Information Circular –
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Items listed in chronological sequence
30 March 2006 – Ruari McLean CBE, DSC 1917—2006
The Times reported today the death of Ruari McLean on 27 March 2006. In 1966 Ruari succeeded Sir Francis Meynell as HMSO’s second Honorary Typographic Advisor and served for fourteen years until 1980 before handing over to Matthew Carter. His obituary can be seen at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-2109849,00.html
25 March 2006 - From Richard Nelson
Hello Reg, As I had elected to stay on with TSO after the HMSO privatisation I decided it was better that I should be an observer rather than a participant as far as the Oldies site was concerned. However, at Christmas 2005 I accepted voluntary redundancy and got an 8-month reduction in my sentence — as things stood, I should have continued into August 2006. So now, free of that burden, I feel able to participate in the fun and nostalgia of the HMSOldies web site.
I saw many design colleagues from the HMSO days at my retirement send-off and have attached a couple of pictures taken by John Hughes. In the main picture you can see Nodge Carnegie, Dennis Greeno and Jennifer Hannaford from the old days. The good-looking young man on the right (not the one standing, that's me) sitting with pint in hand is Stephen Berwick, son of David Berwick PP. David is the one with his back to the camera. Bill Ditchfield, a very capable designer with serious amounts of hair, is the new GD Manager — see if you can pick him out.
As you had a Trafalgar anniversary item, I thought you might like a shot of the horrific Anglia Square Nelson's Column. Four sewage pipes were surmounted by a wooden palate on which stood a female manikin dressed as Horatio but with the arm of the tunic stuffed down the trousers. It had to be a joke, or else the manager is a Frenchman? Best wishes, Richard Nelson, HMSO and TSO 1978–2005
20 March 2006 – From John Aldersley
Reg. I can just imagine the scene and it is so typical of the larrikin that lurks below the surface of my dad. It was an interesting observation that everyone called my dad Arthur, whereas more formal address was used with others. I noticed that in Basildon too. I put it down to the fact that he ran up and down stairs and worked in an informal way with people.
Another story my dad once related. He was in a stuffy HMSO meeting with the Dept of Agriculture and the subject was on a paper about Artificial Insemination of Bulls that the HMSO were to print. The dour bureaucrat explained what was needed and then reached down to his briefcase and said ‘I happen to have a specimen here’ whereupon the whole room exploded in laughter. Best regards. John Aldersley
15 March 2006 – More Readers Write
And there’s more. John Hopping is still agonising over a couple of names in the ‘Ian McCall: Don’t picket or it’ll never get better’ photograph (keep up please); Ivor Hosgood has been embarrasingly effusive in his praise (and the music lovers among you, especially in Norfolk, are urged to visit his website www.norfolk-youth-music-trust.org.uk). Marian Fox has found out where we are. Geoff Nelson almost wishes he had a computer so that he could read all this. Peter Macdonald almost wishes he didn’t have a computer so he could avoid us. Then a most welcome, and comprehensive, response from Vic Kefford as follows:
‘Congratulations on your first year. I think the layout and presentation is pretty faultless. Although I was only in HMSO for six years, in London and Norwich, it is interesting to remember the ‘old times’ — a trait that
evolves as you get older and a bit more doddery. Looking through the site, the names and places ‘trigger’ memories and events that happened and then come to the surface. Although I don’t think I can improve the site overall could I put forward a couple of suggestions:
(a) In my time certainly the SO Review magazine was a regular ‘deposit’
on my desk. Would it be helpful/useful/interesting to have a section on
the web page solely to reproducing articles from the Review magazine?
This is of course contingent on (1) having access to a master and complete set to hand and (2) and identifying which articles have the necessary appeal to web site readers. Humour, I think would appeal; major changes to HMSO; personal anecdotes etc.
(b) Identify periods of time (within living memory of course) within a further web category which would hopefully prompt ‘readers’ to record their time at HMSO in the relevant time span. Something on the lines of: 1966 to 1972: Where Were You and What Were You Doing? (dangerous one this-Christmas party anecdotes under plain cover please) One would have to decide the ‘date’ grouping to elicit good responses.
There you go — a couple of ideas. As regards my special prize, a complete set of SO Review magazine for the period January 1966 to December 1972. Seriously — do keep up the good work and I am formulating a further article for (hopefully) further inclusion. Very best regards. Vic’
14 March 2006 – From Marian Fox
Hello Reg, I wonder if you remember me? On joining HMSO in 1967 my name was Marian Lunn. I came from DHSS on a ‘head to head’ transfer to work in HMSO Finance Division, Palace of Industry, Olympic Way, Wembley. My husband, Eric, also worked there with Glynis Dole. Her husband, Chris joined later. Others I remember were Eddie Perry, Frank Lynch, John Crowley, Geoff Pye, Fred Sternham, Robin Nash and many others who did not want to transfer to Norwich.
I had occasionally to visit Cornwall House and Atlantic House to help with wages. On our first day in Sovereign House everyone was running around ‘mopping up’ as the building leaked! I was still in Finance, and worked with Jean Rose (I still keep in contact with her), Ron Mildon, John Slaughter, Vee Dungate, and Corinne Barker. After the death of Eric in October 1972 I was sent to Establishments — I was in Welfare with Ruth Vivian, John Jones (CWO) and Mary Skone (I keep in touch with her too) We then changed name to Personnel and I worked with Edgar Franklyn, Robin Nash (again) John Eason, Vic Catherall (sadly he died suddenly), Rod Durkin, Ted Geeves (he also died suddenly), Rosemary Lynch, Harvey Gooljar, Alan Marrs, and Beryl Randall.
In 1988 I transferred to Publications, St Crispins, and met up with Angela Brandish (still a great friend of mine), Alison Chalcroft, Jack Daniels, Geoff Woods, Ivor Annetts, and many in Graphic Design. I retired in November 1995 after 33 years in the Civil Service. I have many hobbies now, including tracing family history, painting in water colours and oils (which I prefer) travelling all over the world especially the Far East, reading, theatre, music and of course my family. I have 4 daughters, 8 grandchildren, and 3 great grand children. I attained the age of 70 last year and visit St Crispins from time to time as one of my daughters works in St Crispins for Norwich Union. I am now Marian Fox, as I remarried in 1975. We celebrated 30 years last year!
Hello Marian, How good to hear from you. I certainly remember you. Coincidentally, I was looking through a diary for 1969 (I moved to Norwich in 1968 and lived in Burleigh Tower, Heartsease Estate) which mentioned that I had to have half-day’s leave on 1 January as I had been for ‘a few drinks’ with Tom and Mary Johnson in their flat (also Burleigh Tower). I seem to remember that you and Eric were also there. Nearly 40 years ago. Doesn't time fly? I can't believe you are 70. I am 60 this month, and my wife can’t believe I’m not 80.
And the names you mention. Haven't thought of Fred Sternham or Ron Mildon for years. The Doles are back in the Norwich area; Eddie Perry is still around, as are Frank and Rosemary Lynch (Spixworth) and Robin Nash. Not sure where the Crowleys are; (Flight Lieutenant) Geoff Pye used to live opposite my old mate Stan Adams in Drayton, and died some years ago. I saw Arthur Littlejohn in Wymondham recently. Alan Marrs is still around, as is Ruth Vivian (they were both at the 80th birthday celebration for Bill Ford, who came down from Scotland for the occasion, late 2005). Geoff Woods has been in touch. I see the Easons and Durkin frequently. Corinne is still working in the privatised Stationery Office and seems not to have aged at all from the days when she was the pin-up on the cover of SO Review. All the best to you. Reg
Readers Write (March 2006)
As a result of our request for comments on the site, we have been inundated with a letter from Mrs Lattice (must be related to Mrs Trellis of North Wales) who writes ‘Dear Mr Soldies. Please stop sending me those adverts for Viagra. I haven’t driven a car for years, and certainly don’t want one of those floppy Italian models.’
Thankfully there were other comments, from which this selection of extracts, in no particular order, gives a flavour:
John Westwood writes from Goring-on-Thames ‘May I plead for HMSOldies to arrange for one or two who are happy to wander away from Norwich’s cosy environment, to organise occasional visits to those foolish enough to live elsewhere. There could be a list of such misguided folk, so that a map would indicate their getability.’ On the theme of personal, rather than virtual, contact Judy Tassell has been in contact with Jim McGregor and they have asked whether something might be organised to mark the tenth anniversary of the privatisation of HMSO. A June event involving minimal organisation (when did we ever do more than the irreducible minimum?) is being considered. Good to hear from ‘friend of HMSO’ Ed Jukes, ex Rep Manager of PSA, who sends good wishes, as does Cecil Hughes, who adds ‘Congratulations to the team who have made the first year possible; I’ve enjoyed everything that has been published on the site. It is worthy of a birthday celebration, and my suggestion would be to choose a day for all fit members to assemble in Southwold to enjoy fellowship, Adnams beer and glorious fish and chips in the Lord Nelson.’ Man after my own heart, Cecil. Which reminds me, the ‘Barford Cod Special’ in Pete Turner’s Cock pub in the Norfolk village of Barford was excellent yesterday. Hardly had room for the pancakes afterwards, but the pints of Hingham High made it through. Digressing again.
Harry Currie has another perspective. ‘One thing that is always interesting is a photograph — particularly of how we look now. Is anyone prepared to add one to their personal history? Don’t look at me — I don’t have the scanning technology.’ (Did I hear someone say ‘typical IT Division?’). Anyway, I’m all for it. Ideally, a photo of you around about the time you joined the office (or the Services, or even school) coupled with a recent example. Then we can see what ravages HMSO made of the human body. No body-doubles please.
Pat Kennedy is, we are pleased to say, a frequent correspondent. ‘I hope to submit more contributions in the near future under the title Embarrassing Moments in the Service of the Crown. Perhaps readers may have similar experiences to relate under such a title?’ We wish Pat all the best, and his wife a speedy return to good health. One of Pat’s Staff Side contemporaries, Harry Teedon, gives me a gentle prod for disguising the names of the people involved in his ‘Gobbledegook’ letter (Oldies passim). ‘You said that you got some stick if you mentioned names. Half the fun is missing if you edit names out of contributions. A bit dull if you do not know the people involved, of course. In cases of flagrante delecti (two Latin tags in one paragraph? Who do I think I am, Brian Lee?). Sorry, back to Harry: ‘in cases of flagrante delecti discretion must rule. Well, who wants the world to know that one was caught with the trousers down? (names to Editor please). If you want to know to whom I allude it will cost you a pint or two . . .’ We’ve got our money ready, Harry. And I’ll give you one name from the Gobbledegook piece. ‘Miss September’ was really ‘Miss (Adriane) May.’ See what I did there? Can you work out the others, given this clue? Come on, Eric Bone — put the Soduko down and have a go.
Harry has a second bite at the cherry just before this article goes to press, and writes as follows: ‘My contributions to HMSOldies will not be in chronological (a big word like marmalade, as my sister used to say) order, so here goes. Yesterday I found Arthur Aldersley's telephone number on the site, and what a thrill to speak to him after 50 years. I first met Arthur on 25 January 1954 — the day on which I joined CTI at Bainbridge Street. The EO in charge of the control room was Harvey Wild, who by the way was not happy at having been transferred from Manchester at short notice at what, in the Navy which I had left but two months before, was known as a Pierhead Jump. Anyway, to get to work Arthur and I travelled on the Central Line and changed at Mile End onto the District Line. This developed into a competition as to who could leap into the train just as the doors were closing and wave the other goodbye. The score was about even, and the other game was to shout ‘Mile End’ just as the doors were closing at Bethnal Green. Again, the score was even until I claimed victory because at Mile End I crept out of the train just as the doors were closing, leaving Arthur engrossed in his paper. I tapped on the window to wave goodbye as the train took him on to Stratford. Great days. More of Bainbridge Street later. Must go — my Managing Director (Dorothy) calls.’
Phil Leach is ‘happy with the format, but would like to see more photos from years gone by, particularly of people rather than buildings. Would it be worth offering advertising space for those who left HMSO and started up in business on their own, or indeed just as a kind of swap shop?’ (Quite happy with this — no fees payable, of course. From what I know of the activities of HMSO retirees, I doubt if we will be swamped). Phil goes on to say that in his recent wanderings he has ‘seen Maria Piper, Peter Taylor (happy 80th for 13 February, Peter), Derek Newton, and Dick Smith out and about again. As the EDP reports, local resident Norman Brooks is up in arms regarding the proposed Costessey Incinerator.’
A nice long note from Dave Crump. ‘Have been thinking about dropping a note to say that Stella and I are coming up to 23 years of retirement. That last word is a laugh. I’m still hoping that I shall one day. I always thought back in the past that Civil Servants died at 64 or shortly after. Now coming up to 83 I don’t feel any different from the ‘working’ days. I belong to another veteran’s association which recalls fellowship from the 1939–1943 days in the old Central Telegraph Office where, sadly, the numbers of people whom I recollect is fast diminishing. We still see Ken and Rita Elphick on a fairly regular basis and we keep in tenuous contact with Jean Storey and, until he died some years back Vic Anderson and Vee Dungate until she too passed on a couple of years ago.’
‘As far as HMSOldies is concerned, I see little need for change. It is good to hear of one-time colleagues and their activities and recollections of earlier events through Information Circulars. Pay increases used to be good to read. One thing I do miss is the old Garden Shop with the preparation and issue of seed orders and chatting up the customers twice a week. We still garden happily, although we do employ a professional gardener to do the really hard and unwelcome jobs like leaf clearance, pruning fruit and rose trees, and anything that we would rather not do. Sometimes we wish that we didn’t have our half-acre plot, but then when we lightly think of moving, the places that we might consider have pocket-handkerchief plots that encourage us to return to ours with increased vigour. One thing which I took up some eight years ago is art, going through the watercolour phase into acrylics and very quickly into pastels. Fortunately, my work has been appreciated, with several now in the USA and many more around the country with friends and relatives, none of which attracted any cash refund but I don’t think that I ever should know whether one painting is worth 10p or even as much as £1. It is all done for enjoyment. I look forward to future issues of HMSOldies.’
And welcome mail from over the water. Barry Palmer writes from Canada: ‘Hey guys, got your message about HMSOldies first birthday and had a Margarita to celebrate (my wife thought I was spoiling her). You are certainly doing a great job. Having spent two years living in Tasburgh, eight miles south of Norwich on the A140, I do find some of the Norwich articles very interesting and especially the surrounding areas, one of my favourites being Bressingham Gardens, where they have a miniature railway which used to run alongside the lake at Danson Park in Bexleyheath, which we rode on many times as little tykes. Norwich is one of the nicest places that you could hope to live in or visit, and my wife (born in Canada) has been taken there many times with myself and a child or two or three. I did not work for HMSO in those days but for Page Brothers, on the Ring Road (a sister company to Eden Fisher, which Mike Harrington is familiar with). Anyway, keep them coming. As to what else you can do is to try to get me some information on the whereabouts of the NGA (National Graphical Association) or its successor so that I can track down some other old Comps. RR Donnelley was of no use whatsoever, refusing to give me any information. If there is anyone else in your data files I would be glad of their emails etc. to see if I can locate anyone.’ (We passed on details of the University of Warwick website, which refers to their holding the NGA archive). Also for persons like myself who have been gone from ‘the Old Sod’ for a number of years some information on the break-up of HMSO would be very interesting. Anyway, don’t try all at once — may interfere with the drinking time. All the best.’
Helen George spent some years with CCTA, then HMSO, and is now back with CCTA in its current guise — OGC (Office of Government Communications). She writes: ‘I have very fond memories of Bernard O’Brien and his St Patrick’s Day parties. Also Len Reinbach, Jack Fell and Pat Linehan.’ (Coincidentally I saw Gillian Reinbach and her mother in Norwich recently). Helen continues: ‘I used to work in CCA (before Telecommunications arrived) with Gordon Harrison, Bill Norton, Brian Clarke, Kevin White and Ian Robertson. I keep in touch with Gordon, who was 85 in February. He’s fit and well and living in Shrewsbury. Kevin is working for OGC Buying Solutions, an amalgamation of CCTA, The Buying Agency, and parts of PACE — PSA by another name. Bill suffered a bad car accident some time ago, but is now home and looking well. I also keep up with Sue Whitaker, Jane Burgis, Rita Tuttle and Janet Grimes. I have photos . . . and hope to catch up with Sherry Mitchell in July when (husband) Nigel and I go to her silver wedding anniversary in Preston.’
That’s it for now. And, oh yes, Ian Billings gets a ‘Highly Commended’ for the first reply received to our circular. And the name picked out of my Virtual Trilby for a prize is Christine Hawthorn. I await her response as to what she wants me to do for her . . .
A chance encounter with ‘lucky’ John White (Class of ’63; served as S5B under the glorious M Crawley; tunnelled to the safety of CCTA around 1970) reminded us that our Other Links are a good source of contact. And they provide some very useful — and entertaining — information. Please take a look.
Nosmo King Smoked Out
Jack Palmer (who I see will be 80 this year, and doesn’t look a day older than most Printers born in 1926) kindly passed over a set of his cartoons and drawings, mainly produced for SO Review from the 1960s onwards. One such cartoon seems particularly relevant at the moment, with the topic of the smoking ban in public houses on the nicotine-stained lips of every boozer in Britain (or is that just me?). The item in question is captioned Suggested dress for the fresh-air type in an office where the ladies like the window shut (see Picture Gallery). Ignoring for the moment the implied sexism, which would no more have occurred to anyone in those days than the thought of an office-wide smoking ban, the Heath-Robinson device depicted may well have lodged in the mind of ‘young’ Joe Bishop, who some 20 years later — when the office-wide ban indeed took place — contrived a similar contraption out of map-tubes and parcel adhesive. At the time, Joe worked on the ‘Karen’ computerised print system. A small prize for anyone — including Joe — who ever understood what it was all about. Impressed the Management Group, though.
The Eastern Daily Press published its list of the Anglia Region’s top 75 Companies on 1 March 2006. At number 23 (same position as in 2005) featured Office2Office, a manifestation of Banner Business Supplies, with a turnover of £141,769,000, 13% increase, period to 31/12/04 and overall staff of 774. The Stationery Office Holdings came in at 29 (up two from 2005) with a turnover of £79,700,000, 1% increase, period to 31/12/04 and overall staff of 639.
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