Amazons curley books

Its not just print quality, cheep, thin, low cost paper; the book covers are flimsy and curl up!

I think its the lamination that pulls the covers up. But also the cover paper is cheap and thin.

Whatever the cause, the root of it is cutting costs and accepting low quality, and that’s what you get when one organisation dominates the market.

More about it, see creatspace community – I doubt that anyone from the company cares to bother to look at complaints.

I cant understand why the books authors don’t complain.

Amazon's Curley Books

look at this one both covers front and back curled up, making it difficult to hold the book to read it; maybe its ploy by them to get people so fed up with printed books that we all move to their Kindle.



Mr Dyson’s Crap Vacs

DYSON Vacuums are Rubbish
Dyson Vacuum only fit for the rubbish bin

These vacuum cleaners are some of the most expensive available. I had two, before chucking them out with the rubbish: one for upstairs, another downstairs. After five years -they both packed in their motors together.

A new replacement motor costs about £72 plus the charges for fitting etc. For this price I can get a good alternative vacuum for a lot less. In fact with these vacs at over £200 quid each; it would be more advisable to buy a cheapo one at around fifty pounds and if it lasted a couple of years each you could buy four for the price of a rubbish Dyson and have clean floors for at least eight years!

My advice don’t ever buy a Dyson – too expensive short on life-spans, extortionately priced spares.


NOW RESOLVED but a bad experience for me for many months … here is the full story:

Don’t make the mistake of signing up with BT for any type of broadband service whether commercial or personal, once they have you in, like in the League of Gentleman’s Royston Vaysey – YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE without incurring extra hidden charges!

My own case cost me £345.85 to leave! This included a fee of £69 for debt collection, and was not an itemised bill just a bland statement for ‘early cancellation’.

I had a commercial broadband contract, which after experiencing speed and delay issues I upgraded on their recommendation. It had no impact, the service was only slightly faster and continued with dropout/disconnections. I became very disappointed with the service; it was very slow and kept dropping out multiple times a day. Complaints only resulted in them offering me  yet another ‘better service’ if I paid more, which I was not prepared to do. All their advertising tells people how great their entry level service is and even good for multiple users,  even on its entry level service: this is certainly not so in my experience, and I believe its misrepresentation.

I was disappointed and very frustrated. I could not resolve the low level of service. But the worst of it was that BT, when I phoned to complain only offered a better service for a bigger fee without any attempt at rectifying my current service. My frustration deepened. Then things took a further turn for the worst. I changed supplier and as a result BT charged me a huge amount for cancellation. I had justification to cancel and then even more issues after doing so as they also sent be a huge bill extra bill! Then they really angered me. Mainly this has been caused by BT who never responded to my multiple letters, emails and telephone calls on the matter: they just refused to speak on the subject, just sending out demand letters and bills for their exorbitant charges, and every single communication effort I made to open a dialogue, was met with no response; just another demand for payment; they just stone-walled me. This is what I found to be most awful and a total reversal of public relations and complaints procedure standards.

It all happened following a letter to me from a certain GRAHAM SUTHERLAND: CEO BT BUSINESS thanking me for being a loyal customer and fulfilling my minimum contract of 24 months with them (following several previous years of low quality services). He informed me that I had …”achieved my committed spend…” This is from a letter he sent, which I have.

This letter gave me the understanding that I had reached a point in my contract that met BT’s terms, and after several none responsive service complaints… I transferd over to TalkTalk (which resolved my technical speed/drop out issues and was far cheaper!) Then BT sent me several bills – one for £49.11 (for line rental and services in my final period – which I paid) and a further bill: £276.68  – for ‘early termination of the contract’ (confusing me, as Mr Sutherland had written to congratulate me on reaching my minimum period).

Let this be a warning to everyone out there using or thinking of using BT as a Broadband supplier for home or business usage. They don’t like you to leave and use silence as the method of dealing with complaints and when pointing out circumstances that are in real need of requiring a personnel intervention by a human being. As I suspect all of my communication difficulties are either dealt with as ‘a policy to be silent’ and result in – just pay the bill responses… or its all so mind bogglingly computerised that no BT person actually takes time or pays attention to complaints or to customer confusion; they just use a big stick….

So you can appreciate that they have really upset me. In taking out a new contract with TalkTalk –  included within that contract I was paying the BT line rental charges. Within what amounted to their ‘fine’ applied to me for leaving their atrocious entry level service, in that ‘fine’ I believe was included yet another line rental fee: therefore I am paying TWO concurrent line rental fees.

Is it correct that the only recourse to a bad service is to cancel it and then find that BT can impose a huge fee?

At least one person got BT to drop cancellation charges by threatening them with the Ombudsman; this is my own next step. And another persons experience: Moving to another supplier: BT users forum Hidden Charges for leaving.

Also I believe its outrageous for BT to charge so much to every line in the country as line rental fees; this is monopolistic and most lines were fitted long ago when BT was a public utility – The GPO. So, we the taxpayers paid for this infrastructure ages ago and BT continue charging us all monthly fees for it! I believe this should be investigated by the monopolies commission.

Sign up for a campaign to stop BT line rental charges. Letter / email the (Monopolies Commission) – now The Competition and Marketing Authority.

Sign up letter/email to complain about BT charges especially for broadband captivation enhancement with fines for leaving/changing. The Communications Ombudsman Service.


BT Complaints.

This is an ongoing complaint…. to be continued; as my complaint has now become much more serious.

I have decided to pay their ‘Debt Recovery’ bill, as an interim ‘holding strategy’ (I don’t want them issuing even more ‘ recovery fees’)  but I will take this to appeal and to the Ombudsman, so watch this space.

I will be circulating this to all my family and friends and business colleagues and also to a wider set of social media contacts.


And the best is that BT are putting up its prices – a very good time to leave, but first be wary of my treatment and check out your contract, get advice from the links above and complain, complain, COMPLAIN.


At last a response after appealing to the Managing Director of BT:

Dear Mr Phillips

Thank you for your time earlier this morning.  I am truly sorry for all the trouble you had whilst trying to get your BT broadband level of service improved and the on-going issues with the final bill.  It’s really unfortunate that we were unable to improve the broadband to an acceptable level, resulting in you taking the decision to move providers.  Due to the circumstances in this case, as a one off goodwill gesture, I am happy to waive these charges in full.

This email confirms that the debt and admin fee totalling £345.85 have been recalled back to BT and will be waived.   If you do receive any further correspondence concerning this account please forward to me by email, it may just be cross-over but I will check any for you to put your mind at rest.



Aileen Shanks
Chairman & CEO Business Complaints Specialists
0800 032 5115
Email Replies to bus.com.glasgow@bt.com

This email contains BT information, which may be privileged or confidential. It’s meant only for the individual(s) or entity named above. If you’re not the intended recipient, note that disclosing, copying, distributing or using this information is prohibited. If you’ve received this email in error, please let me know immediately on the email address above. Thank you. We monitor our email system, and may record your emails.

British Telecommunications plc
Registered office: 81 Newgate Street London EC1A 7AJ
Registered in England no: 180000

From: david.pdweb@gmail.com [mailto:david.pdweb@gmail.comOn Behalf Of David Phillips
Sent: 22 July 2015 10:09
To: Patterson,GE,Gavin,CGEM R
Subject: Last Resort

Dear Gavin

I have had a very bad experience with BT and currently having to pay a huge ‘so called cancellation fee’. I could not get any serious response to even discuss my complaints nor the charges inflicted upon me.

Its all explained in the webpage I have made about this issue:


My next steps are to the OFCOM, The Communications Ombudsman. And the Competition and Marketing Authority.


D Phillips

SO – I did not have to escalate the matter any further, but its a warning about the blind-sided nature of huge monopolistic enterprises.



John Cockcroft – HERO

Sir John Cockroft

Sir John CockroftA HERO from Todmorden.

Its now quit apparent that John Cockroft’s folly has proven to be a great insight and a strategy for all Nuclear power plants.

He insisted that the Calder Hall (Britain’s first) nuclear reactor plant at Winscale Cumbria be fitted with filters and scrubbing towers. A precautionary measure just in case of a reactor burn – out and for stopping irradiated air escaping into the atmosphere. It was called a very expensive folly at the time in the mid 1950’s. But when the core did burn out in the worlds first nuclear accident his filters saved Northern Britain and Scotland from a major catastrophe.

Radiation containment tower

Curiously the ‘powers that be’ renamed the site from Calder Hall to Sellafield and since then again to Winscale. Maybe, so that the current location is not attached in the public mind to a nuclear accident at a place called Calder Hall…


fukushima - radiation - DISASTER
No radiation containment towers


Today with the Fukushema disaster its clear to see that his wisdom, since ignored as too expensive, would have saved much of the Japanese air pollution spreading.

The UK government is today planning to build more reactors at Winscale WITHOUT John Cockcroft’s filters! You have to ask WHY?



DR J APSLEY – what to do


Google & Facebook tracking


Numnber 6

Google knows all your online activity, its clear for them to see; as when you look for items in your search; things of interest, things for sale. Google takes a special interest in the things that you search for that are products or services for sale. Google has deals with product retailers and will track your internet web navigation, your every move and place adverts on the pages you visit, for items you have previously searched for. Google is learning everything about your online activity.

This can be most annoying, especially so when you get bombarded with similar items to those that you may have already purchased – why would you be buying more? I’m sure they are working to refine this into a more ‘intelligent’ system.

They know what you do online, your interests they have a record of all of it. They sell the details to advertisers, they use it to link your internet activity with products to match your profile. They use the words (Keywords) and the short descriptive sentences you input to locate your requirements. They sell these Keywords to advertisers for placement of associated adverts relative to your search and display these prominently on the results. Advertisers bid and outbid each other to provide fees to Google for this. And there is an entire industry surrounding such activities – its called SEO (Search Engine Optimization) getting a website more prominent in Google search results: those that pay get favoured the most – do you need to ask why?

Facebook are able to utilise similar tactics and they appear to be winning in the race to be the most dominant application used on mobile devices, thus giving them greater powers of tracking everything, as everything moves to mobile.

The two organisations are in competition with each other for advertising revenue dominance.

We, as their users feed them with everything that empowers them; worse than that Facebook users spread out their entire lifetime activity for Facebook’s back office scrutiny.

Everything is known about you. It’s a dream come true for those that seek information about each and every person. And we know from the Snowden disclosures that the security services are provided (by Facebook, Google and many others) all this material for their own archive’s – on each and everyone of us!  When they could simply just profile those that are suspects. You have to ask why the need for an all inclusive surveillance?

Google (and probably Facebook) are researching Artificial Intelligence, for turning the information about you which it has learned and been provide for free by you to them, into more refined web search assistance – anticipation of your requirements a sort of digital prescient capability. Ray Kurzweil is funded by Google; he is on the track of this sort of A.I. research and predicts the siliconization of human minds within the next 50 years! He has written a book: How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed.

Now I for one am not too happy about all this.

Also Sir Tim Burners-Lee the inventor of the World wide web is not too keen on it either: see: The Guardian Newspaper article.

He said: “The data we create about ourselves should be owned by each of us, not by the large companies that harvest it

There are steps that can be taken to throw a spanner in the works of these personel data miners, but to completely stop where all this is leading will require a wake up call to a large number of currently mindless folks who just keep on feeding the machine that is watching us all. They are very much like a digital modern BIG BROTHER. Orwell’s nightmare unleashed as a benevolent and helpful assistants for our virtual and online activity.

If you can foresee the ultimate place this all leads to, then you can make a good start by changing your online profile and habits to methods that do not feed all your activity into the digital maw of anti-social spying networks like Facebook & Google.

START PAGE is a search engine that uses Google as a client. This means all your input searches put into StartPage go anonymously onwards to Google and thus uses Google’s search, so you get the same results as your current activity. But because you are anonymous and with StartPage methods, all the information about you that would be given to Google is totally STOPPED.

You can expand this option into a similar Email account and also by using the search engine browser: TOR. Taking such action then makes all your online activity, that otherwise benefits Google and other search engines, barred from their collecting activities about you. Thus reducing their value to advertisers and others. As for Facebook and social media – if you have to do this, if you must tell your friends and family all about your activity; why not give up Facebook entirely? It collects and records all your inputs, all for dubious purposes and for profit. To counter this activity simply use your own webpage i.e. from WORDPRESS and post the address of your contacts into it.

StartPage    Tor

StartPage                                                    TOR


AMAZON – The Everything Store

Amazon-The - Evil - EmpireAmazon is becoming the on-line shop of everything. This spells doom for many businesses.

Amazon is going to do what it did for books – for almost everything.

This will have dramatic and disastrous effects upon our economy.

They may have no evil intent, but taking their operations ethic forward a few years will cause calamity.

Remember what Amazon did to book shops, to book retailers and distributors. Not many grieve the shift from control of the book market by short sighted publishers, however other affects are more serious. Over half of the book shops in the UK have closed down; resulting in the loss of a substantial number of jobs. Those jobs paid higher wages than the substituted zero hour contracts of the far fewer replacement work at Amazon distribution centres.

Those book  shops and other associated industries paid taxes, and contributed to the local community, and employed people who knew something about the books. Amazon don’t.

Amazon pay no tax.

Amazon profits go to the United States. They pay (some) tax there!

The other big losers are authors, those that generate the books in the first place. Authors, unless they sell thousands of books, make meagre profits for their works. Yes its possible to be self published through Amazon and sell books through Amazon, but their terms and conditions pay meagre amounts. And they make certain that authors have to pay their own taxes, first before receiving payment!

Some businesses have benefited from this shift. Like the postal delivery services – but for how long? How long will it be before Amazon have their own postal service?

I wrote a book about Amazon’s dubious methods when dealing with authors and book publishers. I suggested that they all have their own independent websites – pooled into a central Book selling and promotions portal. But it was too late and few took any notice.

The public enjoy the benefits of cheap books; but it changed the public’s concept of book valuation and ruined businesses, and employment.

Currently Amazon makes the proud boast that it can sell anything.

Just think of the displacement of all those businesses, products and jobs that now have to contend with the very same effects happening to them; which has already befallen the book industry.

The spectre of multiple businesses being lost, competitive forces ironing out competition, and many many more jobs reduced to lower wages and zero hour contracts.

The government don’t seem to have the brains, the planning nor the prescience to see what’s developing; they just hoot about how unemployment is falling. But effectively its forcing people off the dole and into shelf-staking and other low paid warehousing jobs. This practice only removes those people from one list to another as they will be claiming employment top up living allowances.

And have I mentioned that all these bushinesses that used to contribute wont be doing so in the longer term, the work force will primarily become no-skilled shelf-stacker’s…. that Amazon can claim assistance for as “apprentices” and Amazon by lobbying the politicians will keep on paying no taxes:




A Laugh with a MOSAD General

AvrahamI met with Avraham Ziv-Tal  on a project meeting held at the Hilton Airport Hotel, Heathrow London around 1998. He had written an interesting book: The Maskirovka of Max and Moritz – The Enigma of Max. Well, this book is simply amazing, if you want to know some hidden Jewish war history.

MAX And MoritzThe book is packed with things you won’t get from current Westernised history. Like how communists (Burgess – Mc Lean – Philby – The Cambridge Five)  at the top of England’s secret service were helping the Russians to confuse the Germans secret service. They had a mole at Bletchley Park (John Cairncross: who is depicted in the film – The Imitation Game) and the Russians were fed Bletchley Park decrypted ENIGMA secrets at the very same time operators gave the details to their own British  superiors: About Hitler’s secret messages to his generals in the field (Tunny decrypts). 

Hitler believed that to defeat the Red Army at Stalin Grad would completely finish them off, the Russians ‘knew’ that Hitler believed the name of the city held extra significance; named so after the dictator and that as result, Hitler believed that ALL Red Army forces were defending it, when in fact, contrary to popular belief Stalin was not so self conditioned and had the main Red Army forces and weapons held back in KURSK in readiness for a strategic back door attack. Its a great well researched book that deserves a Steven Spielberg film!

At that meeting about his book Avraham told me another interesting and amazing story about how computer systems can cock things up.

It was the Yom Kippur – Arab Israli war in October 1973.  Avraham was in charge of the computerised war room: multiples of PDP11’s had pre-conceptualised battle plans ready for whatever imagined and projected tactical moves and counter moves were to be made. Very important and very crucial dependencies were hanging upon these computerised analysis’s of field actions, code intercepts and war game interpretations and operational commands, to be put into operating the real thing. Avraham said that the attack came and he was swiftly taken to the operations centre were to his horror he found that all the machines were totally dead.

At first he said to himself; could this be an enemy technical pre-strike?  To blind the Israeli intelligence, air force, army and Navy of all tactile command controls and co-ordination? But no. He told me smiling, they could not have anything as smart as that!

Everyone was on the verge of panic, and the nearest PDP 11 technician was in Paris. He dispatched two F-4 Phantom 11’s to bring him to Tel Aviv. Then turned his attention with all the others to try and get the computers on-line. The lights were all on. That was something. Switching everything off then on the most useful strategy had already failed. And several times.  Other ideas came to nothing; instructions by phone from several overseas PDP 11 technical advisor’s also resulted in failure. They were all stumped. A war was going on and their best laid plans were inoperable. Time was essential and it was ticking away. He was just beginning to believe that they would just have to wait several hours for the technician to arrive.

PDP11 - Why won't it workWhen Avraham, a smoker, tapped out his cigar in an ash tray near to the printer, which slightly jerked.  He looked at it and noticed that the paper in the paper feed was not protruding fully, he pulled at it and the entire row of computers crackled into a burst of action.

He said the entire bloody lot had been awaiting a feedback signal: that the paper was loaded and ready. Nothing would happen if that centralised logjam did not respond. He laughed,  because we both knew that, that’s, exactly the sort of thing that a programmer would assume to be okay, rather than build in a loop line of code for just such an occurrence. But of course they don’t, programmers all too often have such a blind spot.

By the time the French PDP 11 guy arrived with his air force pilot escort the war was well on course for its outcome, and as they say the rest was history. But this part of the story is not widely known.

As I looked periodical around the bar we were sat in, whilst this was one of many stories we discussed I noticed that there were several smart suited guys watching us, who looked away each time our eyes met. Other smart suited blokes seemed to be watching the other sets of smartly dressed bloke’s all sitting around for sever hours with nothing much else to do, but to be there. I don’t think they were watching me, they may have been watching no one or maybe they all had too much time to waste.

Avraham started a company in Israel for VSATS low orbital, very small aperture telecommunications satellites: GILAT.

As a footnote its interesting to reflect that the Cambridge five with Kim Philby as ‘M’ the head of MI6, he would know about Cairncross, therefore know that a double game was being played secrets passed to the USSR would be the nuclear ones, plus the fact that Russia might be using ex German Enigma machines with the full knowledge that they knew that the British and USA had broken its code… hmmmmm.

Another great book about spies and WW2 spying is Between Silk and Cyanide by Leo Marks.


A Saucer at AVRO?

Blue Steel air launch - Vulcan
Blue Steel stand off nuclear bomb

I joined A.V. ROE in 1962. I was to young to begin my engineering apprenticeship, not yet sixteen. I had to sign several documents including the Official Secrets Act and was given an ID pass as the factory in Chadderton Manchester constructed the Vulcan Bomber; at that time still the country’s nuclear deterrent, with its Blue Steel stand off air launched atomic weapons. It could fly at 52 thousand feet exhausting tons of aluminium Chaff or fly under radar at tree top height. It could fire at a target two hundred miles away. And under the MAD concept, all Vulcan’s in the fleet of twenty five active planes would all target Moscow to ensure one would reach its target. The UK informed Russia of this but kept it a secret from the British public at that time: Project Shevelin. Of course this was all secret information in those days, but sort of common knowledge in that factory, and especially so and discussed in the office that I had been allocated to before I went to join the Apprentice Training School on the shop floor.

Fairy Delta Wing
Fairey Delta Wing

In that office a lot of things were discussed as it was the typists antechamber to the managing directors office. I was in the top office. Here I learned (silently listening to talk) that the Delta Wing aircraft had been discovered as a concept, after the war due to finding some similar triangle test aircraft in Germany (Horten Brothers?). So successful at avoiding radar in one test, and subsequently denied by the Americans: two Vulcan’s in a war game had evaded Norad and flown undetected over the North Pole, Canada and then over the White House dropping several sand bags.

Missile Gyroscope
Gyroscope Gravity

One day with another young lad I was sent to the main production bay to help with packaging of the guidance gimbals – beautifully made shinning gyroscopes that were removed from the Blue Steel nose cone, which was off to Sidney Silverman’s scrap yard in Manchester. Blue Steel had been cancelled. They wanted to keep the special gyroscopes. We had fun trying to spin them; strange effects.

Sir Roy Dobson
AVRO MD spent a lot of time in Canada



Back in the boss’s office; Sir Roy Dobson, next day lots of Americans were there with Tony Curtis styled very short Crew cut (military) hairstyles. They were from Mc Donnall Douglas aircraft in Los Angeles America and Lockheed Martin. Much of the talk from them was about the installation of Boeing’s  Minuteman missiles in Southern England. They went into the bosses office in and out all the time I was there; about three months. My job was the post boy, internal post delivery. I was taking the boss’s internal mail to department heads; no one ever stopped me entering any department – I was on the boss’s business!  More often I was just sitting there with the typists who documented all internal and external post. I visited all departments. The EDD Engineering Development Department was one that had extra security with an MOD policeman at its entrance sitting on a chair, plus another sitting inside the departments huge hanger scaled building, just outside a large octagonal wooden enclosure.

Official Secrets ActsIt was rumoured that there was a crashed flying saucer in there.

Of course you never breathed a word of any of this stuff to outsiders or family: 25 years in prison was on posters on the walls for doing so.

A year after my initial training I was posted to the EDD department. The wooden building was still there. Several men worked inside. The policeman was always sitting outside. You had to have ID to get into the factory with MOD Police at the gates, and another pass to get into EDD. In this department they made some experimental test equipment, a radar dish was being tested,  crashed Vulcan parts and a crashed 748 wing lay in heaps. Outside a wing was being pushed up and down by hydraulic rams testing it to destruction. There were rooms for various experimental conditions; a hothouse room and a huge freezer. As an apprentice the blokes would lock you inside these places for an hour or so as a joke.

Nobody talked about what was inside the wooden building inside the building, but it looked like a lot of had grinding equipment was being used. Then one Monday morning it was all completely gone.


Several years later after working in several departments learning various skills I returned to the EDD as a fully qualified Airframe Fitter. This was when one of the guys who had been working inside that strange octagonal wooden building told me that it was a crashed flying saucer that was in there. He said it was delivered via Canada AVRO to White Sands USA he thought it was delivered to the CIA: but nothing more was said about it.

avro silverbug
                     AVRO SILVERBUG

I kept it secret for at least 25 years, and so did everyone else,  when an article appeared on the subject called the AVRO Air Car. Like the other things mentioned in this article none of these are classified any-more. But I don’t think that it was the AVRO Air Car that was inside that building for at least a year. Could it have been John Frost‘s Silverbug?


Well, due to knowing about that story related above I knew something fishy was going on, either there were Alien UFO’s or all the sightings of such things were all made on Earth by competing aircraft manufactures; it was a puzzle.

Then many years later all sorts of stuff coming out its a story that is still going on!

I was told also that AVRO made multiple trips to Germany after the war to bring back all manner of stuff from machine tools, secret research documents and even technical prototype aircraft.

And recently as 2014 (keeping it secret for so long?) this appears to be the type of craft that fits the description I got from older colleagues at that time:

2014 USA declassifies 1956 Flying Saucer.



UFO’s deactivating Nuclear missiles!






Leading An Industrial dispute: 1971


I worked at AVROHawker Siddeley /  British Aerospace, Chadderton, Manchester and led an unconventional strike in September of 1971.

I was leading a team of Airframe Fitters; four of us, who were refurbishing the RAF’s refuelling tanker aircraft:  those things with rear nozzles that the following plane manoeuvres into with its refuelling proboscis in mid air. Originally built by Handley Page these old Victor ‘V’ bombers were to become airborne tankers.

     Victor Bomber/refuelling aircraft

The very first job was to unload the aircraft’s fuselage and wings, without the nose or tailplane, off from the factory delivery low loader and with the aid of the factory’s infamous ‘Heavy Gang’ ex boxers and wrestlers from Bell Vue who worked as od-job heavy lifting at Avro’s. So utilising brute force and low ridding wheeled platforms, we manoeuvred the beast into the huge main hanger styled factory entrance doors where we could then hook it up to the factory overhead rail crane. Pre-made bolt-in hooks were fitted to appropriate points on the aircraft. Then using links, chains and slings we got it high up to about 2o feet and then with a man at the tail, one at each wing end holding attached ropes and me at the front snub of the nose, holding the crane controls; we glided the thing along the factory and over the heads of the workforce. Slowly, very slowly, along to its location – a set of fixing jigs and platforms surrounding the aircraft ready for fitters to operate on it.

We were also the designated fitters for the drilling out of old rivets and entire segments for replacement.

We made one test run. The aircraft was huge and heavy but it floated there, easily pushed about with a finger! Eventually after a half a days work we managed to get it fitted into its restraining points and secured into the jig-rig ready for work. However whilst taking the weight up into the lifting gantry crane we had to manoeuvre the fuselage and wings to fit into fixed positions and slide in a fixing bolt. Whilst pushing one of these into position, with a long steel ‘podgier’ one of the team lost his footing and slid off the wing to the deck, breaking his ankle. He went off on the sick and we were allocated a new member.

A more recent aircraft assembly: its not exact but shows what’s involved.

Unbeknown to us a ‘rat-catcher’ as the nickname we gave for ‘rate-fixers’ was monitoring our progress and when completed we were confronted with a newly imposed work practice from the management. This job was to be done on piecework. Now this meant that an assessment for allotted time was made by the rate-fixer and an agreement had to be made to do the entire job within a couple of hours. Doing so in any extra time than the given rate meant that we had our hourly rate of pay reduced accordingly. This could also operate in the other direction; as an encouragement to more rapid finishing of tasks.

However because this was dangerous work, one team member off to hospital, and knowledge that the positioning was arbitrary and needed lots of jiggery-pokery to fit it into position and above and beneath a huge object held floating aloft, we said it was too dangerous to impose a time limit.

Punch-card. Clocking-in

Now at this point I have to include a theory. And this was based around the fact that until I was involved with this particular project, I was the highest paid fitter in the factory. This was achieved by beating all the times allotted to me by the rate-fixers. In fact I often halved the times; which doubled my hourly rate. In fact I was so rapidly productive that not only had my hourly rate increased considerably, they often ran out of tasks to give me. When this occurred I was put onto standby, which meant on an average of my last aggregated rates from the previous six weeks: this was called PAB: Personal Average Bonus. For doing nothing.

The company operated on a similar scheme with the MOD (Ministry Of defence) and got a fixed rate of at least 12% of all costs over and above, allowed for profit on contracts awarded. Therefore the longer running and more expensive in materials etc., the more the government had to pay. I was only operating on and within their own scheme of things!

I probably was silly and aggravating in those days; as I had often wore a large self-made badge stating its FAB – On – PAB. Which obviously pissed off the bosses, but also created envy in my co-workers. As often I was up on the roof sunbathing at a considerable hourly pay rate!

So I did assume that there was a management conspiracy to lower my pay rate.

I refused to agree. They said if I did not I would be suspended: sent off site.

AEU - Union - BadgeLunchtime intervened and I went off to discuss the matter with my shop steward and The Works Conveyor (Union Boss) A E U – The Amalgamated Engineering Union.

Around that time there had been several novel ideas for strikes – a days strike for the Nurses to have a pay rise. They couldn’t strike because the patients might suffer; so we did on their behalf (you wouldn’t get that these days). I thought about what action might be taken.  I felt sure that any type of normal stoppage or strike would be undermined by my co-workers pay comparison envy. So this is what I proposed:

Working At AVROA huge amount of the workers time plus the entire refurbishment process for new /upgraded parts and sub assemblies was required before the final fixing back into the refurbished fuselage could be completed.  Then it had to be lifted out, reversing the process as I described of fitting the Victor into the holding jigs.

I suggested that just myself and my team actually go on strike until the management change back to operating the lifting and jig fitting operations, back to PAB conditions without a time aim. This would leave all of the workforce and the entire factory working, and thus not losing pay in a total all out strike.

By this time we had in fact got two aircraft into jigs ready for all the necessary work. But if we were on strike, then everyone could continue, but the pressure would be on the management as our work would be ‘blacked’ (no other employee would do it) and therefore they could get no more fuselage’s in our out. But this would enable the workforce to continue for a couple of months before everything would come to a halt.

I'm Allright Jack- AVRO - strike
STRIKE: Peter Sellers film

The Works Convener liked my idea even more when I suggested that nobody needed to lose any wage’s as a collection could be arranged; a  two and six levy on everyone on the shop floor. Thousands. This meant that the four of us plus the bloke in hospital could all be paid with a very large remainder going into AEU funds. MARVELLOUS!

BAE Chadderton Front

A meeting was called in the vast car-park and bus area at the front of the works and the idea was voted upon: unanimous, everyone was fed up with losing wages from a flurry of recent walk-outs and flash strikes. Everyone returned except for us and we arranged to re-convene at a nearby pub the next day.

The Gardeners-Arms-Hotel-ManchesterIt went on for four weeks. Each Friday week we would meet at the Gardner’s Arms Hotel at lunchtime on the roundabout at the merging of Lightbowne Road, Moston Lane, Hollinwood Avenue, Victoria Avenue East and Greengate.

Our shop-steward and his assistant would turn up with a bucket of coins each for us to count out our wages from whilst we were downing several pints. But on this occasion he informed us that they had, had  a meeting in our absence as other workers were not happy. I suspected jealousy was setting in. They had voted for a full all-out strike instead of my scheme. Democracy, or stupidity? Whatever it was I was already seeking a different type of employment. I was totally frustrated with this news and went off and got a job as a vacuum cleaner salesman.

The strike went on for several weeks, with thousands losing their wages.

The factory was famous for the range of aircraft made there:

AVRO – 504 – 1914

AVRO Anson 1933

AVRO – Lancaster  1940

AVRO – delta wing:  VULCAN Bomber – 1956

Hawker Siddely AVRO/BEA – Andover 748 & 780 – 1962

AVRO/ BEA – Nimrod – 1968

Marconi – Hawker Siddeley Radar dish – 1968

BEA/AVRO – Victor Tanker refurbishment

BAE – Jumbalino/AVRO JJX 1990

Oh and AVRO – Aircar/ Silverbug SECRET/ Canada but that’s another story >>.


AVRO:  British Aerospace History – Chadderton

TOMMY FLOWERS – a computer hero

Tommy-Flowers built the first digital computer

TOMMY FLOWERS invented and built the first ever working computer, at Bletchley Park during WW2; and that’s why nobody hardly knows about it, because it was kept a secret for decades even after the war was won. Most secrets were revealed in the 1990’s but some are still secret!

In America and Israel the secret people often give the ideas to industry and therefore lots of products and ingenious firsts enable the Nation’s industry to utilise, grow and profit from the initial efforts of ingenious people, but this was/is sadly lacking in the UK.

With Alan Turing’s cracking of the German Enigma code it was Tommy Flowers that built a machine fast enough to be useful – providing rapid interpretation of the un-coded traffic and hence providing advanced warnings and thus time for counter – action. These efforts probably shortened the war by several years or may even have been responsible for winning it!

Why was it kept secret?: because after the war the myth that the code could not be broken was never repudiated and the British and Americans sold on captured Enigma machines to other nations; listening in. Even to allies! Nothing changes these days we have similar news like the NSA & GCHQ tapping the German president’s mobile phone (Snowden revelations).

The first ever digital computer was built in 1942 “Colosus” in England. In America they claimed they invented the first computer called ENIAC (1946) and this resulted eventually in the first American computers, with the efforts of Alan Turing at the burgeoning ICL labs in Manchester seriously underfunded. This is just one example. So the American (IBM) profited by controlling the computing market.  A similar thing happened with Frank Whittle‘s Jet Engine!

Many authors quoting historical data and even full books about computing history right up to present time are ignorant about this history, many Americans just keep on stating that it was america that invented the computer, when in fact it goes even further back to another Englishmen Babbage.

Alan Turing is beginning to get the fame he deserves, films like The Imitation Game but nothing much is put out about Tommy Flowers.

The work of both these great men Tommy Flowers & Alan Turing is told with a reconstituted “Colossus” computer in operation at Bletchley Park.

Its the real history of computing and code breaking and every school child in the UK should know it and visit.