Greg
Greg's diary
February 1969
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This diary was entered manually from the paper original between 9 July 2016 and 5 August 2016.

Saturday, 1 February 1969 So'ton
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Up late as usual this morning - apparently they had thought we were to tired to be able to make it. Just about got downstairs under our (or my) own steam as Mr. and Mrs. McGibbon left for town with intent, as I later discovered, to collect the fur coat which they were having altered for Shari. One of the things that I dislike about the transatlantic nations is that they are too blatantly bourgeois - not that I take this out on individuals, but rather on their society en masse. Admittedly, money is no thing which I dislike, though I do my level best to get rid of it as soon as I get hold of it, but I feel that status symbols are to be avoided, especially when practiced to the extent abovementioned.

Then cooked breakfast for the 3 of us, and washed up, which took a considerable amount of time, and we had only just settled in the living room again when the McGibbons rolled up and were pleasantly surprised by the cleanliness of the kitchen. Talking to Sonny and Jim about an Old Grey Mare in Ashburton for £15, could be interesting for Jim. Then into town to buy some stuff, getting tangled up with a couple of obese girls thumbing to Portsmouth, and then back from the other side to try in vain to get some bulbs for my car. Back again to Greenacres, where I started to wash and wax the car, until I came to the conclusion that it did not need it. Then off to Chandlers Ford to buy Jim some shoes, and was pounced upon by Shari, who did a fantastic and rather startling imitation of a spastic while holding on to my arm, much to my disconcert. Then back again to Greenacres, where we started preparing for makan - we had finally got round to cooking a curry for the McGibbons, although I played only a comparatively minor rôle, such as cooking the rice, etc. In any case, my day will come - I am thinking of hashing all the left overs together into one enormous nasi goreng. Then had a super slide show, which equally lasted a long time, as I showed fully 442 sorted slides of home, but also some of Jenny to fill up with. That took until the order of midnight, and even then we did not get to sleep. Finally did round 0130 for 0500 rising.


Sunday, 2 February 1969 So'ton → Yelverton
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Alarm off at 0500 this morning, but we did not get up until about half an hour later, when Sonny, rather untypically, had to wake me. Took a long time getting him and Jim up and out, but eventually made it, only to have a threatened repeat of the farce about 10 weeks ago, when we ran out of petrol.

In those days it was almost impossible to get petrol in the middle of the night.

This time, however, we made it as far as Dorchester, where we considered it imprudent to go on, and so started fixing up my dipswitch, which, for some inexplicable reason, had gone bolshy, and only ended up making the whole thing worse. It looks as if I will need a new switch.

It took me a long time and a number of burnt-out light switches before I realised that I was overloading them.

Finally got some petrol, and burnt over the roads to Devon - the weather was wonderful, and it was the first time I have been down the A35 in the daytime - it is very pretty. In Ashburton, searched out Beverley Gardens, and found the bloke with the 11CL8 - 1948 model, not in the best of trim, but for the price one could hardly expect much. Got the fellow to let us take it across the moor for a test drive, and so down to the village to get some petrol, then set out across the moor, where various troubles manifest themselves - first difficult engaging gears at rest and then boiling, followed closely by disengagement of exhaust pipe and concurrent increase in an already high noise level. Got that fixed up, topped up the water, and went on to Grimstone, where everybody was quite taken by the old bomb, despite its many shortcomings - the thing has a sun roof, which is rather nice. Vicki was also out, for a change - following a discussion with Sonny, I have decided that it might be useful having her up my sleeve (haven't things become a lot more complicated in the last 5 years?). Then fixed up the exhaust pipe as best we could, and off to the Forest Inn with Vicky Vicki (how do you spell it, anyway?), Georgina and Jim, the former in the front with me - I felt like “Daddy taking the family out for a spin” of 30 years ago. Unfortunately, this was short lived, for after a while we ran out of petrol, and all 6 of us had to crowd into the Ami - and Vicki was no longer beside me. Had a rather grudgingly given makan and then back again to get some petrol for the thing. Brought the thing home and started wondering what to do about getting it back (for by this time we had finally decided to buy it), when a further calamity occurred: Bev tried to break off with Sonny. Found both crying, the former in her room, the latter in the car, and played Cupid bringing them back together (which entailed blowing Bev up for being so bloody stupid, and taking her up to see Sonny), and then back for tea. I am glad to see so much more of Vicki of late - applied for permission to visit in 2 weeks time. Then set to fixing up the car to cross the moor, and was promptly rewarded by the weather giving out on us. Set off in 2 cars, I in front with the 11 CV, wearing scarf and coat, with both windows open to let out the fumes from the crankcase breather, and with a howling blizzard running in one window and (mainly) out the other. Thing gave up at the hill between Merrivale and Princetown, and we had to leave it at the Dartmoor Inn all night, and back to Grimstone, where we were put up for the night, although, of all people, Bev was very indignant.


Monday, 3 February 1969 Horrabridge → Tun. Wells.
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Bev in to wake us this morning at an appropriate time, as we had rather foolishly offered to take everybody to school this morning (but after all, it is almost a condition of my coming here). Down in due course to the kitchen, in fact as quickly as possible, since it was so cold upstairs. Had breakfast before either Sonny or Jim showed their faces - found the latter upstairs, fully dressed, in bed, waiting for somebody to come and bring him downstairs. Off fairly shortly thereafter to take everybody to school, and so ended up with 7 people in the car, including Jim (as usual) in the boot. After dropping everybody, looked round Tavvy for flushing oil, which was about as abortive as looking for SÆ 90 a year ago. Back to Grimstone, where the others had a bit to eat, then up to the car (Old Green Mare, to use Jim's phrase),

It wasn't until much later that I discovered the film.

where after a a lot of messing around we came to the conclusion that the handbrake cables had frozen solid. Towing the the thing was of no avail - nearly burnt out the Ami 6 clutch trying - so we rang up the AA, and got them to send out a bloke to help us. After a lot of waiting, he finally came, and we got the cables unjammed, but the thing still would not start, even when he towed it. Eventually towed the thing back to Grimstone, by which time we had come to the rather depressing conclusion that, somehow or another, the diff had given up the ghost, although yesterday it was quite OK.

In fact we had broken the spline that held the drive shaft into the wheel bearing assembly. The result was the same: towing the car in gear would not turn over the engine.

Ummed and ahed a bit with Mr. Andrew, who eventually thought it would be OK if we left it in a field of his nearby. Had lunch - Mrs. Andrew's version of my Mussolini bolognese - and then along came a farmer whom Mr. Andrew had rung up and towed us down to the place. He did not, contrary to Mr. Andrew's expectation, want any money for it, so so far we are still only £10 down.

It's not clear when we negotiated that price, but for some reason we ended up paying £3/6/8 each.

Now to get a new diff and starter motor (has given up - must be a weak point on these.). Off into Tavvy to get some money for Sonny, then to a coffee shop and had a drink until Bev was ready. Picked her up and with her, Penny and Cathy - again 7 of us in the car, and again Jim in the boot. After dropping Cathy, gave Sonny the wheel and got in the boot with the door open and my bare feet hanging out the back. Jim joined me with shoes on. Home, where we had tea, and I talked again to Vicki for a while, then we set off with somewhat more success, arriving in Southampton at about 2130. Jim had a blowup with Shari (parents were out), and then off to Tun. Wells, arriving at about 0030, but not to sleep until 0200.


Tuesday, 4 February 1969 Tun.Wells → WGC
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Mrs. Taylor (think that's her name - always want to call her Thompson) in this morning shortly before 0900 to ask Sonny some question, which I answered with a grunt, and which seemed to satisfy her - she did not even realise I was there until next she came in. In any case, it did not worry her, but she warned us of Mrs. Lane's immenent arrival and suggested I hid. Did nothing until Sonny and I came to, the wrong side of noon, I from some rather pleasant dreams of Vicki. Funny that it should take this long for me to get an interest worked up, when I have rather liked her for 5 years. Come to think of it, having just checked up, my interest tailed off somewhat after 4 years ago, which might explain a lot - still, nothing like a revival.

Downstairs, where I got Mrs. Taylor's BO and opinion about people who leave their cars in the drive overnight when they are not supposed to be there. Told her Mrs. Lane could go to hell as far as I was concerned, with which she hardly dissented, and then down came Sonny and Jim, and we all had breakfast. Off to Bromley to look for a secondhand gearbox for the Old Grey Mare (op. II). So much for my estimate of about £2 - 3. The things were unobtainable and would cost £20 if they were. Only thing of interest was a 1911 Citroën DS ID engine going with box and brake disks in indeterminate condition for £15. That might be an amusing thing to put in the 11CV.

The engine was almost identical, and the gearbox might even have fitted, but there would be nowhere in the Traction frame to put the (inboard) brake disks.

Then back again, Jim not too happy, wondering if we shouldn't just take the engine out and sell it for £20, which is what people reckon it will fetch. Might be worthwhile at that. Then Sonny got some fibreglass panels for his Imp - the bonnet weighs more than my steel one does - and took them to Rawsons, where we were sent out of town. Returned with Sonny driving and Jim and me hanging out the back, as yesterday. Must remember to sit on the port side in future so that I can warm my feet on the exhaust pipe. To Westwood, where we did not stay long, but soon went into town to get Sonny a haircut - were it not for the fact that the barbers were closed all day Tuesday. Got some fish and chips, then off to see „Helga“, the German sex education film which I had intended to see in Hamburg about a year ago. Did not think much of the plot, but the photography was magnificent - micro film of the whole reproduction process, really unbelievable. Also the film of a birth, rather sickening. Then tried to get hold of an amplifier for Sonny, no go, so back to Westwood, where I got my barang and left for WGC, where I arrived at 2320, drank a pint of milk, and almost immediately to bed.


Wednesday, 5 February 1969 WGC
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And so back to work after the long weekend. The more I work, the more I come to the conclusion that, at heart, I am just bone idle. In any case, I am more or less getting used to it now - I suppose there is little else that I could do under the circumstances. One of the things that strikes me when getting up in the mornings is how few of the houses in this country are centrally heated - even in a comparatively new house like this. In Germany, the place would never sell.

In to work, arriving at more or less usual time, and apologised to John about absence, modifying the facts slightly so that we could not get the Ami out of Dartmoor because of sheep, icy inclines, and that we had to wait at Southampton on Monday because of ice on the roads. Did not really seem to interest him. Got down to work on what odds and ends we are doing at the moment - extraction of the TiAcacCl₂ from the toluene, which involved the cooling of the thing sown to -80° in CH₃OH and CO₂, and also on the side distilling over some THF and ether and extracting benzene from the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur
	compound with liquid N₂ cold trap to condense same - all very quick to set up, and gave me plenty of time to contact Citroën and Middleton Motors about my dipswitch - it will be replaced under the guarantee, though will take about a week to get hold of a part, and then it will be part No. AM 522-02b, the old model switch - not that I object: in fact, I prefer the old one, and it means I will have 3 horn switches, which could come in handy if I fitted a Maserati or similar.

Then off to lunch, after which into town to get hold of some makan for tonight, which ended up being the usual spaghetti. After that, back to work again, and dissolved the crude Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur
	compound in NaOH and did my best to purify it, then got hold of some solvents from the stores, and a felt tip from Ann, who asked me (as I had previously expected) what I was doing with the car on the side of the road on Thursday evening. Had forgotten all about it, and was caught off guard. She must be interested to remember that long - I wonder if she is going to this Valentine's dance on the 14th. If so, maybe I could pick her up there, if not, then somebody else. Then would have to go straight down to Devon, to arrive on Saturday morning.

In the afternoon, did comparatively little - the extraction of the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound was not an unqualified success, and on acidification it came out substantially unchanged. It crystallised on further standing, however, so all was well. Burnt myself with chromic acid, then off home, where I spent the evening reading further test reports and thinking about Vicki, hen I should have no right to do so.


Thursday, 6 February 1969 WGC
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Getting up in the mornings is still a problem, despite the time I have been at it. I wonder if there is some easy way round it - I rather suspect that 2 alarm clocks, one going at 0700 and the other at 0730, would be the best way of ensuring that I got up on time. Today I did not, knowing as I did that it would not take as long to rustle up what little I was having in the way of breakfast, and sure enough arrived on time at work without hurrying. John had little for me to do this morning - not that I minded much, for I was feeling singularly and inexplicably exhausted. After a while, however, he came along and suggested I tidied up a bit, and later that I do something to purify the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound , of which we had about 150 gm of the crude form in a large lump in the flask. Tried to get it into a beaker to dissolve it in (CH₃)₂CHOH, and in so doing knocked a heart-shaped hole in the side of the flask, thus reminding myself that St. Valentine's day is not far away. Dissolved the stuff up, and cooked it, which made it dissolve quite rapidly. Then, at John's suggestion, filtered it, and left it standing over lunch.

After lunch, to the car, following a comment of Malcolm's that one of my rear lights was not working - why? I did my best to fix that thing yesterday, and there is no obvious reason why it should not work. Got it going, and looked round for the Mini, 459 PBH, to whom I lent my socket spanners. Bastard has not returned them, and his car was not in the park - probably in dock.

In the afternoon, did even less - noted the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound crystallising out in nice rhombic crystals, and John sent me looking for a suitable container for the chromic acid bath (following the cracking of the inner container, we are putting it into the outer one). Finally found one over at Propathene TS, where I got a dustbin in Shell high density polythene. Also made some P-Li-2 benzene (Grignard type) for John, which did not take long.

Home again, buying some food on the way, and read “The Honey Badger” for a while before makan - spaghetti is getting rather boring, even if, as today, I doubled the onion content and thus made it more pĕdas. Then upstairs and in due course decided to do some ironing, and did, coming to the conclusion that there is more to ironing than meets the eye, and that the average sized ironing board is too small for my pants. Rang Bev up, asking her to let the water out of the Old Grey Mare, but Sonny had been ahead of me, although he had apparently not said much. Sewed on some buttons and a Citroën badge to an old anorak, then loaded stuff, including XN's [snow tyres] into the car in preparation for tomorrow - snow is forecast in most areas, and it was cold, freezing even then.


Friday, 7 February 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells.
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The weather is getting much colder. It was somewhat below freezing in the car today when I came downstairs, but it felt much colder. To work, as usual - this continual routine starts to get me down after a while, and I think it will not take to much more of this to drive me mad. Arrived at work and did nothing for some considerable time - John is obviously not too much in need of me right at the moment, which suites me down to the ground. Hung about most of the morning doing less than little, at times dissolving the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound in iso-propyl alcohol and leaving it to crystallise. That did not work out too well - all we had was a dark green oil separating out. Eventually tried it again, leaving it to cool down more slowly, and then off to lunch.

After lunch, smelling or otherwise sensing snow, decided to pu ton my XN's, which took me about as long as I estimated, 40 minutes, during which I also managed to run over a hub cap. Pumped the tyres up to an acceptable looking level which, as I discovered later, was 18 on each - exactly what is recommended. Also notice a damaged dust cover on one of my drive shafts, which I decided would probably need immediate attention, and so rang up Middleton Motors in Potter's Bar, who said they might be able to do it next week, if they could get hold of a part, and that it would cost £5, as opposed to £28 odd for an exchange drive half shaft - oh, what the hell, I will get it done under the guarantee. Tied a polythene bag round it for the time being, and then got back to what work I had to do, which was not all that much. Did a bit more recrystallising, and then a bit of tidying up, while outside it started snowing, thus justifying my XN's on. Finally off, after scraping all the snow off the car, and off to Tun. Wells. That was more difficult than usual - either the traffic was worse than usual, or the first sign of snow was sufficient to freeze it up. Arrived in Tun Wells 15 minutes later than usual, at 1955, and after a while off into town to go to the dance. That, as far as I was concerned, was a dead loss - I was in one of my less interested moods, and decided to give it up almost before it had started. Jim got off with a girl, and promptly disappeared for a couple of hours. In the meantime, announcements were being made to the effect that weather conditions were pretty of terrible, and plenty of people were apparently stranded. Took one bloke, Clive Miles, home to Sevenoaks, climbing a quite steep hill in the process - River Hill, I believe - with 5 up. Had some coffee at his place - he plays classical guitar music - and then back home again, where we decided to go to Reading tomorrow. Very late to bed.


Saturday, 8 February 1969 Tun.Wells → Reading → Tun.Wells.
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Alarm off at 0745 odd this morning, and I felt dead, but nevertheless, after a bit of thought, decided to get up, and did so in due course, and in to wake Sonny and Jim. Then round the corner and got the car - little further snow seemed to have fallen in the night - and back to have a cup of coffee before heading for Reading, setting off pretty quickly by about 0820. Perhaps it was the fact that I was not hurrying everybody along that enabled the quick start. It was bitterly cold - -10° (and the car started readily without the choke!), and it took several miles before the hoar frost stopped forming when we breathed on the glass. Nevertheless, despite that, the snow, and the Saturday morning traffic, we kept up quite a respectable belt, sliding a little, but keeping in quite good control of the situation. Those XN's in he front and X's on the back are obviously a good idea; the back comes round quite nicely when so encouraged. Arrived in Reading round about 1030, and round to pay a visit to Mr. Higgs, who apparently has not received my letter explaining the situation to him.

It seems I didn't recognize one of the oldest tricks in the book. I had discussed the matter with him over a month previously.

He was quite happy with the explanation I gave him and said he would be sending a cheque immediately he could get his wife to counter-sign it, which however would not be before Monday. Swore a lot at that, and then to look for Jenny Hallett, who, however, had gone to the Island for the weekend. Accordingly headed back again, and made the mistake of letting Sonny drive. He had not driven for 2 weeks, and took the fact out on my poor old Ami, really belting it - we returned a corrected 36 mpg [about 7.8 l/100 km] at a fill we got coming back to Tun. Wells, which can't all be blamed onto the XN's. I sat in the back, and rather enjoyed it. I don't know why Jim is always bitching. Back at Tun. Wells, Jim and Sonny had a bite to eat, and I sat upstairs wondering how I was going to survive the next couple of weeks until payday, and to make matters worse Sonny is also worried (although at least he can run up an overdraught), and this helped little. hung about, rather peed off, for much of the afternoon, and then into town to pick Renate up,

The name's German, but I can't recall her at all.

but she was disinclined to come - supposedly she was not allowed to by her father, as it was likely to snow again in the near future. Back to a car park in the vicinity of West Kent College, and did some skid practice - am getting the feel of turning with a bit of left foot braking, but can't for the life of me work out how Aaltonen gets the thing sliding sideways. Maybe it would be easier if all 4 tyres were the same. Had a momentary panic when my throttle return spring came unhooked, but have had enough experience with the DKW to know what to do.

Then off to Westwood, where we had a bite to eat, and then Jim wanted to take Wendy (his bird from last night) out, so left him and Sonny to it (in my car), and got a bit of much-needed sleep. Heard them coming back - doesn't the Ami sound like a 4-stroke motorbike? - and then down, and Jim promptly up with Wendy. Apparently spoiled it for him by knocking on the door to give him a Johnny - scared the shit out of a half-naked Wendy - and had to take her back, Jim understandably swearing. Then they to bed, but I read for a while.


Sunday, 9 February 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC
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Is it boredom, or frustration, that I feel when I get up late on Sunday mornings? Definitely I was affected by one or other of these emotions, which caused me to sleep in until 1130 as I did, although much of it was occupied by semi-conscious dreams about Vicki (looking back in my diary, and noting at least 3 different spellings of her name, I wonder which is correct). I need somebody to love - not to sleep with, spend a few days with, or such like, but to love (I seem to remember writing this in Lüneburg in August 1967, but must have forgotten about it sence then - or possibly it had not until the day before yesterday occurred to me that the chances of finding such a person at an open dance are very small indeed). Looking up up the reference (Sunday, 13.VIII.1967), I find that my thoughts were not quite along the same line as they are now - or maybe my means of expression has changed since then. Now my quest is for permanence, a search which I did not express then: I want a girl to spend a lifetime with, not just a night. And who in this world is that good? Vicki? Lesley? Jenny Hallett? I doubt any of these, but they each represent a better-than-average possibility.

Downstairs, was warned that Mrs. Lane would be in in a minute, so off with some of Sonny's money and Jim and waited half an hour at the self-service car wash and washed the car - this thing is not bad, even if one does really need 5/- to do the thing properly - and the car was literally grey with (I presume) salt. Then bought some sandwiches at Forte's, and back to Westwood, where Sonny was feeling depressed, and suggested we pee off on credit to Dar-es-Salaam to see Ann.

No idea who (this) Ann was.

Tried to ring up Dad, but eventually discovered there are no reverse charge calls allowed to Kuching. After 10 minutes spent trying to contact international in London, was astounded by the way they contacted Kuala Lumpur in a manner which would be considered fast for a local call. The operator in KL knew all the tricks - thoroughly confused the bloke in London. Asked him for a code, which he finally produced - London 09144 from KL. I wonder what would happen if one were to try that on an STD basis.

Good question. 44 is (still) the country code for the United Kingdom. Was 091 once the international call prefix for Malaysia? It isn't any more: it used to be 007, and now it's 00.

Took some photos of my car in one of its rare clean moments, then off into town for some lost cause or another, but finally got all my barang together and took my leave, then off to WGC, where I dawdled along - sometimes I like just sitting in the car, not going very fast, and just musing. Come to reminisce about it, I am doing altogether too much reminiscing these days. Got back to WGC at 1920, and started to cook myself some potato curry - tasted much better (the curry, not the spuds) than last time, and pedas enough to satisfy anybody. Then spent the evening reading, etc, and come to the somewhat annoying conclusion that I had lost the 10/- which Jim had lent me - helped my mood little. Why does this bloody pen keep going dry? Truly the most temperamental Pelikan I have ever had, as well as being the most expensive (and that in Germany!).

The original diary shows that this is a real time comment: I was having difficulty with the pen. And though nowadays (2016) Pelikan is a Malaysian company, that is a complete coincidence. At the time it was made by Günther Wagner in Hannover.

Dawdled through the night, but not early to bed. This pen really does frustrate me in conveying my thoughts to paper.


Monday, 10 February 1969 WGC
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Oh, the monotony of it all! Unless I can grow more accustomed to this sort of routine, I think I am going to have to take up teaching as a a career, for the few months respite per year that one gains thus. It was bitterly cold this morning, and to add insult to injury, my clock decided not to go off - not that this made much odds, as I woke up at 0710 anyway. Did not, however, get up until 0825, and only then because I had to, as it was so bitterly cold. To work as ever, not the only one who was freezing. John came in and got me to do some little work - he had managed to break the chromic acid bath, and so today was the day that we changed over to the larger bath. This took up more effort than might be imagined, and in fact constituted most of my work for the way. Went over to the glass blowers and got them to make a 16" glass square to cover the thing with, and to the stores to get 20 litres of H₂SO₄ - talk about bucket chemistry (ni!). Also got halfway round to getting a cylinder of ethylene - another of John's unlikely ideas was to carry out some polymerisation reactions with ethylene at lab temperature and pressure, which seems so far removed from reality that I don't know why he doesn't use a more readily handled liquid olefine while he is at it.

From recollection, these circumstances sound pretty much like the standard Ziegler process.

In any case, spent a larger part of the morning disposing of the contents of the old acid bath, then had fun when I decided that our dustbin was too high, and tried to cut it with a hot wire device, which kept snapping. Round about this time, John announced his transfer to Wilton as from 31.III.1969 - so at the moment he is apparently just tying up loose ends. It also looks as if there is a possibility there will not be another T.O. to take his place, and that I will be directly responsible to Ken Whitely - which would mean a much more responsible job, in effect carrying out my own research, and would also indicate a position of trust that the company held me in, but I am not overly fond of Ken Whitely, and it would probably mean more work, though it could also be more interesting.

In the afternoon, having fun capping the chromic acid bath, and eventually cut an octagonal lump of “Perspex” or similar to put over it, and poured in 17,5 l of H₂SO₄ and not enough CrO₃. Washed a few things, then off home via Fine Fare, where I bought the makings of a more substantial curry than yesterday evening's - including some very cheap but surprisingly good Fine Fare curry powder. Spent quite a time over the makan, which I reckon (though I may be biased) to be as good as I have tasted in a long while. Had Mrs Garrard on me a while - she is beginning to be a little irritating, not because she nags (which she does not to any appreciable degree), nor because she has difficulty keeping her mouth shut, but because she insists on "tidying up" after me, with the usual disastrous consequences. Read more of “The Honey Badger” in the evening - book is taking a disproportionate amount of time to finish.


Tuesday, 11 February 1969 WGC
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Leaving the [electric] radiator on all night was a decided improvement; the only thing now that makes it difficult for me to get up early in the morning is the old problem: I am too tired. Lately, however, since leaving Handside Farmhouse with its barbiturate-loaded food (or whatever), I have actually been getting less than 8 hours sleep, usually about 7¼. Coupled with the fact that I get even less than this most weekends (so last weekend was a notable exception) it is not surprising that I tend to sleep on in the mornings. The first sign of the rot are there - I am no longer having as heavy a breakfast as once, and I can see myself dwindling to nothing at all in a while.

It was snowing when I got up, to my immense joy, and so off to work with the car and 4" of snow over the metal surfaces thereof. Had a nice bit of skidding practice when I finally got into Black Farm [?] from Bessemer Road. I am definitely getting the hang of footbrake turns. Into work, where everybody was late. I reckon that, if a uniform 1 m of snow were to fall all over England, the country would go bankrupt. People carried on rolling up up to 30 minutes late, with the snow as the sole excuse. I was about 5 late, mainly owing to the greater-than-usual traffic jam in Bessemer Road.

In the morning, did not do too much. John suggested I got down to the low pressure polymerisation, which I did, and rather astounded both John and myself at the rate with which the stuff polymerised. That took up most of the morning, and by lunchtime we had so much polythene that we had to stop the reaction with judicious application of (CH₃)₂CHOH. Then to an unappetising lunch and subsequently off to check something on the car - Ann has put some tinfoil on the distributor grille [?] of her 1100. Maybe she wants to keep it cool - doubt it would keep it dry.

More polymerisation after lunch, using 10 ml catalyst instead of 50, and got about the same yield in 3 hours instead of 1. That likewise took most of the afternoon, when I was not talking to Lola about the physical properties of the stuff, or John about his new flute, which arrived last night, and on which he has evidently been blowing himself silly.

Home direct, and read “the Honey Badger” when not cooking curry or playing flute - must spend my life in a more profitable manner.


Wednesday, 12 February 1969 WGC
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No, something more basic than lack of sleep is keeping me in bed of a morning - something also more basic than the ambient temperature being below 0°, since last night once again I left the radiator on all night, and despite getting to bed at 2300, did not get up until 0825. So back to bed at midnight and at least making a little better use of my time. Had, of course, no time for breakfast, though in retrospect this is far from a good idea, and should not take up that much time. Maybe I could make a compromise and get up at 0800. Or maybe I could work out some electronic means of Chinese torture which would ensure that I did not stay in bed a second longer than 0730.

At work, down to it almost immediately, and then a couple of not-very-interesting letters arrived - from British rail, giving me another month (good for them) to may my debts, which I really must do pronto, and Lloyds, a little less friendly, saying that they were no longer interested in my custom. The feeling is mutual, but I wish I had been in a position to tell them. I think I shall have to have a chat with somebody in Barclays or similar on Saturday morning in Exeter. Hope I can arrange something. What I fear is that Higgs in Reading will not have sent the cheque off. I think I shall have to get him on the phone tomorrow and tell him to send off another cheque per express letter.

Spent most of the morning polymerising ethylene - I must confess, the yields are far greater than we had expected, and efficiencies (worked out later) are in the region of 5000. This morning we were using TiCl₃ with Al((CH₃)₂CHCH₃)₃ which gave dirtier polymers than the Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl, but in much larger lumps. After lunch, and an excursion into town to buy some food, got going with the Al(C₂H₅)₃ equivalent, which was supposed not to have been very good. To give a fair idea of how active it was at 1 at., we were pumping ethylene into the stuff at about 20cc a second, and got an efficiency of in the order of 8000, which shows how scant the correlation is between high and low pressure results. Up to the library to read a bit about the subject - why are all the best books in German and printed in Leipzig?

It certainly doesn't seem to have much to do with the Iron Curtain. Karl Ziegler came from the area of West Germany where I spent most of my time, between Frankfurt and Kassel.

Looking up a reference, discovered that the magazine (Makromolarische Chemie) had been removed to the stores only this morning. Damn. Thus finished the afternoon, and home to do as little as usual, though this evening, after the spaghetti which I am now on, did attempt to rescue [?] my PCR from the dead, possibly as a result of reading about my activities in April 1963. I have been in this business a long time, and I have not bought much recently. Most of the stuff I was looking through tonight was of that vintage. Must rebuild an interest in electronics. I wonder where all my books have gone.


Thursday, 13 February 1969 WGC
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And on goes life. More than usual, I am looking forward to this particular weekend - why? In any case, that or any other consideration did not prevent me from sleeping in today until 0815, when, rather to my surprise, I was still able to get a plate of Weetabix in before leaving for work, and would still have arrived on time had my accelerator return spring not come unhitched again, and this time well and truly lost the moulded propathene bit which held it in place, so I had to improvise something out of wire, and was 15 minutes late. Nevertheless, this was of little importance, as all I was doing was polymerising ethylene, as yesterday. Owen showed me some amazingly grotty samples made in the HP labs yesterday, and shortly later, after I had discarded some stuff as completely and utterly useless, John suggested that I made last night's catalyst in situ and see what happened - (C₂H₅)₂TiCl₂ and Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl, went blue, then tourquoise. Started taking up ethylene, so left it, and was rung up by Middleton Motors to say that they had my dipswitch, and would I please come and collect it, and bring payment? They apparently insisted on payment, so I left them for a while, and rang up Citroën, who were not very helpful - Mr. Tallon is off sick - until I asked to speak to the manager, whom they could not find, but said they would contact Middleton Motors and see what could be done. Heard no more about it until after lunch, when Richard Wales suggested I contacted them. Did so, and subsequently out to see them, and collected the switch - idiots got part AM522-O2 instead of -02b, and the thing is white. Still, a little paint would probably cure that. Back to Welwyn Garden, blowing a fuse somewhere en route and arrived back half an hour late, no comment from John. Spent the afternoon on one of the TiCl₃/alkyl (forget which one) catalysts, and trying to work out a) how to fit the dipswitch and b) what was wrong with the circuit that had fused (by that time I had only found one fuse box, and the faulty fuse was in the other. Where to get a 30A fuse?

Carried on thus, half in the lab, half in the car, all afternoon, and at 1700 busied myself with drilling of holes, etc, and fitted the dipswitch and fixed the fuse all in ½ an hour and left (coincidence - I wonder what she will think of it) just as Ann did.

Coincidence or her plan? You'd wonder why she bothered.

Too late to buy any food, dammit - why do shops shut at 1730 in this country? Home, where I decided to connect up both horns, which was nearly my undoing, as all the light connections came undone, but eventually got everything sorted out, and went in for makan.

After makan, to the Laundrette, where I washed a fair amount of clothes - this thing is very inefficient - and home to read a bit and (later) hear Mrs. Garrard expound on politics (bosses v. workers) until I realised the time and off to bed.


Friday, 14 February 1969 WGC → Horrabridge
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St. Valentine

The trouble with writing up for Fridays is that I almost invariably leave it until Saturday, by which time the last thing of which I think of doing is reminding myself of the work I have been doing during the week. Still, what alternative? Up and out much as usual, except that this time I beat my lethargy and actually had time on my hands. At work, John showed no great interest in what I was doing, apart from to suggest that I did a couple more polymerisations today, and so started off with a new catalyst, and a rather sick-sounding vacuum pump, with which I was drying something John made yesterday. Had some trouble when my polymer mixture sucked back some Risella oil and air from the lute, and ruined the catalyst, so this time started again, only to have a break in the ethylene line and the same thing happening. Then Andy Pajackowski got John to let me work with Jack Layton this afternoon, and so no more catalysts. Got only Pete Cartwright, who was supposed to be coming down to Devon with me, and arranged to meet him after lunch, but got sidetracked by a letter from Matin, enclosing, inter alia, 50 DM, with promise of more, and hope that I was not böse with him. Write a reply, then off with Jack Layton to embed my hands with glass flock, wool fibre, and spheres (40μ) over in the G.P. That torture over, I got back just in time to contact Pete, and met him at 1700, then straight down to Devon, as fast as we could, I cursing my snow tyres, as there was no trace of snow. Dropped Pete in Torquay, then off across the moor - this at 2300 - and past Ashburton hit snow like I have never seen it before - thank God I had my XN's on. I was able to go considerably faster than any other car, and even got up out of 2 bridges, where quite a lot of other people must have been stuck. Hardly made it up the hill before the Plaisterdown road, however, and had to take a diversion. Arrived at Grimstone at 0025 hrs, and up to Bev's room, where there was no Bev. Got onto her bed and waited, but when somebody did come in (10 mins.) it was not Bev but a rather astonished Mrs Andrew - Bev was staying the night with the Normans. Mrs. Andrew seemed put off that I had come despite the snow, apparently having expected me to stay in Ashburton.

I wonder if that was correct. It's one thing to cross Dartmoor, but I could have gone via Plymouth, especially since I started from Torquay: the roads are better, and the distance is the same.


Saturday, 15 February 1969 Horrabridge
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Woke up of my own accord round 0845 and down to a kitchen cold both in atmosphere and temperature. Mr. Andrew was down first and bade me a good morning and made tea, then a few others apparently surprised to see me, so after tea I decided to go and pick Bev up from the Normans, so off into Tavistock, arriving without any trouble, apart from finding everybody still obviously in bed, so took a couple of photos of the car, and then rang the bell despite. In and upstairs to find Bev in bed with Sarah and Dinah, and each apparently complaining about the presence of the other 2. Eventually up and downstairs to have breakfast, and ended up cooking an omelette for all of us myself, while receiving advice on how to placate Mrs. Andrew in her apparent wrath over last night. Ended up changing my 50 DM at Barclay's and thence buying some flowers for Mrs. Andrew. Home to discover that Harriette had also arrived, and everybody surprised about the presence of both of us. Mrs. Andrew was to start with not to be seen, but eventually emerged, and shortly after we all set off for our latest bout of ploughmans lunch, this time at the Moorland Links hotel, Bev, Harrie, Georgina and I in the Citroën, arriving something like 50 minutes before the others. The trouble with my interest in Vickie (that is how she spells it), is that too many other things are happening at the same time and it is difficult to be alone with her long enough. Still, gently does it...

Back home again, this time with Mr. Andrew, William and Shane (the dog), and did little in the afternoon until Bev decided to go into town to buy some stuff and see the Normans - did little there, and eventually home for tea of sorts, also buying lots of meat and running around Horrabridge looking for representatives of the Unionist party (Mrs. Andrews benefit). Then off again with Bev and Harrie to the Normans, where I was to cook makan (spaghetti bolognesa à la Gaſton), and spent a considerable amount of time making a large kitchen look well-used, and then dished it up and spilt my helping all over the floor, whence the dogs and cats rapidly removed it. Apart from that tragedy the meal was well presentable, and apparently liked. Spent the time after that washing up and telephonically threatening Sonny with all sorts of dire consequences if he did not have his appendix removed in the very near future. Then the odd game of cards with the Normans, good talk, and late home to Grimstone.


Sunday, 16 February 1969 Horrabridge → Newton → London → WGC
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Up at 0900, which I don't suppose is too bad for a Sunday, and downstairs, to where hardly anybody else was about. After some hanging around, people arrived and started cooking breakfast, and I hung around, apparently unable to help - thus said they, not I. Had breakfast, wondering about the Vicki (that is the way I spell it) sitting opposite me - not that the wondering did me much good. Somewhat later on in the morning was sitting in there again, while she made a pudding or similar for lunch - I don't think she was too happy about me watching her. In any case, these possible wishes were soon fulfilled in the person of Mr. Andrew, who was doing some pruning around power cables, and wanted some help. Was understandably peed off at first at being removed from Vicki, but set to work with a Will (who joined in later), and found myself actually enjoying it, out there in the snow - something about the atmosphere that was honest, the feeling of a good job well done with nothing much less natural than the power cables (and then only as an obstruction) to contend with. Gave this up, at noon, when a Mr. Forror (well, rhymes with horror) arrived and had drinks, but stayed not for lunch, in which Vicki again played a prominent part. I wonder if she is thinking about me - my God, I am getting soppy. But then, I do wonder. Maybe wondering is more fun than doing anything about it - I certainly don't feel inclined to do anything, and surely it can't be shyness. Maybe it is just that it would be out of place. After lunch, Mr. Andrew insisted that I take a pound for taking Harrie back to London, which embarassed me terribly, as after all I had not paid them, but he was adamant, which I suppose was very nice of him. Then out sledging, etc, on the snow. A lot of fun, though going barefoot is a bit of a liability. After that, off to the South of the moor, as apparently Dartmeet was impassable, and I could well imagine that it would be impossible to get out of there once one got down. A little late at Ashburton, where we picked up Julie Smythe, and then to Newton, where Pete (whose real name is apparently Pierre) had to go back to Torquay to get his barang. Eventually left shortly before 1800, and belted, along the A30 and 303, then 30/33/4/M4, and arrived at Heston at only 2145, so had a bite to eat and returned the girls a good 10 minutes before the deadline (supposedly) of 2230, and got a cup of coffee into the bargain. Debating the practicability of an affair with Harrie - I am none to keen. Picked up a thumber on the way to the Garden City - he was going there too, and we took him all the way home.


Monday, 17 February 1969 WGC
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Oh, God, if only I had the strength of will to continue when things get not difficult, but boring. I think boredom must be my worst enemy, and John is doing little to help at the moment. If things don't improve tomorrow, I am going to fling myself at Lola and ask her to give me something interesting to do. Apart from anything else, this morning Peter Clegg came through several times, and saw me doing a very obvious nothing.

In fact, I did have something to do, I suppose: if I put my working time today together, it might add up all told to 1½ hours. But the rest of the time was deathly. Had to distil some iso-Octane before I could start anything else, and then spent a while cleaning up some stuff out of the Chromic acid bath - this new one certainly holds all we are likely to need in the normal course of events. John got me to weigh some stuff out for him, and I got a letter from Dad in a much happier state of mind than last time. He is apparently moving out of Padungan Gardens, and to a new, better, less depressing flat. He is also doing a 6-week round the world trip, and plans to arrive here on the 11th April - so much for our Ouija board, which predicted this. Read that a couple of times, and it was lunchtime.

After lunch into town and opened an account with Barclay's, who were not nearly as interested as Lloyds in my background, or anything like financial status. Quite a change, in fact. Now to keep my account solvent, and I hope that will stand me in good stead when I apply for a Barclaycard later this year.

Back to work, and John in to have a look. Got my polymer and weighed it, and had another, not very successful catalyst going most of the afternoon. Then into town after work and bought a couple of magazines, as well as stamps and postal orders for paying CIL, and some food. Got home and couldn't find the letter from CIL, which was a bloody nuisance, and so swore. After makan - my spaghetti is getting worse all the time - read my magazines and wrote to Dad, which between them took up all the evening.


Tuesday, 18 February 1969 WGC
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And on drags life - it will be more fun when I am solvent again, though I seem to have fared far better through these bad times than when I was in Germany - admittedly, there were not the complications this time. Life is as boring as ever, though the routine is getting such a hold of me that I woke up this morning despite having forgotten to wind my clock - might not be a bad idea to continue that way. I hate being dependant on a clock to wake me.

In the morning, things were little different - only Owen (who was here, for the first time on a Tuesday morning) was messing around with several 50 kilo size bags of polythene powder, to which, as I discovered, I was allergic, and after a lot of sneezing decided to avail myself of a dust mask, to John's apparent annoyance, but, apart from being somewhat uncomfortable, it did the trick. This sort of thing would prove invaluable for the trans-Asia trip - I wonder where we can get them from, or alternatively how it would be possible to whip a few. Did little work in the morning - tidied out the chromic acid bath, and then John suggested I try to activate some mixture extracted from a solution of TiCl₄ and Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur
	compound the other day - something gave him the idea that a Ti atom bounded by 6 S atoms would make a good catalyst, though in light of my experiments I beg to differ. Did not get very far by lunch time, and afterwards I tried to adjust my brakes, but only succeeded in breaking my jack, swearing, and resetting the gaps of my plugs, which had grown to round 1,1 mm. No wonder the thing was reluctant to start of late.

Back inside, had a pipe, and thought about seeing if this TiCl₄/Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound /AlEtCl really did work - it did not. After 3 hrs of passing ethylene through it, I collected and weighed a substance with the unlikely conclusion that it weighed -6,5 gm, which would give the stuff a density in excess of -10.

And I didn't even consider the commercial aspects of a substance with negative mass!

Gave it up as a bad job and prepared to go home instead - such is my activity of late, and I am bored to tears. Was interested to hear Jack Layton explaining to Ann what the grader does - latter looking on like a little girl, “Are you making the stuff in there?”. Shades of Vickie.

Went shopping, bought some food, then home to read, finally finished “The Honey Badger”, and then cooked myself a chicken curry, not too bad, but not pedas enough. Later, while reading and discovering that the front drums on the Ami do in fact come straight off (thank God for that!), came a Pete Moore, who proved to be the bloke who borrowed my socket spanners so many weeks ago, and also a friend of Nigels, who returned today after nearly 2 weeks absence. The spanners back are a load off my mind, even though I need a new 12 m one (and possibly others).


Wednesday, 19 February 1969 WGC
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Oh, if only the weather would warm up! I suppose it did after a fashion this morning, if only up to -1°, but at the same time came the news that wind and snow of equal violence were falling in Sussex and parts of Kent, and would make it here later today.

My watch had stopped, which caused me to get up early, and as a result I was early to work - possibly the fact that I did not need to scrape ice off the car also helped. At work, as usual I had nothing to do, and spent a while pondering the fact that Alan had factorised the chassis no. of my car - 551065 = 5.307.359. Just for the laugh of it, I later told him that he had factorised the wrong number. The look on his face had to be seen to be believed.

I wonder how he did it. Now it's /usr/games/factor, and even in those days we had a “computer”, really a calculator. At least Alan got the number right; three years earlier I tried the same thing on my 28 mm wide-angle lens and got it wrong.

Apart from that, did little of any value. In the morning, started another attempt at polymerisation, and in so doing knocked one of the necks off a flask of Al(C₂H₅)₃ and had to dispose of it - plenty of smoke, but no flames. Also mixed a couple of batches of catalyst to duplicate the properties of some other stuff that we had made and were running out of. That was all I did until lunchtime, apart from break the top off a molecular sieve column, and had consequently to make a visit to the glassblower. After lunch, stopped the ”polymerisation”, poured in IPA, and with a slight induction time, the stuff went as clear and clean as the iso-octane I put in. So much for that. Started another one and tried out a problem with Alan had set me about the battle of Hastings (the way he said it [Yorkshire accent] I thought he said “Bottle of hare stings”), and came to the conclusion that, according to the result of the thing, more Saxons were present than the population of England at that time. In the afternoon, nearly everybody went to the monthly meeting, and Owen, I and the 2 secretaries were all that were left. Did little beyond weighing my keyring individually and together. Difference of 2,32 mg in the results of the thing a) complete b) sum of individual readings. Possibly one of the weights is high, or there is an inaccuracy of ≈ 200 μg in the zero of the thing.

Home, and did little. Had thoghts of visiting Paul Hallett, but decided against it. Cooked some makan afterwards, while Mrs. Garrard tried in vain to draw my attention to the fact that she had cooked a “curry”. Felt like being nasty, but also felt sorry for her, so said nothing. Thinking about adjusting the camber on my front wheels - my car must be just about unique amongst fwd cars in still having king pins, so adjusting camber could be quite easy.

It could? It escapes me now, as does a reason to do so.


Thursday, 20 February 1969 WGC
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And on goes the grind, though today at least it got a bit less monotonous, as, as John said, we were going to do a bit of chemistry.

Woke up as usual, and discovered that it had been doing a pretty good job of snowing in the night - must have been a good 8 cm, and I had up to 20 cm on the windscreen and bonnet of the car: after I had wiped the snow off the screen, I still could not see over the boonet. Unfortunately, the snow was short-lived: it was only -1° in the car when I got in, and rapidly thawing. Arrived at work, did a spin, parked, and watched how long it took for the others to arrive. Ann must live in a really remote place: she arrived at 0925 dressed in slacks and Wellington boots - I felt like talking to her on the subject, but did not get round to it. Instead got things moving as John suggested. He is now leaving most of the work to me, I think in order to get disengaged, so that I will not be left floundering when he goes up to Wilton at the end of next month. Got a few flasks fitted up form some crazy idea of his involving TiCl₃/C₂H₅OH/Al(C₂H₅)₃/C₆H₁₂. I don't know what he hopes to achieve by that, but possibly it might have some effect other than either the triethyl alone or the Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl - though I doubt it. Broke a flask while setting up - things are going at a hell of a rate of late - and later over to the SEB to transfer some alkyl, this taking a good deal of time, which we spent talking about cars, John contemplating his next one, hoping for an economical buy, especially as regards fuel consumption, but seemed uninterested in the Peugeot 204 diesel.

Then off for lunch, having to wade through some rather deep puddles of thawing snow, and then back again to the lab to execute John's new idea catalyst, while everything went wrong. First thing was the C₂H₄ given off by the reaction between the C₂H₅OH and Al(C₂H₅)₃, which blew the alkyl back out of the syringe, displaced the plunger and poured alkyl all over me and dangerously close to a conference round Lola's desk. I don't know how the stuff contrives to transpire through rubber gloves, but it does, and makes itself somewhat objectionable in the process. Then over, yet another flask gave up the ghost on me, this time without any help from me, while under vacuum. It only cracked and started leaking vacuum - the least it could have done would be to implode properly. Then, finally, got the TiCl₃ in, by myself, without any trouble, much to my pleasure and no little bit to John's. He was in the process of writing a report in which, I notice, my name figures. Fame, if not fortune, here I come. Gave up then and took Alan into town, buying some stuff myself, rather more than I had intended, and then home to do a bit of reading. I really am vegetating here, and must get down to some activity or another - cooking is simply not enough, even if I am getting more proficient at making curries. Very little in the evening - just read.


Friday, 21 February 1969 WGC → Tun.Wells
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And so draws another week to a close, and, as has only recently occurred to me, payday nearer. No snow about today, apart from a little that had not melted from yesterday. I rather hope that that is the last snow we shall see this year - though if my memory serves me aright (and I know damn well it does), it snowed on 14.IV.1966.

It seems it didn't. The reference must have been to 12 April 1966.

I hope it doesn't do anything like that this year. Apart from anything else, I am getting fed up driving with snow tyres and all the attendent restrictions. I want to feel free to belt up to 80 mph again on occasion, and corner hard without removing a front wing.

The real issue was that the snow tyres were considerably larger both in width and diameter, and they scraped.

Work as usual this morning, for what it was worth - at least we got round to making a few catalysts, and also another experiment with titanocene dichloride, as John was writing some report and wanted to have more details on same. He also asked me a bit about my future aims - apparently he is to write a report on me. Rather shatteringly, I discover that at the end of next week I will have been here 3 months - does time not fly?

After lunch, into town, where I finally got hold of an account number and temporary cheque book (good idea which Lloyd's would do well to copy), then back again, paying CIL by cheque rather than by postal order, simply because it would be cheaper that way, not to mention easier. I hope all goes a little better with this bank account - I notice on the cheque book counterfoils there is space for a running calculation of bank balance, which will be more than a slightly good idea.

From a modern perspective, it says more about Lloyd's cheque books, if they didn't have that feature.

In the afternoon, on with the preparation of a couple more catalysts, which, along with getting some more iso-octane, took most of the afternoon - not that I particularly minded. What does worry me, however, is the rate I get through lab coats, my last one only having lasted me 10 days.

That was due to the chromic acid bath. But why should it worry me? I didn't have to pay for them.

Off to Tun. Wells in the evening, and arrived at 1930 to discover Sonny no longer suspect of appendicitis, but not feeling too much better for the fact. Trevor arrived in due course, and proceeded to make a few unpleasant comments about my car. Down to a music evening, where Sonny was, then to a pub in some foggy waste, had a drink, and back to Westwood. Mrs. Taylor told me that Mrs. Lane was out to prevent me from sleeping there, so out again to Tonbridge, and there had some coffee, then out towards Hastings, but on the way my dipswitch mounting gave out, and I had to drive all the way back on full beam. At Westwood, Mrs. Lane rang up at 0130 and say I should get out - God only knows how she knew I was there. Slept in the car.


Saturday, 22 February 1969 Tun.Wells → Southampton
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Jim came at 0945 this morning and woke me from dreams of a chinese gentleman of indeterminate origin who had driven across Dartmoor through 25 cm of snow in a diesel-engined Landrover to pay secret nocturnal visits to Bev, and however omitting to turn off the engine when parking - this occasioned by the cement-mixer blasting in my ear. Down to town, where I went into Halfords and bought some stuff for the electrics of my car, and then back to Westwood to apply them. This took quite a while - got my dipswitch back in again, and working, and then applied myself to the reversing light, which was a somewhat knotty problem, and eventually decided that a lot of exposed wiring would not mean the end of the world, and so exposed it, and fitted everything in. Round about this time, Trevor arrived, together with more criticisms of the car, and I somehow managed to get all the lighting done. He still insists, for some unknown reason, that his 3" tungsten spot is brighter than my Oscars, though everything points to the contrary.

Then all prepared to go to Brands, and Jim, Trevor and I down to the Wimpy for lunch and a chat with a widow husband-hunting on the behalf of her somewhat reticent or just plain shy daughter, and then back, while I adjusted my brakes and had the somewhat traumatic experience of seeing the car sliding forward while jacked up and coming to rest on 3 wheels and a kingpin. Finally got everything adjusted and the wheels changed front to back, then off to Brands, where Sonny was not able to drive any formula Ford, and so, after a lot of discussion and mind-changing, Sonny and I decided to go round the track to keep each other company. A lot of hasty taping-up, then out, and I was astounded at the way my car handled - I had taken everything removable out except the spare wheel (forgotten), and belted round at a speed which surprised me - took Druids at nigh on 40 mph [64 km/h], and kept up with a Jag and a couple of Formula Fords round bottom bend, and nearly came adrift at Kidney the first time round. The whole feeling is one of freedom to belt, the track is wide to the point of being embarrassing - I think this car is so slow that once I got used to the track I could take it flat out all the way, except round Druids. Unfortunately, when the track manager saw me cornering, he decided that the thing was bound to tip over any time, and so called me off after only 2 laps, and gave me my money back - I had quite forgotten about that. All were quite apologetic about it all, and I feel they expected me to blow up in a violent rage, but rather untypically, I did not - Trevor did it for me, however, but just as we were coming back, Jim said “Look at that Jag over there been wiped out”. Thinking he said “Jay” [the name by which Sonny went in the UK, short for his Tamil name Jeyarajah], Trevor and I rushed over to see what we could do, and damn nearly wrung Jim's neck when, 10 minutes and 2000 litres of air later, we got back just to see Sonny, low on petrol, come off - he went back again and carried on at the same pace, which, I am told, was slower than mine.

Then it was all over, and back to Tun. Wells, on the way Trevor complaining that his steering was buggered - as a result, Sonny and I both drove it and found it fully in order. Later I drove Sonny's car, and found the directional stability of that almost non-existent. Talking about it, we decided we would have to increase the camber by about 2° to -1°, which is what Alan Fraser told Sonny some time back.

Then off to Southampton, Sonny leaving me way behind - he claimed to have arrived ½ hour before me, which I doubt, though he was obviously some time ahead. In any case, my snow-tyres were still holding me up, even on the rear wheels. Then Jim and Sonny went off into town to the dance, but I hung around at home and did a bit of catching up with my diary until the [sic] came back, about 2 hours later, not having been admitted. Had a somewhat heated argument with Sonny about front suspension, then early to bed.


Sunday, 23 February 1969 So'ton → WGC
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Up late enough this morning, though, as usual, up before Sonny and Jim. Downstairs, where the Mc.Gibbons were having breakfast with their house-guests, the Ritchies, and so back up to try with little success to rouse Sonny and Jim. Down a bit later and half-cooked my own breakfast, and while I was eating it, Shari came down - I have not made up my mind what I think about Shari. She is obviously crazy about Bob, unless it is boredom that drives her back: she is going back to him again in a couple of weeks time. Hung about talking for a while, then down came Sonny and Jim, not without a little persuasion from big Jim, and had breakfast. Then Sonny wanted to paint the front of his car matt black, and so out to help him - not that I was all that useful, but managed to come to the infuriating conclusion that I had lost my own tools - possibly they are still in Trevor's car, but a lot of good that will do me. Tidied up the car a little, and then messing round with lights to see where I could hang a couple of Oscars from: I am fairly convinced now that I should fit another couple for fog - Sonny tells me that last night he could tell me a mile off when I turned on my full beam and blinded him. I wonder how it would look with 4 of the things. In any case, I think I shall have to stick to my original position and remove the rubber bumpers. Will probably have to make my own bracket as well.

Then had lunch, after which, for some unknown reason, it was suggested that we went to the zoo, which we did, and then driving round Southampton looking for a cup of coffee, and scaring all the other motorists by spending most of my time at an angle in excess of 10°. Had our coffee, then back home and had some makan (eventually), but not before seeing some photos of a fishing trip that Jim (Sr) had made, as well as some photos of my car cornering hard. Then I off for Reading, to look in vain for Jenny Hallett, and to where Paul used to live, to find him having moved to Maidenhead, so on through Slough to Watford and St. Albans, thence home. Got into 2 tail slides on the same roundabout, which was pretty good going. None too late home, but did little in the evening.


Monday, 24 February 1969 WGC
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And on with the drag - Monday mornings are becoming increasingly unpleasant, and not even the fact that this one was a little warmer (well, about 2°) made any noticable difference. In any case, it made up for it by being cold and unpleasant and dreary in its place. I know just what is wrong with me - I need a girl, nothing new, but I just don't feel like doing anything about it. I shall just have to face up to facts and go out with Harrie Andrew as a practical necessity - though God knows what would then become of my attentions to Vicki. Besides, how would it look if, repulsed by Harri, I were to go on to try my luck with Vicki? Admittedly, I have done it, but it is going back a long way - all by 9 years (29.II.1960). Oh, well, what the hell. What do I care what they think? Quite a bit, when I come to consider it.

To work, and was just putting my lab coat on when Owen came along and reminded me that I had this induction course, so changed back again and over to block 'A' to see what was going on. Before very long, along came Pete Cartwright and sat down beside me with the information that a couple of Oscars would set me back £10:10:0 odd - not at all bad, and I think I shall take him up. Expect Sonny would also like a pair or 2 as well. The induction course itself was nothing fantastic, though it was one way of spending our time. After a stand-in talk in which I discovered something about ICI, saw a film, and then had a couple of lectures on the research and engineering departments, followed by a look round a room where they make the models - which cost a quire substantial proportion of the total cost of the plant - possibly superproportionately to the scale of reduction.

There were numerous blackouts between the scenes in the film, and it nearly put me to sleep.

Then cashed a cheque - bank clerk got stroppy about it and asked me to write the date in all roman figures. Looked a bit silly, but he accepted it thus.

From memory, this must have been Lloyds Bank, though I don't understand why I still had anything to do with them. The issue is that I write my dates with Roman numerals for the month (for example 24.II.1969 for today), because they claimed they were post-dated. As a result of the matter, I modified my writing for February and March only to use lower case letters, for example 24.ii.1969.

Then to the car, where I discovered I had broken the glass of my Bosch spot (further confusion is obviously going to arise when all my lights are Cibiés) and so put in another fog glass. I don't suppose there is much point changing it before I get the Cibiés, which, with any luck, might be in only a week's time. Also a reminder from CIL, which should not be due, and rang them up, and all was well. Then back to the course, where we had another lecture - by this time I was, as Pete, bored to tears, and somewhat lost track of things - by a bloke whose spirit, ahead of his body, was also in Ireland, whither he was to fly this afternoon Talked to a bird, Jenny, who is apparently going steady with Owen's digsmate Ken. Pity, as Pete observed. Then across to TS with the bloke who wanted to buy an Ami 6 - is apparently having complications at the moment, and is doing little about it. Place was quite interesting, and I must go and have a look around the showrooms again sometime. Then another lecture, and home, dropping Jenny on the way. At home, the usual boredom - Nigel has pranged his Imp in much the same place as Sonny, and is decidedly peed off about it - reminds me of my feelings 10 months ago. Feel sorry for the poor bastard.


Tuesday, 25 February 1969 WGC
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Woke up somewhat later today - not that it matters much, as John is away, but I had better not let it develop into a habit or I could get into all sorts of confusion. Off to work without really hurrying myself, and somewhat surprised myself by arriving only about 5 minutes late, and then setting to work, if not with a will, then with a guilty conscience. Discovered the ethylene cylinder had run out over the weekend - had hardly expected that, though come to think of it, it was logical enough. The solution had gone solid, so obviously something had happened, and indeed the weighings showed half as much polymer again as last time, though still nothing like in the order of the TiCl₃ ones - efficiency of about 1500. Over to the HP labs and got another cylinder of ethylene, and back over to the labs to get another polymerisation going, though it took quite a while - miraculously the water supply had not given out over the weekend, and so we were able to distil over the iso-Octane without waiting for it to warm up again. Rang up Lloyds, where I discovered that a further sum had been deducted from my salary for purposes of hostel payment, and so once again I am in the position I was in last month. There is nothing for it - this time I shall have to ask Dad for help. Down to the bank after lunch and arranged for transfers, and handed in no less than 3 old cheque books, then bought the new Highway code (out today), and off back. Book look little more useful than the last one, though it costs 2½ times as much.

The afternoon I spent with 3 different catalysts, each of which, rather surprisingly, showed no catalytic activity whatsoever, and so fairly quickly disposed of each in turn. As well as that, one of the catalysts I made today was unbelievably thick, and the other did not noticably thicken - makes me think I got my decene additions wrong, though I am certain this was impossible. Got my salary cheque in the evening, chatting Ann vaguely up in the process - in her office I noticed, on the opposite wall, a series of photos, including, of all things, a male (looks it, though effeminate) nude - randy old Ann. She seems to have problems, too, to judge by some of the things she said. I wonder what...

Probably my obtuseness was one of the problems.

At home, the same old evening, though I had been thinking of going into London and seeing Harrie - though now she seems just like Bev's friend again, and I had never found her very eligible. Wrote to Dad after makan, and hope he does not get too mad a the request - damn it, he has no right to it. Trying to work out negative and positive camber afterwards.


Wednesday, 26 February 1969 WGC Images for 26 February 1969
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Up again none too early, though I have obviously succeeded in streamlining mornings to the extent where I can be at work only 30 minutes after I get up. So was it today, and I was not late. There I had, as usual, not all too much to do, and so spent a goodly time hanging around. Had decided by this time that there was no point in trying any more of the aluminium ethoxide catalysts, and so trying the Titanium chlorine 5ring stuff again, with the fairly definite conclusion this time that the blue colour in the solution is caused, not by reduction with the alkyl, but by reduction by the ethylene, and one of the outcomes of this was that I added so much alkyl that I was virtually repeating the experiment over the weekend. Cleaned out the chromic acid bath - this is becoming almost a habit - and notice that the thing is looking somewhat under the weather. I wonder if it needs regeneration.

After that, read for a while and watched Lola going about her business with a few rather spectacular looking xylene vapour jackets for measuring intrinsic viscosities - whatever they are. Somehow held on till lunch, spending a while in the morning ringing up another Citroën mob, who could offer me a box and diff for £20, and said Citroën 2CV suspension arms were about 10/- a throw in Belgium. Must do a bit of scrounging round next time I am jenseits odes Kanales.

After lunch, into town to get some money wherewith to pay British Rail for my last continental excursion, but as yet no money had arrived from Lloyd's, so bought a magazine instead and spent a yet more boring afternoon. Richard Cooper came along and asked if I had anything to do, and for some reason I said yes - admittedly I did - and then he said he did not thing much of the order of addition in the making of the Al(C₂H₅)₂OC₂H₅ catalyst, and thinks that may explain their singular inactivity.

Up to the Library at a later stage, and got out a 30 year old book on mechanics for Engineers, which I had better brush up - I have forgotten one hell of a lot of maths. Did little else in the afternoon, and then home to do even less, be it reading my magazines. I suddenly have an overwhelming desire to go in for racing, and a parallel idea of fitting twin Amals to my Ami. Then cooked a quite successful curry, joined halfway by Mrs. Garrard, who expressed her like of a hot curry. Some day I shall make some beef vindaloo and give her some.

This is the first time I mention Vindaloo. The way it was served in England (and probably still is) has little to do with the original (which was pork anyway). But I didn't realize it was current at that time.

After makan, off for a drive to Bishop's Stortford and back, as it eventuated, and quite enjoyed myself. Got a bath for the first time this week, despite Mrs. Garrard playing at turning off the heater.


Thursday, 27 February 1969 WGC
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And again up at 0810 hrs, which on the face of it seems a logical enough time to get up - there does not seem to be all that much point getting up any earlier. At work, back to the same old grind - I am getting sick of this, and think it is about time I changed into something else: I would rather like to do a few more organic preparations of nature other than catalytic polymerisation (or, as recently, just an attempt thereat). In any case, today tried out the Ti(Acac)₂Cl₂/Al(C₂H₅)₃ catalyst (or should I say mixture?) which gradually went paler and showed no other signs of chemical change. I can't see that there was any way oxygen could have got in, yet Richard told me yesterday that they have already tried this stuff in the HP labs and had moderately good results. Such was not the case over here - quite possibly the low pressure is the answer - but also possibly the ethylene is impure. It does, I think, smell different to the other stuff.

Spent the latter part of the morning talking to Alan, who, it seems, has only spent a year at Uni - Oxford, doing chemistry, of all things - only he suffered the ignominy of having to leave because of bad results. After lunch, felt dead and did nothing, later messing around with calculating machines, etc. Then started thinking about doing some work, and so offered to Lola to do some work, and, predictably, was put on the grader, where I did 4 polymers and forgot to put the die in twice. Mixed bag of π-allyls, from very hard to unbelievably soft - came out like a not-very-viscous liquid. Then worked things out, and it was 1700 hrs, so did a bit of shopping with intent to cook something different this evening, and had a rush on curry powder as a result of a fear that they were changing its composition. Then home and started cooking some dhall, and later down to cook simultaneously (less easy than it seems) dhall, nasi beryani and daging vindaloo, which was quite successful, apart from burnt rice. Must experiment more with this stuff, and got hold of more spices. No bath again - bitch doesn't heat up the water properly.


Friday, 28 February 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells → So'ton
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And so the end of yet another week and the official period of spring while we are at it.

Not quite. It seems that I didn't understand at the time that the British seasons start at equinox and solstice, and thus don't quite mirror the Australian seasons.

It was snowing half-heartedly today, possibly to mark this transition, but still far too cold for my liking. When one considers how mild it was at the beginning of winter, it is all the more surprising. John was back from Carlisle today, of course, and was somewhat offput by the fact that I had not read his instructions for the preparation of the catalyst. Accordingly he set me the same job over again, that of preparing catalysts, adding the ingredients in the correct order. That, predictably, took me most of the day in one way or another.

Spent most of the morning just getting all the apparatus setup, and put the alkyl and the alcohol in, then off to the bank to get some cash and home to consume the remainder of the dhall I made last night. Arrived back at about 1300, with no sign of John, and got on with the work - I still have my doubts as to the effectiveness of these catalysts, though I am prepared to be proven wrong. Then tried to grade some of the polymers we made, though they were all so hard that we could not - the MFI must have been less than 10⁻⁴.

In the evening, finally off, this time with Owen and Alan, and picked up a thumber on the approach road to the A1, who proved to be studying chemical engineering at Cambridge. Dropped him and Alan at Hyde Park corner and Owen in Lewisham - of late we are getting through London quicker, possibly this time because we went through the West End, though I noticed other people who were disappearing behind and reappearing in front of us. Arrived at Tun. Wells at about 1925, just in time to nearly run Trevor over as he went to carry Mrs. Taylor's son back, who had sprained his ankle. Then all of us (Trevor, Angie, Jim and myself) off to Southampton in my car, getting a bit wild towards the end, as Jim and Trevor would pay out the doors round the lefthanders to steady the car, and Jim travelled at up to 50 mph standing on the rear bumper and holding on (how?) to the roof. When we stopped, he slid right up onto the roof, and very nearly down again onto the bonnet. Then along the Winchester bypass, Jim and Trevor hanging their legs out at passing cars, and rather invoked the wrath of a Triumph Herald in so doing. Then to Greenacres, where I discovered I had not done my right fog much good in one of the yumps on the way, and had to put a new glass in. Don't think Trev made too good an impression on Jim's parents.


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