele became pregnant and we started to prepare the nursery for our first child. Glaxo Laboratories, Greenford as Training Officer assisting Peter Seebohm until he was moved to Group HQ and I was allocated to Len Campbell with special responsibilities for training in the Factory and Research company. Found it very hard to settle in to this new working environment where how people reacted to you depended on what you said and how you said it rather than the badges of rank you wore on your uniform. **********Alison was born in the middle of the night on 28th April 1971 at Amersham Hospital after what for Michele was a long and uncomfortable labour. I attempted to be there at the birth but was very relieved when the midwife asked me to leave so they could do some snipping and sewing. 1970-1980 Joined Gala Cosmetics Group as Senior training Officer 1973. Promoted quickly after the Personnel Manager, Roger Monk, was fired following his unfair dismissal of one of his staff. In fact this dismissal became an important piece of case law in the early days of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act … “Crystal Products v Mrs Smith”. Became Training Manager, then Offices Personnel Manager, Personnel Manager with responsibility for Security and Catering (got rid of those so I could concentrate on Personnel alone). ******Won unfair dismissal case against our Senior Shop Steward who was fired for throwing a fire extinguisher at a colleague through his car windscreen outside the Sports and Social Club. ************Won sex discrimination case against a job applicant who claimed we didn’t appoint him as a Personnel Officer on the grounds that he wasn’t female. It was a good time for me as I arrived when the UK employment law was changing rapidly and, as I enjoyed learning about it and managers were worried about it, I gained a position of considerable influence. Promoted, I think, 6 times in 18 months. ***********The company was not commercially successful. In the 1950s cosmetics were cheap and the fashion was to buy-and-try which meant manufacturers were sure of profitable production. Changing product safety legislation meant that manufacturers had to use more expensive substitutes and in addition, the fashion for natural look, minimal cosmetic decoration meant that sales volumes fell. First Smith & Nephew, a Northern-based textile and sanitary/hospital products company bought a share in the company. Then 51%, the 100% and the name was changed to Smith & Nephew Cosmetics Ltd. It still didn’t make any money. ***********The top man at Smith & Nephew () called in a retired Trade Union official who he knew well and respected, to see if he could get under the skin of the company and offer any insight into the best ways forward. He just didn’t have the understanding. ********Margaret Lawrence, meanwhile, marched forward with her view that Marketing should control everything. They certainly rose in political significance, though the company still didn’t become profitable. Once a valued sales rep lost his driving licence and Margaret and her team attempted to keep him on the payroll contrary to his contract of employment. I insisted he was fired which was what happened. ***********Mike Hawksley went to the US on some private deal with Smith & Nephew and Margaret Lawrence took over as MD which meant for the first time she was responsible for Personnel. She sought to build bridges and for a while we worked quite well together. There was one big battle when one of her sales managers fixed up his own management training course for one of his staff without consultation with me and I protested. Margaret agreed to tell him to cancel the course. Whether this actually happened is another matter. ******Wyn Graham saying she thought about calling in the Council over Michele’s treatment of Alison. After a period on considerable uncertainty, Michele screwing around again, she left and divorce followed 10th March 1980 1980-1990 In the early period after the divorce, Alison went to stay with Michele and her husband every second weekend. On one of those weekends I decided to go away. I stabbed with a pin the holiday page of the daily newspaper I read at the time and it fell on The Cottage Hotel, Dove Cove, Devon … not too far from Dartmouth. After checking in and arriving in the dining room for dinner, I was allocated my table. The dining room was beautifully located, with outstanding views over the cove and out to sea through the floor-to-ceiling picture windows. Unfortunately I was allocated a table adjacent to the wall between the windows. I called the head waiter and asked if I could have a table by a window. He told me that wouldn’t be possible as all such tables were already allocated. A female voice from the adjacent table with a sea view, asked the head waiter to invite me to join her. I couldn’t believe my luck .. here I was on my first night away and I was being invited to share a table with an unattached woman!! She was delightful company. We talked about anything and everything and in due course I asked how long she had been separated. She said “About and hour and a half!!” It seems that her husband had only just left her, having told her that they weren’t going on holiday together as she had thought .. he was going to France with his secretary. So here she was, at The Cottage Hotel, with the kids, all on her own. We had a delightful evening, but it wasn’t going anywhere. I contacted her a couple of times afterwards, but it soon became clear that she was going to have her husband back. ********Roger Cullingham. I had three accountants in succession, each moved on to do something else and sold me to his successor. Dave …, who himself moved on and emigrated to New Zealand and sold me to Ashley Doggett around 1987/88, introduced me to another client who was also busily going broke. This client was Roger Cullingham .. Thameslink .. offices adjacent to Windsor Theatre .. Mac zealot .. very reserved I was reading the local paper one day and came across an advertisment by a lady who wanted to form a Bridge group. The intention was clearly to both play bridge and have a social time. I went along to meet Mary Smith somewhere near Crowthorne and joined up straight away. It became a source of some very good times. We played bridge every Friday night .. mostly two or three tables. Sometimes players would take their kids, who would sleep upstairs until the adults had finished. We were all of an age when the kids could do that. Sometimes we would play at other houses. Often we would have a party or a dinner at someone else’s house. **********New relationships were formed and in due course I had a relationship with Mary herself. I didn’t want to get involved with her kids. She warned me one day that her son had once asked her partner “Are you going to marry Mummy?” The day came when he asked me the same question, in her presence. When I said I didn’t think so, you could feel the immediate chill in the atmosphere and the relationship didn’t last much longer. Until then, we’d had some great times. *********One Friday evening, the cards had fallen badly and the bridge had been very boring. When I’d just about had enough, I said “This is bloody boring. Let’s go to Paris in my aeroplane!!” It certainly woke everyone up. In fact everyone wanted to go, so we did. We obviously couldn’t go there and then, but we went the next weekend in GATJG, my aircraft group’s Cherokee 140 from Biggin Hill, where it was kept, to Paris, Le Bourget. The VFR route into Le Bourget was superb, with Eiffel Tower just off the starboard wing. Le Bourget was closed to private aircraft shortly after the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack on the twin towers, so that particular flight is no longer possible. **********In fact we had so much fun that the four of us flew to Amsterdam, Schipol, Holland soon after, in fact in August 1983. Schipol was an amazing airfield. Again they had strict VFR routes and if you displayed any irregularities in your flight they would terminate your permission and tell you to go somewhere else. In fact we reached Schipol within a minute or so of our ETA, which pleased me no end. Schipol is huge, with 6 runways, three of them reserved for light aircraft. After landing were were met by a “Follow Me” truck and parked among the airliners to await a crew bus. My friends were immensely impressed when we got on the crew bus along with the airline crews and entered the airport building through the crew entrance. We had another great time, including going to the Van Gough museum. I learned that the Dutch pub is often called a “brown café”, because they mostly have dark brown panelled walls. They served both alcoholic drinks and coffee. The aircraft group always had marginal finances… the members preferred to pay the minimum montly subscription and future major expenditure would be paid for by group members digging into their pockets. *******The group had decided to sell the aircraft. A buyer was found. He had operated from a private strip near Kings Lynn. A price was agreed .. £3,500 .. actually less than the aircraft was insured for. It was decided that I would take JG up there with Alison and his friend would fly Alison and I back to Biggin Hill. I had a briefing from the purchaser as to the location of the strip on the old wartime airfield at Kings Lynn. It is actually a large grass airfield, with landing strip in one corner. So Alison and I set off. All was fine until we got to the vicinity of Kings Lynn when we found 100% cloud cover. I decided to continue out over The Wash and let down to see if I could break cloud at a safe height. I had an IMC rating at the time (a sort of private pilot’s Instrument Rating, permitting legal but limited flight in cloud) . We broke cloud around 1800 ft, if I remember correctly, and turned back towards the airfield. Alison was by now crying, partly from the stress she was experiencing and partly because her ears hadn’t cleared after the let down and she was experiencing some ear pain. Although it was easy to locate the airfield, I couldn’t work out which bit of it was supposed to be the landing strip. Then I saw this small group of people in one corner of the airfield and assumed that this was the purchaser and his friends. I just assumed .. I had no confirmatory evidence. So I set up an approach to land near them. After a practice approach, I came in a second time for the actual landing. As we got down to less than 100ft I saw one of them throw his scarf into the air. But instead of seeing it as a warning .. which he had intended .. I read it as an over-the-top greeting. We touched down a bit too fast and shortly after the nose dug into the rough ground and we overturned. This was not the landing strip .. which was hard to see, in another part of the airfield. This group had gathered to fly their model aircraft. In fact the owner and his wife were in the car park the other side of the hangers and had seen JG approach, though not the crash. It was rather poignant that the owner had bought JG from us with the insurance money he obtained as a result of crashing his own aircraft and he had planned to take his wife to Paris in JG the following weekend. *************** Meeting Annie. *******The double dealing over Jayflex taking over the lease of St Leonard’s Road. Finchlea come on the scene. **************Sold 22, Montrose Avenue and moved to 15, Ascot Towers, Ascot Road, Ascot. Rented out for a while and then moved in with Annie and sold the place to the rich Arab. Bought Agincourt, another property in Ascot. 6, Imperial Court., Sunningdale. Looked at many more. 79, Knight’s Place bought and sold. Bought 98 KP and 71FG. Bought The Old Council Offices … and sold to Finchlea. Created TSRBC and terminated the relationship with RC. The many trials with RC … Bojena. Got slightly involved with Annie’s friends from The Red Lion. Played squash with Monday- and Thursday-Bobs. Alison’s various troubles with boyfriends (the canoist screwing her) and running away with her schoolfriend Michelle by train to London. Tried to get Alison into Windsor Girls, but they wouldn’t have her. Got her into boarding school (St David’s, Ashford, Middlesex) as a weekly boarder , but only on condition that she went back a year. Alison had been visiting Michele every second weekend since our separation but had become more and more unhappy. I suspect that she was awkward. She told me that she spent much of the time at these visits banished to her room. She told me that she didn’t want to go any more. I told her that she should tell her mother herself and explained that there could be serious consequences. She telephoned Michele while we were on a riding holiday in Wiveliscombe, Devon, probably Summer 1984 (when Alison would have been 13), but it might have been the previous year. Michael answered the ‘phone and wouldn’t let Alison speak to her mother. Alison told him that she’d decided to stay with Phyl and Ray instead of staying with them .. and Mike slammed the ‘phone down. The Master’s Course .. wanted to build an aeroplane and decided to do something more useful. Started with Advanced Diploma in Personnel Management for one year, followed by a two year programme leading to a CNAA Masters in Manpower Studies. Got a distinction for my last year, the dissertation studying the behaviour characteristics of nurses in three cancer units at the Royal Marsden Hospital, using .. Personal Construct Theory and the Repertory Grid technique. 1990-2000 After a 10yr wait, offered immigration to US, 20th Jan 1999. Declined. **********Alison married Neil Harland in Stanwix, Carlisle, 17th September 1994. ********Crashing the tug at the gliding club. **********Went to spend a day with DL looking at properties in London. ******Sued Michele for maintenance. ******* Family history research and the Alan Cox history. ****** Bought La Martinie December 1999 2000-2010 Closed the offices of The Short Run Book Company in the UK and moved permanently to France 22nd July 2002. I wrote to all clients saying that the business was closing down and I was going to retire. To about 6 special clients I mentioned that I would be pleased to help them with their books if they wanted. I have produced two further books for Colin Cummings on that basis. Andrew Lamb made contact again and in fact he and his wife Wendy stayed with us as B & B guests in 2010. I continued to run the business from France though most of the work was handled by Linda. I invited 20 plus people to visit for a big party to celebrate my 65th birthday. It was to be held at the end of June 2006. As that year was also brother Malcolm’s 60th we declared it a joint party and some of his friends came, too. Around 65 people came. John Horne, a childhood friend, said as he met me in our car park after many, many years “Goodness it’s like meeting your Father again!!!” The party extended over 4 days and included dancing, golfing, flying in an aircraft from the flying club, go-karting and an amazing, impromptu firework display which was hilarious for everyone .. mainly because of the incompetence with which it was organised by me, Brother Malc and Brother-in-Law Jim. A few weeks later we visited Roger and Lindy Wood at their holiday home in Brittany, and were joined by Malcolm Gare who sailed his yacht across from Jersey. We all went out for the day and I loved it so much I got Annie to agree we could go on a flotilla holiday in Greece in June 2007. Although the sailing aspects of that holiday were not a success (as Annie was very nervous), I decided to continue with sailing and took the RYA Day Skipper’s course at 5 Star Sailing, Warsach, near Hamble on the Solent in September of that year. In June 2008 Malcolm Gare invited me to join him and another friend for a week’s sailing around the Brittany coast. Malcolm has invited me every year since for what he calls “The Bear’s Summer Cruise”. “The Bear” is a 11.1m Southerly 115 yacht, named “The Dancing Bear”, based in Jersey, where he lives with his wife Jenni. ****** The La Trinité race ******Learning welding .. the B & B guest who said “I know how to weld” ******Alison’s Planning course. University of Central England in Birmingham, (later changed to Birmingham City University) **********Annie’s two hip operations and her operation to remove the osteo-arthritic growth on her right big toe *********Alison married Kevin Barker, August, 2008? ********* Lilian’s book. Doctors and Nurses, Méthode d'apprentissage de l'anglais medical, published by Presses Universitaires de Limoges, written by Lilian Penniston Rossi ********* Linda’s cremation. Linda had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 1997 after some months of pain in various parts of her body and a number of wrong diagnoses. She had three periods of remission and finally died on Sunday 15th February 2009. She was cremated at Easthampstead Park Crematorium on Tuesday 3rd March. It was not a religious service .. some said more “humanist”. It was conducted by Alexis Savage without any religious framework at all .. though there was one hymn and a member of the family said a prayer. Six of us gave short speaches. Mine was focussed on her time working with me in The Short Run Book Company Ltd. There were no tears. It was a warm celebration of her life. That’s how I’d like to be dealt with when my time comes. **********Bought M18 from Thiérry Gobert, a university lecturer from Perpignan. There are two kinds of approved landing strips in France. The one is for temporary operations. The other is for permanent operations. I obtained permission for temporary operations from The Mairie, Champagnac la Riviere in ... My first flight after having had my conversion training with Eric Changeur, took place on ... I decided to fly over to La Martinie to check out my landing strip .. only about 130m, but Eric had seen the plans and said it should be OK. I approached for an overshoot and everything seemed fine until I applied full power to climb away. I felt sure I ‘d felt a cough from the engine. “Perhaps not. I said. Just imagination” . I decided to continue to St. Junien, my flying club. “There’s a long runway and a workshop so if there’s any problem it can be sorted out there, I thought”. I pressed on north. When I got to Champagnac La Riviere, only 5km away, it slowly became clear that there was a serious problem. After reflecting for a while, I decided I had to find a field for an emergency landing. I chose a good-sized field, adjacent to the cemetery, as it turned out, and set up for an emergency landing. At rather less than 100ft on the final approach, the engine stopped. A gyroplane doesn’t glide. It’s more like a controlled crash. So I came down very steeply. I could see the fence around this field looming large and decided I couldn’t reach the field but may crash into the fence. I decided to put it down firmly before the fence. It transpired that this “landing” damaged the aircraft structure which needed major repairs later. I extracted myself and walked to the bar in the main street for a beer. After a few minutes I asked the bar owner if he would mind taking me home, which he did. Then I had to sort out how to get the aircraft back to the strip at St. Ciers, where it lived. I contacted Eric again to ask if I could borrow his aircraft trailer. Annie, in the meantime had crashed her car on the way to play golf in the east of the Limousin, so her car wasn’t available. My car was, of course, at St. Ciers. Jeff Morton had his own commitment to collect Heather, I think, but we worked out a way we could get to St. Ciers to collect the trailer. Peter Burden came to help Jeff and I get the rotors off and get it on the trailer. Jeff was a pain, I’m afraid, .. making silly comments all the time when we obviously had a real problem getting the rotors off undamaged. We did manage, in the end, to get the damaged gyroplane onto the trailer and I took it to St. Ciers. Jeff got his car back and I returned home with my own car. Eric found a suitable welder to repair the structural damage. Bit disappointing as he would only work on the “black” .. refusing to give any guarantee for his work or even a receipt for the payment he received. The work seemed to have been done satisfactorily and Eric checked it out. *******Low flying in the field near St. Ciers waving at cars. ******Sept 2009 started a new book for Colin Cummings .. Category Five .. a re-make and amalgamation of his earlier books covering accidents from 1954 to August 2009. ******* Coastal Skipper’s Course, Sept 2009. ********The sailing trip to the Caribbean, Jan 2010, see blog ******** First US trip. Introduction to vintage racing in Malc’s MGA 9,10,11 April 2010, Thunderhill , California. Second trip, Hooked on Driving course, Thunderhill, Sept 9,10, 2010, then Charity Challenge, Oct 1,2,3, Sears Point for my first race. Made that into a video, posted on YouTube, reference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FteXwh31ka4 Third trip, April 2011, MG Reunion, Infineon Raceway again. Made a video and posted on YouTube. It was very well received by the MG enthusiasts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ey3Box-r8E. A month or so later Malc received his copy of The Vintage and Historic racing Magazine “Victory Lane”. There on the front cover is his car pictured in the race .. driven by me!!! The racing was great though I’m saddened by the clear evidence that Malc does not have the same expectations about my visits as mine. It seems to me that he lives his life as normal, happy enough to see me, pleased that I’m enjoying the racing he introduced me to, but not much caring whether I’m there or not. I’ll spend much less time with them my next visit. Returned to the US, now pretty well exclusively to race Malc’s MG, in May and October 2012 and May 2013. ********* Wrote off my gyro at home on my own landing strip, 31st July 2010. I wanted to be a big poser .. wanted to have my own landing strip on my own land. Didn't think deeply enough about it. Very short strip .. just about acceptable if everything else is OK. Difficult approach coming in over the trees ... hmmm .. that's now two. This particular marque of gyroplane well known to be tricky on/near the ground .. oh, oh .. that's three. Tricky wind that day .. never mind .. I'm going in anyway .. that's four. An exceptional pilot might have managed it all, but I’m only an average pilot. So it was an accident just waiting to happen. Repaired, at a cost of around €15,000 it will be as new. Unrepaired it's a second hand engine and a few rescued bits and pieces. 18th August 2011, Hubert, a gyro enthusiast who lives in Switzerland, has offered €1,700 for the engine “no guarantee”. I decided to accept his offer. Eric said has sold the rotor head for €250, but neither he not I have yet seen any money. Hubert withdrew his offer and Eric said that the rotor head had not been sold. Eventually sold the engine to Tony Melody. ************** Alison surprisingly announces she’s pregnant with Jim the father. I’m very disappointed that a promising career seems now, inevitably, to be curtailed. If only she had bitten the bullet and finished her university course and possibly been promoted to match her new qualification, she’d have been in a much better financial position to take on the responsibilities of parenthood. During a routine maternity check Alison was found to have extraordinarily high BP and was sent to hospital for a check-up. They decided to keep her in and the condition improved somewhat. While there it was discovered that the placenta was not working properly and the baby was been deprived of nourishment. It was decided his best chance would be to be born early and spend the first few weeks of his life in intensive care being fed glucose and other nourishment rather than to wait in the womb until his due date while being relatively underfed. He was born about 3 weeks early at about 1600 on the 8th June after 22 hours of contractions and an hour of labour. Alison had an epidural analgesic with a patient controllable release which Alison said she didn’t use. She said the gynaecologist commented that she had the highest pain tolerance she’d ever seen. He’s been named Craig Andrew Sneddon. After a couple of weeks or so in intensive care he was sent home on Saturday 25th June. Alison and Jim had to spent a whole 24hr in the hospital proving they could properly look after him before the hospital would let them take him home. Alison and Jim came to visit us over Christmas 2012, hoping to show Mum her great-grandchild. However, she had a bad dose of diarrhea on Thursday 13th December, but it later transpired that this was in fact the first stage of her body packing up. She became progressively worse and was only barely conscious when she was admitted to St. Junien hospital on Tuesday 18th December. Within a couple of days she was unconscious most of the time and she died peacefully in her sleep at 0245 on December 24th. Malc and Diane plus Julie and Jon arrived shortly after Christmas. Alison, Jim and Craig arrived on the 26th. Mum was cremated at Limoges Crematorium Friday 28th December at 1000 with drinks at our house afterwards. Around 20 of our friends attended and four of Mum’s carers Evelyn, Nadine, Tracy and Florence also came. Mum’s cremation ceremony was designed and conducted by me with contributions from family members. “Bonjour messieurs/dames. Nous sommes ensemble pour dire adieu ou au revoir à Eleanor, arrière-grand mère, grand-mère, mère et ami. Elle avait vécu une bonne vie. Seulement les dérnières années était mauvais pour elle. Avant, elle était active, créative, fougueux. Elle avait toujours pensé de sa famille et des autres avant elle-meme. Mais, elle a quatre vingt seize ans et son moment pour passer avait été arrivé. Nous sommes triste, c’est sur, mais pour elle c’est mieux. Je vous invite partagez quelqeus souvenirs d’Eleanor, peut etre ca peut amelieroer la tristesse. Je veux débuté. ***** Welcome, friends. Thank you for coming. We are here to say “Goodbye” or “Au Revoir” to Eleanor, great grand-mother, grand-mother, mother and friend. She lived a good life. Only the last few years were bad for her. Before, she was active, creative, feisty. She always thought of her family and friends before herself. But, she was 96 yrs old and her moment for leaving us has arrived. We are sad, of course. But this is better for her. I would like to invite you to share with use us some memories of Eleanor .. it may relieve some of the sadness. I’ll start ... ****** And here is a poem we hope you feel is appropriate: Nous regardions ensemble La vie, l’amour, la joie. Nous écoutions le vent Et les oiseaux chanter Et puis elle s’est fermée Et seule reste l’image De ce bonheur passé. ****** Through the open window Together would watch All life, love and joy ... hear the wind ... and the birdsong. Then the window closed And the image alone remains Of this past happiness. ****** Laissez-nous chant un cantique ... Let’s sing a hymn which we may feel uplifting: ***** LORD OF ALL HOPEFULNESS Lord of all hopefulness Lord of all joy whose trust, ever child-like no cares could destroy. Be there at our waking and give us, we pray, your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day. Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith, whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe, be there at our labours and give us, we pray, your strength in our hearts, Lord at the noon of the day. Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace, your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace. Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray, your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day. Lord of all gentleness Lord of all calm, whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm. Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray, your peace in our hearts, Lord at the end of the day. ****** SEIGNEUR DE TOUTE ESPERANCE (translation by Liz Moon) Seigneur de toute espérance, Seigneur de toute joie, Aucun soucis put chasser votre confiance d’enfant. Soyez-là quand on se réveille, Donnez-nous, s’il vous plaît, Votre bonheur dans nos coeurs Seigneur , À l’aube de la journée. Seigneur de tout passion, Seigneur de toute foi, Dont les mains fortes furent habiles À travailler le bois, Soyez-là à nos travaux Afin de nous transmettre Votre force dans nos coeurs Seigneur, À l’apogée de la journée. Seigneur de toute bonté Seigneur de toute grâce, Aux mains promptes à accueillir, Aux bras qui embrassent, Soyez-là à notre retour, Donnez-nous, nous prions, Votre amour dans nos coeurs Seigneur, À la veille de la journée. Seigneur de toute douceur, Seigneur de tout calme, Dont la voix est contentement, La préscence est baume, Soyez-là dans nos rêves, Donnez-nous Seigneur, Votre paix dans nos coeurs Quand le jour se termine. During that visit, Jim complained of pain in his leg. He said he had been diagnosed with arthritis of the hip. This eventually proved to be wrong .. he had sarcoma of the tissue surrounding his thigh muscle and was to die from it and the lung cancer from which it had metastasised, on Saturday 18th May 2013, not long before Craig’s 2nd birthday .. the 8th June 2013. Jim had been in Wexham Park Hospital, Slough and University College Hospital, Euston Road, London. While at UCLH, I took Craig by train to see Jim. Craig loved the experience .. we talked to the train driver .. talked about everything along the way and I was surprised at how friendly Craig’s presence made everyone we met. Finally, when it had become clear that all hope was gone, he was transferred to Thames Valley Hospice, close to Alison’s house in Windsor. The staff and the environment were warm and caring and Jim was very well looked after. He seemed content whenever we saw him until, towards the end he became unconscious. Annie and I said our goodbyes while he was unconscious on the Friday. Alison stayed with him all the time for the last few days and was with him when he died. The cremation at Slough Crematorium on 13th June was deferred until after Craig’s birthday. When Annie and I were visiting Alison after, Craig didn’t speak much and then mostly nouns. After dinner one evening he said “Daddy gone .. bye-bye Daddy” .. we were astonished at how much he had understood of what was going on. He repeated it later. Mum’s cremation ceremony was designed and conducted by me, with contributions from family members. Alison met a number of new people including the unconventional vicar, Louise, and some kind members of the church. Perhaps some will become more permanent friends. ******* I attended golf coaching at St Junien Golf Club on Wednesday mornings for a while. It was very helpful. The justification came when I played for the St Junien Seniors’ B Team at Souillac, near Brive, and got 7 pars and scored 49 Stableford points ********** Had my 70th birthday weekend 12/13/14th August 2011. On Friday evening the 12th 10 of us, the people who came from afar, went to The Roc du Boeuf in Rochechouart for an evening meal to introduce each other. Len and Penny Warner (he a retired solicitor, she a childhood friend of Annie), David and Glynis Wilkinson (friends we met through Neil and Christine .. all live in Baildon. David is an ex-fireman. Glynis was a senior manager with Morrison’s, the northern supermarket company), Mike and Betty Hawkesley (he was my boss in the mid-1970s in Smith and Nephew Cosmetics .. I re-met them through Chris and Gordon Field) and John and Sandra Horne (John and I were friends from childhood. Sandra, of Anglo-Burmese origin, and John met 20 yrs ago while he was on holiday in Thailand). Great food, fair price (€35 per head) and fine company. Saturday afternoon we played games in the garden, the egg and spoon race was OK, as was the blindfolded race, but the real successes were the croquet (brought by Len & Penny) and the boules. This was all followed by a mass swim in the pool, with the old men being silly and some ladies being less than amused. In the evening we had a normal party with about 50 guests .. all “live wires”, according to Mike Hawkesley. I wore my white tuxedo .. which most people thought was entirely appropriate. We managed to have a few French guests, though some cried off .. one couple because of a health crisis, but others because of “family commitments”. On Sunday, we went karting at Pageas. Jeff James beat me. Jane, his wife, later sent me an e-mail saying “Today the go-karting was also excellent. Geoff apologises for overtaking you John. We forgot to tell you he was the original STIG !! Love Jayne”. In case you don’t know, the STIG, is the anonymous racing driver who appears on the TV motoring program “Top Gear” ************ Wednesday 17th August 2011, bought a May 2007 Mazda MX5 from M. Souchiere, of Cahors, for €17,500. It has done 20200km and is immaculate .. a delightful metallic blue-grey with black leather upholstery and retractable hard-top. It’s quoted top speed is 134mph with a 0-60mph time of 7+secs. I’ve never driven anything like it. She is a real joy .. holds the road like a tramcar .. wonderful acceleration and all of this in an environment which feels luxurious. Yes I know it’s an indulgence and I know some friends will be very jealous, but that’s sad for them. One friend, Graham Hey sent this e-mail today (19th) after I went round to talk about going cycling together (and just happened to be in the car at the time!!!) and found Peter and Pam Burden were there. “Hi John, Thanks for bringing the car round this morning. It looks lovely and I bet it drives a treat! Well done searching one out and taking the plunge, I'm sure you will have lots of fun motoring. I have fond memories of my old 2 seater, I had a Merc SLK as a fun car between 2000-2003 and really enjoyed the open top motoring experience. It strikes me that you will have lots of envious nay sayers muttering about age and trying to make the odd cutting remark - in fact I heard one or two this morning on my patio. I'm sure you couldn't care a stuff, and quite right. Envy is a terrible thing...... Enjoy the car John, we live in a fantastic area for the kind of driving that suites the MX5. When you get back from your little trip give me a call, I'd love to have a sit in the passenger seat - with the top down of course! And get out there in the sun, the car is made for it!! G”. I replied “Graham, you are such a sweety!!! You're right .. I don't give a stuff .. but I do feel a bit sad for those who are so up their own ... that they can't just vicariously enjoy the pleasure of one of their friends. Sure we'll go and have a blast when I get back!! .. and you can take the wheel, too if you want!! Thanks JC” Agnes, the pharmacist’s assistant in Cussac saw me one day outside the pharmacy and remarked admiringly about the car. I told her that she is so beautiful that I call her my “Grey Lady”. She said “.. and does she like that?”. I confirmed that she does .. and we both laughed. The undertaker in Cussac is a characterful lady called Jeannette .. she also drives a taxi. She looked admiringly at the car one day when I was visiting regarding Mum’s funeral. I offered a drive, which she instantly accepted, open-topped, of course. On the way back I decided to show her some excitement. Accelerating hard, each time I changed gear she shouted “Go!, Go!”. Quite a character. I Learned About Flying From That Kings Lynn crash Long Mynd tug accident Engine stopped through fuel cockup coming back from Manchester Barton or Chester VARIOUS DATES MA 10th December 1984, Presentation Queen Elizabeth Hall, 9th November 1985 (with Mum and Malc. Survival Course in Malayan Jungle, 6/1967 Joined Glaxo Laboratories Ltd, Greenford, as Training Officer, Sept 1970 Moved to Gala Cosmetic Group, 2nd April 1973 as Senior Training Officer under David J. Mabbs on a salary of £ 2652pa plus a company Ford Cortina to Acting Group Training Manager 3rd August 1973 on £3211pa, to Group Manpower Development Manager, 16th Jan 1974 on£3,750pa to Head Office Personnel Manager 19th May 1975 on £4350pa to Personnel Manager 13th July 1975 on £5200pa Redundant 31st October 1980, final annual pay £10,000 Grad IPM 24th August 1971, Fellow 8th Oct 1981 Guadeloupe 6th – 25th Jan 2010 Left Paris, Orly, 6th Jan, CorsairFly 747-400 after delayed start due to ice, at c 1800. Left our car at Hotel IBIS Rungis, near the airport. Hotel management were perfectly happy for us to leave it there free of charge for a fortnight. Heathrow parking charges!!??? Landed Pointe a Pitre after 8h30, at around 1800 local. Collected rental car. Checked into Creole Beach resort, Mahogany block, had a hamburger and chips and went to collect Malc and Di c 2230. Day 2, 7th Jan. Went to Marina bas du Fort to meet Frederick and check boat arrangements. Found that boat won’t be available until 1700 Saturday. Stayed around hotel that day. Ate in local restaurant just outside hotel and tasted Colombo sauce for the first time. Day 3, 8th Jan. Went across the “island” of Basse Terre with Malc and Di via Ile du Pigeon and down the west coast, returning up east coast and back to hotel by lunch time. Went to Marie-Rose’s house to have aperitifs with Jaqueline & Marcel, Marie-Rose and Olivier accompanied by Malc and Di. Ate in a different local restaurant next door to the first one. Day4 , 9th Jan, Annie’s 60th birthday. Morning swimming and pottering about. Checked out .. argument about cancellation fees offset by loss of our laundry .. which turned up later. Went to do a big shop in the local Cora and got to the boat just in time around 1700. Frederick accompanied JC back to the hotel to deposit the car .. they didn’t seem in the least worried about the small slippage in the return time. Went out to local restaurant for meal for Annie’s birthday with Malc and Di .. their treat and a delightful meal it was. Day 5, 10th Jan. Finished administration and set off late for Marie Galante (18nm). After an hour or so it became clear we weren’t going to make it by sail, so motored the rest of the way arriving before dark and anchoring in the bay north of St Louis for the night. A bit rolly, but OK. Malc and Di had brought some LED reading lights which worked really well in providing for our evening meals on the table in the cockpit. Di was going to BBQ some tuna, no suitable beef being found in any supermarket. The supplied BBQ wasn’t gas, and the charcoal we had on the boat was not in the form of standardised pellets. It proved too difficult to light in time to cook an evening meal and the part-cooked tuna was eventually trown away. We ate the emergency can of confit du canard instead. Day 6, 11th Jan. A very nice sail to Iles des Saintes (16nm). We stopped first in the bay on the south side of Ilet a Cabrit next to a boat named Vanille .. which was anchored there every time we visited Les Saintes. Lots of fish to see and then off the the main anchorage off Bourg les Saintes. A discussion with an American and a squabble with Canadian about anchoring and eventually we found space to the NE of the bay. Strong winds that night and very rolly. So bad, in fact, that JC felt he had to get up on deck … JC just didn’t feel sure enough about the boat. Next day Malc, Di and Annie set off to do the shopping in the dinghy. JC felt he should stay on board the boat. We didn’t load the oars on the dinghy and believed there was enough fuel in the header tank for the journey. Wrong!! The motor ran out of fuel. Malc and Di swam back to the boat to find JC asleep. They picked up the oars and swam back to the commercial quay with the intention of taking them back to the dinghy and rowing it back to the boat to collect the portable fuel tank and returning to collect Annie and the shopping. They found it very difficult to mount the ladder up the side of the quay because of the propellor wake from the ferry moored at the other side of the quay blowing them away from the steps. While they were away, JC rigged a floating line out to the side of the boat in case closing with the boat turned out to be difficult on their return. They returned safely with the shopping. Annie did mexican meatballs. Day 7, 12th Jan. Around Les Saintes. Went to Anse Fideling on Terre d’en Bas, where Malc, Di and JC went ashore in the dinghy .. getting caught in a rain shower .. and walked around the village. We met some other sailors with bread, but we never found a bread shop. Di found a small, almost hidden, store in which she bought a T shirt. It seems that one of the restaurants sells bread, but we didn’t buy any. Returned to Bourg des Saintes and found an anchorage further into the bay, where it was more peaceful Noted that “grumpy” Canadian was still anchored in the bay. Diane cooked chicken legs in Colombo sauce for dinner. Day 8, 13th Jan. To Ile du Pigeon (18nm). Nice sail through winds which shifted direction leaving us with a lull half way, but with a following tide of perhaps a knot or so. This following tide seemed to be with us almost whatever we did, on pretty well every day!! Ile du Pigeon was disappointing. This was one of the main destinations of the holiday, but when we got there there no visitors buoys available and even if there had been the wind and sea would have made tying up to them very uncomfortable. As it was we anchored in the bay and that was pretty rolly, too. Malc and JC tried to set up a Bahamian moor with the kedge anchor, but it had insufficient holding power. The French man from the adjacent boat came over in his dinghy to help us but we really didn’t have a sufficiently powerful second anchor and we abandonned the attempt. This night, as with many nights people moved about the boat in the night trying to get comfortable .. now in the cockpit .. now in the main saloon .. now back to their own bunk. Day 9, 14th Jan. First thing in the morning we tried to tie up to a visitors buoy on the most sheltered side of the island so we could get at least some snorkelling before sailing on but after a number of attempts we abandonned it and left Ile du Pigeon rather disappointed and set off for Les Saintes. Wind and tide seemd to change quite a bit with a dead spot roughly halfway down the west coast. Eventually settled into a decent sail. Annie’s responses to her growing nervousness had led to behaviours which other people found difficult. A crew meeting aired the difficulties and some people found the discussions helpful. Somewhere on this leg we realised we had run out of water and couldn’t find the water gauge. After an e-mail to Frederick, we had a telephone call and the gauge was found. We had run out of water. Fortunately there is water available at Les Saintes though not as easy as the guide book would have us believe. Water is available at “The Yacht Club” it said. However it took some time to find out that the water isn’t at the Yacht Club at all. It is available from a bar called “The Yacht Club”. Arrangements are made with Jerome on Channel 68. We tied up to the water buoy, recovered the hose pipe and asked for water. None came. Jerome said, the pipe had become disconnected and we (not him, note, but WE) should re-connect it. Diane offered to dive down and pick up the detached hose pipe which she did. The hose was reconnected and we refilled the tank. Malc and JC went ashore to the bar to pay Jerome .. who sat behind the bar with an air of mystery .. a cool customer, he took our €20 without comment. If there is a “Mr Big” on the island it must be him!!! Our attempts to depart in the dinghy were simply a joke and the bar’s customers had much pleasure in poking fun at us. Annie and Di did a quick shop as it was nearly dark and Annie prepared a seafood and pasta dish. Day 10, 15th Jan. Returned to Pointe a Pitre from Les Saintes (18nm) in good winds and had a nice sail. Moored nicely at the diesel dock with wind on, in benign conditions and were met by Frederick. Only used about 40 litres of diesel in the week. Frederick took the boat back to its mooring .. in reverse. Malc and Di set off to the Hotel Village Soleil to check in and leave their luggage. Annie and JC set off to do some shopping. Met up with Debs by accident in a taxi outside the Champion supermarket in Bas du Fort. JC set off to find Clive and found him by the waterside. All six of us had a noisy meal in the same restaurant with much laughter. However, from an organisational perspective it was a shambles. Annie and Clive had ordered a shared starter which was missed and had to be re-ordered. Problems with other dishes, too. The proprietor gave us all a vintage rum as a digestif, as an apology. Clive and Debs slept on board. Day 11, 16th Jan. Departed for St Anne, just a few miles east of Pointe a Pitre and spent the night in the anchoarge. Reasonably comfortable, though a bit rolly. Annie went to the beach and the rest of us went out for a couple of hours sailing. A nice tack due south and a return on the other tack. All very nice. This was Clive’s most successful day of the week. Two sets of lure and tackle were snatched by unknown monsters of the deep and one fish, said to be a trumpet fish, was caught. Don’t know about a trumpet .. looked more like an alligator fish to JC. It was about 35cm long and Debs said it smelled very bad. Clive cooked barbequed pork, previously marinated in all kinds of stuff by Annie, which was delicious. When we taking the BBQ off to clean and store it we dropped the key which locks the BBQ to the rail into the sea. Looks like no more BBQing Day 12, 17th Jan. Departed for Marie Galante. After an hour or so ran into an unexpected squall with winds around 25kts, rain and a heavy swell. The ropes holding the main sail bag upright broke, meaning that the main sail would flop onto the deck every time it was lowered. There would be no servicing facilities in Marie Galante and so JC decided we should divert to St Francois. Everyone agreed so that’s what we did. It was also decided that we should reef the main sail. Clive said he didn’t know how to do this so JC went forward. In his hurry to do this he didn’t think to put on either lifejacket or safety harness. That was an error of judgement. When he returned, he asked everyone to put on lifejackets and this was done. When Clive and JC went forward later to stow the main more satisfactorily we both put on harnesses that time. St Francois was a very pleasant place with a well equipped marina and helpful staff. JC called Frederick to tell him the problem and he agreed to send a technician the next day, including a new BBQ key .. the current day being Sunday. We anchored outside the marina on Sunday and went in on Monday to tie up at a mooring so the technician could have access to the boat. He arrived before lunch and everything was sorted within an hour or so. We spent the night in the marina having moved to a normal mooring. Space was tight for the appointed mooring and JC tried to enter backwards .. three times he failed .. the wind was off the quay and from a direction which meant that whenever the stern was nearly in position, the bow swung away. Couldn’t get it right, so abandoned it and moored bow first which was straightforward. Had a delightful dinner at a local restaurant courtesy Clive and Debs .. as a gift for Annie’s birthday. Day 13, 18th Jan. JC had decided yesterday that he wanted a “special” breakfast at least once. He found some smoked herrings in the supermarket at St Francois and bought them for today’s breakfast. Not a good decision!! Don’t know what this product was .. Clive thought they might be bloaters. In his best north eastern accent he explained that kippers are gutted but bloaters retain their innards before smoking. Whatever they were, they were rigid with salt and proved impossible to cook in a frying pan. We decided that they should probably have been soaked in water for ages before cooking to remove the salt. In a downbeat moment Clive thought the best solution would have been to soak them in water and then throw both the fish and the water away. So much for our special breakfast. Departed for Marie Galante (18nm). An excellent sail in fine conditions. Stopped for lunch in a delightful bay, Anse Canot, at the NW of the island, with sandy beach and clear water. After lunch and a swim we left Anse carot and tied up to a vacant buoy off Grand Bourg for the night. Woke up to find a small French navy warship of some kind moored next to us. May have been a minesweeper or possibly a simple patrol boat ... it hadn’t any obvious weapons on deck. Day 14, 19th Jan. Put the sails up while on the buoy and set off for Les Saintes. A truly delightful sail, though no luck for Clive. Anchored off Bourg des Saintes in the early afternoon. Had lunch and went off to do some shopping on shore. Annie and Debs had very strong Daiquiri’s. Clive and JC had beers in the Sunset Bar which was obviously the place people gathered to watch the sunset … which was great. Travelled back to the boat in the outboard in the dark for dinner. Clive cooked barbequed pork again, also marinated in all kinds of stuff by Annie, which was again delicious. Day 15, 20th Jan. Set off Marie Galante again, but abandonned it as the wind was pretty well on the bow and it would have taken all day to get there. Pottered around Les Saintes, spending a very pleasant afternoon and night anchored in the bay next to Pain du Sucre. In the manoeuvering to our anchorage, JC forgot the dinghy was on a long rope astern … we wrapped the dinghy rope around the propellor and the engine stopped. Clive dived down to untangle it. We won’t do that again!! The fish seemed to know Clive was after them. We had some pork fat, trimmed off the last pork purchase, so Clive cut it into small pieces and threw some on the water. The fish rose to it straight away. They loved it. When he put it on a hook as bait they were nowhere to be seen!! Day 16, 21st Jan. Went round into the bay of Bourg des Saintes to get water and stay the night once more. “Mr Big” tried to charge Debs €30, but she told him we’d paid €20 the week before, which he silently accepted. Anchored in the more sheltered side of the bay. The aircraft approaches through a dip in the hills onto the local runway seem pretty spectacular. Found a YouTube video of landings on the airfield and it certainly looks fun http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5moJSQGB7U. Day 17, 22nd Jan. Left for Pointe a Pitre. We were close hauled most of the way and had to motor part of the way to get clear of the headland at Pointe Capesterre so as to avoid multiple tacks. Many fishing pots to avoid as was often the case. Stopped at Ile du Gosier for lunch and a swim and returned to the diesel dock around 1600. Moored nicely, in benign conditions with the wind on. Used less than 30 litres of diesel this week. Day 18, 23rd Jan. Clive and Debs left for Antigua early. Final boat inventory and check. No problems. Had dispute about the lost day’s sailing. The management view is that they are are only obliged to refund in the case of a technical failure and the collapse of the sail bag doesn’t meet their criteria. The staff confirmed that the boat shouldn’t go to sea in that condition. In JC’s view the case is clear. It was suggested that he might have climbed the mast to effect our own repairs but we’re not expected to repair a rental car and he doesn’t see why he should be expected to repair a rental boat not considered fit to go to sea. Spent the night in Hotel Villages Soleil. Ate our evening meal, yet again, in the same restaurant. That’s three times on this holiday. The proprietor gave us free coffees. Day 19, 24th Jan. Left for the airport by taxi just after 1500. Aircraft was about 30mins late departing at around 1900. The flight was unremarkable except for the fact that I couldn’t find any position comfortable enough to contemplate sleeping. Watched “Bridget Jones’ Diary” again and that satisfactorily passed an hour and a half. Landed at Paris, Orly around 0800 and had to wait 40mins for them to get their act together with the luggage carousel. Arrived at La Martinie around 1400 in a temperature of around zero deg C. What a change of temperature … a drop of about 30deg C in 8 hrs!! ***** Helicopter story 2005/6. Coming back from golf .. garbled message from Annie on mobile 'phone .. helicopter had landed in the village .. twin jet, 8 seats?. When I got home there it was. The pilot was Spanish (inglesias?). His employer was an oil explorstion company and they had rented this helicopter while one of theirs was in for major servicing. He was returning it to Paris when one of the fuel annunciators started to flash indicating a possible fuel starvation problem. He elected to do an emergency landing, and that turned out to be in La Martinie village. The pilot had no French, though excellent English. By the time I arrived, Annie and the daughter of one of the French locals had been present when the gendarmes arrived and showed no interest in helping the pilot to get fuel so he couod leave the field and continue his journey to Paris. It was a Sunday but, surprisingly a fuel station was found which had a stock of plastic fuel cans so he and I went and bought his stock. A telephone call to Limoges airport seemed to offer the possibility that he could buy sufficient AVGAS to fill his fuel cans with sufficient fuel to get him to Limoges airport where he could fill up properly. When we got to Limoges the difficulties started. First they refused to sell him AVGAS to be pout in his plastic fuel cans. I suggested an indemnity form and that satisfied the airport management. However, it didn't satisfy the fuel bowser driver who was eventually satisfied with another indemnity form. By now the pilot had been on the ground for several hours and was clearly showing stress. However, I have this vision of the bowser driver trying to trickle small quantities of AVGAS into a motor fuel can with a nozzle intended to put large quantities of fuel into jet aircraft fuel tanks. Then thecustoms officers arrived, clearly supecting that this was some kind of criminal activity. Lost of terse questions and I was told I was to take them back to our house in La Martinity. I refused. "I'm not a taxi service", I told them. More discussion and finally they decided to follow us .. 5 customs officers and a dog in two vans. When we got to the helicopter the customs officers were all over it, to the horror of the pilot, who could be heard saying "Don't touch that!", in English, of course, which the customs officers couldn't understand. They insisted on checking his baggage at our house. It was then too late for him to leave, so we invited him to stay with us for the night. He had an Economics degreee from Belfast University, which explained his good English. In the course of our meal, he asked me if I would fly with him to Limoges as he believed the Air Traffic Control procedures were different from those with which he was familiar in Spain. What?!! Me offered a flight in this big helicopter!! Yippee!! Then I remembered, I was due to play golf with the "Wrinklies" at St Junien at 0900 next morning. I then came up with this brilliant idea .. I would fly with him to Limoges to refuel if he would then take me to the golf club at St Junien, which does have a heli-pad. That was agreed and off we went early Monday morning, taking off under low cloud for our 10min flight to Limoges. I handled the radio for him and all went fine. After refuelling, we took off for St Junien and he immediately offered me the controls. I had never flown a helicopter before so that was something special and I took us to the golf club, handing the controls back for the landing. The heli-pad is right next to the first tee where my friends had gathered to tee off when the helicopter landed right next to them and I emerged with my golf clubs!! I was so excited by the whole experience that my golf was terrible. The club chairman commented how appropriate it was that "John had played an air shot!!" ***** The black pearl .. Annie in UK .. first prize Lion’s Annual Dinner Dance draw. Contacted Tabitha Higgins who had earlier contacted me to learn more about her father, Ian. She put in touch by Ian’s Mum to whom I had been writing over the years. ***** Mike and Betty’s 60th wedding anniversary, Thursday 22nd August, 2013 at Rosteague, Portscatho, Cornwall .. Penny & Len, Rob & Tigger, Patricia. ***** Went to see Maryann around Thunderhill meeting April/May 2013 ***** Gliding holiday July 2013 Montlucon-Guéret, with Yves and Alex. ***** Hullabaloo with President of flying club July 2013