Sunday 7th August, 1960

Alec to his parents:

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thank you for both your letters arrived Saturday. Please do not be scared at change of paper – happened to be in Woolworths on Saturday morning and spotted some.  Just the job for business letters and small epistles but probably not so good for long ones as too much shifting carriage on typewriter. 

I seem to have got mixed up with the Cafes at Clevedon, I thought someone said then we were down there that there was a new one somewhere near the middle of Marine Parade.

Susan is doing quite well with her alphabet but of course it goes in fits and starts. She is taking a keen interest in being able to tell the time and has now got a toy alarum clock.  She has a go but we seem to be getting some odd times.  What little I have heard about Uncle Will’s progress is not very definite, it does not seem to change and I think they are a little worried about him. 

Glad you were able to go and see Griffiths but pity the Rose Gardens were closed.  It seems always the same these days, we had similar trouble at Kew if you remember*.

Note also Mr and Mrs Newman’s visit but you do not say how he is.  Last time you said he had lumbago or sciatica etc. which was getting him down.  Suppose this now over.

I went to Ross on Wye and Symonds Yat with London D.O.S.O. on Office Outing in 1951 and we were fortunate to have fine hot dry weather. It made all the difference and we were able to appreciate the countryside.

Have marked out the boundary of the New Garage with string and driven in a few large pegs as levels.  These latter project up to 10 inches from ground and together with the string have become the target for meddlesome hands.  I may put some of the shuttering up this afternoon but if it gets pulled about during the week I shall have to postpone any further action until a few hours before the concrete arrives.

Re – job. Cecil Moore is the Head of the Research Section. He got a job as Staff Assistant to D.T.M at Cardiff as I think I told you in one of my earlier letters but he did not take it up as they were not ready to go with the new set up there.  Subsequently his own job was re-advertised at a higher salary and including Organisation and Methods.  Of course there could be only one suitable applicant as he was in charge of O and M.  I think he gets 16 or 17 hundred. 

Sorry about your crack about Littlewoods, I don’t feel quite able to Cope**. 

Re – application, it has gone forward in the usual way but no comment from anyone yet.  On Wednesday in company with Mr Bennett and one other from the B.T.C. Operational Research Section I went to Dartford to put our problem to the International Computor and Tabulator Co***.  We are asking them to devise an Electronic Computor to digest and store details about wagons as they become available at yards and stations, and to give any details at the press of a button.  We wanted this to be available to kick off in the Cardiff District by January next, but we may hare to make do with temporary machines until our own can be built.  The most fantastic cost is involved – a figure of £50 per hour for hiring only has been quoted.

I felt sure you would have known George Jenkins. He was Chief Controller at Cardiff when I was last in Freight Train Section ( Prior to ‘55 ) and he subsequently became the Productivity Assistant.

Have not picked any runner beans yet but have picked about twelve dwarfs for to-day.  There should be enough for meal by next week end as there are a lot of small ones coming on.  The tomatoes are moving well. I have provided tall stakes for the largest and have as many as six trusses forming. I am not surprised you found the soil behind the Green house to be good.  If you recall we had many bonfires there, mostly of Cupresses Hedge clippings, and there was considerable growth of nettles that we kept burning. 

Note Mrs Drewett has put house up for sale.  It sounds a reasonable price but I do not know what state it is in.  I would have thought that Drewett might have fixed up extra cupboards and things that would have helped to sell it.  As a guide what did they get next door.

The insurance people have payed up Junes claim but at their offer.  This has been accepted.  Still no response to advert for car.  Have listed it at £39 and do not particularly want to reduce any more.  I doubt whether there will be much movement for cars of this age until after the effect of the tests becomes apparent. 

We will note that Lydia starts her bookings for the Bungalow at Christmas and if we intend to do anything about it we will let her know at that time.

The men are very busy over in the field where school is to be erected but nothing rising very high yet****.  Think they must be still on the foundations.  The church at bottom of Queens Walk is nearly finished. 

June and I have had a good clear out of the front garden It looks quite neat now although mostly earth. I suppose if we take everything out it will look tidier than ever. Had to use mattock to break it up though.  Well that is all for week, hope you are both keeping well.


*Even in those days it was possible to telephone and find out when a place would be open rather than just rocking up and being disappointed. What’s the old saying? ‘To ASSUME makes an ASS of U and ME’? Or, indeed, an ounce of prevention is better than a ton of cure. I have no sympathy whatsoever.

**There’s very little information online about Cope’s Pools except that they were based in London and active in the 1930s. According to Wikipedia they were still operating in 1947, but the likelihood is that they were later absorbed by one of the bigger players in the industry.

***Note that Alec spells ‘computor’ with an ‘o’. This is the first indication of any contact between him and a computer; later in life he was known as ‘Gadget Man’ and was a relatively early adopter of technology, buying himself a ZX Spectrum with a pen-writer instead of a printer and learning to program ‘sprites’ and play games like ‘Jacaranda Jim’.

****This would be the St Swithun Wells Catholic Primary School.


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