About Me

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I never wanted to be a fitter and I didn’t even know what a fitter was or did, until it was too late. The story of how I came to be one can be seen on my website: www.calvertonfitter.com After 45 years in industry working on such diverse things as aeroplanes and textile machinery I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog and to share some of the things that I've seen and done. Some of the posts are funny and some are sad. Some are political and some are about racism. Hopefully you will find them all interesting, and even entertaining!

My Favourite Posts

Some of MY favourite posts include: The Congo, Deltic (3 posts), On the Buses, The Bus Drivers Story, Classical Music and Sherry, Working in Karachi 1988, Going to Karachi 1988 (hilarious), Broken Mug, Tilbury (4 posts).

Friday, 31 October 2008

The Garage

As I mentioned in my last post, this is the interior of my garage. What you can't see is that the roof area is also stuffed. It gives me a headache just thinking of having to find something and with my dodgy knee it can be dangerous. Guess what my resolution is for Spring?
I did find my soldering gear though and have fixed the indicator in my car. I also cleaned it inside and out and hopefully its all systems go for my weekend expedition to visit my daughter.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Car Maintenance

What a miserable cold day its been. I started out with the intention of giving my car an oil change followed by a good clean inside and out. Normally I do the oil change myself but with my dodgy knee I decided to let a local garage do it for me. So far so good but driving home a front indicator stopped working; another simple job I thought, I’ll soon change that bulb.
It wasn’t the bulb though, it was one of the wires that had broken next to the light fitting and there wasn’t the room to fit a simple connector. It meant I had to split the fitting and solder a wire directly onto the pin, at least as a temp. measure as we are off to visit our daughter this weekend.
Next problem is finding my soldering gear; I knew it was in the garage somewhere but it needed finding and my garage is almost a cuboid of solid matter. I did find the gear eventually but I was shivering with cold, my fingers were numb and I decided that it can all wait until tomorrow. In fact I recon I’ll take a picture of the damn place and post it…tomorrow.
We have been listening to the reports of bomb explosions in India which will have been causing my daughter some concern as her flat mate is currently over there doing some work. I can’t contact her at the minute either to find out if she’s phoned home.
There’s no bunch of idiots quite like a religious bunch of idiots. In fact to paraphrase an old saying, it takes religion to turn a bunch of idiots into a gang of terrorists.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Congo

I was very deflated to see the latest problem developing in the DRCongo with the invasion of Tutsi forces from Rwanda. Many people of course will dismiss it as just another demonstration of incompetent Africans mismanaging their affairs. Flippancy and cynicism towards most political problems is widespread so its not surprising that it should manifest itself towards the complex issues effecting Africa.
I recently read Tim Butchers book ‘Blood River’ which describes his recent journey down the River Congo. As the Africa correspondent for the Daily Telegraph he was emulating the journey of H. M. Stanley (Dr Livingstone I presume) who was also a Telegraph reporter at the time.
Tim did his homework and the book is full of the history of the area from the good, bad and ugly of the Belgium era to the modern problems of Rwanda and how they have impacted on the Congo. The area is rich in mineral wealth but the lack of an infrastructure, a corrupt military, civil service and political structure propped up by foreign companies and governments ensure that the area is a honey pot for others to dip their sticky fingers in.
No, I don’t know a solution to the problems other than to paint with a broad brush a scenario where the countries wealth is used for the benefit of the areas people. This in turn implies secure borders, the end of corruption and the sovereignty of the Congo.
This sounds like I’m actually proposing a solution but Tim’s book shows that that these proposals probably represent a challenge that no country or group of countries, given a commitment which they currently don’t have, could resolve in the short term. So the sooner the commitment and effort are made the better.

I've just reread this and decided I'm glad I'm not a politition.

Back to Work. Terrorism.

I’ve just been to see a doctor at an occupational health company to see if I’m fit to start work anytime soon and we jointly agreed that I should start on Monday but to be super aware that my new knee requires TLC. I called into work on the way home to share the good news and came to realize that I really really really don’t want to go back. Damn.
Other news from work while I’ve been off sick include; 2 guy’s have had heart attacks, another has a blood clot in his leg and another has to have a piece of bone removed. We are not even a large company. Damn.

I’ve just been reading one of my favourite websites http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/ which points out that much effort has been made to implicate Obama with terrorism. The nazi’s however, who have just been arrested for plotting mass murder, have not yet been called terrorists. Perhaps only non-white muslims can attain such exalted status? Or a non white, christian, if he’s standing for high office? Call me an old cynic…or crazy……..

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Clocks Going Back!

Not only am I crazy but SAD as well. I’ve just copied this from the BBC’s web site and its self-explanatory.
In October, just when you get used to it getting dark at around 5.30-6.00pm we change our clocks from following British Summer Time (BST) back to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This means it will be dark an hour earlier, and don't we all notice it! It seems as though suddenly the nights are substantially longer. Subconsciously, many of us will feel winter has dawned. Most of us will be travelling to and from work in darkness, so perhaps it's not surprising that so many people, up to one in every 20 people, suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) during the UK's long winter days. This is a specific type of depression that experts believe is related to a lack of exposure to daylight. It affects people at the same time each year - during autumn and winter.
Dreams of a tropical sun.........................

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Another CV and Fishing

I mentioned in a previous post the absurd CV’s I got when working as team leader in Deltic but the silliest one I ever read was produced by a toolmaker in Siemens, Metering, Oldham. As the company subcontracted more and more of its processes he became the last toolmaker employed by them and I think he fancied he could negotiate himself a pay rise by the expedient of spreading rumours of his departure. He mentioned to me that he hadn’t a CV yet so I suggested he write one. (This is real clever stuff isn’t it? If you can’t follow the technical and philosophical paradigms, don’t get too upset).
The next thing I knew was he had written one, and half the staff, including management, had it thrust under their noses for comment. It was beautiful. There were 5 pages to it and you got to page 3 before finding that he was a toolmaker and page 4 was solely devoted to the fish he had caught as a sea angler. I took pity on him and got him to shorten it to 2 pages. Wasn’t I soft?
One of the other engineers was a course angler and every year sold raffle tickets, the proceeds going to an organisation concerned with the preservation of fish stocks. Our toolmaker (nicknamed keepnet) refused to buy them. ‘I don’t want to preserve ‘em’ he said, ‘I want to catch ‘em and eat ‘em’. Crazy big time.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Deltic Fireworks

Re previous Deltic posts full of doom and gloom I did have some fun as well. We had one great guy, a welder, who was an anarchist. He actually wasn’t and didn’t know anything about anarchy but he did have a Mohican haircut and went to ‘Oiy’ music dances. He thought it was great to wear a tee-shirt that read ‘only insecure bastards want security’ which is as reactionary and anti-anarchist as you can get.
He was always good for a laugh though and one of the things he would do was throw a sponge ball about the workshop, usually catching someone unawares. It was about 6” dia, very soft and absolutely filthy. I hid it one day and painted it black then wrote BOMB on it in white. It was nearly bonfire night so a sparkler was easily obtained which I stuck in it, lit and tossed to our anarchist. I’d like to say that it was the funniest thing to have happened in Deltic for 200 years but heck, Deltic was only about 10 years old.
Poor sod always seemed to have a bad time at weekends, as thugs’d ambush him on his way home from the pub. He’d come into work on a Monday morning with a black eye regularly. Why the idiots want to attack a guy because his hair is spiked up I just don’t know.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Work on Monday?

Oh dear. I’ve just had a phone call from my Personnel Officer about my start back to work on Monday. It’s not going to happen. Instead she is organising an appointment for me on Tuesday with the company that does our occupational health assessments. She also stressed the need for me to be absolutely fit. That’s plan A down the pan, plan B is…………

Macclesfield Canal

It’s Wednesday already and time just seems to be slipping away so I decided to take a walk on the Macclesfield Canal at Higher Poynton and give my knee some more exercise. It was muddy and rainy but the sun did shine through and I hope you like the pictures I took. I did, naturally, wet my whistle in the Boars Head you see here.
A few years ago I was the safety canoe for a group of girls, including Lisa, my daughter, who paddled this canal in fibreglass homemade kayaks for about 20 miles. It was a practice for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award main expedition in Scotland, which was later that year. The campsite on this occasion was behind the hedge to the right in the last photo but I was disappointed to see it was now dug up.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Damn Car

What a day. My dear wife came home from work yesterday complaining about a problem with the brakes on her car. Todays challenge was to find out whats wrong and fix it. Total failure. Plan B was take it to her brother, on the other side of Manchester, and who knows a thing or two about cars, but he failed as well. I'm a coward and got her brother to tell her the news so peace reigns in the house. She wouldn't have just believed me!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Deltic Again

Its Monday and the big countdown starts for me. Next Monday I should be back at work after 10 weeks absent with my new knee. I don’t know whether I’m looking forward to it or dreading it. Both in like measure.

Still on the subject of Deltic Engineering, (see previous posts), we had a young guy, about 28yo I think, who was appointed the installation and service engineer and he had the job of going to Poland to install the machinery I was writing about.
His first trip lasted nearly two months and when he came back the main subject of conversation wasn’t the machinery but the girl he had acquired. Apparently he had persuaded her to leave her boyfriend and move into the hotel with him.
A short while later he had to return for about three weeks and he came back with the same story. A couple of months went by and he had to return for a week and that is where things went pear shape. (No she wasn’t pregnant). The girl told him she had gone back to her old boyfriend so goodbye. He now got upset and got drunk big time. He went unconscious in the taxi taking him back to his hotel and the driver seems to have robbed him of his passport and money and dropped him off at the hospital. He awoke in a straightjacket in a rubber room and lost 3 days work as a result.
The Polish company were naturally upset by this and of course refused to pay his hotel bill for the three days and other incidental expenses.
Back in Manchester he didn’t even get a bollacking and was treated as a hero, booze and women you see. (Or perhaps you don’t?). He had his fiancĂ© to return to as well. Crazy bastard.
While all this was happening our electrician had to go to South Wales to attend a breakdown and failed to fix the problem. He set off back to Manchester without letting the company know and without phoning us, the first we knew was when an irate manager was phoning us to find out what was happening. We tried to phone him on the company mobile he had been lent, this is 1998 and not everyone owned one then, but it was turned off. When he returned he was in so much trouble he was nearly sacked and when he claimed he didn’t know a mobile had to be turned on (crazy?) it was nearly the last straw. Compare that to the treatment of our man in Poland and its no wonder Deltic was such an unhappy place to work. I think it sent me crazy.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Visit to Work

I've just been into work to say hello and confirm I’m starting back a week on Monday. The guy who’s filled in for me has been very busy in spite of the factory lacking orders and only two lines running. He’s had agencies chasing him for work elsewhere and can’t wait to be gone. Its not that he doesn’t like it here but there’s a lot more money to be made elsewhere. He made me wish I were younger and fitter. Story of my life! Final obstacle will be the meeting with my surgeon next Friday but I don’t really see a problem. I still don’t have full flexibility and I can’t kneel but, what the hell got to make a start sometime.
I’m just having a quick look through the book The Wicked Wit of Insults and I like the religious section. How about these gems: In heaven all the interesting people are missing. And; The trouble with born again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around. Crazy but true.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Deltic Again

Re my last post: I’ve found I still can’t connect to the internet and this time I’ve sent an email for help to D-link. I’m connected at the moment with one of those old-fashioned wire things hanging out the back. Very last century.

Back to Deltic as per previous post. After working there a couple of weeks I was able to show my daughter round and I saw consternation on faces as they realised that my wife wasn’t white. In fact the bosses jaw nearly hit his chin and he had to catch his pipe. This is 1998 not 1898 remember. After the MD were a Factory Manager and a Change Manager who hated each other with venom that was hard to credit especially as it spilled over onto the factory floor where they slagged each other off to anyone who would listen. What sort of change management is that? He was also a longstanding friend of the MD. These two guys also tried to outdo each other in the field of who could be the most racist with constant innuendo and sideways looks at me.
The MD was little better. He had to go to Morocco on one occasion and stated he wished he could meet the customer in the airport and come straight back. When I asked why, seemed a great opportunity to me, he said, ‘Full of arabs’. Smirks all round. When he got back he explained that it was dirty and there were broken windows that weren’t repaired and concluded that ‘Life didn’t have a value’. Crazy bastards.. Then Jews were mentioned and a comment was, ‘Now that lot should be on the moon’. Jesus H Christ, where was I working?
The Factory Manager had a brother who ran an engineering company in Ashton-U-Lyne and also did house clearances which he sold on from his shop in town. The manager took great delight in telling me of a black guy who walked into the shop and said ‘Hello Bill’. The reply was, ‘hello nigger’, to which the guy walked out. Well he would wouldn’t he?
How I worked there for 2 years I don’t know. I’ve got some funny stuff to say about working for Deltic as well but right now I’ve got a bad taste in my mouth so I’ll save it for another post.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Internet disconnection

Sometimes I can really hate computers. I’ve turned it on this morning and got a windows update to download. Having done that I couldn’t establish my wireless connection and had to phone D-Links tech support. It’s an old steam driven laptop so it has a third party connection. They did what they could then said their bit is working so get in touch with Orange to connect up. Orange couldn’t help and went through some bullshit about changing frequency because my neighbours phone might be on the same one. Finished up back to D-Link who made the connection this time, doing what Orange should have done, I now realise, as they had me putting in the Orange security code again. I ought to be able to send my phone bill to Microsoft and put the Orange wally against the wall.
I started the day full of good intentions to write another work related post but I’ve still got steam coming out of my ears so will try again later or tomorrow grrrrrrrrrrr

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Gods Height

I’m learning the hard way about blogs. Yesterday while browsing guardianonline/blogs I was reading this incredible report about how god is 6’2” tall, and weighs about 200lbs. I’d like to tell you its all a joke but these guys were serious. My crime is that I didn’t copy it and today I can’t find it, its there somewhere. Its to do with a handspan and somewhere in the old testament god is claimed to have a span of 9” and if you extrapolate that to this crazy guys handspan of 83/4” and his height this gives the 6’2” and 200lb. He’s a mormon, why am I not surprised. Should be spelt moron. He’s even in an augument with someone else as to who made this discovery. Somehow these wingnuts manage to scrape enough grey cells together to earn a living. Crazy or what!
While out shopping today I bumped into an old boss of mine and discovered that like me he’s a cancer survivor but really went through the mill with the chemo where I didn’t have any. Well-done David.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Physio, City Bonuses

Have just been to the physio for the last time and she says my knee looks really good with minimum swelling and plenty of movement considering its only 8 weeks since the op. I feel good about it too but have just gone on another course of penicillin because of the high temperature I keep running in the evening.

City Bonuses
While sat in the waiting room I read the Telegraph report that city bonuses were going to be on the low side this xmas at about £3.8 billion. Can’t help thinking that would just about sort out the little Icelandic problem! I wonder if that would stop them giving their annual 50 grand each to the Tory Party. Doubt it. Crazy bastards.
In 1968 I asked for a loan from the Yorkshire Penny Bank, the names long gone but not the business. I was turned down because I hadn’t got enough assets, ‘Is that all you’ve got?’ he said with a sneer. Considering the extent with which they have got the whole country in a mess buying bad debt I really, really want to say something nasty now.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Deltic CV's

There is so much free advice about how to construct a CV that there’s no real excuse for producing a bad one, in fact some real lemons have great CV’s. I also believe that sending a bad one is one way of deliberately not getting a job and while I was section leader at Deltic I received 2 of them.
One guy listed all his 10 GCSE’s as Grade F. I can almost hear his teacher telling him that there is no ‘fail’, just grades.
The second guy needlessly explained that he had been fired from his previous job but had won his case for unfair dismissal at an Industrial Relations Tribunal. Clearly he’s a creature from another planet.
They were either both stupid or wanted to stay unemployed. They were the only 2 CV’s I binned without sending a ‘sorry’ letter.
Crazy? Me? Definitely not.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Hello Joe

Wonderful stuff. Congratulations to my niece Leanne and hubby Paul on the birth of their son Joseph, weighing in at around 9lb, this morning in the local cottage hospital. Hello Joe!

Working for Deltic

In the 2 years up to the millennium I worked as a team leader at Deltic Engineering in Manchester. We made machinery that produced car silencers and I was able to install some of it in Italy and India. I remember on one occasion building a machine for a company in Poland, which had entered into a partnership with an Italian Company, and the Italians arrived one day to have a look at progress. I understood that the Italians were the dog and the Poles were the tail.
One particular bit of equipment wasn’t working properly and the Italians arrived just as I was about to hit it hard with a sledgehammer. I waited until they were hidden by other machines before I did the deed and it had the necessary effect. When I demo’d it, it worked perfectly, for the first time, and when they left I couldn’t get it running again for a week. Phew!
Another problem was that we discovered it woul dn’t make the longest size silencer as it was too near the ground so we had to put 100mm packings under it. When it finally arrived in Poland and installed, the Italian guy was there and looked very puzzled, claiming it wasn’t that high in the factory and the mechanism was a bit awkward to get at. Fortunately our installation engineer went for the Oscar and persuaded him it was always like that and had to be for the longer lengths. Crazy or what? More post about Deltic later.

Bloody hell. Was forced out of bed at 6.30 this morning to look for the de-icer for my wife. Errr…for her car windscreen I think I mean. Its that time of year isn’t it, a long slippery slide to Xmas.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Alpha and Omega

I went to visit my mother yesterday along with my daughter who’s having a few days holiday with us. She is over 80 and living in a retirement home in Derbyshire and it was not a pleasant experience at all. Because of my illnesses I haven’t seen her since Xmas and she suddenly looked 10 years older. I’m not even sure she recognised us but she did try to talk, most of which seemed like gobbledygook.
The room she has appears clean and smart but like the corridor and lounge area stunk of urine. Everywhere is carpeted which doesn’t help when a lot of incontinent people are using it and there is a plan for it all to be replaced with wooden flooring. Sounds good but I can’t help thinking that wood creates its own problems if old folk slip and fall on it.
We forced ourselves to spend an hour with her before fleeing and I suspect she was unaware that we left.

The next visit nearby was a lot pleasanter. My niece is expecting a baby, 2 days ago, so the atmosphere was totally different. Alpha and Omega all in one day.