About Me

My photo
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).

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Party Time and the Pledge of Allegiance

Works Party.

Saturday night was party night at Cranage Hall, the annual xmas binge courtesy of the Company, bless their little cotton socks. It was the first one I've been to and I was asked during a moment of weakness having just returned to work after 11 weeks off. What I didn't realize at the time, though it probably wouldn't have made any difference, was that most of the staff were doing there own thing this year and had booked somewhere in the Warrington area (I think) because it was nearer to home.
Anyway the food was quite decent and hot and there was 32 of us between 3 tables and then there was 31 of us as Murphy keeled over and hit the deck. Que first aiders and a ring of the curious and eventually the music was transferred to another hall while the ambulance arrived, put him on a stretcher and took him for a night in the hospital.
Things quickly got back to normal and opinion was that it was an alcohol related problem. He must have started early and was just 'wasted'. I hope that's all it turns out to be, will know on Monday I would think.

Pledge of Allegiance.

George Docherty the pastor who claims credit for the addition of 'under god' being added to the American Pledge of Allegiance, '...one nation under god' has died. The folks at AOL have decided to conduct a poll asking whether it should stay or go and so far the seculists are loosing by about 2 to 1. Nothing is ever that straight forward though and the guys at Pharynula are having fun multiple voting by removing the AOL cookies to give themselves access again. Both sides are doing this as they are good at the spying game and the comments are great on the Pharygula site. Vote now and vote often folks. Go check it out.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Toucan, Redundancy, Religion

This piece of hand art is probably my favourite of the eighteen I have and I've put it here as prelude to a miserable blog.

The vote at work was 34 in favour of a 4 day week and 39 in favour of redundancies to maintain a 5 day week for the remainder. I'm lost for words.

Another bit of misery concerns christian sectarianism in Oklahoma and is described fully on Prof Myers website here. It never ceases to amaze me at the way religion can bring out the shear nastiness in people. Crazy people.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Votes and Jesus and Stuff from my Nose

I've had a terrible weekend having caught my wifes cold and now have interesting stuff comming out of my nose (brains?). I've gone to work anyway, may as well be there and earn money, would feel guilty about having more time off as I've only been back 3 weeks with my new knee.

On Friday we had a ballot at work to decide whether to go for the 4 day week or the redundancy option which management have given us. The ballots were counted out at midday today and we all waited in anticipation for the result to be announced. Then we were told that there are 2 outstanding ballot papers and as the voting doesn't officially close until midnight they will wait until morning. If theres more than a couple of votes in it I'll be surprised. Oh! the antisipation..............

I've tried to download another of those great hand images of animals (by popular request) and failed. The source file can't be found the computer says. I don't know what I've done wrong but will get it sorted as soon as I err.... get it sorted.

Wow so the vatican has forgiven John Lennon for saying the Beatles were more famous than Jesus. I'd like to think that the statement is as true now as it was then. Just back that up a week and think....Wow, the vatican hasn't forgiven the Beatles yet, and the vatican statement can be seen as the meaningless pretentious rubbish that it is. The Beatles have a great song, known worldwide, called Imagine which includes the line, 'and no religion too'. I wonder if the vatican have damned/forgiven them for that. In America it had to be editored out into 'and one religion too'. Ummmm... wonder if I should forgive them for that........ummmmm....

Glad I've got that off my chest.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Hand Images, Redundancies and Debt Advisors

Here's another of the great animal images I was emailed and I still have no idea who created them.

Bad news at work as it seems most guys have voted for the redundancies, hoping it wont be them. The reasoning being that they don't want the 20% wage cut that a 4 day week means. The votes get counted on Monday so we should know then.

I mentioned in a previous post about an advert for Debt Advisors earning up to £5000 per week. The adverts are still appearing but the £5000 has vanished. I can imagine the reps being upset and complaining they are only making minimum wage. Wishful thinking on my part maybe.

Hurray, its weekend!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Sketches from a Fitters Day

I’ve got the barrel back from the contractor and assembled it using the workshop crane, total weight about a half ton. I don’t have a licence to drive a fork lift truck so got one of the others to acquire one out of the factory, put extension legs on it and I slung the barrel underneath. It took a slow careful drive to locate it in position but we succeeded and I started bolting it up. I’m beginning to hate having greasy fingers and I don’t like wearing the latex gloves supplied by the company. Some of the bolts are difficult to access as well which is always frustrating. That’s code for a lot of swearing took place. The machine next to me sprung a water leak so there were clouds of steam billowing all over.

I’m called to the workshop kitchen where the production director is waiting with the others to tell us about the difficult trading position the company is in. We are going to have a ballot he tells us and the company favours option 1 which is a 4 day week from January, representing a 20% wage cut with 3 redundancies and 2 extra unpaid days holiday at xmas. Option 2 is that 14 people are redundant and we try and continue on a 5-day week. He talks a lot about a worldwide recession and hopes it will be over soon and blames the Americans (alleluia). The company have just traded his car up from a Jag. to a BMW 520d. Nice work if you can get it.

Second subject is a health and safety issue regarding fire safety and the engineering manager volunteers to tick the boxes on the weekly form. Are there sources of ignition, are there combustible materials, and are fire exits clearly marked and accessible? etc. This meeting is interrupted by the production supervisor and team leader coming in and complaining about clouds of steam emitting from a machine and can someone fix it please. Two men go off to fix it but quickly come back to tell me to change 2 hoses, they can’t do it because it’s the end of their shift and they’re off home thank you very much. So off I go to fix it and half an hour later the meeting is still going on with the next shift so I sit in again and learn nothing knew.

Back to my barrel and I start bolting on the heaters but I’ve had enough and wonder back to the workshop with my tools and start packing my gear away. I rang the IT department where an old black and white printer is due to be ready for me to take home as mine is bust. No answer. Tomorrow maybe.

Then I realise a supplier hasn’t arrived to look at an adaptor we want and can’t identify in the catalogue. On Friday we had stressed its urgency but I nearly forgot about it today, he didn’t turn up and his office wasn’t answering the phone. Tomorrow maybe.

While having lunch I had to listen to a tirade from one of the guys about a News of the World story he was reading on that poor kid who was murdered. He was upset that the paper couldn’t identify the culprits and publish their pictures. He quietened down a bit when I pointed out that a judge and jury decide whether a person is guilty not a newspaper and then the pictures can be published. Its crazy, why do I have to point this out to grown men.

Boy, am I glad to be home.

Monday, 17 November 2008

4 Day Week!

Here's another of those brilliant pictures. Click on it to expand, its fabulous.

The recession has finally hit my company. It had to happen sometime as we are heavily linked to the car industry. In January we go on a four day week, which isn't so bad except that we will only get paid for 4 as well. Plus an extra 3 days xmas holiday without pay. Plus a few redundancies! Happy Xmas everyone.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Eagle and Murder

I received about 20 pictures like this eagle today. I've no idea who was responsible but they are all fabulous and must have taken a long time to prepare. I'll try and identify the source. Click on it to enlarge.

There's an advert in my local paper advertising for Debt Advisors. Earnings circa £5000 per week. No previous experience required! I wonder if it would be possible to murder these guys and get away with it on the grounds of temperary insanity? If I had a bucket I'd be sick in it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Another Day at the Office.

Second week back at work and things started off very well. I managed to strip a barrel off an extruder in record time with the exellent help of a couple of production guys. Then things went a little pear shaped as I lost control of it as it swung on the crane in the workshop (it weighs about half a ton) and it damaged another small machine knocking it over. The photo shows the barrel which I continued to dismantle and the little green machine at the end is the bagging unit I knocked over. Damn. Slow down crazy fitter.

I watched part of a documentary the other night of Stephen Fry driving across America in a black London Cab (why?). There was a fantastic scene of Stephen in a jacuzzi on the deck of a boat crossing a reservoir which was created from a dammed canyon. Damn, I want to do that.

Recently I did a full tour of the Mississippi from the Delta all the way to the source, and I never left my armchair. I did it on Google Maps clicking on satelite view on full zoom. I could almost see in peoples windows. What a fantastic waterway it is and even at this remote the sheer majesty of it was apparent. If you are thinking River Trent only bigger and with sandbars you're not even on the same planet LOL. Its a real treat and I will do the same with another river soon, I've promised myself.

I got a pleasant surprise when Graham and Chris commented on my posts, thanks guys. I tried to reply on the comments but found I couldn't, I get a notice at the bottom saying 'error on page'. I'm trying to sort it out now. I've always said that cars and me don't go well together but the same applies to computers:(

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Amistice Day

Its Armistice Day and 11am went by without me even noticing (1st time) as my brain was involved in the job in hand. The fire alarm went off at 11 as well but it only registered as a test alarm.

When I was a kid the games I played with friends were all WW2 based as that conflict had only ended some 12 years previous. I could give a great simulation of a soldier being shot. WW1 had been over for 40 years and seemed lost in the mist of history, but incredibly WW2 finished 63 years ago.

I’ve watched many programs about WW1 and its causes and there’s no quick one liner (“WW2-that was just Hitler”). I even watched a programme that explained, quite plausibly, that the railways were to blame.

WW1 was about the arrogance of Europe’s ruling elite and its generals and their imperial machinations and was also the prime cause of WW2. History is a line of cause and effect not a series of pigeonholes to stick book titles into. This ones The Boar War, this WW1 and this WW2 etc.

War memorials are another of my pet hates with their Roman Columns, Angels and pious words. The Glorious Dead. Nope. It’s life that’s glorious not dying violently. I’ve seen one memorial somewhere that claims WW1 was to preserve ‘the Sanctity of Treaties’. I wonder which lying politician thought that one up?

There ought to be a ‘Treaty to Preserve the Sanctity of Life’. And another that states ‘War is a Crime’. I’m not against having ceremonies and monuments but please, where is there a national Anti Fascist Monument?
Dream on crazy fitter.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Autumn Gold

Ok, so the picture isn't brilliant and won't win any prizes but I took it because of the brilliant gold autumn leaves juxtoposed with the grotty industrial waste which is my workshop back yard.

Its amazing that the picture was taken in the first week of November and as can be seen in the background the woods are still green with leaves. It used to be the case that by bonfire night the trees would all be stripped of their leaves. Unless my memory is playing tricks on me?

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Patronising Crap

Reading the Guardian at lunch time specifically about the US election, our two electricians decided to have a conversation intended to draw me in and showed themselves to be the most patronising and stupid bastards.
They had discovered, just as I was going off to have a new knee fitted, that my wife was black, but have chosen to not let me know that they know. Probably a safety devise as they worry about what they have said in the past. It’s a shame really as I would have loved to hear their undiluted remarks about Obama’s election. As it was I was treated to the most condescending stupid crap ever.
How about this to make your bowels move. ‘Can we call it the White House now? It’s not very PC.’ Or, ‘ How long before we get a muslim PM. They’ve got in councils because we’ve voted for them to show we’re not racist. We’re too soft, we should be hard. When we go abroard we have to abide by their laws. The Queens head is on our currency, she’s the ‘Defender of the Faith’ so everyone coming here should accept that.’
Normally I wouldn’t write about this kind of shit, but these are the kind of ‘mates’ I work with at the moment. Oh yes, how about this one. Just as I was leaving to go into hospital the electricians were talking about the regulations re installation of kitchen whitewear. (fridges, cookers, etc). One glanced at me saying, ‘maybe we should call it brownwear nowadays’.
Anyone out there thinking I’m redefining the word ‘crazy’?

Just Another Day at the Office

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

US Elections

I stayed up until 2am watching the US election results which was when the first projected gain for the Democrats was reported. I was beginning to think it wasn't going to happen. I enjoyed Chris Hitchins comment about Pallin 'She believes in black magic and can't tell the difference between the French President and Inspector Clousou'. I'd watched the video and listened to the phone call he was referring to and find it hard to believe anyone so stupid could ever be elected as anything.
Back at work this morning and all I heard is snatched radio commentary and the newspapers were not up to date and I don't have internet access and I didn't know the final electoral college result or percentages and I just wanted to go home, boot the pc and go to Huffington Post.. Well I did all that, eventually. The difference the internet has made to the election can't be understated and the sooner Britain has its own Huffington Post the better. Is anyone listening? No? Oh, OK then. I loved the tongue in cheek of Andy Borowitz, 'For Democrats, who have become accustomed to their party blowing an election even when it seemed like a sure thing, Tuesday night's results were a bitter pill to swallow.'
Catching snatches of R2 during the day it was good to hear so much home elation at the result but just to put my feet firmly on the ground the only comment I've heard at work was, 'So we've (we?) got a black president have we. How long before we get a muslim Prime Minister?' Beam me up Scotty.
If Obama does a half decent job his main legacy will be to remove skin colour from the equations which select political candidates. Politically he will probably fail as most Presidents and Prime Ministers do but just for now I'm more than happy to celebrate and wish him luck.
Haven't done a lot at work today except clearing up our workshop ready for tomorrows insurance audit.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008


Second day back at work and even my welding bay looks like I've never been gone. Big clean up day tomorrow for the whole workshop as we have an insurance audit on Thursday so that should be fun.
Lets see now, whats happening in the political and financial centres of this little old planet of ours? Oh nothing much;) Big clean up day in the USA tomorrow hopefully, so that should be fun. Get some petro dollars from Gulf States to ease through the mess the finance institutions have made maybe. Even more fun.
I've got a great book from Iain M Banks, The Algebraist, which I'm halfway through and will now spend a couple of hours reading. Even more fun, but roll on tomorrow.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Back at Work

I'm back at work, first time since having my new knee fitted on 15th August. This is what my workshop looks like from the mezz. I spend most of my time in the little welding bay which is in the far right hand corner of the picture with the black curtains surrounding.
The welder who was employed from an agency for my absence is off to Heathrow Terminal 5 for a few days, then to Portsmouth and on to Merseyside. 'What recession' he says.
Everything is quiet in our main factory with only a few lines running but the company is still throwing money at machine upgrades so they must be optimistic.
I spent the weekend in London with wife and daughter and after touring the transport museum, brilliant, we went to see Spamalot at the Palace Theatre which was side splitting stuff. A great weekend spoilt only by a wet trip up the M6 home and the thought of being back at work. Well it wasn't that bad after all:)