elderly notebook

elderly notebook

Here’s an oddity: I was having a tidy up in my office, and opened an old briefcase, which had been gathering dust in the corner, meaning to throw away the rubbish, and perhaps re-use the case. I couldn’t remember for the life of me what was inside. As I rummaged, this came to hand.

It must date back to my early to mid teens, as the contents are in my rather cramped hand-writing of the time: mainly comprising a list of records which I had heard on the wireless, and which I wanted to find. There are two distinct sections: one of (as one would expect of me) 1950s rock and roll; the other of mainly British dance bands of the 1930s, an enthusiasm that bit me quite hard at the time, courtesy of the late Alan Dell, who presented a programme of dance band and swing music on Monday evenings on Radio 2.

Further on in the book are several pages, probably from around 1977, noting the fuel consumption of my Morris 1000, with petrol prices over the period recorded rising from 79.5 pence to 95.6 pence per gallon. (Bear in mind, however, that the wage for an unskilled chap at the time, doing, say, warehouse work, was around a pound an hour.) Much of the hand-writing is the War Department’s.

There is also an anatomical drawing naming the various parts of a horse’s rear leg, and noting the equivalent parts of a human leg. This is clearly also hers, as I barely knew one end of a horse from the other.

The design on the cover may be recognisable as having originated from a flow chart stencil, which we were encouraged to have for our school maths classes. Computers, we were told, would be important, and we would have to know how to lay out flow charts, so that a programmer could write the code to make it all happen. (I did actually have to do this once – just once – in the mid-1980s, when my employer at the time had a System 38 mainframe computer system, and we wanted to get it to calculate air cylinder sizes for failsafe operation of pneumatically-powered valves. The formula required an exponential term, which ”wasn’t possible”, or so I was told by the computer department. I suggested using infinite series to approximate an answer, and was met with blank stares. It took a while to figure it out, but a couple of days later I gave them a flow chart, they programmed it, and amazingly, it worked first time. I’m not sure who was most surprised: them or me.)

I think I shall put the book up on my office shelf, pending a decision on what to do with it. I doubt that I shall throw it away.

Posted by Philip Watson on 2014-11-30 22:15:29

Tagged: , notebook