IN THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
1975 - 1980
Early 1975, the personnel department required details of my future retirement intentions. It was usual for civil servants to seek retirement at the age of sixty. In my case, with starting my civil service relatively late, at the age of thirty-five, my pension at sixty would have been much increased had I started earlier. Pensions were based on the numbers of years served.
I requested to be retained up to the age of sixty-five. It was normal when this request was granted, that the individual had their grade reduced. It came as a double surprise when I received a note from management that on retention,
(a) I would remain in my grade as a professional technology officer, PTO1 and
(b) I would be required to serve in the management section, XMS, representing the PTO grades. This section dealt with the establishment manpower and financial allocations. Added to this new role was my liaison function between ASWE and ACO, Slough, on all drawing office matters which I had previously carried out.
Thus, I was to bat my last innings for management on a new wicket at Portsdown, with players drawn from the director and his top staff. No previous mention had been made to me regarding this new assignment. My boss at that time, Stan Cadman, the drawing office manager, I felt had played a leading role in creating what was a new post. The inclusion of ACO liaison duties, which I always referred to as my 'Slough jollies' was particularly attractive to me.
From the seaward side of Portsdown Hill may be seen a prominent new large edifice, perched above a white chalked faced cliff. Material had been excavated from the face of Portsdown Hill to reclaim land and construct motorways in and around Portsmouth. A closer look at this edifice may be made by passing this building on top of Portsdown Hill, which was occupied by the staff of the Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment. Such staff, who had wonderful views of the downs or coastal scenery, had little appreciation of their beautiful environment compared to their many counterparts working in cities.
It was in this building that I was transferred from the drawing office on the top floor to the second floor, along which were offices occupied by the director, deputy directors and their staff. There was a kind of status symbol for secretaries to be appointed to this floor. The XMS1 office on this floor faced inland, giving views of Southwick district, which I was able to enjoy (up to my retirement) from the time I joined this section in early 1976.
The Head of XMS1, Don Valler, gave me a broad scenario of the scope of his section, leaving me a bit nonplussed as to the part I would play in this field. I was next introduced to members of his staff. George Taylor had installed a computer base, housed in an adjacent office to hold all management data, such as finance and the work plan. He had served in the Navy and had been at the Admiralty, concerned with equipment. He had visited ARL many times while I was stationed there. I was also introduced to Charles Mussel, an experimental officer, as was George. Both had an input to the establishment work plan.
The office had the services of a Higher Clerical Officer, Freddie Bulstrode, famous for her poetry and choral singing. Also Daphne Dickenson, a clerical officer who, I am sure, wished I had never been posted to this office.
It was Charles who enlightened me to the infighting for staff that went on by each departmental head prior to finalising the annual work plan. The director could be likened to a medieval king, with the departmental heads as Barons, all defending their territory. Little had been mentioned about an establishment annual report, now a responsibility of XMS1 to produce by mid-summer. This report, compiled for the director, set out all aspects of ASWE work during the last twelve months and forecast the outstanding work to complete the research programme. I was told a copy of this document was sent to Downing Street with a copy being used at an annual meeting between the director and MOD, Whitehall.
Formally the responsibility for the production of this document was that of the head librarian. He was responsible to the head XMS, Ken Watts, who reported directly to the director. All orders received from the director by Don Valler were channelled through Ken Watts. Within a matter of days I was called into the XMS1 office and informed that the ASWE 1976 annual report was my responsibility and I was given a date for it to be placed on the director's table.
Somehow, I thought Don enjoyed telling me this news. Not being a scientific type, I felt he had given me this task to test my capability. One of Charles' favourite expressions was Modus Operandi. I had again been landed a task for which there was no one at hand to take over from and to benefit from their experience.
It was indeed necessary to get out a plan of operation - back to my pre-production planning days! Better still, I did a Charles Mussel Modus Operandi! I circulated to all heads of departments a schedule of completion dates for their draught contributions for the ASWE Annual Report 1976.
I had difficulty in obtaining time required by management to carry out vetting and correcting draughts from my line manager. My immediate boss, Don Valler, conveyed to me from top management that I was to stop pestering for this information. The final signal was - "Rayment, get on with it." This message was adopted by my office colleagues whenever there was an opportunity to use it. Very much like Lord Nelson's signal to his fleet - 'England Expects ....'. Thus I was left to use my own judgement on this vital vetting period by management.
I was also required to prepare a draught of the introduction giving a scenario befitting ASWE's achievements, research and development assignments. I felt very flattered to be given this exercise knowing full well it could be completely changed, which I am proud to state did not happen.
During the day to day handling of submissions in draught form, XMS staff were kept busy recording all confidential and secret material. To lose one paper meant much time in checking and rechecking between various departments, particularly the typing office. For these staff, it was panic stations until the missing papers had been traced.
It was the head of the typing pool who attracted my attention. No matter how big or how urgent a typing order given to her, she would never bat an eyelid, remaining icy cool. I was always asked by my colleagues in the office how I got on with her on my return. I promised them that I would get her to go mad by telling her that the Annual Report, when typed, had to be retyped for some reason. This I did, and the only comment that came back was that 'they would have to wait for it.' Normally one could have expected the report to have been thrown at me.
The ASWE Annual Report was completed on time. This project brought me into contact with all the departmental heads. Never once do I remember being rough shod when seeking their contributions and only praise can be given for their co-operation in my compilation of the ASWE Annual Report.
Apart from some criticism regarding typing presentation, there were no other adverse remarks on the contents or omissions. For punishment or reward, which ever way one cares to look at it, I was landed with this special annual document for each of my remaining years at ASWE.
One of the functions of the XMS1 office was to give fire brigade action for the director on any urgent management matters. Shortly after this annual report had been published I was required to complete a list of contractors working in ASWE or who were working elsewhere on behalf of the establishment.
The director, at a joint meeting with staff representatives had received a complaint that too many contractors were being taken on for work which ASWE staff could do. He was not able to provide staff side reasons for employing these contractors, or have a ready list showing the actual number. The director promised to have this information available at their next joint meeting. When given this task, I was told that there should be no problem here since all contractors were required to be in possession of an ASWE permit.
To my surprise, on visiting the security office responsible for issuing permits, there was no separate register for contractors. They were included in the ASWE staff register. To identify contractors from this register, would involve checking the many thousands of entries in the register. I was taken aback with this discovery. My only other recourse was to check each department to obtain the details of contractors that had been authorised to work for them. Each one had to be security cleared before being issued with a permit.
Once I had finalised a list of contractors issued with an ASWE pass to work for the establishment, it was a simple matter to keep this list up to date. There was an involved procedure for each contractor to follow before terminating his contract and handing in his ASWE permit.
It came as a great shock when, a year later, two contractors handed in their ASWE permits, whose names were not on the list of contractors. I was required to provide an explanation for the director. Needless to state, there was at least one red face. When I approached the department concerned, which had failed reveal their employment I was told that they were on sea trials at the time I took this census!
One member of XMS1 displayed a sketch on the office wall, above my desk, of the Sleuth, with a dagger in his hand, chasing contractor!
This security aspect of issuing passes to contractors was taken very seriously, for it was around the time of the Lonsdale spy case at our sister establishment, Portland.
My day to day function kept me in touch with the drawing office manager, Stan Cadman, who never ceased to refer to me as 'Son'. This always brought a smile to Molly whenever she was around doing her secretarial duties.
This new PTO1 post, bridged the gap between management and those at the sharp end, to make the best deployment of PTO staff. At ACO, Slough, personnel felt that they were not forgotten and that they
had a role to play under the ASWE flag. I was to witness interchanging of staff at varying levels between the main and outer station.
Whilst I was becoming more and more involved with management, there were increasing problems at home.
Harry's disturbed mental state increased, as did his movement between hospitals and the Havant Day Centre. The consultants at both St James and Greylingwell were unable to find a remedy. Now approaching 40 years of age, he had left something like forty jobs, mainly through personality clashes.
The home distress never ceased and not knowing how to deal with his anti- social behaviour, his mother was almost a nervous wreck and my inability to find a solution made me very sad.
During all these years, I could claim that I never resorted to using force of any kind. A typical home scene, on Monday 29th March, 1976, represented many scenes when sick and in-between jobs, or after discharging himself from hospital.
Harry started to tirade me on arriving home for tea. He threatened to break every window in the house if I did not get him pills and find a place for him in a hospital. He was in his pyjamas and his eyes were standing out. I knew he meant what he said, for he started to kick doors and shook his bedroom window.
I 'phoned Dr Cummins and told him that he would do something dangerous if he did not enter hospital. Half an hour later the doctor arrived with Harry repeating his threats if he did not receive pills and be sent to hospital. Harry, still in his pyjamas was told by Dr Cummins to go to his bedroom, whereupon he put his fist through the bedroom window, in front of the doctor.
At 9 pm a social worker arrived from St James who took Harry, still in his pyjamas, to Pink Villa at St James' Hospital. On the following day I visited Pink Villa where George, the Charge Nurse, informed me that Harry had visited the industrial training unit. He advised me not to have him home at the weekend. I saw the house doctor, and was told that he would be discussing what was to be done for Harry.
I visited Harry and told him that he is not to come home the following weekend. He went straight to the car, returned, and was then abusive, telling me to 'get off my high horse'. Later he arrived home and became abusive to his mother for moving his furniture around. He demanded that it be put back, as it was and that the electric fire be returned! Harry stayed at home and when I returned from hockey on Saturday, Gladys told me that he had caused her to get tins of beer. He came down at 7 pm in his pyjamas, and demanded that I also should go out and get beer for him. Later in the evening, he shouted and raved. He said the hospital people had done nothing for him and if he had the money he would raze St James and Havant Day Hospital to the ground. There was further shouting with next door being able to hear. He said that I had done absolutely nothing - stayed in the same puny hole at Teddington for 22 years. Eventually, I threatened to throw him out. I 'phoned Pink Villa and was told that there was no order on him, and he could not be forced back. I felt that all the hospital staff wanted to do was to empty the wards. He returned to his bedroom and there I heard laughing for a quarter of an hour. He agreed to return to St James', provided he could come home at the weekends. I more or less agreed, anything as long as he returned peacefully.
We had planned to go to Switzerland on the 19th May, and it was no small miracle that we were able to get away for a much needed break. Before we left we had been informed that Harry had become less aggressive but his future treatment had not been settled. We were soon to learn Harry's fate as far as St James' consultant psychiatrist, J A Abramczuk was concerned!
It was not unusual for Harry's parents to be sent for by the hospital authorities. On the last occasion, when waiting to be interviewed in PinkVilla, where Harry was an in-patient, we had a fright. First, we heard a crash of glass and what appeared to be a body falling from the floor above outside our window. It was revealed that Harry had thrown his wardrobe through his window. Of course, we had feared that it was Harry crashing to the ground!
We were now again summonsed to this ward, so it was not surprising that Harry had been placed in a secure ward, Cranleigh. He was again very disturbed and a danger to himself! All the nursing staff who had been involved with Harry's treatment were lined up forming a reception committee as we entered the ward, and the consultant psychologist, Abramczuk waited to address us in front of them.
I noticed Gladys' frozen look, with lips tight, as if waiting for Abramczuk to announce the death sentence. Harry, he told us, was to be discharged immediately from St James' Hospital. This hospital was not capable of treating patients where violence was concerned. He stated that all medication was to be withdrawn. I had been a coward in not going to the police to report Harry's misdemeanours. In future, I was to address any misbehaviour to the police force. We were now required to collect Harry and his belongings and take a letter to his family doctor, Dr O'Flynn. It took a little time for the effects of this bomb to sink in.
Before collecting Harry, his consultant conveyed to him what had been said to us. I believe Broadmoor had also been mentioned to him as a possible place for his treatment or detention. This meant there was no fallback position, other than the law. We knew that his behavioural pattern was akin to madness, rather than wilfulness. My thoughts were for Gladys, who at the end of the day, would now have to cope on her own with Harry's nightmare whilst I was at work.
I was, indeed, fortunate to have work challenges that acted as palliatives in taking my mind off the domestic dilemma. Here again, I was faced with Charles' Modus Operandi, as regards what action was to be taken on the home front.
My first action was to write to the hospital authorities, complaining about the action that had been taken to withdraw all medication and opt out of giving support of any kind. The following is a copy of the reply to this letter;
PORTSMOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST HAMPSHIRE HEALTH DISTRICT
29th June, 1976
Dear Mr Rayment,
Re: Harry Rayment
Thank you for your letter of 20th June. I am confirming the conclusions of our conversation which we had a few weeks ago, concerning your son, Harry's psychiatric management. My three years' experience with him, and also his past history, indicate that he is not responsive to the formal psychiatric treatment which is available in my hospital and similar institutions.
His violent behaviour is, at times, beyond that which can be accommodated at St James' Hospital and the like. Therefore, I am confirming my opinion that in case of any threats of violence towards you or your wife, his case should be dealt with through legal channels, where his future treatment and management may be considered to be a placement in a special hospital which could provide the degree of safety which is unobtainable at St James.
J A Abramczuk, Consultant Psychiatrist.
To our surprise, within a couple of days following his discharge, Harry had obtained a job at IBM through TAV Employment Agency. This lasted only a matter of days. Harry called at the family doctor's practice and saw Dr Pearson, who gave him a 24 days' sick note. He made many calls to the hospital social workers.
We received a call from Miss Trowhear, a social worker based at Cosham. She had spoken to the senior welfare officer, Mr Webb at St James, and stated that he would be getting in touch with us. She cannot believe Dr A Abramczuk's action and said that we must make contact with our MP or Ombudsman.
Harry was again anti-social, demanding money at night and in the early hours of the morning to buy cigarettes; when I refused him money, he called me names such as 'pig' and 'fruity', and all the IBM people were 'snobs'.
On the 24th August, he asked me to take him to Reading YMCA Community Centre, where he booked in by phone for a week. It was a hostel with bed, breakfast and evening meal, where everyone had to share tasks, in this self- supporting community. I then took him to the job centre at Reading, where he had an interview with a Mr Dunns. He said that my presence was like a reference, since I was a civil servant. He told Mr Dunns that he wished to train as a lithographer, who informed him that he would have to go to Barking, London or Romford to be trained. Afterwards he thought that he would go to the Trust House for job. He now wanted me to take him to Dr Bromly, Swallowfield Street, Reading. All these movements he had discussed with his family doctor, Dr O'Flynn, who wanted to be kept informed of his progress.
A week later, Gladys and I took Auntie Lou with us to visit Harry at his hostel. He came out when we arrived and sat on the garden wall without speaking. Then he muttered about two residents he had argued with for not calling on him when going for dinner. He had decided that in future he would act independently. He said that the residents were not drop-outs - one had a degree in Spanish and another had completed an apprentice-ship, but could not get work.
Harry told us he had a telephone exchange job at Prospect Park Hospital. He had been interviewed by the Matron and by the Secretary. A pop festival was in progress in Reading, and he said they were all degenerates and animals. He hated Reading centre, and said that it was like Kingston and Chichester, too many people! He insisted that I visit him next week and that he must keep in touch with Mr Webb, St James' welfare officer, who was trying to help him overcome paranoia.
We were thankful he had survived week one at Reading.
We were now able to do our own thing, provided we gave support to Harry whilst at his hostel in Reading. Essentially, this meant visiting him weekly with a change of clothes and, of course, money. He was always in trouble obtaining sick benefit, which I generally had to sort out. He was aware that if I failed to pay his weekly board, he would have to leave the hostel.
Mr Webb, the welfare officer at St James visited us and let it be known that he wanted to take a personal interest in Harry, although St James had washed their hands of him. When shown some of his sketches, he suggested that Harry did some sketches for him, which he thought could help him overcome his paranoia. This we conveyed to Harry, and I think he was surprised that his request had been made by someone from this hospital.
Harry's job at the Prospect Park Hospital on the switchboard lasted one week. Within a matter of days, he had obtained a security job at Reading Technical College. This involved five hours a night, locking up doors and windows. This, also, only lasted a week. We came to dread answering the 'phone call, but the main thing was he still remained at the hostel.
I suggested to Gladys that we took advantage of this short respite and go on a coach tour, visiting the capitals of Europe, with Cosmos. This, I arranged to take place at the end of October, keeping my fingers crossed in the meantime. We were successful in getting away on this tour without a major problem.
On our coach were tourists from all parts of the world, all of whom spoke English. There were people from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Canada, Hong Kong, and a few from the 'home country'.
We made particular friends of the Kapurs from Calcutta. He was Personal Production and Service Controller for Coates of India Ltd. The Chinese couple spoke English without a trace of accent, did this mean that they had been educated at a public school? The whole coach party resembled a mini league of nations.
This whistle stop tour of the major cities of Europe, a look, see and goodbye, meant that we were practically living out of our suitcases. It meant, too, that in a matter of 12 days, we had witnessed some of the world's most famous places, both from the historical and architectural aspects.
We had a breathtaking scenic drive over the Brenner Pass, beneath the snow- capped Dolomite mountains, after leaving Austria, into Italy, arriving at Venice.
Our short stay there allowed us to visit St Mark's Square, where guides pestered us to pay them to take us round the churches and palaces. Gladys was amused by their behaviour, but our group had to break up and make a fresh entry onto the square and enter the buildings separately. These included the Doge's Palace and many others around the square, which had made the Renaissance part of the 15th Century famous.
It was a surprise to see a barge of the Royal Navy pass under the Bridge of Sighs as it made its way amongst the gondolas on the Grand Canal. Perhaps the Navy were aware of our presence and wished to protect us!
On the tour round Rome, the Coliseum reminded us that most of the early Christians who were thrown to the lions 2,000 years ago. We joined the throng milling around below the Vatican balcony awaiting the appearance of the Pope. We watched the excitement of the crowds, particularly the nuns, when the Pope finally made his entrance, waving his arms and smiling.
Inside St Peter's Cathedral, the largest in the world, we were again rewarded with a view of the Pope, as he was carried in his chair on the shoulders of his entourage. A service was due to start and all the seats were full of worshippers. We bade him goodbye.
Gladys was impressed with the good-looking Italian men. I, in turn, drew her attention to their protruding Roman noses. Occasionally, we observed ladies wearing mini-skirts plying their wares. I wondered how many celibate priests had become their regular customers.
We made our return journey via Pisa, where we obtained a view of the leaning tower, giving the appearance that all it wanted was a puff of wind to blow it down. A short visit to Monaco allowed us to see the sentries outside the palace looking like toy soldiers, as they raised their knees high when marching.
Our remainder journey through France brought us back to the modern day, with its traffic and noise. By the time we reached the suburb of Paris, it was a question of how soon we could get back home. I did, however, persuade Gladys to explore the centre of Paris, including the Arc de Triomphe. To get there, I had to learn how to operate the Metro underground. We were impressed with the quality of their carriages and cleanliness of the underground stations, many of which had shop windows displaying the latest fashions in clothes.
Our magic carpet, the coach, returned all safely back to London, where we said our goodbyes, with a request by our Indian friends that we visit them some time in the future in Calcutta.
This tour had charged up our human batteries, enabling us to cope once more with Harry's world. On the 14th December, 1976, Harry 'phoned and said he was coming home and had ordered a taxi. I was at work when I received this news. I took half a day's leave and 'phoned Kelvin, the Warden, who confirmed that Harry had left the hostel.
He arrived home around 2.30 pm and said we had a wonderful house. He complained of three terrible blokes at the hostel. He said they broke his door down at 1.30 am and sprayed fire-fighting foam onto him. He upset his mother and told her to get his breakfast the following morning. He blamed her for losing Guildford YMCA papers.
He had mentioned that he thought of booking a place at Guildford instead of returning to Reading. Sadly, there was no change to his unsettled state.
Christmas period was dominated by Harry's anti-social behaviour. The local social workers regarded Harry as a hospital case, whilst the health service had washed their hands off him. The only advice our family doctor could give was to see a Magistrate to obtain a Committal order to a secure hospital as a last resort. Once again, Harry realised he was in danger of being put away.
On new year's day, Harry asked me to collect his TV, tape recorder and records, for he had decided to order a taxi to take him to the station. He was returning to Reading and had confirmed that the warden would have him back. This time we hoped it would be of a more permanent nature. I knew that this was particularly true as far as Gladys was concerned.
In a matter of weeks, Harry 'phoned asking me to pick him up at Cosham station, he was leaving Reading for good. He smelt of drink when I picked him up, he had several cases with him. He alleged that his tenants had threatened to hit him on his head with a brick. Some story of a fire and the CID people had been called in at 1.45 am to question him.
When I told Mr Hatcher of the local social services that he was returning home and asked what I should do, he remarked that if I could not contain my son, I should call in the police. On the following Monday, Mrs Oakley of Havant social services arrived at home during the morning, and advised Harry to stay at the Guildford YMCA, where he claimed he had been told there was a bed for him.
I arrived home with Harry demanding that I collect his things and take him to Havant station. Gladys told me that he had been advised to go to the YMCA, Guildford, by Mrs Oakley. At first I had refused, for he insisted I should take him by car and provide him with money, which was always an on-going demand. I had no ready money, and had to borrow from my next-door neighbour to buy a railway ticket from Havant to Guildford and made a cheque out to pay for his accommodation.
We called to see Harry on the following Sunday and met the warden, BA Rowcliffe. We were shown his room, which he shared with Tim. Bryan, the warden, told us that Tim had complained about Harry smoking his pipe and having showers next door at 4 am.
Mr Robin Chalkley, of the National Schizophrenia Fellowship had made contact with Harry and arrived at the YMCA to discuss his future. He told Harry that he would find a part-time job locally, and accommodation for him. Robin was the local co-ordinator for Surrey. The warden was very helpful, and agreed to take a £23.50 cheque, giving £15 to Harry.
We had a call later from Bryan, that he had not received Harry's rent for the following week. Fortunately, this matter was cleared up when Harry received his sickness benefit book from Social Security, Havant. We learned from Mr Webb, welfare officer at St James, that he had been contacted by Guildford Social Services on this matter.
Andrew and Linda had been, and were still, busy working on their new house at Clanfield. I was amused to notice that Andrew had a crazy paved patio and paths similar to those I had done here at Wigan Crescent. I do remember him asking where I got the broken slabs and how I laid them. Of course, I had not really told him, he knew before he asked me!
Linda, earlier in the year, had given birth to a baby girl, Joy. Not a great deal of time had been given to spend on our granddaughter, due to Harry's disturbed state. For Gladys, it was like living on top of an active volcano, not knowing when it's going to erupt and what devastation will be caused.
The continuing stress made itself evident, for her face had become thinner and paler. During the weeks, Harry was away, Gladys was able to mind Joy on a number of occasions. Gladys always said, she would have liked to have had a daughter.
As far as Joy was concerned, the whole house was hers to play in. Hide and seek was their favourite game, with Gladys forgetting all her cares.
Being able to play the nanny's role, I believe, staved off a possible nervous breakdown, similar to the time when she took on a part time job at Bentalls. Our guardian angel had not completely deserted us.
Andrew, as always, was progressing in his job and I felt would not now venture into a less secure occupation. He was considering applying for a sleuth's job within the Inland Revenue at Chichester, but did not pursue it.
We had been advised to apply for attendance allowance, since the care of Harry was totally invested with his parents. The doctor who visited us as a result of this application said this was one of the most justified applications he had had to deal with. However, with Harry deciding to move out of the St James catchment area, this claim had to remain on ice.
On joining Portsmouth and Southsea hockey club at St Helens' Ground, Southsea, I was released from playing in goal, and took stations at right back in their 4th XI team, my former soccer position.
Players had difficulty in coming to terms with an old fogey of around 62 years of age. The nearest to my age was Alan Hicks, a very frail player; what he lacked in weight he made up with enthusiasm. He was one of the longest serving members of the club, bringing his management skills from his Maths Lecturer's post at the Portsmouth Polytechnic to the running of the hockey club.
Another hockey player of renown was Les Tullet, who was feared on the hockey pitch for his hard hitting. At this time, Les was heavily involved in the Islanders' Hockey Tournament at Alexandra Stadium, Northern Parade.
The captain of the 5th XI team had to leave this area and, to my surprise, I landed the job. The task was simple until a player dropped out at the last moment. It was the ASWE call again - Alan get moving! This post landed me on the management committee of the club.
Before I had settled in, the chairman announced at my first meeting that our representative on the Portsmouth City Sports Council had resigned. There was immediate silence as we awaited a volunteer. All eyes turned to me, and not having learned to say no, I was formally elected.
Attending my first Sports Council meeting in the Council Chambers gave me a sense of importance. The Chair was taken by a member of the City's amenities department, who also supplied the minutes secretary. Again, I was thrown into the lion's den, without any de-briefing. I represented my hockey club at the next meeting.
After I had attended my first meeting it came as a shock to learn that I was expected to represent the game of hockey on behalf of the City and hockey clubs in the City of Portsmouth. As all sports were represented, including water sports. It was an excellent chance for those present to learn of the achievements of clubs and their players.
The main annual event of the year, where all members had an involvement, was the IOW and Hampshire tournament, a sort of mini-Olympics. The venue for this annual event rotated between the Sports Councils that existed in the county and the IOW.
It fell on the Sports representative to ensure that their sport was well chosen from the best players available. Should their council be hosting this annual event, it would be a requirement that the council provide the necessary playing facilities and changing accommodation. The high spot of these games was, of course, the award ceremony, where it falls upon the council to involve the Mayor and local dignitaries.
Whenever I reported back to my club after attending a Sports Council meeting, there would be the same questions asked. When were we to receive a grant for playing equipment, when were we to have a greater share of playing facilities?
I learned that many new Sports Clubs received great financial help from the Regional Sports Council, one their application had been supported by their Local Sports Council. Another body that provided financial help to new clubs was the National Playing Fields Appeal Fund.
On Sunday, 13th February, 1977, Bryan, warden at the YMCA, Guildford, explained on the 'phone that Harry continued to make himself a nuisance to his room-mate, Tim. He still persisted in smoking his pipe in his bedroom and kept Tim awake throughout the night. He had no alternative but to ask Harry to leave his hostel.
We were not surprised to have a call from Harry later that day. He told us that Robin Chalkley, of the local Schizophrenia Fellowship would try to find a place for him at Crawley and Old Wokingham. He finally told us he had no money, as was the normal situation.
We called on Harry the following Friday, where, on meeting the warden, we were told that Harry must vacate his room by next Friday. While we were at Guildford, Harry took us to see a bed-sitter where the landlady demanded a deposit. I did not like the cramped room and refused to pay the deposit. The weather was foul, we waited at Guildford railway station while he visited another bed sitter. This came to no avail, and after getting soaking wet, we returned him to his hostel.
Our mood on the train home matched the weather. Gladys went completely silent, whilst I could not hide my feelings of despondency, knowing that Harry could not survive on his own. Before leaving Harry, I gave him £20 and a cheque to pay the warden.
He arrived home with his belongings on the following Tuesday at 10.30 am. Robin Chalkley 'phoned to inform us that an appointment had been made for Harry to attend at Flint Hall Farm, Godstone, on Thursday, 24th February. I took Harry to this address to attend an acceptance interview, referred to as their 'sensitivity meeting'. Flint Hall Farm was a Surrey Community Development Trust Home. Here, there were less than a dozen residents, each with a different life problem. The residents were expected to live and work together, developing the premises and the farm, which had two goats and two geese on five acres of land with a pond.
He was accepted, and took up residency on Sunday, 27th February. We visited him on Thursday, 17th March: he greeted us with a smile. He described the work on the farm and seemed enthusiastic about the new tractor the farm had acquired.
His duties were to assist in the kitchen, and I finished up doing his chores - peeling potatoes. Turkey was on the menu, which still had to be prepared. It had to be ready by 5.30 pm, since the sensitivity committee was due to meet at 6pm.
There was a young lady who had been there for 18 months, and acted as a treasurer. The main organiser was an agricultural man with a degree. A woman resident told that Harry pestered them for money, which caused them some concern. Up to this moment all seemed to be going well, possibly the break- through we had been waiting so long for. She told us that at the sensitivity meeting held by all residents present had powers to dismiss any one member. The warning shot had been fired.
On 25th March, Harry 'phoned saying that he was coming home. He said he was not suitable for agricultural work and would I collect him? Only last week we had brought his electric fire, TV, wireless and record player. He had been sent a cheque each week, £14 for his accomm-odation and £12 for himself. On the last visit, he pestered me for £5. His mother also took him carpets, cutlery, buckets and a bowl for the farm. He complained about his muck-spreading job in the rain, and that the farm was full of prisoners as well as being haunted. I told Harry to stick it out!
On the 3rd April, Harry returned home. I read the riot act to him - no drinks. His stomach was sticking out and he looked as if he were doped. He did not know what drugs he had taken. On the first Saturday night at home, Harry wandered about his bedroom and the bathroom around 5 am. I found him sitting around the electric fire, playing his records. I told him to switch the fire off and turn down the noise. There was no further disturbance after he had made abusive remarks to me.
Harry remained at home and behaved himself. No drinking, smoking was reduced to a pipe, with a subsequent reduction in the demands for money. Gladys gave him tea-making facilities in his room. He requested to start a banking account at the National Westminster Bank. It was his birthday on 9th April, and he had been sent some cheques. No sooner had he entered them into his account, he had withdrawn the money to buy a record player with two loudspeakers. He had now, of course, no money to buy tobacco.
When we visited Anne, the Austrian widow of Sternfeld, at Brighton on Sunday 17th April, Harry had left his electric fire on in his bedroom. His bedclothes and mattress were burnt, as was the electric lead to the electric fire. However, there was no house on fire and no violent scene domestic-wise.
Mr Webb from St James' called on Harry and thought he was less schizophrenic as a result of his recent experiences living away. Harry had read in the Daily Telegraph that to have a smallpox vaccination with eczema can be harmful to the brain. Mr Webb took details and told us that he would follow this up after Harry had told him that this had happened to him as a small child.
Harry had been tolerant at home during most of April, but like an active volcano, would eventually erupt at some future date. This happened on 8th May, when Harry had worked himself into a frenzy. He insisted that I took him to Greylingwell Hospital, Chichester, knowing that he had been abandoned by his local hospital, St James'.
I 'phoned the hospital and was able to speak to the duty doctor, Dr Green, who agreed to see us at 6.00 pm that evening. Thankfully, he did see us and after he saw Harry on his own, called me back into the surgery. He decided that Harry should receive the same treatment as when he was previously in Greylingwell. I was instructed to give him pills three times a day. They were Melleric, Procylidine and Dalmane.
He gave us his sympathy, as regards the St James' embargo placed on Harry. Mr Webb continued to visit him weekly, each time stating that he cannot forgive Abramczuk. On his last visit he thought Harry was in a very unstable state.
During the second week of May, following two nights with Harry banging doors, with the wireless on full in his bedroom, we were pressed into revisiting Godstone. After calling at Flint Farm, he decided that it was not for him. On Sunday, he had run out of pills and now both his family doctor and Greylingwell had refused to prescribe them. Further visits to Dr O'Flynn by Harry were rewarded with a prescription for sleeping tablets.
Harry had been 'phoning all over the place for hostel accommodation, including Walthamstow, Welwyn Garden City - goodness knows what the telephone bill would be! Webb called and suggested that Richmond Fellowship Hostel might take him. The Council made £60 weekly contributions to it. This, he said, was only a slight possibility and I thought he was lost for ideas.
During the end of May, I took Gladys and Harry to Bath on two business trips. On the first journey, by car, Harry spotted a hostel in the country, at Weyhill, Andover.
We made our second journey on Friday, 27th May. Harry had made up his mind to stay there, although he did not know whether it was suitable for him, and from past experience, it was not likely to be so. However, every possibility had to be tried.
We called at this hostel on our return journey from Bath, and met the person in charge, who gave us details of Harcourt Hostel. His name was Richard and he was youth leader, working for a single parents' organisation, called Incomm. He was wearing shorts and looked a tough character. There was only one woman, named Alice, on the site with about 14 youths. Richard stated that he would motivate Harry, who had made it known that he wished to stay, although Harry had not discussed the cost of his keep.
It was another case where Gladys and I just prayed that he could settle in to give us a break from the stresses at home. We had a lot to thank Richard for during June. Portsmouth was all agog with organising the reception for the Queen on her visit, to review the Fleet, at Spithead, as part of her Silver Jubilee celebrations. Included in her programme whilst at Portsmouth was a visit to IBM Havant complex, including a walkabout in the town. Gladys made sure that she would not miss out on this visit. There was an added surprise for her when I told her that ASWE staff could visit the Fleet when the Royal party had come ashore, after their inspection.
The assembly of probably the largest armada ever to be organised in this country, commenced on Friday, 24th June, 1977, for the review to take place on Tuesday, 28th June. Over 100 HMS ships, together with around 40 foreign and Commonwealth warships, with a further 40 or more naval support ships formed up in three lanes. These lanes stretched from Horse Sand Fort, opposite South Parade Pier, to opposite East Cowes.
Over 130 Yacht Clubs were anchored around the formation of warships, with many more vessels privately owned not associated with clubs, adding to those looking on.
It was a proud moment for all of us from ASWE, in our pleasure boat, to have the privilege of following the route taken by the Royal party aboard HMY Britannia on their inspection of the Fleet.
In the evening, whilst the Royal party and its entourage dined on board HMS Ark Royal, we watched the Royal Marines 'Beat the Retreat' on Southsea Common, followed by a fireworks display. Out to sea was the equivalent of the Blackpool Illuminations, for the Fleet was lit up.
The Fleet Air Arm was not left out of this display, for whilst the HMY Britannia was on its inspection route, over 150 of the FAA flew past.
Gladys looked less pale, much brighter after this event, and also for having a relatively stress-free month. It had been announced that the Queen would be visiting IBM, Havant, in December, when the walkabout in Havant would take place, instead of on the present visit to Portsmouth. So, the Queen would be able to see Gladys twice in one year, if she were aware of Gladys' hat and outfit that she would be wearing at the time of her visit!
Len Martin, Honorary Secretary of the Portsmouth and Southsea Hockey Club and schoolteacher, produced a comprehensive newsletter prior to the club's AGM. I was flattered that I had been mentioned on two occasions. Here are extracts from this paper-
"Alan Rayment reports from the Portsmouth City Leisure Services Committee that considerable sums of money have been allocated to provide changing and other facilities at Sevenoaks Road playing fields. This is one of the grounds used by the club."
Extracted from the Captain's report on the 4th XI team is the following :
"Mention must be made of the two stalwarts at the back, John Langham Brown and Alan Rayment, and when the goal keeping problems of the senior elevens have finished up where they always do - with the 4ths - Alan has always nobly put on pads, with little more than an occasional muttered curse. On one occasion, he saved two penalties in one match. Can't make out why Pete does not have him in the League XI."
As the name implies, the work of my employer - Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment - ASWE - involved Research and Development of weapons systems for ships above surface.
Whilst at the Admiralty Research Laboratory, ARL, Teddington, the Admiralty Gunnery Establishment had been formed and assigned to Portland, where a gunnery range existed. However, around this period of 1972, guided missiles had been developed to replace guns, making this move to Portland abortive so far as naval gunnery was concerned.
The facility at Portland acquired a new role for the development of underwater weapons - Admiralty Underwater Weapon Establishment, AUWE. By 1972, ASWE had already developed a guided missile launching system, with aerial arrays Type 901 and 984. Other electronic counter measure systems were also developed to interfere with the enemy's guidance systems.
Coupled with the foregoing, was the Ship's Inertial Navigation System, SINS, being developed at Slough by the Admiralty Compass Laboratory, ACO, which became an out-station of ASWE in 1971.
Whilst at ARL, amongst the few hundred staff, I could be identified by my contribution to the work at this establishment. Most personnel were referred to by their Christian name, regardless of rank difference. This, I believe, was due to staff mixing at all levels on trials, be they on land or water.
My last director at ARL was Bill Burrows, who liked to sit with any of his staff in the canteen, be they industrial or non-industrial. After joining ASWE, I felt that I was just an individual, making up the 2000 plus staff, so far as top management was concerned. It should not have been very surprising that at an age of 56, being sent into a new environment of people and work, that I felt very much a stranger. No different than when one moves into a new district; here it can take years to become one of them.
I was aware that amongst the long standing staff, there was an 'esprit de corps'. This was particularly true when staff could be overheard talking about an ASWE event they had attended , and according to ASWE Bulletin for June 1977, there were no shortages of these. Here is a list of activity sessions published in this bulletin.:-
ART SOCIETY THEATRICALS, ASSETS
ASWE WIVES GROUP WORKSHOP, SOCIAL/SPORTS COMMITTEE
BADMINTON ASWE CIVILIAN MUTUAL AID FUND
ENTERTAINMENT PANEL CHARITIES OXFAM (SPECTACLES)
FOOTBALL DRAWING OFFICE SOCIAL COMMITTEE
GOLF FILM OFFICER
MUSIC SOCIETY FIRST AID NURSING
NETBALL HOSPITAL SAVINGS ASSOCIATION
PORTSDOWN SINGERS KEEP FIT AND TAP DANCING
RIFLE CLUB MEDICAL AID PORTSDOWN
SAILING MEDICAL AID ACO SLOUGH
STAMP CLUB SWIMMING
During 1977, seventeen entries had been made for the Procurement Executive Sports Day, they included football, tennis, tug-of-war, cricket and other field sports. In the Bulletin, were reports of members taking part in chess, fishing and judo. Although there was no mention of bowls in the Bulletin, there was an on- going inter-section Bowls competition, as well as matches with ACO, Slough.
Strange to relate that my participation in this galaxy of activities was almost nil! Obviously, my star had remained in orbit, awaiting the right moment to join this galaxy!
On the 8th June, Gladys and I stayed for three days at Lerwell's Farm in Combe Martin. On our journey there, we called at Harcourt Hostel, Weyhill, Andover, to see how Harry was settling in. We met a resident who stated that he was looking after Harry and his money. This came as a surprise, that Richard was able to delegate his caring role!
When we returned from Combe Martin, we again called at the Hostel, where we met Richard and his two young daughters, Jacqueline and Sheree. Richard thought that he could motivate Harry, and realised that he was a psycho! He found that he drank a great deal, but was not an alcoholic. He had taken Harry to a pub the previous night, and Harry had refused to drink after his fourth pint. He claimed that he was tackling Harry's problems one at a time, but he had got him motivated; Harry was making his own bed, typing and cutting grass. Richard had also removed all the pills he had recently obtained from the local doctor.
Richard claimed that he was allowing him more money than I had provided, to eventually gain his confidence, and remarked that he must not be driven into a corner.
Harry appeared very rational and informed us that instead of getting up at two or three each morning, he had a full sleep last night. He had been given the title of Publicity Manager. Before we left, Richard was striving to obtain building material to repair the swimming pool, so that children could stay at the hostel and use the pool.
We came away from this hostel, feeling very impressed with Richard's handling of Harry and his assessment of Harry's behavioural pattern. No hospital had diagnosed or offered a remedial solution to Harry's illness to match that of Richard's! It was ironic that he preferred to control Harry without the use of pills, which were always the doctors' treatment for Harry's condition!
Calling on Harry two weeks' later, we found him in a savage condition. He told us he did not have any money, and had upset Richard. Money given to him to spend on tobacco, had been spent on cider. This occurred the previous day, on a visit to Andover, for the purpose of having a bath and a swim. This did not take place because Harry had not taken his swimming costume with him. I felt that Richard would not contain him much longer!
However, when we visited the hostel a week later, Harry greeted us and told us he was solvent, and did not owe anyone money. Would we see Richard in the lounge? There was further good news, for Richard told us that Harry had acted very responsibly when placed in charge of two tents, during two nights' camping. This was endorsed by the residents, one of whom was a stress case. He also mentioned that they had paid the County Council rates, and Harry's money had helped. I could not get over Richard's refusal of the two pounds I offered him to give to his daughters!
Richard then advised us not to keep visiting the hostel, to allow Harry to settle in. Harry may go with one of the residents to do carpentry. He showed us a photo of himself, Harry and his two daughters. He was very pleased to receive drawing paper and crayons, which we handed over to him.
An SOS was received from Harry demanding that we take him home that evening on Thursday 30th June, 1977, from Weyhill. We arrived at 6.15 pm, with Richard very upset that Harry had not given a week's notice. He would have Harry back at any time. This was indeed music to the ear, for never has a complimentary remark of this kind been heard by me before. So why does he wish to leave?
Harry is quite rational and tells us that Richard is abrupt, but is friends with the police and social security people. Richard told him that he had been in South Africa for 14 years, and became a mortgage broker on arriving in England. He started to build a boat to go around the world.
I wrote the following letter to Richard:-
It was not my wish for Harry to leave your hostel and the people within it. No words can express enough our thanks for looking after Harry and managing his day to day affairs. You have achieved much that the professionals could not. Your hardships and endeavours to attain those ideals filled me with admiration, as did your determination to come through successfully.
I was not aware that Harry had not given you a week's notice, and I accordingly forward £16 to put the matter right.
For a long time to come, I shall have you in mind as well as your daughters, also Lilly Ellis.
Yours very sincerely,
His mother made him have a bath before she gave him food. He was upset because his record player did not work when he tried it out in his bedroom.
Within a week, Harry left home to stay at the YMCA, Waltham Cross, where he had reserved accommodation until September. He had a ticket to Victoria Station. I gave him £15 and keep money for 10 days. He 'phoned back to say that it was modern accommodation but there were a lot of coloured residents. It was noticeable that after his return from Harcourt Hostel, he spoke to his neighbours! He had been known to open the front door and shout out to his neighbours, "You're a lot of Nazis!"
On Wednesday 6th July, after only seven days, Harry arrived by taxi at the house wearing dark glasses. He said he could not live on £10 spending money per week - he had spent £20 during the week he was there. He returned the cheque made out to YMCA for £17-75.
Harry carried on to his mother for having my very elderly Auntie Lou from Aylesbury to stay with us. I had to threaten that I would throw him out of the house if he continued to plague his mother.
Almost the first request spoken by Auntie was the request to visit Andrew and Linda to see their baby, Joy. We were reminded that their engagement took place at Bath, when she was with us, and so could claim some input to the outcome of their joint enterprise.
There was no delay in taking Auntie with Harry to our first grandchild. To our surprise, Harry responded warmly to Auntie's questions and even made Joy laugh!
During Auntie Lou's stay, she seemed to have a calming effect on Harry. She kept him interested in telling Harry about how hard they worked as a child in the family cottage industry, making hats. She told him how her father went off on his bike, leaving the business to be looked after by her mother. He was not averse to taking an apple out of her hand when eating it, and eating it himself. Her stay went off without any major incident.
Up to the end of July, no arrangements had been made for our holidays, due to Harry's behavioural state. This appeared not to be a problem at that moment, and so arrangements were made to have a motoring holiday for the three of us in the Lake District in August. I booked a bed and breakfast place at Mrs Bell, Hill Top Farm, Threlked, Keswick. This address was recommended to me by my office colleague, George Taylor, who had enjoyed her English breakfast and evening meals.
All the major lakes, such as Ullswater and Coniston Water, were visited during our week's stay in the Lake District. Harry was very quiet and seemed to be at peace with the beauty of the lakes and country scenery.
Before leaving work, George Taylor challenged me to go over the Hard Knott Pass. I had driven up Porlock Hill, which boasted of 1 in 4 slopes and hair-pin bends in Somerset, so I had to now also tackle this other motorist challenge in the Lake District, just so that I would be able to boast of my motoring achievement.
There are times when you realise that you have bitten off too much to chew, and make a tactical withdrawal, but how do you do that when in a car, negotiating a bend with a 1 in 4 gradient, with your car bonnet facing heaven-ward, and unsure whether the bend is a left or right handed one. Added to this driver's nightmare were breakdown instructions along the worst section of bends. Yes, I made it and can claim I have never wished to repeat this hazardous feat. I believe this challenge appeals to a certain type of motorist who attends rallies and has a car with the necessary horse-power.
The Lake District holiday proved beneficial for Gladys, not having home-care worries, since Harry had been rational during our stay there. He had helped make the tea and carried items from the car. On returning home, Harry stayed at the YMCA, Portsmouth, where he had made a booking before going away. Whilst there, his cousin David, and his family called on him and took him to the IOW on the ferry, returning by hovercraft.
Harry came home after one week at the YMCA, Portsmouth, saying that he had finished wandering. We had him home through into September and sadly, our recent respite was only temporary for he had returned to demanding money, mainly for drink.
During that period at home, £5 had disappeared while out playing bridge. Harry had taken this, and he blamed it on me for not giving him money. I restricted him to 50p a day until it had been repaid, which he agreed to without too much protest. This was the first time he had done this offence and I hoped it would not recur.
is mother was really upset with Harry, remarking about having his anti-social habits to put up with, which was more than enough without dishonesty being added to his habits.
Soon after this affair, Harry took two-weeks' supply of pills in one week. Dr. O'Flynn refused to supply him any more and told him to make the most of his life. This elderly Irish doctor has always acted as a father to him. Soon he will be retired and greatly missed.
Mr Webb continued to see Harry and conveyed to us that nothing could be done to get him into the Queen Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Disturbed - Abramczuk had blocked everything.
At one of the 1977 Autumn Portsmouth Sports Council Meetings I was persuaded by a fellow committee member, Alan, to join his new jogging club, which met every Sunday morning at Havant Park. He was an official of the Portsmouth Athletic Club, which met at Alexandra Park, Northern Parade. Alan told me he lived in Havant, and wanted to enter a list of joggers of all ages into the Sunday Times Fun Run, Hyde Park, for the 1978 Annual Event. Of course, as usual I said that I would join, having not yet learned how to say 'no'! As a con, I was assured that I would be entered into the veterans section.
The dozen or so who attended the Sunday morning jogging training sessions were treated to some arduous exercise before our serious business of jogging round the park, endless times. I weighed 16 stones and kept asking myself why I should punish myself so much. Did I not, at school, learn that I was not built for distance running, when I collapsed on a cross-country run at Urmston, Manchester?
When living at Teddington, Sunday mornings were mainly concerned with Sunday worship. In view of the time given to St John's church, Hampton Wick, in raising money, I became very cautious not to become involved with a new church, after I left Hampton Wick, in raising money. Gladys was not a church-goer and would often criticise those that did go; nevertheless she was prepared to go round the houses in Leigh Park, with a Christian Aid box, where other churchgoers feared to tread.
Linda and Andrew attended a baptist church, where Joy was baptised. They also became associated with a Christian Fellowship group, where throwing their arms up in the air was a form of worship. It seems that each person has their own way of expressing their faith, and those without a faith do not bother about such matters. Creation to me, is beyond the understanding of man, and the ten commandments were given so that we could enjoy God's gifts to the full.
For Linda and Andrew, the Almighty had seen fit to prepare them for another child sometime during the late Spring of 1978.
My routine visits to ACO, Slough, continued in an ever-increasingly friendly atmosphere, compared to my first visit, which could almost have been described as hostile. I did not know then, that the ACO had been merged into ASWE as a result of the 'Rayner's Recommendations.' This took place almost at the time I first arrived at Portsdown. It was understandable for staff to feel resentful of losing their separate identity and explained why my first visit to them was not welcomed.
I reported to Ted Hoy, Officer in Charge, on each of my arrivals, and on my departures. I was confident after my first interview with him that I would be able to resolve any outstanding problems. Ted had revealed that sometime in the past, he had been a draughtsman. During one of my visits in late 1977, when discussing sporting activities between our two establishments, he mentioned that he and his wife were joggers. They would be entering the Sunday Times Fun Run, in Hyde Park in 1978, and hoped to win their section.
As I judged that he was not old enough to qualify for the veterans, I assured him that he would not have me to contest in his section. I have always found that sport breaks down all barriers, where there is a common interest.
Whilst at ARL, through taking part in NPL sporting activities, I gained access to most NPL departments through the back door when requiring technical information. Ted Hoy now accepted me as one of them, and went out of his way to give me the history of both ACO and Ditton House. This history was later published in the Journal of ASWE and ACO:
A Short History of Ditton Manor and the Admiralty Compass Observatory
the history of Ditton Manor is scanty and somewhat disconnected, it is known that the
manor has been occupied for nearly 900 years.
The first reference appears, in the Doomsday Book (1086) when it was
owned by 'William, son of Ansulf' and his brother Walter, it was valued at 30 shillings.
Although the history of Ditton Manor is scanty and somewhat disconnected, it is known that the manor has been occupied for nearly 900 years. The first reference appears, in the Doomsday Book (1086) when it was owned by 'William, son of Ansulf' and his brother Walter, it was valued at 30 shillings.
In 1331, Sir John de Molyns (the Queen's seneschal) was granted a licence by Edward III to fortify his "mansion of Ditton" which included his houses at Stoke Poges and Ditton (and four years later "to build a park of 38 acres").
The central tower of the house is still known as the 'de Molyns tower' and is probably a perpetuation of the original 14th century edifice. The original 'castle' and moat is illustrated in Nordern's map of 1607.
The de Molyns family apparently owned Ditton until about 1429, when Sir William de Molyns was killed at Orleans. His daughter, Alianore, at the age of 15, married Robert, Lord Hungerford, into whose family the estates of Ditton passed.
In 1440 alders from Ditton were used for the building of Eton College. Ditton Manor reverted to the crown in 1472. From 1517 to 1521 Princess Mary (afterwards Queen Mary I) was a frequent visitor to Windsor Castle and Ditton, where a great part of her early years was spent.
It is recorded that Ditched Ferry was used as a means of transport between Windsor and Ditton and that on Christmas Day 1521, the clergy of Windsor Castle attended at Ditton Park to sing ballads and other songs before the Princess, for which they were rewarded with the sum of 10 shillings. At this time the house was probably the residence of Cardinal Wolsey.
In 1532, Ann Boleyn was "Keeper of Ditton Park", an emolument worth £180 a year.
According to the Brown Wilier manuscript the property remained with the crown until the time of Elizabeth I.
In the reign of James I, Ditton was in the possession of Sir Ralph Winnowed, Principal Secretary of State and Keeper of Ditton Park. In 1617, he built a mansion on the site of the de Molyns "enkernelled" house and incorporated the ancient tower of the earlier building. This Jacobean mansion is depicted in the set of drawings at the foot of the present main staircase.
Norman's description of Ditton was as follows:
"Ditton Park hat about 220 Deere, about 50 of antler, 20 of bucks. The circuit of this Park is 2¼ mile, little timber. It containeth in quantity about 195 avers good ground."
Perhaps the most notable period of Ditto's history was from about 1718, when the estates had come into the possession of the Dukes of Montagu. Anne, daughter of Sir Ralph Winwood, married Edward, 2nd Baron Montagu of Boughton. Their son Ralph was created 1st Duke of Montagu in 1705 and married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Wrothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton and owner of Beaulieu Palace and Abbey.
John, 2nd Duke of Montagu, who married Mary, daughter of the 1st Duke of Marlborough, thus owned Ditton and Beaulieu and during his lifetime, the house was enlarged and developed, and the moat was widened. On the main staircase, there is a copy of a map dated 1718, of which the original is at Beaulieu, which shows the layout and extent of the property.
Through John's daughter, Mary, Ditton passed to her husband George, Earl of Cardigan, who was created Duke of Montagu. Their daughter, Elizabeth, married Henry, Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry, and it was for their 2nd son, Henry James, 2nd Baron Montagu, that the present house was built in 1813, the Winwood house having been almost completely destroyed by fire in April 1812. The fire, incidentally, was said to have been due to the "bursting of a flue, which projected from a patent stove in a room adjoining his Lordship's bedroom". The north side of the present mansion, and possibly the tower (or part of it) are all that remain from the earlier building.
During the 19th century, Ditton maintained a style of great hospitality, Sir Walter Scott was a frequent visitor. The gardens are described in the "Gardeners Magazine" of 1837.
On crossing the moat by the main entrance (one of the only two bridges over the moat) the clock tower on the left (originally part of the stables) contains a bell dated 1608 from an early chantry chapel in the grounds. The clock movement is dated 1818, and this clock is believed to be the oldest in Admiralty service. Another bell to the left of the gatehouse is dated 1764 and is probably a later chapel bell.
The sundial area near the flagstaff commemorates the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II.
The buildings, with archway, on the right of the entrance originally contained the brewery and laundry. Behind them are some of the workshops and also the Pump House which contains a rare example of a Hot Air Engine, used for pumping the water supply for the mansion.
The house is decorated with coats of arms of the Winwoods and Montagus, but is of no special interest except possibly in respect of the tower, which may be part of the de Molyns building. In the main gallery, now the Compass Department Museum, a glass plaque commemorates the rebuilding of the house, and there is also a panel of drawings of the Winwood house and a replica of a figure from a 13th century crucifix found in the grounds in 1922. Some of the lead drainpipes carry headings bearing the heraldic device of the Montagus.
Beyond the house is the "Boschette" which contains a wide variety of trees and flowering shrubs. Some of the trees are said to have been planted by Cardinal Wolsey. Near the moat on the south side is an exceptionally fine Swamp Cypress (or deciduous cypress) which is about 100 years old. It and two others on an island in the north-west corner of the moat were considered to be the largest in England (Gardeners Magazine 1835).
On the main lawn is an oak planted by HM King George V and a copper beech planted in 1954 by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.
Outside the moat is a lime tree which, in 1835, was recorded as being "80 ft high with a trunk 22 ft by 10 in, at circumference at 1 ft from the ground, of unknown age and still in a vigorous state".
The Park encloses about 210 acres, much of which is let for agricultural purposes. The western part is let by the Admiralty to the Radio Research Station under the Director of Scientific and Industrial Research, for which many new headquarters are being built. The lime avenue between the inner and outer main entrances is worthy of note.
A short distance to the southward of the drive crossroads is the Chapel. An earlier Chantry Chapel is referred to in the Brown Wilter MSS as existing in 1338. In 1547, at the Dissolution, the chapel was desecrated and the chantry dissolved, but the building seems to have remained as it is referred to in 1673 and 1680 and was built by Sir Richard Winwood in 1697. The present chapel was rebuilt by Lord Montagu in 1817. It is now used as a store and the altar is to be found in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Buckler's Hard, near Beaulieu.
A few links with Ditton will be found at Beaulieu, where may be seen the great table from the servants' hall at Ditton, a single piece of elm 16 ft long and ?½ in. thick. In the picture gallery at Beaulieu, there is a picture of the famous cat belonging to Henry, Lord Montagu, which was well-known at Ditton and described as "of majestic proportions and formidable appearance."
In 1917 the estate was bought by the Admiralty as the headquarters of the Compass Department, which was then in its 75th year and had previously been housed at Deptford.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ADMIRALTY COMPASS DEPARTMENT
In 1837, the "Admiralty Compass Committee" was appointed to investigate the whole problem of the mounting of compasses in ships containing an ever-growing amount of ferrous material. They sat for three years, and in 1842, with the appointment of Captain E H Johnson, the Department was founded with headquarters at Charlton, near Woolwich, to put into execution the findings of the Compass Committee.
In 1855 Captain Sir Frederick Evans, KCB, FRS, was appointed Superintendent in succession to Johnson, and 10 years later, when Evans became Assistant Hydrographer, the Department became a Branch of the Hydrographic Department and became a separate organisation under the Controller.
By 1917 the growth of gyro-compass work, combined with magnetic interference from electric trams and other things, had rendered Deptford no longer tenable. The whole organisation in both Deptford and London was, in that year, removed to Ditton Park, which the Admiralty purchased from Lord Montagu of Beaulieu (this creating the precedent for a fashion which has come into vogue in later years). The status of an Admiralty Department was at this time regained, and held until the reorganisation of the Controller's Departments in 1958.
Although I was referred to as
'Son' by my drawing office manager, Stan Cadman, he was in fact junior in age to me. During 1977, on reaching 60 years of age,
Stan had completed 45 years' service in the Admiralty.
It was agreed by both Dorothy, his wife, and Stan that he would retire
on this birthday.
Although I was referred to as 'Son' by my drawing office manager, Stan Cadman, he was in fact junior in age to me. During 1977, on reaching 60 years of age, Stan had completed 45 years' service in the Admiralty. It was agreed by both Dorothy, his wife, and Stan that he would retire on this birthday.
It became my privilege to stage Sam's retirement dinner using the staff canteen where Colin Fielding, ASWE director, had agreed to attend and make the retirement presentation. Among the many guests were members of the management service, my office, which included Freddie Bulstrode accompanied by her husband, Ken. Freddie was recognised as ASWE's 'Poet Laureate', who was commissioned to write an ode for Stan's farewell occasion. Ken's role, equally important, was as official photographer. His security clearance to take photos became quite involved as he was not a member of ASWE. Security, as a whole, had to be carefully observed, requiring a list of names of those attending this function to be submitted to the Head of Security.
In preparing the formal toast speech to Stan, I discovered that he had worked at ARL, Teddington, and had played in the ARL football team, prior to my arrival there in 1949. Another member of the drawing office, Derek Davie, MBE, was also at ARL and had played soccer for the NPL at the same period as Stan. Very few could claim to have our sport and career pedigree!
It was easy to visualise Stan as a footballer, for he was stockily built with no apparent surplus weight. He generally produced a broad smile, for he never lacked a sense of humour - generally at my expense when I was present.
He was a useful bowler on the green and did later, using his administrative skill, orchestrate the formation of a bowling club where he lived at Denmead, near Portsdown.
On Sunday 2nd October, 1977, Harry returned home after staying a week at a rented room in an old Victorian house, where there were around 17 other tenants, mainly ex-St James'. This house at The Retreat was located close to the shopping area at Palmerston Road, Southsea. We took him out to the Churchillian Pub, on Portsdown Hill, where he continued to give more details of his new address.
The most important news was that he had attended a local doctor, Dr Johnson, who told him that he was now in Dr. Bale's catchment area for St James' hospital. He wanted to know if he could come home at any time, for he had gone paranoid again, and said that all policemen were out to catch him. He lived on his sick pay and attendance allowance. He said he got up at 5 am and went to the cafe, and slept in the afternoon.#
On the 16th October, we visited The Retreat, for Harry had been home since the 6th October, refusing to return, having left all his belongings and electric fire in his room. The proprietor, Mr Blackley, told us that others like Harry were not as fortunate as to have a home to go to. I arranged to keep his room, paying a weekly rent of £5 in order that he could remain in this catchment area of St James'.
We saw Dr Bale, with Harry, on the 28th October, who told us that he was ill deep down and he could not promise much hope. Harry had refused to attend the industrial unit at St James' and the day hospital for short term patients. He would continue to see Harry so long as he remained in his catchment area.
During the whole of November, Harry stayed at home with his mother a nervous wreck. Got his drink in the morning, went to bed in the afternoon and later wandered around the house in his pyjamas. Said he had lost £3 of the £5 given to him to last three days. He kept repeating, "What I'm to do?". I told him to go to the Industrial Training Unit, but he became abusive.
On Sunday 4th December, Harry claimed that the neighbours had caused him to drink by telling him to get alcohol from the local off-licence shop. He had decided to return to The Retreat tonight, as instructed by Dr Bale, who was confused as regards Harry's medical card, for if he stayed at the Retreat he would have to transfer to his local doctor, Dr. Johnson.
We had a call from Harry to bring him home on 10th December. We found his room very untidy, the sink was in a very dirty state and apparently he had been sleeping fully dressed. He had spent £20, had no money left for the weekend. He said that he went out each morning to a local cafe to have his breakfast. He had spoken to his landlord several times during the week. A domicialiary nurse, Ron, from St James' had called on him. On the previous day, we had visited him and his mother told him off for smelling of drink and for not undressing when he went to bed.
We joined the Lerwells, Linda's family at their farm in Coombe Martin for Christmas. Harry slept in a caravan on the farm and was given £10 to spend over the stay and managed to last out, thank goodness. Most mornings he went to the village, returning for dinner. In the evenings, he retired to bed, around 6 pm. On the party night at Coulscott Farm he refused to attend and went back to his caravan at 5 pm. In general, he mixed well, but refused to sit next to me at the table.
When we returned home, he complained of glare, as he did many times at the farm: said it was the effects of Dalman, he also had a grouse about St James'.
In the new year of 1978, we dared not speculate what the future would have in store for the Rayment family.
In general, the year passed with no major catastrophes. We had become accustomed to Harry moving between St James', Wigan Crescent and The Retreat. Contact with Dr Bale and Mr Webb had also been maintained.
The ASWE Report followed the same pattern as the previous years. I had no adverse comments regarding this document by management. I did, however, have my introduction reworded by my XMS boss, David Jarman. Obviously more Annual Report editions were required if my writing skill was to improve!
My visits to Slough continued, coinciding with an occasional ACO staff retirement presentation. At their socialising events with drinks and food, I felt more of a Public Relations Officer for ASWE. At one of these functions, Ted Hoy, Officer in Charge, related that he and his wife were successful in being awarded Silver Certificates after taking part in the Sunday Times National Fun Run, Hyde Park. I was delighted to inform him that I, too, took part and was also awarded this certificate for the veterans' section.
In ASWE's drawing office, Alan Robinson refereed First Division League football, reaching the pinnacle of his profession by refereeing the FA Cup at Wembley. Those close to him at his work place had the pleasure of listening to his weekend football comments, such as; "Bobby Charlton, what a moaner! He would have a go from start to finish! I took charge of Nobby Stiles and Billy Bremner and never had a moment's trouble with either!"
Another draughtsman of repute was Malcolm Coombes, who was well known in the musical world for his manufacture of violins. He could claim to have Yehudi Menuhin, the world famous violinist, as a member of his clientele. Later, Malcolm resigned from ASWE to devote his full time to his creative talent, in spite of having a professional qualification in Engineering. He was also a member of the Havant Symphony Orchestra, which was recognised by the Arts Council for including a new composition in each performance.
An annual event held at ASWE each year was their Autumn Fair, in aid of local charities and hospitals. It was the custom for the Director's wife to preside at the Autumn Fair Committee meetings. The organising chairman was chosen in rotation from the different professions. The next year, 1979, the Chairman would be chosen from my specialisation, PTO's - watch out Alan!
On leaving St John's Church at Hampton Wick, I was determined to avoid fund raising activities in the future. I seemed to have a short memory, for I was again entrapped by management to help out on the stalls. Here is a letter I received from my Director:
XMS1.3, ASWE 7th September 1978
Dear Mr Rayment, I would like to thank you personally for the part you played in contributing to the tremendously successful Autumn Fayre on Saturday last. It was a magnificent team achievement, and I am very pleased to say that we made receipts of over £900. Thank you again for your efforts. Yours sincerely, Colin Fielding.
Here is a collection of Stan's Odes
Befitting the Big Man's Occasions
My Hernia Operation
When; there is an operation to be done, to be done
Then poor Alan's lot is not a happy one
With a nursing sister he may be disenchanted
'Till preliminaries they are imminent
And a shaky hand may do him quite a mischief
Altho' there is no malicious intent.
When; there is an operation to be done, to be done
We trust he'll finish up with more than one
Then they stand around and admire scene of action
Consider all the things to make their choice.
It could be when they've swept up all the debris,
He'll find he's left with a much higher voice.
When; there is an operation to be done, to be done
I hope we'll still be able to call him 'son'!
So when he's finished all his convalescence
And attempts to do the things he's done before
We trust that he will not be disappointed
If the best of things belongs to days of yore.
When the operations' done, has been done - has been done
Then a ??? makes him an unhappy one.
Stan Pens his Farewell
In Ryme We Beholdeth
And So My Work Endeth
At a do to mark my retirement,
The Big Man stood up and spoke,
Of things I had said and done,
And some that I had wrote.
Many referred to his person,
Most appropriate all the time,
The Point he was really trying to make,
Was - I had written them in rhyme.
The theme was further developed,
The ladies came into the game,
Freddie Bulstrode delivered a marvellous screed,
That put my own efforts to shame.
Then 'X' delivered his 'odd ode',
with clarity and verve,
And the gathering - quite rightly so,
Cheered his every word.
To further record the occasion,
He presented - coloured in red,
A scroll containing each word and line,
That Freddie had so nicely said.
To complete the 'no presentation',
Joan Boutell, with talent and skill,
Had recorded the view from my window
Looking north, from the top of the hill.
In the end, I was virtually speechless,
Now I am trying awfully hard,
To express my sincerest thanks,
In the manner of a BARD.
You did me proud in a manner I'll never forget,
By being there, on that evening we shared,
Thank you all, for everything,
AND I NEVER KNEW YOU CARED!
The 'Big Man' leaves Stan's Arena
Tho' you may have been another tally,
And you're allegiance may have changed,
You look with eyes of management,
As your tasks are re-arranged,
Without Shirley to protect you,
You may stand exposed and callow,
But I feel that you will somehow cope,
With your present share of valour.
A rolling stone gathers no moss,
Another's gain is perhaps our loss,
We are left in addition,
What was your cross
Whilst you philandered with the new boss.
The 'Big Man's' Birthday Card
The W....... O. T.............
'Tis a day that reeks of memories
Of a Youth that's long since past
Of virility and energy
When it seemed that had to last
But as increasing years unfolded
In the mirror was there to see
So you soaked up the TV adverts
And put your faith in Double 'D'
The result of this pitiful story
Is that however much you may try
You get more like Harry Secombe
And less like Barbara Fry.
But we must be kind to the youngster
For even he has a soul
And the hockey club schoolboys gleefully claim
WE'VE got a womble in goal!
So we remember you give pleasure to someone,
That we've got two for a bearing of one
Today, age shall not be mentioned,
'HAPPY BIRTHDAY' Son.
The Big Man's Name Removed From Stan's Force
I bear no grudge, to young or old
Let all take part
Let the old indulge
So Shirley withdrew it
And to her shame
That which she held
Bore not your name.
W.O.T. worries the young
W.O.T. worries the old
W.O.T. makes people happy
Or so we are told
But what does concern us
is was worries WOT
Is it what he has not had
Or what he's not got.
The Big Man Has Not Got His Tea Break
Your claim to be young
Is very much alive
Yet you live in the past
Way back in '75.
To see a grown man sobbing
Is not a cause for fun
Tho who could see a crisis over half a hot cross bun.
When a person is so sensitive
In a thickish sort of way
It's these small considerations
That help him through the day.
Not forgetting in addition
Food is his major need
For unlike those who serve him
He has an awful lot to feed.
The Big Man Wanted for Bowls
Alan, Regretfully I ask of you,
To bowl with us a wood or two,
It would be nice to set us aback,
And roll them somewhere near the back,
May I remind you of the date,
It's the 24th so don't be late.
Missed again, It must be meant,
When will I see, That Ray-a-ment?
Further Ones by XMS Management Staff
He tramps the corridors of Power
Department Heads all cringe
They know that Alan's on the loose,
Staff useages to singe!
The Admin Side knows him so well
Oft he's found them in error
They'd love to knife him in the back
He's such a holy terror!
But when all that is said and done
We're glad his Birthday's here
At least he's part of XMS
So what is there to fear!
I'm not such a clever man
As your former boss (that's Stan)
He could jot down many a ditty
From his head - oh what a pity
That it's taking so much time
For me to find two words that rhyme
How about a word like 'hockey'?
(Please don't think I'm being cocky
If I changed the word to 'ball'
Hockey just won't rhyme at all.
As Dep. to Stan you really must know
Where can be found each PTO
You can always count the ones that go
With conkers picked at ACO!
BMF At Even ere the sun was set
The bowls around him were lying
He was looking dismayed
He had only just played
And the rest of the team were crying!
And it's not use Mac just balling the Jack
It's against ACO we are vying.
With his back to the wall
There was no sign of the law
And the villains really looked menacing
But he won a reprieve, with the Ace up his sleeve
He held Ten, Jack, Queen, Ace and the King.
This year I had been landed the Colts' Manager's job for my hockey club, in addition to the 5th XI Captain's role. Gladys found that she had a full-time job answering the 'phone to players who were not able to keep their playing commitments.
On one of the Colt's fixtures I had been taken to task by the club's trainer, Peter Hancox, a PT instructor at the City of Portsmouth Boys' School, for not selecting Tony Saddler. He claimed that Tony was of club executive material. Time was to prove Peter's predictions to be correct, indeed a number of these Colts also did likewise, in becoming club officers. I too, was a 'Colt' in the management of hockey players, and had to be prepared for criticism.
From time to time there were conflicts on Sunday mornings, when I was scheduled to be jogging and looking after the Hockey Colts at the same time. It was not surprising that occasionally Gladys would comment about what I was supposed to be doing, "Is it hockey or is it jogging?"
It was surprising, however, to be awarded a Silver Certificate Standard for finishing 29th in the veterans' class of the Sunday Times National Fun Run, Hyde Park, October 1st, 1978.
I attended bridge sessions at the various homes of those who played at either the Southsea Community Centre, Court Lane School, and Langstone Conservative Club. These were generally, Wilma Killean, who partnered me at Kingston Prison, and Jean and Les Hewitts. Les was manager of the local branch of Corralls of PD Fuels Ltd. Gladys enjoyed their company when this session took place at home and provided light refreshments.
Another bridge school, that generally included George and Byrle Melling Conservative Club took place aboard the Portsmouth and Cherbourg ferry. These were to be known as the '£5 day booze trips' for they seemed to attract the whole of the publicans in the South of England. Gladys, who kept us company on these outings, on one day trip wore a fur hat that drew the attention of a group of drinkers. They were singing, "Where did you get that hat?" Before we knew what was happening, while playing cards, she had joined them in their frolics. No one present, other than myself, could realise the benefit she would gain by letting her hair down and forgetting her domestic cares.
These trips, where most of the passengers were there to drink duty-free alcohol, got out of hand and the police were called in to arrest the trouble makers on arrival back at Portsmouth Harbour.
Both my Auntie Lou, now nearing 90, and my sister, Edith, stayed with us at separate times, as did Edna, Gladys' sister with her husband, Tony and their son, Bryan, a school-boy. For all our visitors, we had a standard tour embracing Victory, Nelson's ship, the Submarine Museum, Gosport and the Marine Museum, Eastney seafront. This was the first year for a considerable time that we could make any kind of visiting arrangement with any degree of confidence.
In early Autumn we took Harry to Inverness with Saga, who agreed we could take him along, although there was no official ruling that we could do this, as these holidays were for the over-60's. This visit to Scotland was a great success. At the hotel where we stayed, the haggis was ceremoniously piped in on a silver plate at the start of the evening meal, by the natives in their kilts. There is something about the sound of bagpipes that gets the Scotsman's adrenaline going, whilst having the opposite effect with other tribes, such as the Sassenachs.
During the war, at York, in tents, we had a Scots officer, Burt Steel, who each evening, played his bagpipes alone on the parade square. What was said about him in their tents could have had each soldier court-martialed.
Seated at our table were two elderly ladies who made quite a fuss of Harry. They realised there was something a bit odd for Harry to be seated with the oldies, but they took a liking to him. This, of course, was a great relief to Gladys and gave her a chance to relax. The fact that Harry came into our bedroom each night, complaining that he could not sleep, was a relative worry. He located a doctor while at Inverness, and obtained Valium, from which he was able to obtain some sleep.
Shortly after our return to Bedhampton on the 24th November, Harry said he would not be coming home that weekend and asked for £6. This was Friday night, when his mother was cleaning his room out at The Retreat. On Sunday, we received a 'phone call to say he had no money he was coming home, and that his TV needed repairing. He had now returned to his normal pattern of behaviour, being unsettled and us not knowing whether he was at The Retreat or at home. When at home, he went around in his pyjamas. He had obtained a picture of Marilyn Monroe and fixed it in a position on the wall, so that she did not face him in his bedroom.
We were told that Portsmouth City Council had found a room in tall block of flats. He continued to be up and down during the night, making cups of tea and having a bath before I came down to breakfast.
On 23rd December, Harry arrived to spend Christmas week at home. Andrew and Linda took him to a carol service at Cowplain Community Centre, but left before the carols had finished. He said his voice was dry, through the Derisical injections that he had been having at St James' Hospital. Andrew brought him home. On Christmas Eve, he spent most of the day in his pyjamas. His luggage, placed on his wardrobe, fell off onto his mother's head, breaking her glasses and bruising her face.
We learned that Portsmouth City Council had turned down the flat that Harry had been promised. He was taken back to The Retreat on 27th December, when there was a scene regarding his demand for money after his allowance had been spent. Not unusual, of course, and resembling a bartering scene in an Arabian market.
There was something pleasant about knowing that the time was fast approaching to hang up my boots, which would take place, at the latest, on reaching 65 next year - provided I made the finishing post.
I was still over-committed in my hockey club roles, ie, Colts manager, 5th XI Captain, club committee member, and Portsmouth Sports Council representative for hockey. My Sunday jogging before the Colts matches in the mornings was still not popular with Gladys. This was especially true when she received late cancellations from the Colts, while I was out jogging. I was honoured by my club by being presented with their Clubman Cup for 1979, but this did not cut much ice with Gladys. It would have been much more tactful if it had been presented to her for acting as my secretary.
It was obvious that my achievement at the Sunday Times Fun Run at Hyde Park would not equal the previous year's level, for I was aware that I had overstretched myself. However, I did finish the veterans' course and did receive the Bronze Certificate.
In the Drawing Office Annual Bowling Competition, I was successful in winning the Lambert Cup for 1979. Not bad for being a non-serious bowls player, for I still treated this as an old man's game. I surprised many of the office's well- established players who played for the Civil Service Club, Copnor.
Harry was still based at The Retreat, with myself ensuring that his fortnightly payments were made to the Arab landlord. His unpredictable movements continued, but he was still being visited by Mr Webb, Welfare Officer of St James'. He obtained a temporary gardening job for Harry at the hospital, but this only lasted a week.
In June we rented a woodland cottage at Bettws-y-Coed from the Forestry Commission, and took Harry with us. This turned out to be ideal, for there were no neighbours to concern Harry, only nature with the woods, animals and birds to keep us company.
This proved a useful centre from which to visit the Snowdonia area, which Sam and I had conquered in our early teens. I had an Allegro although originally white, it had so much rust on it that it was difficult to know its colour. It was fast approaching 150,000 miles on the clock and was still in good order mechanically.
On our return, after all having charged our human batteries, we felt more confident to face whatever fate had in store for us.
One Friday night in early Spring, Harry failed to turn up for the weekend. He arrived home the following day, as I was leaving for a bowls match in the afternoon. Standing at the front garden gate was a young lady with an anxious look, as Harry approached me. He wanted to know if his mother would be kind to Joan. I put his mind to rest by inviting Joan into the house to see Gladys.
A lot passed through my head as I played bowls at the Civil Service club, Copnor. Harry had not had any serious relationship with any female, to my knowledge. On my return, I found that Gladys had taken a liking to Joan and had treated her as if she were a daughter. Joan had fair hair, a pale complexion, a thinnish face. With her pointed nose and chin, she could suitably have worn a Welsh costume.
Harry had met her at St James', where she was receiving shock treatment, following her discovery of her husband dead in bed. He had committed suicide by stabbing himself with a pair of scissors. She seemed to understand Harry, and just laughed when he did or said odd things, such as turning the family photographs round the wrong way whenever they were displayed.
Joan Powell mentioned to Gladys that her sister, Margaret and mother would like to take Harry to church the next Sunday morning. This was arranged, but after he arrived at their house, he said he felt 'queer' and laid on the sofa for the rest of the morning. They were becoming Harry's and our Good Samaritan.
We were able to spend four days in the Lake District, taking my sister Edie with us, being a grocer's wife, she seldom had a holiday. Joan assured us that they would keep an eye on Harry. They had been leaning on him to get a job!
During July the Powell family went on holiday to Jersey with instructions to bring back duty free cigarettes for Harry. During their stay, we rented a cottage at Dunster, Somerset. We were close to the church where I gave Sam's daughter, Barbara away, after he had left his nest, to live with a lady Lecturer, leaving Ella and his daughters.
This very old picturesque village, with its castle, provided plenty of opportunities for the three of us to get lost in the surrounding woods and meadows. We noticed that Harry bought a souvenir at the first opportunity, for Joan. Barbara's father-in-law was the publican of the Forester's Arms, located close to the Packhorse Bridge in the village, providing us with a convenient meeting place for our families to get together - for Harry, an excellent drinking venue. Our return home witnessed Harry buying flowers to take to Joan with his souvenir.
Joan had a part-time domestic job at an old peoples' home. She was aware of Harry's behavioural pattern and made it clear that should he harm her in any way, she would leave him. Their relationship continued for the whole of this year, and we were able to plan Christmas at the farm in Devon, leaving Harry in the care of the Powell family.
Traditionally, the Director's wife was automatically the President of the Autumn Fayre charity fund-raising body. This year, this honorary position was bestowed on Mrs K Slater, whose husband had recently become our new Director. It was his role to hand over to his wife a committee, with a chairman, to organise this event. It was also the year for my specialisation, PTO, to have a member to take over the Chairman's post.
Whilst chatting with my administrative staff, Freddie Bulstrode and Daphne Dickenson, we were congratulating ourselves for completing the 1979 Annual Report on schedule, when an envoy from the Director entered the office and asked to speak to me in private. He wanted to know, would I take on the Chairman's post for the forthcoming Autumn Fayre? Alas, I was not in a position domestically to take on additional responsibilities and so I had to decline this invitation. Within a few days of this request, I learned that two members of my grade in the Workshop Management were prepared to take on this voluntary work.
On the 12th June, I was requested to attend an inaugural meeting of the 1979 Autumn Fayre Committee in the Director's office. Several others, who had received this message were waiting in the Director's secretary's office as I arrived. The Director appeared and invited us into his office, and referred to us as all volunteers. I responded by stating that I had not volunteered, but if he was assuming an army use of this term, 'you, you and you', I would agree.
We were asked to sit down at his conference table and elect a chairman. Looking in the direction of the two who had already been primed for the post, I was relieved when they answered the call. Now being let off the hook, I did not feel inhibited in making suggestions for including new events. Two of these that were adopted included a pipe band and a mass balloon race.
There was already a Scottish dancing section at ASWE which put on a display for the public at the Fayre, so a Scottish band added to the Highland theme. My contact for the pipe band was Johnny Haynes, who was a draughtsman at ARL, Teddington.
Although the afternoon was very windy, on top of Portsdown Hill, where ASWE was sited, there were plenty of sheltered positions in between the many rows of laboratory buildings. Johnny was a piper in this band, and delighted in giving me a solo item on his bagpipes. Fate ordained him to be a caretaker at ARL before it was closed down, when the whole of Admiralty research became privatised during the 1990's.
When my XMS Section learned that I had committed their office to organise a mass balloon race, the staff had very mixed feelings. A colleague was heard in the office to say that I wanted to be Lord Mayor of Portsmouth. Apart from that comment, the staff used all their contacts and resources to make this event a success.
The XMS.1 office was strategically placed, having daily contact with all offices monitoring work effort, both industrial and non-industrial However, there were several hurdles to be overcome, which had to be resolved. How do you restrain several hundred balloons, once blown up? I tested the designers and got some crazy ideas, such as using masses of bed spreads tied together. It was on my way to ACO, Slough, that the idea of using goalpost nets came to mind.
On my return to ASWE, I checked with the Sports Section Chairman, who was only too glad to show me the dilapidated state that both the goalposts and nets were in. The posts were rotted away at the base and angle iron stakes had to be used to support the posts upright. String was used to hold the nets together.
I then, immediately, addressed my immediate boss, David Jarman, and told him that he should order new posts and nets if he wanted his section to make a success of this event. This was done, and now not only was the Fayre to benefit from this action, but also the Sports Section.
The Workshop apprentices prepared the staging of the goalposts and nets, with provision for releasing the balloons. This facet of the race seemed settled until the nets arrived. They were made of nylon and all the ends of the strands were needle sharp. There were no alternatives open. It meant that everyone concerned with this event would have to pray for a calm day.
One of my bridge card players was Les Hewitt, Manager of Corralls Fuel Ltd. I succeeded in getting him to persuade his company to sponsor this event to the extent of £100. All seemed fine, with sales of balloon tickets reaching 1500, until a member of the naval staff asked if I had clearance from the local Southampton Airport. I told him that these were only toy balloons. He left the office with a smile. I now had a nasty feeling in my stomach, I could not after all see myself making Lord Mayor of Portsmouth!
Without further delay, I 'phoned the Airport Manager and succeeded in speaking to him personally. After that conversation I felt sick, he had demanded an insurance cover of £5,000,000 and should this not be done, he would take out a writ against the event taking place. In these circumstances, you are on your own to sort out the dilemma.
Soon after this bombshell, I 'phoned the Civil Aviation Authority and asked them on the ruling for the release of toy balloons. There were no objections to them being released in large numbers, provided that they were released in batches of 100 every 5 minutes.
I informed the Chairman of the Fayre Committee of the conversation with Somers, the Airport Manager, he said he would discuss the matter with Ken Slater. The following morning, seated at my desk was Roger Smith, our computer programmer. As I sat down opposite Roger, he pushed a letter over to me from Somers. I felt again a very lonely man with Roger carrying a smirky grin across his face. I finally had instructions to ignore the letter, but to ensure that we observed CAA regulations. This meant that the cage holding the balloons had to be modified to prevent the balloons being released en masse.
Our total of balloon tickets sold had reached 1600, and we were well covered with volunteers to blow up the balloons, which included staff at all levels, including departmental heads.
A few days before the count-down day, Saturday, I was asked to go to the Deputy's office, Peter Grapham. He told me he was acting for the Director, who had gone to America on business. He had in his hand, the letter from Somers, demanding the £5,000,000 insurance cover for any damage that his planes may receive as a result of these balloons being released. I told him that Ken Slater gave me permission to ignore it, otherwise all efforts would have been spent on paying for insurance cover. However, he insisted, as he was in charge, that the event must be covered.
There followed a slanging match between us. I told him that I did not volunteer for the Autumn Fayre Committee. He then retorted that he, too, had not volunteered to stand in for the Director. Reluctantly, I told him that I would get in touch with Somers, to see if he had changed his thoughts. Again, I was fortunate to speak to him direct on the 'phone. I referred to our balloon race, and when asked for the indemnity amount, he quoted £500,000.
I returned to Peter Grapham's office and gave him the latest cover figure. I had only to pay a fraction of the original insurance cover fee, which I tried to recover from the Establishment without success.
During this period of uncertainty, XMS1 office was like a morgue, for fear that all their efforts would have been in vain, should it be a non-starter. Peter Grapham was satisfied with the action I had taken to obtain cover for the balloon race and gave the green light to go ahead with this event.
All those involved with this venture prayed hard for a calm day on Saturday, knowing that the balloons, caged in the nylon nets, could burst if pressed against the nets' sharp strand ends.
Unfortunately, all our Guardian Angels had deserted us, for on the Fayre day, there were strong south-westerly winds. A relay team had to be used to obtain balloons from Portsmouth to replace those that became casualties in the net through their encapsulation before release. The team engaged in their inflation were unable to have a lunch break. A team member visited me the following Monday morning and told me never to ask him to do this inflation task again, and seemed to avoid me whenever our paths met.
The mass balloon race was preceded by the director's wife, Mrs K Slater, cutting a chord to release an inflated meteorological balloon, to signal the start of the opening of the Fayre. To everyone's amusement, the force of the wind blew the balloon into the entrance of the canteen building.
To release the balloons through the hatch opening, the undignified use of a broom had to be employed, such was the horizontal force of the wind. Once the balloons had been freed, many did not make the sky and lay scattered over the fields of Southwick.
For several months after the balloon race, their labels were returned to ASWE. The farthest came from Lund, Sweden, and a few others had interesting letters returned with them.
Lessons were learned from this exercise, a) Make sure your Guardian Angel responds to your prayer for calm weather; b) Make sure the cage containing the balloons is not made of nylon; c) Ensure that there is no Mr Somers at a local airport.
A full account of the event and details setting out the winners and distances travelled was given in the December 1979 issue of the ASWE Bulletin.
I received a very appreciative letter from the Director, Ken Slater, after the Fayre was over as follows -
MR A C RAYMENT,
I would like to both thank you for and congratulate you on the huge success of the balloon race. It was the biggest money spinner at the Autumn Fayre, and was a great attraction to all.
I know that there were many people concerned with the whole venture and I am writing separately to some of them. I realise, however, that the load of the operation - for such it can truly be called! - fell on your shoulders, and that you had your share of problems and worries which you competently handled and resolved. I do appreciate the time and effort which you have so willingly expended, and I am delighted that the Balloon Race was such an outstanding success.
Thank you again,
K F SLATER
1979 Corralls Sponsored 1000+ Balloon Race - ASWE Bulletin Account
For many years, toy balloon races have been a popular form of fund raising activity for charities. Firms like U-NEED-US of Portsmouth and BARNUMS of Hammersmith, London, have developed logistic support for such events. The idea that a toy balloon race could be included in the 1979 ASWE Autumn Fayre was first mentioned at the initial Fayre Committee meeting. It was immediately accepted as an attractive event with the subsequent organisers having little knowledge of the problems that were to be encountered.
On making a successful approach to CORRALLS OF PD SOLID FUELS LTD, who generously promised to donate £100 towards the balloon race expenses and prize money, the project moved from a feasibility study to project definition stage. With the effort of a few dedicated staff undertaking sales promotion, procurement of balloons, gas, labels, valves and a team of helpers on the final day to inflate the balloons, a total of 1628 balloons were sold and released.
Pay disputes caused delays in obtaining posters promoting the event; these finally came to hand after 1200 balloons had been sold via the Management Services communication network. To ensure that no breakdown in air safety regulations would occur, letters giving details of the event were sent to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Southampton Airport Ltd. A reply from the Southampton Airport, demanding a £5 million insurance cover, to say the least, was a shock to the promoters of the event, particularly when such a cover could cost £300. Fortunately, the CAA provided regulations covering requirements for toy balloon races which enabled the event to be held without the need for an insurance cover for this amount.
The device for holding and releasing 1000+ balloons was bandied about among numerous designers and, many helpful suggestions were put forward, such as making use of garages with sliding doors; making use of nets secured to parapets on the roof of the Main Building. One young bright scientist offered his wife's coloured bed linen stitched together to form a parachute which would contain the 1000+ balloons when released and then fall away. The Workshop staff erection of goal posts and nets with a release and chamber and escape hatch, whilst proving partially satisfactory, could not possibly deal with the antics of the balloons whipped up by the high winds on the day, nor was there any chance of proving the device before the event, or the life of a balloon in this environment. The balloons it seemed had to be treated like wild animals and held netted to the ground. Those who were engaged in this operation worked throughout the day taming the balloons. More than 400 balloons became casualties in this struggle which entailed 2000+ balloons being inflated.
The income from this event raised £410. At the time of going to press, 263 labels have been returned, many being accompanied by letters. The flight path of the balloons covered Guildford, Leatherhead, North London, Chelmsford, Ipswich, North Sea, Denmark and Sweden. One arrived at Banbury Station and it is felt that this balloon had a train ride.
Staff throughout the establishment eagerly awaited the regular print-out of the Balloon Race results, provided by the Management Services Division who were responsible for organising the Corralls sponsored balloon race.
This event brought people together who would not normally meet and the challenges it presented, which were resolved, brought immense satisfaction to most of those involved. All members of staff, and especially those who worked so hard in supporting the Autumn Fayre, will be delighted to hear that we were able to send cheques for the amounts below as a result of the outstanding success of the Fayre:-
Civil Service Benevolent Fund: £640
King George's Fund for Sailors: £640
You will all be aware that the Balloon Race was the biggest money-spinner, and it raised the amazing amount of £410. The balloons travelled far and wide, and an up to date SITREP of those which travelled the furthest as at 16 November 1979 is:
Number Miles Ticket Holder Found
456 675 J R Chaddock Lund, Sweden
513 664 P Strugnell Hornbaek, Denmark
377 660 Mrs Collingwood Kobenhagen, Denmark
1353 624 Mr K F Slater Sejero, Denmark
4 624 Mrs D D Dickenson Sejero, Denmark
767 612 E Lawrence Binderup, Denmark
715 605 D G Ballard Bogense, Denmark
362 605 Colleen Carter Bogense, Denmark
514 592 D H Francis Gyllingnas, Denmark
The firm of Corralls (PD Fuels) very kindly sponsored this event, and Mr L G Hewitt, the Managing Director, has agreed to come to ASWE to make the formal presentation of the prize to the winner. This will take place in Conference Rooms 2 and 4 at 1215 on 3 December.
Please note that next year the ASWE Autumn Fayre will be held on Saturday, 27 September 1980, and the Autumn Fayre Committee has made a firm booking (via the Naval Staff at ASWE) for the Royal Marine Band to appear. There will also be another Marathon Balloon Race. Be sure to make a note of this important date now.
A selection of letters and cards returned:
9 October, 1979
I enclose the card which I found in my garden last Sunday (7th) which had the still slightly inflated balloon attached. There is a strange coincidence about this as last year, when pruning the roses round my porch I also found one. This one had come from Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire with the also strange coincidence that it had come from a firm with which my late sister had been employed.
On referring to the map, Cosham is near enough in direct line with Hoddesdon and Greenstead Green (two miles south of Halstead) and this second one was only 30 yd from where I found the first one. I cannot be sure that the balloon was not there before Sunday, but I doubt it as it was bright red and this is what caught my eye.
As a point of interest, I enclose a photograph of my house and garden, taken from the air. It is an isolated house surrounded by fields. I have marked on the back where the two balloons fell.
I send this information which might be of interest as an item for a news sheet or magazine, should you have one. Since this balloon had travelled well over 100 miles I would be interested to learn when it was released.
Yours sincerely, Wendy Wilson (Mrs)
ASWE Autumn Fayre Committee
Admiralty Surface Weapons Establishment
Date: 20 September 1979
The card was found at sea, at 10o 22' East, 55o 41' North from Ębelo, fyn, Denmark.
Finders name: Jorgen B Screiber
DK 8700 Horsens
Card No. 83 enclosed. with kindly regards
Jorgen B Schreiber
ingenior, M af I From: J W Murrant
Chairman, ASWE Autumn
To: Mr J W Somers
Southampton Airport 6 September 1979
TOY BALLOON RACE-ASWE AUTUMN FAYRE-8 SEPTEMBER 1979
With reference to the above event a copy of our letter to the Civilian Aviation Authority, dated 22 August, was forwarded to you confirming that this event will be operated in accordance with CAA's requirements set out in their letter reference 104/9/04 dated 7 August 1979.
Enclosed is a copy of a £500,000 Insurance Cover, policy number TM 1819026 with endorsement to indemnify Southampton Airport Ltd with regards to any claims arising from this event as requested in your telephone conversation with Mr A Rayment XMS1.3 on 17 August.
A C Rayment
XMS1 PROJECT DEFINITION FOR THE BALLOON RACE
TITLE: ASWE AUTUMN FAYRE 1979 - BALLOON RACE
a. To provide a spectacular starting event to open the Fayre with a view to achieving full attendance at the start of the Fayre.
b. To raise funds for the Fayre.
a. The location of ASWE on top of Portsdown Hill provides an ideal setting for the release of balloons which when released will be free from obstruction and clearly visible to those attending the Fayre.
b. This event will enable Mrs K Slater to clearly signal the opening of the Fayre.
c. The Autumn Fayre 1979 Committee seek the promotion of this event and welcome the intent that XMS1 will be prepared to organise the balloon race.
d. The Project will go into Project Definition immediately the feasibility study has proved the project practical and profitable based on the following assumption:
A sale of 1000 balloons could be expected with a charge of 25p per registered label and a prize of £25 awarded to the sponsor of a label received from the furthest distance. The prize to be included by £25 for each additional 1000 balloons sold, ie 2000 sold - prize £50.
e. The competition will be open to all staff at ASWE and outstations including ACO.
The FR exercise for 1979 includes an XMS1 approved bid of .ISSP for the 1979 Balloon Race Project. This effort will be required to be agreed over the following activities:
Marketing Manager - Publicity and Sales
Treasurer - money and register
Production Manager - XSW/XAM to be approached by XAL
Volunteers will be required to support the main activities before and on the day of the event.
Publicity details required for call up notice being prepared by Fayre secretary Easter week.
SOUTHAMPTON AIRPORT LTD
H Price Esq
JNS/KF/SAL 3rd August 1979
We have today received your copy letter dated August 1979 which you have sent to the CAA.
The Duty Officer you referred to in your letter to the CAA was our Mr M C Buckby, SATCO, and he did not inform you that he had no objection to the balloon race.
He informed you the location from which you suggest that you will disperse the balloons is out of our control area.
We consider that the large number of balloons which you wish to disperse could be a serious hazard to aircraft operating from Southampton Eastleigh Airport if the wind is in a direction which causes movement to the balloons towards Southampton Eastleigh Airport. We regret you must accept responsibility and indemnify us against any claim by any third party as a result of your operation.
We wish to confirm that you will provide us with a copy of an insurance cover for your balloon race for a minimum of £5 million in any one accident in connection with aircraft operating at Southampton Eastleigh Airport.
A copy of this letter is being sent to the CAA.
SOUTHAMPTON AIRPORT LTD
CIVIL AVIATION AUTHORITY
General Aviation Branch 1
Room 621, Aviation House
129 Kingsway, London WC2B 6NN
Mr H Price
Chairman, ASWE Autumn Fair Committee
ASWE Portsdown 7th August 1979
TOY BALLOON EVENT
With reference to your enquiry with regard to the toy balloon event to be held on 8th September 1979 at the ASWE Autumn Fair, Portsdown.
This should be organised so that you comply with Article 45 of the Air Navigation Order 1976, as amended, which states "A person shall not wilfully or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property."
With this requirement in mind, I suggest you arrange that either:
a) not more than one hundred balloons are released in one bunch with at least 5 minutes interval between bunches of 100 balloons; or
b) the balloons are released singly or in small bunches so that not more than 100 are released in any period of five minutes; and
c) the balloons do not exceed 12 inches in diameter when inflated.
You should also ensure that you have permission for holding the toy balloon event from the landowner or relevant authority in charge of the site. Where the event may effect road traffic or crowd control you should also seek the views of the local police.
for Civil Aviation Authority
Gladys had blossomed of late, thanks to some of Harry's load being taken on by Joan and family, and with the knowledge that he had someone else to care for him. It was with this relaxed state of mind that she spent more time socialising.
On Tuesdays, on my way to Emsworth to play bridge in the evenings, I took Gladys to the Langstone Conservative Club to play whist and picked her up on my way home. The whist players, many of whom were committee members continued to smoke in spite of Gladys' brave action in putting a suggestion to the Club that smoking should be banned while playing cards. Gladys was popular with my office colleagues and would always attend a get-together occasion such as a Christmas dinner at 'L'escargot' restaurant, Southsea.
At the Autumn Fayre, she spent some time talking to Mrs Slater. With regards to Harry's anti-social behaviour, she had, I believed, accepted that we may have to learn to live with it for all time. He was staying at home more because all tenants at The Retreat had been served with a notice to leave the premises. The owners had been charged for not meeting the statutory requirements for boarding accommodation. Joan found Harry bed and breakfast board at the Keswick Hotel, Granada Road, Southsea.
The owner of this bed and breakfast residence specialised in dividing rooms with partitions and filling the sparsely furnished cells with homeless families. He found a ready harvest by claiming accommodation allowances direct from the DHSS department.
Each time Gladys cleaned his room out and heard the noise from adjacent tenants she would declare on her return home that Harry would not stay long there. The most important factor about this place was that he was in Dr Bayle's catchment area of St James'. Harry was receiving regular Modicate injections there.
On the 21st December, whilst I was taking part in ACO Christmas celebrations, a doctor from Haslar Hospital called to see Harry. He lived at Cosham and worked at this naval establishment. This visit proved very useful, for he confirmed there was a need for day attendance allowance. This enabled me to ensure that I could afford to keep his weekly rent money being paid to whoever might be his landlord at the time.
Joan and family agreed to have Harry for meals over the Christmas period, while we stayed at the farm in Devon with Andrew, Linda, Joy and Peter. I was very popular with the Lerwells for I always did the washing up. It was refreshing to wander on my own round the lanes, with only the sheep to keep me company. Very occasionally, Joan Lerwell would take us on a drive through the narrow local lanes at speed, and not seem to care what was around the bend. It surprised me that she had survived so long without a serious accident. Each time we had been out with her, it was as if we had died a thousand times. When I drew Joan's attention to the fact that it was dangerous driving, she just laughed and said that they all drove in this way. I suppose, if they are still alive, it is difficult to argue against their love for what I would regard as suicidal driving.
We took a few gifts back with us, for Joan and family, including a farm chicken, Christmas pudding and cakes. Harry stayed at the Keswick Hotel, and visited Joan daily. He used a taxi to return to his digs on Christmas Eve. Joan's mother smiled when she told us that he actually helped to wash up on a number of occasions.
Once back from the farm, Harry returned home at the weekend and complained about the 'Thing' at the Keswick, and that they were all drug addicts there. On Saturday evening he came downstairs and switched off the TV and radio. I told him to stop turning off the programmes we were listening to or watching. He then switched on his record player to listen to a Rod Stewart LP record. He laid on the floor in front of the gas fire. He kept quiet for around a quarter of an hour, chain smoking and looking up at the ceiling. After he had played both sides of the record, he waved his arms about and gave a long outburst. "None of them are any good! Dr. Ryle (Teddington) was the worst of the lot and the Jew doctor (Abramczuk) nearly had me in Rampton - told me to get undressed and told me I had a big bottom - now fight me! They call me a dog down the road (Belmont Pub) and what did the woman behind the bar say to me? 'Where is your handbag, dear?' They have all been against me in Havant. I got the sack at the cabinet makers for talking - Stewart was no good to me. Said I had never done a day's work - he knew no one would give me a job and holds his prick and throws turds at me! I have been insulted in my own home!"
Gladys sat and said nothing and then went into the kitchen, where she told me to tell him we have heard it all before. "Everyone else is wrong except him." She said that he was driving her into her grave. He had a long period of this anti- social behaviour, lasting several months, him spending most of his time at home, although he was still a resident of the Keswick Hotel.
During May, Harry told us that Joan had sacked him because he did not like her friend, Nicolette. He had also walked out twice at a concert they attended at the Guildhall, Portsmouth. This was a double blow for Gladys and I, as she and her family had shared the caring of Harry.
I had submitted a date when I wished to retire, to my top boss of XMS, Ken Watts. This date had to be carefully chosen, to enable me to have the best pension for the relatively short civil service career. I had to be grateful to my allotment companion at Hampton Wick, who told me to claim my war service for pension before a closing date. The war service period counted as half, if not full civil service, before the war. With war service, my pensionable years amounted to 33, and when divided by 80 gave me almost 40% of my final salary for my pension.
I was much aggrieved when Ken Watts passed my retirement note without making personal contact with me.
I was delighted to learn that Ken Warrington of ACO, Slough, of my grade, had been designated as my successor. He, like me, would be launched into compiling the ASWE Annual Report for his first project. He was fortunate to have the Modus Operandi established to a standard format and understood by his administrative staff - Freddie and Daphne. This appointment was excellent, for it continued to forge goodwill between the main and outer establishments. Dr Alan Lee had already been transferred from ACO to ASWE and was providing support to the Director at the planning stage of new projects.
David Jarman, Head of XMS1, called me into his office after I had sent him an invitation to my retirement party at the Langstone Conservative Club, Havant. The Head of Personnel had confirmed that the date of 24th March 1980 was acceptable.
David asked me if Ken Watts had been invited to my party. I had to tell him that he had not. David, a very sincere person, felt that I should, to maintain goodwill between his office and Ken. I gave David the reason for not doing so, but in view of his remarks I would invite him. What I was not aware of at the time, a skittle evening had been planned in the office, where Ken Watts would attend this farewell occasion. This was to take place at the Civil Service Club, Copnor Road, prior to my retirement.
The week preceding my retirement I was involved with farewell events each day of the week. This included ACO, Slough, at home for the office staff, and associated invitations. It was as if I had been put on a magic carpet and taken on a pleasant journey and out into the unknown. Along that journey, a surprise was waiting for me and Gladys.
An evening had been planned at the Cosham Conservative Club, where Daphne and her husband, Dickie, were members. George Taylor and Joan, his wife, picked us up at home to take us to our rendezvous at Cosham. George drew my attention to the fact that he was going to meet a navy man first at the Civil Service Club, while he was on shore leave. This did not ring true, and it was a further surprise to find Roger Smith of XMS.1 standing at the Sports Club door on our arrival. I asked him what he was doing here tonight. He did a smirky grin, as he had done when he had pushed Somer's letter over to me - He said this was the night that he had a skittle evening each week. "Come with me and I will show you who also attends." As I played bowls at the club I was familiar with the skittle alley facilities, having its own bar.
Roger waited until all our group arrived at the door entrance to the skittle alley and then opened it. I, at first, stood in amazement, for it was filled with office colleagues, ACO drawing office staff including Alan Green, Bill Mounts, and at the back was Ken Watts and his wife. Immediately I realised why David had leaned on me to invite him to my farewell do. I burst into laughter and those present thought I had gone hysterical. Only David could have known the reason for my laughter!
Other days in the 'skittle alley week' had a special occasion to launch me into retirement. The head of the drawing office, Roy Mackey, who replaced Stan Cadman, invited me out to lunch with a few other members of his staff. He was very keen to show me a job application form which he had filled out on my behalf for my future occupation - as Assistant to Gladys in doing all the household chores at Wigan Crescent. I am not sure how all my activities listed were to be considered appropriate for this charwoman's post, such as - swimming, jogging, cricket, hockey, bridge.
Gladys also put on a buffet at home for the office members. She was very good at making light pastry and so, again, she won complementary remarks for her apple pie and fresh cream. I was told that Gladys' cold hands were an asset in making pastry.
My retirement presentation was carried out by Tim Thomas, Deputy Director, who explained that the Director, Ken Slater, was indisposed. This took place in the Lecture Hall, giving me a reminder of my first pre-visit to ASWE, before I was posted there in late 1971.
After Tim Thomas had made his remarks and presented me with a cheque, I thanked all those who had contributed and for seeing me off today.
At ARL when Whitley secretary, it had been my role to give the build-up on those retirement occasions on the platform. This time, I was at the receiving end and felt quite nervous. In the audience were many colleagues from the administrative building and the outer complexes.
There was much shaking of hands and best wishes from those present, many of whom would be present at my farewell party. My grand retirement finale took place at the Langstone Conservative Club, Havant, during lunch time, following the ASWE presentation in the morning. It was held in the Panel Room, where the mahogany wood panels had been taken from the Stateroom, aboard the Cunard liner 'Mauritania'. It had become redundant as a consequence of air traffic taking over the passenger travel trade.
Many times, I was asked the question, "What are you going to do when you retire?" I indicated that I would do some voluntary driving for some cause. What I had had in my mind for some time since we did the booze trip to Cherbourg, was to become a part-time ambulance car driver. I had met the Chief Ambulance Officer of the Eastern Road Ambulance Depot, Portsmouth, who gave me details of where and how to apply for this voluntary work, whilst on this ferry.
When being asked this question, which was overheard by Gladys, I was soon reminded that a HOLIDAY was on top of the retirement agenda. Both Gladys and I were only too aware that with Harry's unstable state, very little could be planned until a solution had been found for his illness. Soon after dinner, most of the guests from ASWE had returned to their work, whilst I felt as if I had been cast off and left in a small boat, to drift about at the mercy of the elements.
The last to say farewell and wish me luck and happiness for both Gladys and myself, was the 'ASWE Bard', who handed me a copy of her poem, 'Son', which she had written and read out at the party. I thanked her and promised that I would keep a copy for all time. I certainly would have Freddie Bulstrode's 'Son' poem with me should I ever be on a castaway boat! Here is her eulogy:-
This tale begins with history
When Alan joined the MOD
'Twas the 10th of October '49
Surely a day for the sun to shine!
Recruited as a draughtsman, he
Was officially labelled "A & E"
And sent to the place called ARL
Would he be happy? Who could tell?
But although he disliked the uprooting a little
He soon settled in to become Servant - Civil.
In '52 he became a "Lead"
And 5 years later the Board decreed
A Senior he was fit to be
Not bad Son! for ex-Army!
At ARL he was called a stalwart
As on the cricket field he fought
Many a battle to win the day
And carry the Stanton Trophy away.
On the 4th of October '71
Promotion again - to PTO1!
This time to ASWE he was sent on
'Twas a great wrench to leave Teddington.
But he accepted the move with his usual good grace
And soon we at Portsdown got used to his face!
He found a nice house not too far from ASWE
Wigan Crescent, Bedhampton, PO9 3PP.
Now he's well known at ASWE as Deputy DOM
A job he has always seen through with aplomb.
But he when he was transferred to XMS1
The scientists outnumbered him 4 to 1!
and many a time with his back to the wall
He's stood and defended the PTO's all.
His duties at Slough he never did shirk
We called his trips "Jolly's" but he called them work1
Still we know that his children at old ACO
Are all very sorry that he has to go.
His sporting activities win him acclaim
From all those who know that he will 'play the game'
Football he loved, but we also can tell
Of his prowess at Hockey and Jogging as well!
He takes part each year in the National Fun Run
And him graded Re-employed Pensioner - Code 1!
He's Manager now of the Colts Hockey team
But the phone calls on fixtures - they make Gladys scream!
For when queries arise our Alan's away
She's scribbling down messages all through the day!
The end of this poem is coming quite soon
But - dare we say it - or whisper - Balloon!
the word is synonymous with ACR's name
For it was his baby - though only a game.
His organisation was thorough and fine
The race was 'Top of the Pops' '79.
And 'Top of the Pops' again this year 'twill be
If we can find someone like Rayment, AC.
And now to the last of these verses I've come
My small contribution to one called just 'Son'.
He's been a good colleague, good friend and no less
We all wish him Good Health, Good Luck and God Bless.
And if on a Friday he wants to be fed
He can join us for a pint and two slices of bread!
© Alan Rayment 1998
Last revised: January 14, 2001