Greg
Greg's diary
January 1969
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This diary is currently was entered manually from the paper original between 8 June 2016 and 8 July 2016.

Wednesday, 1 January 1969 Oostende → Dover → Tun. Wells → S'hampton.
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Sonny woke me some time round 0500 this morning to tell me that things were beginning to happen, and should we drive the car into the waiting area? I said yes, but he seemed reluctant to do so, although he was in the driver's seat. Eventually got him to do so, and even to get out and try and get some tickets, in which he was however thwarted by the fact that the place was not yet open. In due course, as we were sitting there and carrying on a spasmodic conversation, somebody came along and told us we had a flat tyre, which indeed we ha, and which we changed pretty quickly. Who was it who said that one had only one flat every 18 months on average? In the past 18 months I must have had as many flats, not to mention the one in the taxi the day I left Germany.

Eventually got on to the boat and saw the immigration blokes, then had coffee and a talk, while Bev and Sonny went off to get some cigarettes. Off to sleep after that, and Sonny woke me round 1000 for breakfast, but feeling depressed as I was I decided not to have any, as I was damn nearly broke. Back to sleep, and did not wake up until we were already in Dover and the garages were opened. Rather surprisingly, it was a nice, clear sunny day, though it was obvious there had been some snow. Cleared customs without too much trouble, and then down to Folkestone and up to Ashford, then across to Tun. Wells. Once certainly notices a difference from the Autobahn when one reaches England - even the Bundesstraßen are much better than the A2/A20. In Tun. Wells went to Westwood, where nobody was but Pam and Sue. Unloaded the barang, then rang Jim up and asked if I could come down. Repaired my tyre (fortunately I had a spare tube), and then was just about to go when Sonny came down and tried to start his car, which was dead as a doornail - there was about enough charge in the battery to keep the ignition light going for 2 seconds. Down to Rawsons with him and bought a new battery, then back to put it in again, ascertained that it turned the engine over, and left for Southampton. Car was going OK, though the roadholding felt a bit funny - possibly I have crazy tyre pressures. Arrived at Southampton before dark, no idea of the time, and Jim was obviously bored. Did little until makan, which was a Jim-made snack, and then off into town. I don't know what Jim had intended to do, but we ended up going across a ferry, coming back again, passing a Citroën agent in the process - in the window were a 1935 11CL8 and a 1925 Trèfle, which highly inspired me. Then back and on to Winchester, where we did our best to pick up a few girls, but they were either lunatic or too young, and so we gave up, especially after meeting them all together in a fish shop, and headed back to Greenacres, where we saw „Doctor in love“ on TV and went late to bed.


Thursday, 2 January 1969 Southampton
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Up at 0930 this morning, when Mrs. McGibbon, as promised, called. Downstairs again long before Jim, despite having a wet shave for the first time in a long time (21 months in the case of my upper lip)

I'm still a bit uncertain what facial hair I had in those days, but this suggests that I had had a moustache since I first started growing a beard on 26 April 1967.

and did not do this latter much good in the process. Eventually in to find Jim fast asleep, fully dressed, having apparently worked until 0530. After several attempts on his part to go back to sleep, we eventually woke him up, and had breakfast. Then Jim said he felt like going into town, and so in due course we set off into town. I had some things to get as well, and so to Halfords and Smiths for some adhesives, Exchange and Mart and Autocar - E&M was useless. Then Jim thought it might be an idea to go up to our test road again to see how we would fare on it. Did so, not too well: my knobbies are still scraping a little, and I am going to have to fit some larger wheel arches. Then back having at least proven that the knobblies give noticably better traction, though the car must have been 20 lbs heavier with the mud it picked up. Also cleaned the air filter, which had a surprising amount of muck in it, and cleaned out the fuel filter in the carb and changed the plugs, the combination of which made the car run a lot sweeter. Then had intended to clean the car, but changed my mind and decided instead to do a bit of paintwork touching up, which was not very successful, even if it was an improvement. Then in to wait for lunch, which somehow never came - got some doughnuts, and that was that. Jim thought he would like to buy a car, so into town again and located a junk yard, where a little boy who must have been under 10 years old told us they did not sell cars hole, but scrapped them, and put us on to another block in Priory Road, who actually had some cars, but did not know what his father wanted done with them. Saw a Jag mechanical rev counter to 6000 revs, very nice, only £2 - ought to find some way to connect that up to the car. Then off again back to Greenacres, where I got round to washing the car, and dislodged utterly unbelievable quanitites of mud from the underside of the wheel arches. Dried the thing off, then put the trnasfer stickers on that I bought in Germany - very nice. Had an early makan, then off into town yet again, where Jim wanted to pick up girls, but though we went both to Southampton and Winchester, all we picked up was a cop who didn't like my driving. Back home, none too early to bed.


Friday, 3 January 1969 Southampton → WGC → Southampton.
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Alarm off at 000, for which I had somehow managed to condition myself, and sup up, dressed, snatched a quick bit to eat, and off to Welwyn Garden. Weather was none too good, with fog and drizzle the order of the day (or night). Made a fair belt, as the traffic was not to heavy, and got the car filthy again in the process. Picked up a thumber near Maidenhead, got lost from Watford to St. Albans (where I hadn't intended to go), not helped by the fact that my headlights were down to half their normal power as a result of getting filthy and some mysterious trouble which caused almost complete loss of charge. Arrived at Handside at about 0750 and had breakfast, then had a look at the alternator and found a loose terminal, which I did my best to tighten, though I had no better tools than my hands. Then off to work, arriving at about 0830, where I met Owen, who had already had the high jump for not arriving back till yesterday - he had apparently been caught in snow drifts, which bore about as much excuse as mine. Apparently had to have a chat with Peter Clegg about this, and he was none too happy about the fact that I hadn't contacted them about not being back on time, and suggested that I would have to give up some of my holiday time for it.

Then back out again, and did very little - Lola had apparently no use for me, and apart from a Mr. Shorthouse coming in and requesting the 20l flask in which we had done the preparation of the Hexene-1 catalyst, which took a bit of cleaning. Then did a bit of running round tying up loose odds and ends, and it was time for lunch. In to town to give my glasses to the opticians, then back and cleaned up the car. Also fixed to connection to the alternator. After lunch rang up Higgs in Reading and told him the fate of the DKW

Which is more than I told this diary.

and asked him for a refund, which he was apparently prepared to do. Then Lola wanted me to do some MFI work on some new polymers which had just come down from Wilton, so on with that for a while until tea time, then rang up Bosch and subsequently Auto Electrical in Watford, and the latter said they would send up a couple of glasses for me - 2 fog and one spot. I am rather interested to see how a combination of low spot and fog would do me through heavy fog. Then on with the MFI stuff until Ann came along with the interesting news that somebody had thought she was my girlfriend - I wonder why she mentioned that.

Why, indeed.

Is she interested in me? I suppose it is possible, but would a relationship be advisable? I shall obviously have to probe this more deeply. On the other hand, has Lynn been trying to contact me? On with the MFI's, doing a polythene bag out of interest while I was doing it, then had a talk with Malcolm while I was at it - he has just got a new Triumph Herald 13/60, and I bet him I could beat the guts out of his car on a twisty road. He is thinking about it - I ought to win that if the road is twisty enough. Then off again back to Southampton, along much trickier traffic, and took a rather longer time as a result, despite being shown a good short cut round Reading by a thumber.

Nothing near Reading looks optimal to me, even if Google Maps thinks otherwise.

After that on, through quite a bit of fog near Winchester, though it was a nice clear night in Southampton. Had makan, then Jim wanted to go somewhere, so after having a bath, into town for a drink, then belted down some rather bad roads behind his house, then back home again and late to bed.


Saturday, 4 January 1969 So'ton.
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Up none too early this morning - had set the alarm for 0800, but somehow did not wake until 1030. Jim was still in bed, and his father had gone off to work in the Cortina, as the Zodiac had a flat. While Jim was getting up, I changed the wheel on the Zodiac - the tread brace looked as if it had completely given up its function, and remained concave despite all my attempts to bend it back into shape. My opinion of textile radials (G800 in this case) has hardly improved as a result of that.

In those days, Michelin had a patent on steel-belted radial tyres, and nobody else could build them. They produced an amazing amount of hype about how textile belted radials were better, but the producers dropped them like hot potatoes when the Michelin patent expired.

Then inside to have breakfast, after which Jim reminded me of his itch to go and buy a car, so down to the old place that we saw on Thursday, and had a chat with the bloke there, who offered us a Morris Oxford, 1956 model, running order, with a few parts which needed to be put on, for £10. The thing was rather rusty, but looked otherwise in good enough condition. Accordingly off home again, where Jim asked his mother for some money to go and buy the thing, and was apparently surprised when she suggested he refer it to his father. There followed an argument out of which I judiciously kept, and went to write up my diary for yesterday instead - despite the best of resolutions I still seem to be leaving it until the following day. Jim went upstairs after not having been very nice to his mother, and when I had finished I went outside and washed my car, which, as usual, was in need of it - I will be only too glad when the summer finally comes and the car stays clean a little longer at a time. In the process of cleaning it, I removed most of the “waterproof” transfer stickers that I put on on Thursday. Polystyrene cement was not of much help in putting them back on, so I left them for the time being. I think I shall go over to the T.A.S when I get back to Welwyn and see if they can suggest any really thin self-adhesive tape which would hold them in place. Then inside - this car is certainly getting a lot of attention of late, and I love every minute of it. Now all I really need to do is connect up the oil pressure and vacuum guages - I hope I don't have any more trouble with the former. Then Jim started thinking about going out tonight, and we both got ready far too early, then finally off about 1930 - I wish I had a watch again: this is getting dead annoying. At the Top Rank, where there was a dance, we did not do too well. I am not sure why, but nobody was particularly interested in dancing with us, and Jim tagging along behind us was not up to much. Nearly got hold of a couple of birds, but somehow missed out. Then, at Jim's suggestion, off to Bournemouth, where we picked up a couple of birds who were unfortunately going to a private party, then to a coffee shop, where we got talking to a couple of car people, and got them interested in my DKW. Off back home, very late to bed, must have been after 0200.


Sunday, 5 January 1969 So'ton → WGC.
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Life must be catching up with me again; when I woke up this morning the first thing I worried about was the time: I think I ought to have a holiday, go across Africa or Australia or America or somewhere. Downstairs, where nobody was about, though Mrs. McGibbon had left signs of some earlier presence. Outside to grease the car, although it is not due according to the clock - these snow tyres have sent everything haywire. Didn't do my hand much good in the process - knocked it hard against the gravel while trying to remove the grease gun from a grease nipple. Also adjusted the handbrake again - it seems that last time I adjusted one side only, which explains why it pulled to that side. Oiled everything, then inside again to where Mrs. McGibbon was preparing breakfast. Had a comparatively long-drawn out breakfast, towards the end of which the Reids arrived (friends of the McGibbons), so that the McGibbons could drive them up to Heathrow airport. By the time they did set off, I was outside again removing a tyre from a wheel - in a stroke of madness I managed to put the wheel completely inside the tyre, where it is not easy to get it. Took both of my new (old) wheels and cleand what rust there was off them, washed them, left them to dry, and applied some very bolshy zinc paint to prevent any further oxidation. Took one of the front wheels off and tried the second wheel on, but it would not fit either, so gave it up as a bad job and put some X's on the front wheels, and then up to the Total station up the road, where I got petrol and air, and back again - the car feels much livlier [sic] now after the XN's. Back at the house, hd intended to write up my diary, but watched a film instead on TV. After that, out, as earlier intended, to clean out the interior of the car, which was getting rather untidy, and did a pretty basic tidy-up, consisting of removing everything, and then putting back what I thought fit. This was followed by packing all my sundry barang together, and by the time I was getting that finished and packed together, the McGibbons came home in a Corsair with very noisy exhaust system - why does the company only use Fords? Do they have some sort of agreement with them?

The “company” was some Canadian pharmaceutical company from Ontario, maybe Don Mills, and now swallowed by a well-known larger company. For some reason I have the name “Adams” in the back of my head, but I can't find a company of that name. And I suppose it's very likely that they had a contract with Ford or a Ford supplier.

Mrs. McGibbon tarted preparing makan, mainly out of tins - the things they use - even tinned potatoes. Nevertheless, the makan tasted pretty good, and after that I got round to writing up my diary, then saw some of Jim's slides - exposure and focussing bad on many, and composition almost non-existent. By then it was 2200, and I decided, rightly enough, that I had better be moving. Belted along wet roads to arrive in an esitmated 2½ hours, despite another loss of way at Watford.


Monday, 6 January 1969 WGC.
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And back to the grind of life! Was a little afraid I had not set my alarm clock (I had simply guessed the time when I arrived, not having seen a clock since I left Southampton), but apparently my fears were unjustified, as it was only a couple of minutes out. Nevertheless lost a fair amount of sleep. At work, not really expecting to see John, was not surprised when he did not turn up. What did turn up, however, was a card from him, which said he would be in tomorrow. Was just settling down to another inactive day when Jack Layton came along and suggested I clean up the glassware which was at the end of John's bench, to which I applied myself with Vim if not with vigour. Was rather a job, nevertheless, and after a while I decided that the best bet for some of them was the chromic acid bath, and accordingly put a flask in, having first rmoved a large quantity of Quickfit joints, etc, burning a hole in my glove in the process - not the most pleasant thing that has ever happened to me. Cleaned that lot out, sat round for a while longer, and it was lunch time. At lunch, was struck by the number of women around. Have they been recruiting more female staff? I for one would hardly object.

Then to the car to tidy it up somewhat, as well as to put the lamp covers on, and then back to the lab to write up my diary. After a subsequent period of sitting round, was pounced upon by Lola to do yet more boring MFI determination. The most interesting thing about all this is, I think, the one of that balance accurate to 0,05 mgm. Carried on thus nearly until 1700, then cleaned up and hung round without all too much to do until I left. Into town and bought some magazines - really must stop doing that - and back to the hostel, where I read for a while before going down for makan, after which, for reasons still beyond my comprehension, I went to sleep - why does this only happen to me here? Is it something to do with the food, or the ridiculous time at which they serve it? In any case, woke again round 2030, and went down shortly later to have some coffee and cheese sandwiches. Up again and wrote a letter to Dad telling him of what had befallen us in Germany, and after that read - I ought to buy some big, thick book and read that, rather than magazines, even the cheapest of which don't have too much in them worth reading. Carried on thus until well into the night, shifting to my bed in the process. I am bored - I need a girl.


Tuesday, 7 January 1969 WGC.
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Why do I keep a diary when I am working here? There is certainly not nearly enough really worth recording. But then, what is the point of a record at all? There would certainly be none if it were discontinuous, and I suppose for this reason alone these entries are justified. In any case, I still think, despite all this monotony (or do I?).

In fact, looking back from the year 2016, I find these entries quite interesting. I couldn't guess that at the time. All the more reason to keep a detailed diary nowadays.

In fractionally late this morning, to discover John already there, apparently none the worse for his holidays, although he told me that he had enough bruises to vouch for the fact that he had been actively skiing. He was not, however, very interested in doing any practical work - I later discovered that he was swatting up so that he could talk Ziegler Catalysts to Derek Morely on equal terms. Accordingly, I once again had nothing to do, unless it be wonder what Ann thought of me. I wonder how much a girl's surname influences her hurry to get married (this all from a quite impartial point of view). If at all, then Ann must be in a hell of a hurry, with a surname like Sugg. Noticed her coming from the car park this morning - I wonder if she has a car, or if somebody (m or f?) gives her a lift. Ought to try and find out more about her - after all, she must, from the records, know quite a bit about me. Did little then until Lola decided to get me on the grader with some more MFI's. That was stopped by Malcolm, who had some pretty urgent business to do. I notice Lola is confiding in me to quite an extent, possibly because I am the only other foreigner about. Trouble is, she is too talkative.

Lola (Maria Dolores) was Spanish and middle aged. I have friendly memories of her, including the impression I mention here, that she wanted somebody non-English to talk to.

After lunch, Malcolm took over the grader, and I sat down to some rather uninspiring contemplation, which showed quite definitely that it would have an adverse effect on the top speed and acceleration of the car if I were to put any other tyres on the car, and if I wanted a diff change to make up for it, I might well find I had to make one myself - crown wheel at any rate. Did little else for the rest of the afternoon - John came in later on and suggested that I got hold of some books out of the library and read them, on organometallic compounds. Did that, and managed to absorb almost nothing by 1700. Then to Smith's and bought a book, “The Arrangement” by some Greek, another 600 page monster, which nowadays seems to be about the only type of book I can read. After makan to the Laundrette, which was packed, so back home and continued reading, apart from a short break when I cleared out the back of the car, changed a tyre and had a bath. Bev rang round 2330, damn her, as I was already in bed.


Wednesday, 8 January 1969 WGC.
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Discovered this morning, after being woken by the voices outside, that I had accidentally displaced the alarm setting of my clock to 0830, and I was thus late. Belted downstairs and just made it to breakfast, then back up to catch up with everything and just about left for the lab on time. I have taken to not using the choke on my car any more - it certainly seems to start well enough without it, even in the near freezing conditions we have been having lately, if I just give it a few squirts with the accelerator pump first. I wonder how much difference it makes a) to the petrol consumption and b) to the rate of engine wear. I notice a bloke wrote up to the Citroën-Journal in Hamburg to say that he didn't use the choke on his 3CV, using a similar, but not identical, method. Must try it sometime.

At the lab, John still had not come to much conclusion as to what we should do in the next few weeks, though his thoughts were obviously reverting to the π-alkyls. In any case, apart from having to clean out a few bottles, i was on my own, and spent some considerable time checking my petrol consumption figures on the adding machine, of whose operation I am in the process of getting the better. Then John called me in and told me what he thought we would be doing, that we ought to get round to making a Grignard - I think it was diallyl magnesium bromide - and that we would need some dry ether for that, so off to grind up some CaH₂ and dry some dry ether. Then off to lunch, where the other LA's are getting a bit peed off by a crowd of girls who keep coming and taking their tables. Back again and started refluxing the ether, which John wanted to do overnight. then on, after checking the petrol consumption - I had now finished and was doing it on a brand-by-brand basis. Then Owen wanted the adding machine, and I was at a loose end from then until 1700, when John discovered the card he had sent us and spent a good deal of time telling us about the place. Outside, where I again saw Ann, getting into what appeared to be her own car - alone -, and it was an 1100, Kent registration (2834 KO), BRG. I wonder why she was alone .... Aren't I a devious bastard? Why should all this worry me? If I want Ann, I should go and ask for her, and if not (and after all, she does look a bit silly with her arse out of joint) why worry? Oh, what the hell, it helps pass the time.

For some reason it was still light when I got back to Handside, and I realised that this was the first time I had seen it in any reasonable degree of daylight.

An obvious reason was that in this winter the UK had moved to GMT+1 to keep in step with “The Continent”, which at the time did not use Daylight Savings Time. As a result, for this day sunrise was at 9:04, sunset was at 17:10, and twilights ran from 17:49 to 19:12, as shown here.

The experiment was not repeated. The British demonstrated an amazing refusal to illuminate their cars in the dark, and as a result there were many more accidents in the mornings. Instead of legislating correct vehicle illumination, the British decided to revert to GMT in the winter.

Upstairs after a check over the car, and read for a while until makan. I am not sure I like this book - it is too depressing. I should have been put of by Tenesse Williams' recommendation on the back. Continued nevertheless - it is not an easy book to put down, and then down to the car, with primary intent to get some maps to supplement some thinking I had been doing, but decided I might as well get a bit of practice in economy driving, which I accordingly did, belting down Hertford way and back. Back at Handside, read as much as I could stand, and then gave it up as a bad job and wrote a bit on my new book, whatever that is to be - like a sequel to “Where in the World?”. Then had a bath and early to bed.


Thursday, 9 January 1969 WGC.
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Finally we have got round do doing something! After this week of lethargy and inactivity, we have finally begun to do something constructive. For once, I am so bored that I welcomed the opportunity, though it did mean putting some other things off.

Now that makes sense.

First on the agenda, which I did as soon as I came in in the morning, was to distil over the ether which had been refluxing all night, though I got the impression that we would not be using it immediately, as next time I saw the column John had removed the either and had some iso-octane there, which he apparently wanted to distil over, so set everything up and blew that over. In the meantime John was thinking about his BTS catalyst, and sent me over to the high pressure labs to get a cylinder of hydrogen. When I got back, transferred the rest of the polydrum of TiCl₃ into the flask for the Zieglers, and then titrated it, finding it to be far too strong, so decided to dilute it with octane. Left that for a while, took some CO₂ back to the HP labs, and then off to lunch. John joined me for lunch, and spent his time telling me about his house-buying plans. Talkative bastard for a Scot. Then into town to buy some ink and an Exchange & Mart, and back again, where I hardly had time to do anything before John pounced on me and suggested we got moving again. Collated the octane and removed the EC180 from the TiCl₃, replacing it by rather more than 1½ times as much octane. Then started titrating the stuff, getting more than slightly divergent results which led me to believe it was 0,992N. In the middle of that, Jim rang up and aid that he was going to work over the weekend, so please don't come down, and Sonny (who was also there) said that he had pranged his Stiletto on Saturday, order of £150 worth of damage, and would I like to come down to Tun. Wells tomorrow and find out about it? Thought i might as well, and said yes, then back to what work I had only to discover I didn't have any, and spent the rest of the afternoon writing up my diary. Just as I was going away in the car, was jumped upon by Malcolm, Owen and Alan, who declared their intention of turning the car over. Gave Owen and Alan a lift into town, though Owen reckoned his brother's Imp would give this thing a fair run for its money, with which I was prepared to agree, and left them to do my laundry. Got a copy of Hot Car while I was at it, and then off home with some rather colourful underwear (last time I mix white and coloured clothes) and did a bit of reading, mainly magazines, and thinking. Into town at one point to see some carpeting I was thinking of putting in the car, but it was too small, and I was forced to think again. Had some chips, home, and read “The Arrangement” further, more against my will than anything. I wonder if the fellow is writing from personal experience. Did little after that - collected my barang together and went to bed, after a now-usual bath.


Friday, 10 January 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells.
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Same old grind - I wish occasionally something would happen to make more news in this thing. Everything is becoming so stereotyped, a sure sign that I need a change. Still ... maybe I will survive until the summer. In the morning, had little to do - when I came in, started distilling over the iso-octane, then settled down to my desk to wake up a bit and to try and write up my diary, in which I succeeded comparatively quickly. After that, started reading about 2CV's, in particular w.r.t. guarantees, etc. - things have apparently changed since Dad bought his ID19. Then John came along with a report on diphenyldithiophosphoric acid, and asked me to work out how to make the stuff, then changed his mind on the basis that it did not give enough detail, and would have sent me over to TS to see if I could get some, had he not phoned up during the tea break and discovered that they had never used it. A bit later he came in with a reference to the J. Am. chem. Soc., Vol 77, P 1964, and asked me to go up and photocopy it. This I did, came down again, and was almost immediately sent up to the analysts to ask if they had any P₄S₁₀, which they did not, so back down, while John threatened to spend lunch bullshitting about what we were going to do after lunch.

After lunch, back to Handside to see if my foglight glasses had arrived, but unfortunately they had not. Back again, and preparing for new quantities of Aluminium Alkyls, this time Al(C₂H₅)₃ and Al((CH₃)₂CHCH₂)₃, the former of which John tells me is spontaneously inflammable. Had tea in the middle of all this, then received a letter from Sandy Schaedel, which hardly made me less homesick. I have decided that I must go back to Australia sometime soon. Then tidying up and trying to write to Sandy. Gave Owen a lift into London, for which he was appreciative, though I don't know just how advantageous it was, seeing as though he would have got there quicker by train. In Tun Wells, had a look at Sonny's car, which is not nearly as bad as it seems, mainly bodywork, but the Poms want £150 for that. Out to look for a vanished Panhard, have some fish and chips and see about a flat Sonny wants to move in to. Then did a drive, economy style, which was OK until an 1100 started playing silly buggers with us and I burnt after him, probably undoing all the good done to start with. Then home and up to Sonny's room, where we talked at some length about various factors, mainly Bev, which is the only thing about which Sonny thinks any more.


Saturday, 11 January 1969 Tun. Wells.
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Sonny had intended to get up early this morning, but I was opposed, and so let him sleep in. We woke at something like 1030, and Sonny went down for breakfast, bringing me up some toast and jam, while I spent the time writing up my diary and subsequently, as he was taking a long time about it, writing another letter to Sandy. He finally came up and said Mrs. Lane had asked if I had spent the night here, and he had said no, with all the ensuing complications liable to arise. Rang up Lynn, and her mother said she was not about. When I subsequently went by, her father said she had gone to London for the weekend with her sister, and then started passing the time of day out in the garden - sounds to me as if he was trying to distract me while she got away. OK, if that's the way she wants it, she can have it. Only thing that annoys me is she is down on my car insurance.

Off into London, having a burn with a “Boy Racer” type of Mini on the way, leaving him standing. Also saw an Aston Martin DBS, and Sonny opened the back of to get some photos of the car - must have looked crazy. Nice car. Then to Olympia, where we found a queue a good 300 m long, and which I proceeded to barge through right at the end, which I did without any problem. The Poms are just queue mad - nobody even challenged my right to go where I did.

Quite a few interesting things at the show - a couple of famous cars on exhibition, including the car that won the marathon. Had a talk to the bloke in the Cibié stand who told me that in a few months time Cibié will be bringing out a new Biode (i.e. QI twin bulb headlamp) to fit my car, which might be interesting, but the whole affair costs £27 odd, which is quite a bit. Am also thinking of buying a couple of Oscar fogs... or spot and fog, depending on the result of experiments with the Bosch units. Sonny saw an Imp based GT body shell, reminiscent of the Mini-Jem, which is selling for £300. He is very inspired, especially as his Stiletto is buggered right now. Significantly, it uses the same type of headlights as my car. He is, as a result, thinking of keeping his Stiletto and putting off the Lotus 47 until some later date. Saw one of them, too - very nice.

Then off home, tired and hungry - we had not had anything since breakfast - and I took a short cut to avoid all the traffic, and hit all the jams instead, so that it took 2 hours to get back to Tun. Wells.

Off to the Wimpy while Sonny had makan, then back again, watched “The Champions” - first of the series, a bit weak - and then down to Chailey to see Lesley, who gave me the cold shoulder, but was nevertheless rather surprised when I did the same to her - went very red when I did not kiß her goodnight. Home, and by a rather roundabout route, as I felt like doing a bit of driving. Parked the car round the corner, then up to Westwood. Again late to bed, though tonight Sonny did not talk about Bev. He is trying to get me back with Lesley.


Sunday, 12 January 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC
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Perhaps it was the fear of being found out by Mrs. Lane that made me sleep in this morning, contrary to Sonny's intentions, but I still felt more than a little annoyed with myself when I woke up to find the time 1310 hrs. Sonny himself was more than a little surprised. I probably would not have woken up then had it not been for the fact that somebody was messing around next door with a vacuum cleaner - later turned out to be Pam [?], whom I had expected to be miles away by now. Sonny went a did a reccy downstairs and discovered the coast clean, so got me out as quickly as possible, and I went round to get my car from round the corner, where people were apparently beginning to wonder about it. People in front of whose house I had parked made their objections to the fact that I had parked there in a typically Pommie, beat-about-the-bush way by saying they were worrying where it came from and to whom it belonged, but when I came out and asked them if it had been in the way they said oh, no, so off I went and told them not to worry.

Had intended lunching at the Wimpy, but changed my mind - for some reason I wanted to go for a drive instead. Today I felt at peace with the world with the Wanderlust welling up deep inside me. Oh, for 1000 gallons of petrol, food for 6 months, 15 gallons of oil (ouch!) and all the papers I need - I would be happy. Came back to Tun. Wells after hitting some fog after Crowborough - why is it always foggy there? - and had makan, then back to see Sonny, who had been wondering where I had got to. Then he suggested, rather unceremoniously, that he had work to do, and that I get out - good old Sonny. I would far prefer that to the Pommie beating about the bush. Off in the direction of London, taking it easy, as much because I was enjoying the drive as because I was short of petrol, and also because I was practicing commentary driving for the benefit of my IAM test, and rather suprised myself by carrying on with it for an hour or more, without any conscious effort. Got a couple of gallons of petrol - all I could afford - in Lewisham, and arrived back in Welwyn, after an extraordinarily quick transit through London, at about 1730, and in to have makan in due course. My foglight glasses have finally arrived, just what I ordered - I was somewhat surprised - and spent a fair time cleaning them up and painting them yellow. On removing the l.h. foglight, discovered it full of salt and the bulb guard going rusty, but the reflector was in good condition. Washed it out, covered the guard with oil, fitted the glasses - spot on the right - and off to try them out, after a good deal of adjustment. The spot is a good deal more penetrating than I had expected, and I am wondering if in fog (which I did not find) it would not be too bright. Back home, not too late to bed, after reading more of “The Arrangement”.


Monday, 13 January 1969 WGC.
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And another week is with us - time is beginning to fit into a routine, which I do not really mind too much - I am beginning to vegetate again (I must find a synonym for that word. I hate it, but it describes what is happening).

Into work, started cooking up the octane and EC180, and then to write a letter to Sandy, or rather continue the last one. After a while, John came and pointed out to me what a flooded fractionating column looked like - I had managed to flood it beautifully. Stopped it as quickly as possible, then on to work out what we were going to do with the Ziegler catalysts. John spent a goodly deal of time working that out, then I was accosted by Ken Whitely, who wanted to know what we were doing, so I told him we were just about to start, and he seemed happy. In fact, I am at a loss to work out why it took us so long. I suppose the fact is just that setting up all the equipment does take a long time, and by lunch we had not really achieved all that much. Off as quickly as I could to Handside to look for my cheque book, which I had discovered mislaid, but to no avail, then to the opticians, where I was told I could not have my glasses until I gave them a green form and signed it. Off, annoyed, and had makan.

After that, more work on the Zieglers, which took up considerable time with very little effect - our techniques were hardly the best, and we did not seem to get very good results in any case, so gave it all up as a bad job, left to stir overnight, and off. Waited to see what Ann would do - I was parked opposite her - but she left very late. A secretary's life is no happy one. Then home, found my cheque book, off to the opticians, who worked to rule and would not let me in because it was 1731 hrs. Tried to talk him into it, for which he kicked me, and off, furious, to ring up the police, who were not very helpful. Back to Handside, had makan, then upstairs to read “The Arrangement”. Slept inbetween, but finally finished it. Very good. I feel like reconciliation with Mum.


Tuesday, 14 January 1969 WGC → Reading → WGC. Images for 14 January 1969
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Oh, the only thing that I still find hard to take in this country is getting up in the mornings. But it is not as bad as it used to be, and my whole mood is changing of late - I am feeling a lot happier and more contented. If it carries on like this, I wouldn't even object to staying here in England longer. But it would always be there, this feeling that this is not my country, and if anything goes wrong, I am only too prepared to blame the people and the country - I wonder what I would do in Australia? Blame the wops?

Arrived at work fractionally late, and as soon as I got in was pounced on by John, not for being late, but to get down to work. Carried on with the almost ritual distillation of the iso-octane, and was then asked to get the catalyst out of the way and start making some more. This involved mainly searching out bits of Quickfit glassware - this place must spend a packet on Quickfit glass. Wired everything down, then got moving, and started off a couple more before lunch. Left early for lunch and cashed a couple of cheques, then went and (finally!) got my glasses. Bloody Pom at the opticians was a little more civil - was wearing his other face, I think. Back, had lunch, and back to see how the catalysts were getting on. Thy were still the dark brown of last nights catalysts, which seemed to indicate the presence of time TiCl₂. which John says is not a very effective catalyst. Accordingly started another lot off, and put much less Al((CH₃)₂CHCH₂)₃ in the stuff, though it still went fairly brown. John therefore thought in terms of trying some comparative experiments with Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl and CH₂=CH(CH₂)₃CH₃ and CH₂=CH(CH₂)₇CH₃ as modifiers. According over to the SEB to get hold of some Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl, dragging ourselves away from an extraction experiment of which Alan was making a cock-up - it would have been OK had he wired everything down, but as it was he was getting water connections to the condenser coming undone and flooding everything. When we got back, another had just gone, so finally gave every joint a good check-over, and nothing further happened. Then John started up some experiment of his own - some Zr - Li - P - Benzene Ring compound, not too sure of details, but he was intent on adding finely divided Li to a solution of Phosphorus-tribenzyl in 5 Ring , which produced a nice orange colour due to P-Li-2 benzene , with which he presumably wants to do something further. Then off home, not without buying a magazine, and some shoe laces. At home was a letter from Paul Hallett, who was bored to tears, but sufficiently in a hurry to scribble in a script that would be bad by my low standards. Had makan, then saw a bloke, Cartwright, about a room which he had been offered, and he said I could have it, as they want me out by Friday.

I had been staying at Handside Farmhouse since the beginning of December. It was intended for people to stay a couple of weeks while they arranged alternative accommodation. Clearly that activity wasn't high on my list of priorities.

After hat, was siezed [sic] by an idea to go and visit Paul Hallett, which I promptly did. The night was wonderful, nice and dry, and I felt just in the mood - until I got hit by a raging torrent on the M10, which did not diminish until I got to where Paul lives, not far from Reading. After a lot of searching, found him, and into Reading for a drink, then up to look for Jenny, who was in a friend's room, and so got into quite a conversation with her, 2 girls and a boy, and somehow got onto spiritualism, and ended up setting up an improvised Ouija table, which was not very responsive. Some of the answers we got out of it: Vietnam war will end in 1976, spirit comes from Reading University, Sonny will not marry Bev, Bob will marry Pete (Bob is a girl), I will get my degree, doesn't know whether I will marry. Off round 2300 hrs, back, dropped Paul, and off to WCG, where I arrived at 2430, not bad for the conditions.


Wednesday, 15 January 1969 WGC..
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Up, feeling none too bright, and carried out essential functions in a sort of daze. Off to work, where I cornered Richard Wales in the way in, and got him to promise to show me the darkroom sometime. Inside, some mail for me - from the Mobil Economy Run, for which one needs an FIA International Competition license, and, as I subsequently discovered, this is quite hard to get. That looks like being out. I had been saving Dad's letter until last, but it was not as friendly as I had hoped. He is in a state of darkest depression, or was on Saturday at any rate, and is making himself all sorts of unlikely accusations, agreeing with Mum that she was right all the time, etc. This in itself was bad enough, but having decided that he has ruined my life, set out to do his best to make amends as follows: sell DKW, sell Ami 6, pay him £2 a week until I go to Uni to make up for the money he wasted following my advice. I don't know much about child education and upbringing, but I know that in this particular case making me sell the the Ami 6 would cause deep-seated feelings of resentment and distrust which would not be easily removed. In any case, I am not going to see the Ami, at any rate not yet, and I don't think, after he has considered it, that Dad will force me to. The thing that worries me most, though, is the fact that he has got himself into this situation. He is obviously lonely - that is nothing new when he is in Kuching - but this is aggravated by loss of Mum, and, say what he will, the amount of money which has been spend, amonst [sic] other things, on the DKW. Also the feeling that I am good-for-nothing (i.e. wasting his money) does nothing to comfort him.

Did little in the day. I was rather depressed the whole morning because of the letter, and only had half a mind left over for what I was doing. Took the catalysts over to the HP labs, and then started making some more, a 1:1:6::TiCl₃:Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl:C₆H₁₂ and a 1:2:6::TiCl₃:Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl:C₁₀H₂₀, which was not helped by lack of apparatus. then off to lunch, came back after and started studying it in detail and making notes on it. He quoted a piece of poetry as being at the core of Mum's philosophy of life:

But above all to thine own self be true;
For then it follows as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Very true, and a philosophy by which I try to abide, but I would hardly say that it was the basis of Mum's, whatever other good qualities she may have.

What a load of bullshit! As I only discovered much later, this is Polonius in Hamlet, somewhat inaccurately quoted. And of course it's wrong. You can be true to yourself and still false to others. I had thought of this as an indication of how out of touch Polonius was with life, but the commentaries I have found on line have many varied interpretations, some trying to uphold its validity.

John disturbed me in this and got me to decant his stuff so that I got get on with the Ziegler catalysts. This I did, and while adding the olefines, rang up Citroën to ask for details of the choke of my car, and subsequently the RAC for details of the FIA international license. Did little for the rest of the afternoon - had tea, tidied up, and messed around with liquid nitrogen, breaking rubber, etc. Repaired Alan's shaver for him, for which he wa profoundly grateful, and which doubtless considerably raised my esteem - especially as I did it with a screwdriver and a bit of bent wire. In fact, I have Pad to thank for that, about the only thing I do have to thank him for.

Then off home, and had makan, read, and off to sleep. Woke up and was just about to write to Mum when Sonny rang up and said Bev had rung up (she had had a copy of Dad's letter), and was distraught. Arranged to meet him in Southampton on Friday, then up, and had written about 5 lines when Bev rang up and said she was bloody worried about Dad, and that she wanted to fly back to Malaysia to see him. Told her my opinion, and suggested we invite him over here for a holiday, which he most certainly could use. Also arrange to pick her up from Grimstone round midnight on Friday and go back to Southampton. Then back and finished my letter to Mum, after which had a bath and slowly to bed.


Thursday, 16 January 1969 WGC..
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And on goes the monotony of life - there are times when I feel I might be rather happy in a routine life, but I wonder again how long it would last for. In any case, everything happened as usual, both getting up and preparing at work. John was just having a look at the results of some work he did over at the high pressure labs, and everything seemed very encouraging. Then he rang up Stobart in Wilton and offered to bring him up some samples of the catalyst to Wilton, and so got me to go up to polypropylene and see what I could do there, getting all the equipment we could from Gerry Lowther, which was easier said than done, and it took me all morning. Finally got everything just about set up by lunch time, and then off, and had lunch, without going anywhere, though out to the car to apply some acetone to the QI's to remove the yellow paint from them.

This must have been after I finally realized that yellow light was inferior to white light. At the time yellow light was obligatory in France, and British cars heading to “the Continent” painted their headlights yellow regardless of the country they were going to. They also usually didn't change the pattern of the dip beam.

After that, back to work, and over to the SEB to get hold of some more Al([CH₃]₂CHCH₂)₃, and while we were there reading Stern and talking half in German, some blokes from polypropylene came in and gave John the wind up, so off back to the labs with what we had collected, and worked out that we had about enough to make 7,2 litres of solution, so did so without all too much trouble, and had fun making more messes with N₂ liq. Then helped Alan for a while, after which off, into town, bought a magazine, and home to read it. After makan, off to see a Mrs. Garrard, and she had quite a small room to offer, though quite cheap, and a very nice woman - she considers an old Citroën her ideal car, and proceeded to tell me all about her Morris Minor and the Hillman Minx before that, and apparently would be genuinely pleased if I were to help her get one. Then (finally) home and got moving on writing a letter to Dad, which was more or less up to expectations, and used up 5 pages of 6½×8½ type. I hope it cheers him up a bit, and I hope he takes the hint and comes over here soon. After that, got my spare tyre and fixed it up - it had gone flat though nothing succeeded in revealing the cause. Then saw Pete Cartwright, who wanted a lift down to Devon, which I was only too pleased to offer for a share of the petrol. Then had a bath and off to bed.


Friday, 17 January 1969 WGC → Southampton.
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Woke up this morning, wondering when my alarm would go off, to find that it was already 0830, so did the rush treatment, and would have made it to the lab on time had I not had trouble getting into the car - temperature was -4°, and everything was iced up. Nevertheless the car started first time without the choke. John made some adverse comment about me being 10 minutes later at the office - totally unnecessary, I thought - and then off to the HP labs, whither I had soon to follow him to get some more iso-octane, rather against my wishes, as I wanted to read the blurb the RAC had sent me about the FIA international license - have to complete 2 closed and 2 restricted rallies before I am eligible. Got the octane, while John got some polydrums, and then off with transferring the catalyst to the polydrums. After that, straight on with making another batch of the stuff, this time with Al(C₂H₅)₃, which John only wanted to make 0,05 M, supposedly because it would be easier to handle, but probably because it would be too much trouble to have to go and get some more TiCl₃. Then off to lunch, to Handside, where I discovered that Pete had left today to see his mother, who has apparently had a nervous breakdown. Got my copy of “Drive”, then off back again, and carried on with the preparation, reading “Drive” while I could. Towards the end of the afternoon we had Lola expounding on the merits of our new polythene, which was both better in every respect so far tested to the stuff we are competing with, and at the same time cheaper to produce.

After work, off alone to Southampton, the trip taking me 3 hours 10 minutes, hardly a good time. Met Shari, who was not at all as I had expected her to be, and after a while all 4 of us went off to a pub, and Sonny got talking about ghosts. When we got back, we felt sufficiently inspired to make up a Ouija board, which was far more active than the one we made on Tuesday - possibly the conditions were more favourable.

Or, more likely, Sonny was there and cheating.

We got on to a spirit (up on the second floor) who claimed to be benevolent, to have lived here for over 1600 years, that 4 other benevolent spirits lived here as well. It told us that the Viet Nam War would end in 1975, though this subject annoyed it. Another subject that annoyed it was religion, though it told us that there was neither heaven nor hell, that Jesus was identical to Mohammed, and that he was a prophet. It got annoyed when we asked it what kind of spirit it was, though it claimed to be omniscient, to want to scare us but not to hurt us, and to have sent Mr. McGibbon up for this purpose. It said Sonny would get married to Bev, that they would be happy, that Dad and Mum would not get a divorce, but live together some of the time and be happy. It said I would return to Australia with a degree, that I would marry a girl whom I will meet in one year's time, and have one kid, but not be happy. On further questioning, it changed its mind and said I would be both happy and a successful chemist. It also said I would live to 77, but declined to give any positive answer on what would happen after that on the Last Judgement or such like. Shari would marry Bob after a reconciliation.

She had just broken up with Bob in Canada, and was in England to get over the whole thing.

Later this year, Dad would come over here in April, and many other things besides. Eventually it told us of an evil spirit from house 137, which was bent on hurting us, and after a while told us to leave immediately. Downstairs we took the matter up again, and this time got onto the bad...


Saturday, 18 January 1969 Southampton →
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... spirit, which claimed it wanted Sonny's and Jim's blood, though not Shari's nor mine. It spelt out the word “vampir” at one stage, though when previously asked, said it was not one. It would not kill us, but have some effect on us, and not be interested in Shari and me because we have sick blood. It started getting downright abusive at one point, and kept spelling out “FO” and one “F RIGHT O”, the deductions we made apparently being the right ones. Eventually it shut up altogether, and I went downstairs to write up my diary. That took a long time, especially as everybody kept running in and out, Shari in her nightdress, though it was pretty substantial, looking for the cats, which instigated a further expedition into the attic to look for one of them. Then got somebody to make some coffee, as Sonny and I had decided to leave for Devon almost immediately. That they apparently did, and I carried on at length writing my diary, then got the car in order, checked the oil, etc, then up to wake Sonny up. Got the thermos of coffee, and off up the A33 (where I got 89 [mph, i.e. 143 km/h on the clock], thus alleviating my suspicion that there was something wrong with the engine; it must just have been the extraordinary winds we have been having lately), through Winchester (no trouble at 0300), onto the 272 and then the 30, through Salisbury and Wilton to Wylye and the A303. Sonny woke up somewhere on the Winchester bypass, and was entranced by my Oscars doing their best (since I took the yellow paint off), and made a new resolution to get some Oscars for his car. Then we got talking about rallying and the like in view of this stuff about the FIA license, and eventually decided that the best thing to do would be to buy a Mini and rally that. Spent a good deal of time talking about that, then Sonny went off to sleep. Had some makan somewhere near Sparkford, not up to much, then just after Honiton got so tired that I could drive no more, and left it to Sonny, but he was too tired, and so both slept for a while until it became too cold, so then on through Exeter until I gave up again about halfway to Okehampton, and slept until about 0830, then on, getting some petrol at Sticklepath. Arrived at Grimstone at about 1020, and Bev was still asleep. Plenty of stuff for me - couple of letters from the insurance agents, then my number plates (at last! - and about time, too). Borrowed a drill from Mr. Andrew to fit these latter, then in to have a bite to eat. Somebody had done the dirty on me by telling my insurance agent that I was up in Hertfordshire, and he now wants to know what that is all about. I am still wondering how to save myself that trouble, but think I shall have to admit it, and say it is just a temporary job (which it is) and that after that I shall return to Devon (which I shall). Then started loading my bags into the car, which was a lot less difficult than I had feared it might be. My trunks also fit in sideways into the boot, which is not the impression I had had before. Then off onto the moor with Bev and Sonny to have makan at a place called the Forest Inn,

This must have been in in Hexworthy. The Inn has since closed down.

where we ate large quantities of bread and cheese. Then off for a walk round the area - the weather was glorious, and we enjoyed ourselves quite a bit down by a river. Then decided to go off to the the old Forge in Chagford, but it was not open for a while, so we gave it up and decided to leave it until next week. Off home, where I decided to get a bit of a rest before doing much else, and Bev and Sonny headed off in my car to Horrabridge, though in so doing they knocked back 25 miles, so I wonder just how they went. When they got back, Sonny wanted to go, though I wanted to see Vicky, who had not shown her face all day, but bowed to Sonny's wish, and so off after the usual goodbyes. West across the moor, up to Exeter, then along the A35 and A31 from Bere Regis, making much better time than this morning, and arrived back at 2140. Then into town, against my better wishes, but when we came back had a bite to eat and dead beat to bed.


Sunday, 19 January 1969 Southampton → WGC.
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Weekends of late have become somewhat curtailed - maybe it has something to do with Sonny's car crash; now that the headlights are buggered, he does not want to use the thing at night (quite rightly, too, because the lighting is awful.). In any case, woke up today of my own accord, having managed to sleep off yesterday night's exhaustion, and out to find Mr. McGibbon blowing a whistle to wake the other kids up. I am gradually coming to like that fellow - he reminds me of myself in many ways. I think he also has a feeling of not belonging or similar which could border on lonliness - this the the only way I could explain his attitude towards us. But he is a very nice fellow, intelligent, and a a good conversationalist. Jim will be doing well if he ends up as good a bloke.

They (Mr. and Mrs.) prepared makan while I attended to the car and messed around a bit. The others still were not up when breakfast was ready, though Shari came shortly later. Thus we wasted a good hour - or was it wasted? In any case after that I set down to my diary, to be interrupted by a worried Sonny. I gave him advice for which Bev would doubtless not bless me, to go and find himself another bird, so that he will not feel too bad about being so far from Bev, but he did not think much of it. I suppose it must be difficult to find anybody like Bev - the blokes certainly seem to go for her (or do they really for most blokes, only we don't hear about it?).

No, doesn't make much sense to me either. s/bloke/bird/ for the second occurrence?

After that, messing around with cars, etc, and rather to my surprise found one of my plugs oiled up - I wonder what caused that. Then Sonny off, though not before I had (apparently) broken his choke cable for him while trying to start the car. Give me mine anytime, with its chokeless start. Also found one of his problems - dynamo was loose as hell, so tightened that up. Then he off, I did a bit of packing and followed about half an hour later. The Total station would not take cheques, but I found a Shell station on the other side of the Winchester bypass that does. The weather was wonderful, and I felt happy - this country can be beautiful on a clear day when the sun shines. Picked up a thumber on the way, on the Winchester bypass, and took him to Maidenhead. Interesting enough bloke, had quite an interesting talk, and told him which was the best car (it was performing wonderfully, and with the [surprisingly] sparse traffic I was able to keep up speeds of 65-70 [mph, i.e. 100-110 km/h] on one barrel). Then on past Marlow and High Wycombe, changing my dislike of twilight gradually. Maybe I am born to live in a temperate climate after all - the thumber obviously thought I was a Pom.

I lived in the tropics at the time when I came to notice things like sunrise and sunset, and I still haven't got used to changing lengths of day and night, or twilight (which doesn't really happen in the tropics; see Rudyard Kipling's Mandalay:

An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

In Welwyn Garden, off to Thistle Grove, but Mrs. Garrard was not there. Accordingly to the Wimpy bar, bought something to eat, and back to Handside. Looked for Mrs. Garrard again, but she was still not there, so back and did a bit of rudimentary packing before deciding to take everything as it stood. Bathed, and then to bed, none too early at 2430 hrs.


Monday, 20 January 1969 WGC..
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Sandy Schaedel's birthday (21)

Some days seem to go wrong from the word go, but even when they don't, a few major catastrophes can occur that make them even worse. Such a day was today - in general I suppose it was not too bad, though I got up with the feeling I could not possibly survive today - I was nearly right. Into the lab as usual, and John was in one of his early-morning-active moods, doubtless engendered by saving petrol and walking (or running, in this weather, to keep warm) to work. Typical Scot. In any case, got moving - John spent a bit of time reminiscing on how to get to Wilton, and it seems that I was the only one who considered the quickest way to Doncaster to be by the M1. Then Lola piped in and said that they had maintained a steady 75 mph (120 km/h) for 24 hours between Dieppe and San Sebastian, which on reflection seems a little unlikely, as San Sebastian cannot possibly be 1800 miles from Dieppe.

Indeed, it's only 950 km. Spread over 24 hours that would be an average speed of 40 km/h.

At the time, however, I did not think of this, but entered into a vehement discussion of the relative merits of French and English cars. While we were doing this, transferred the catalyst to some polydrums of which John had got hold, then off to get some iso-octane. After that, got moving on another batch the same as yesterday, and in the middle of all that off to lunch, first getting a cheque cashed. After lunch, did little until John came back, then continued getting the catalyst prepared. After a while, off to open a rather reluctant cylinder of HCl, which promptly sprayed me with its full 40 odd atmospheres - or is it at the same 180 at. that the N₂ is?

No. At 21.1° (why that?) the vapour pressure is 4352 kPa. The temperature and thus the pressure would have been considerably lower on this occasion.

In any case, belted into the HP labs gasping for breath, breathing great clouds of HCl, and took a good 10 seconds to recompose myself. Washed my face, then over to the Ambulance room, where Sister, seeing a real live emergency, panicked, and told me to lie down and not to get excited - which was rather unnecessary, as my only feeling was one of being peed off - I was quite calm. Then my nose began to burn, which did not help much, nor did an inhalation of Tinc. Benz. Co., which I could not smell. Had some tasteless tea and nothing biscuits (they might have been shortcake, but I had a do-it-yourself cold), then sister discharged me and suggested I saw her again tomorrow. Into town, bought a book, and to Handside, where I nearly killed myself again forgetting to duck beneath a low beam. Read for a while, then over to Mrs. Garrards, but she was not there - as I correctly guessed, she had had trouble with the car.

It's not mentioned here explicitly, but it seem that this was when I moved from Handside Farmhouse to Mrs. Garrard.

To the Wimpy, had makan, then back again and spent the rest of the evening unpacking, after which early to bed to get over this afternoon. Of late, I have an overwhelming desire to see Lesley again.


Tuesday, 21 January 1969 WGC.. Images for 21 January 1969
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Woke up at 0730, despite my alarm clock having once again turned the alarm off, and proceeded to freeze while getting up. It had occurred to me at some inopportune moment last night that I had no food for breakfast, so solved that one by belting over to Handside Farmhouse, which proved worthwhile, as I got as good a breakfast as ever there, and was also able to transfer a large further amount of stuff into the car, including the back seat. Then off to work, where everybody was concerned about my health to a totally unprecedented degree - amazing what the odd industrial accident can do to ones popularity. Got moving fast enough on the next batch of catalyst, though we discovered we had made too much and had to dispose of a considerable quantity. In the middle of this, Ann came in - Ann who is so nice to everybody but who never speaks to me. I wonder, is she overshy as a result of of keenness? It could be, and it would not be a bad sign - if only I could see her sometime “by coincidence” after work. I shall have to follow her out of work sometime.

Given her hint of 3 January, there seems to have been no need for such subterfuge.

Then started vaccing down the flask with a new lot of iso-octane, and it was time for lunch.

After lunch, over to the SEB, only to discover that the drum of Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl was empty, and only Claude Jones could fix it, but was off today, and so nothing could be done. Instead, turned, none too sadly, to preparations for other experiments, which in this case meant the preparation of the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound , which was by no means as easy as it seemed, as somehow or another we had to get an extremely slow oil bath up to 50°. Spent most of the remainder of the afternoon doing that and sending a drum off to Wilton - in the process, in to get something from Ann, who spoke to me for the first time in a couple of weeks, to ask me if I felt better - I wish I could make her out.

Not as difficult as making me out.

In any case, also a bloke who was apparently very interested in my Ami 6 - he has a Fiat 500, and likes 2 cylinders. He is about to buy a new car, was going to be either Fiat 850S or Sunbeam Stiletto, but is now considering this. Sonny will be amused. Promised to bring him in some literature on the subject tomorrow. Then, after work, down to a Supermarket in town and bought an enormous quantity of food which set me back my remaining £2, rather to my worry - I shall have to do a bit of discreet borrowing. Then home and cooked myself some Mussolini bolognese as of old, though with slightly different ingredients, the the observation, who told me how (not) to cook a curry. Then up to my room to reread my old diaries (first time I have had all 7 volumes together) and consider how sadly I have wronged Lesley.


Wednesday, 22 January 1969 WGC. Images for 22 January 1969
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Up at 0730, feeling more than a little drowsy, possibly because there was no noise from outside to wake me in advance. Water was not warm, so downstairs to cook some breakfast, stumbling around somewhat trying to work out how best to do everything, and although everything worked out OK, it took a long time, with the result that I was 5 minutes late for work, though John did not have anything verbal to say. Then got down to work - started with the benzene and P₄S₁₀ in the morning, and somehow managed to get nothing else done - though while I was waiting for a typically reticent oil bath and not explaining to Lola that San Sebastian was only 1000 km from Dieppe, and that in 24 hours at 75 mph she would have been in Marrakesh, I went up to Analytical and got hold of some Benzene Amino compound which strangely enough had nothing to do with the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound I was making. Made some up (in conc. H₂SO₄ - indicator titrating Ce(S0₄)₂ against TiCl₃), and then off to an early lunch, after which off with this bloke to see my car - he was very interested, and a friend came along as well. Belted it a bit, showed off what it could do, and very much impressed both of them - mind you, the thing was moving. Then back and had a good talk about the whole thing, as well as the DS which was sitting 2 cars away, and as a result was rather late back into the lab. Spent the greater part of the afternoon putting Al₂Cl₆ into my benzene/P₄S₁₀ mixture, without anything all too spectacular happening, then off up to the library to find out how to make LSD, and followed up a reference in the J. Am. Chem. Soc (78/3086 (I think)). Something like 30 pages of it there, and I did not really feel inclined to do much about it, and its preparation is obviously not as simple as is made out. Still, it would be a nice thought to have, say, 10 gm of the stuff up on a shelf, without anybody knowing what it was, or that is was worth in the order of £10⁵. Home, had tea at length there, more Mussolini for makan, then up, reading, and finally decided to write a letter to Lesley telling her of my thoughts about that breakup of us so many years ago, which I did, washing my hair in the process. Afterwards had a bath and went to bed.


Thursday, 23 January 1969 WGC.
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Everything went much as usual this morning - I am gradually reducing the time it takes me to get up and breakfast in the morning, as I work out what things have to be done when, and at the same time get a more continuous breakfast. Mrs. Garrard saying something about not bathing on Wednesdays, because Nigel had something dirty that night and absolutely had to have a bath then. I hope she does not always take his side against mine.

Then to the lab, and on with what we were doing yesterday. The mixture for the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur
	compound had finished refluxing overnight, and looked little different, but smelt absolutely abominable. The next step was to pour it onto crushed ice, which was a good recommendation, if only we had known it, for the heat of hydrolysis is so great that ice notwithstanding, the mixture boiled over. Must remember to use a lot of ice next time. Then had to leave that, and John was working on the other stuff, the Ti(acac)Cl, so left everything and went to lunch. Then back again, and when John joined me he got me to get things ready for making another batch of the Ziegler-type catalyst, this time using Decene-1. This all happened unbelivably slowly, but was not helped by the confusion we found in the SEB, where John Allday was doing a couple of rather dangerous experiments - something to do with BF₃, with intent to make (I think) B(C₂H₅)₃ or some fluorine compound. They were using all available N₂ lines, and so we had to bring a cylinder of the stuff up to use that. Eventually got our AlEt₂Cl, and dirty looking stuff it was too - looked as if it had uncombined Al in it, and probably thus AlCl₃ as well. Then got that lot started - there must be an easier way to transfer the TiCl₃ than the way we do it at present. By the time we had all that underway, off home again, and discovered myself parked dead opposite Ann, who rather timidly waved to me. Why don't I start anything? To Fine Fare, where I bought lots of spices, then after waiting for Nigel and girlfriend to get out of the kitchen at home, decided to start cooking a curry, which I did, though it was rather spoilt by the english curry powder. Nevertheless, it was eminently edible, and quite enjoyed it. After that, did little, and went early to bed.


Friday, 24 January 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells. → So'ton.
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And on - thank God the weekends come more quickly nowadays! But I still need a girl in Welwyn Garden - somehow or another I shall have to arrange to meet Ann outside working hours. This way of life is getting singularly boring. Up and out pretty snappily this morning, and came in just as Ann (whom I had not seen) was parking opposite me - she gave me a hell of a look as I scoaged [?] in and turned round. Why could I not say anything more to her than “Good Morning”? Then off to the lab, where John was getting ready to put the catalyst into the polydrums, which operation is now becoming comparatively routine. After that, got moving with what we had left off at lunch time yesterday, which as, in my case, the Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound , which by now had formed itself into a layer with benzene, and smelt to high heaven. Then tried to seperate it out from the H₂O layer, not helped much by the fact that the density was almost identical, so had to dilute it somewhat. By the time lunch came, I stank of benzene and H₂S, and felt decided off colour. Off home for lunch, as I did not have enough money to be able to afford to go to the canteen, and finished off the curry I made last night. Then Mrs. Garrard got a little beat-around-the-bushy about the fact that she did not like people coming back home at lunch time. I hope things are not going to deteriorate at this rate, but think I shall just have to put up with it until the summer. Much better is the landlady who does not worry what her tenants do - the Lohmanns would have been ideal, had they not been so dirty.

Back at work, continued with the acid for a while, then hung around while waiting for further instructions from John, who was with Peter Clegg. When he did come out, it was to get us to go over to TPX flame-free labs and dry out some of the polythene that came down from Wilton, which took us until 1700 hrs. Then off with Owen through London, dropped him at New Cross, and then on to Chailey to see Lesley, who, as suspected, is now going out with Norman again, and is no longer very interested in seeing me, and told me, in a rather unconvinced manner, to get lost. Then off to see Sonny and Jim, and after a bit of talk, off to Southampton, arriving at the somewhat unearthly hour of 0125, having been held up by a puking Jim and a flat tyre (when the spare was also flat). Shari was up, however, and apparently rather pleased to see us. I did not think much of Shari when I first met her, but she seems much nicer now.


Saturday, 25 January 1969 So'ton → Exeter →
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Up early enough today, the first as usual, possibly because I had shared a bed with Jim, and thus been knocked around all over the place. Up and down (stairs) and hung around while everybody prepared breakfast, then hung around for a while doing exceptionally little - nothing ever seems to happen during these weekends at the Mc. Gibbons, but I rather enjoy coming down nevertheless. Maybe the fact that Shari is here will now have an even greater bearing on that. Then Jim decided, while I was writing up my diary, that we ought to go into town and buy an iguana or a baseball bat, and so, despite parents protests, though with a promise to prevent him from buying either, into town, where Jim bought a couple of tennis balls, and then I bought some oil for the car, and after that to St. Marys street, where Jim bought a plastic iguana or alligator, and I took Sonny to a chemists to by some developer and fixer, then off home again, after taking a few photos of my car going round a roundabout, which was frantically funny - I had never seen the thing cornering hard before, and laughed myself silly when I saw it.

The car had a very pronounced lean.

Then home, borrowed Mr. McGibbon's 135/4,5 Hektor and took some more, unfortunately to no avail, as we discovered on having developed it - the back focus was set for a Visoflex, which I did not have. I must get some HP4 and a 135 or 400 mm lens.

This confused me. I had both a 135 mm f/3.5 Super Takumar and a 400 mm Soligor, and the Super Takumar had a wider aperture than the Hektor. Why didn't I use them? Probably that this was done with old Canon rangefinder camera that I had from my father. That would explain why the lens fitted at all, and why I didn't notice that things were out of focus.

After hanging the film up to dry, played some fantastically infantile games for a group of average age 20, and did such things as tag and hide and seek, which, however, we soon enough gave up. A bit later had something to eat, and then off to sleep for a while, until Sonny came along and suggested we made a push for Devon, which we did, timing ourselves accurately and averaged about 53 mph to Exeter,

That's 85 km/h, really not a bad average. In July 2016, Google Maps calculates an average speed of 48 mph without traffic.

where we filled up. I am getting suspicious of the petrol there - this is not the first time that, after filling up there, the car has started pinking.


Sunday, 26 January 1969 → Horrabirdge → So'ton → Tun. Wells.
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Bev's Birthday

Belted across the moor at quite a speed, arriving at Grimstone in only 52 minutes from the Peamore garage, which is not bad going, especially considering the fog which was on the moor. Then in to find Bev, who was, at 0050 hrs, still up, and talking to Harry [Hariette Andrew, oldest daughter of the family], who has now been back a couple of days. She was not very happy to see me, having thought I was a Dartmoor prisoner - apparently one escaped recently. After a bit of talk with Bev and Harry, who has cut her hair and suddenly shown a remarkable likeness to her father, apart from the enormous tits which she now has, and then out to bring Sonny in. Bev was absolutely delighted with the watch Sonny gave her - and well she should have been, too, with the money (£30) that he paid for it. Poor old Sonny - he is really in love this time. Only stayed about 1½ hours, then outside to the car, Bev coming too at Harry's suggestion, and after a while off to Southampton, taking a total time from leaving Grimstone to arriving in Greenacres of only 2 hrs 56 minutes, which works out at almost exactly 50 mph. Not bad for the sort of roads we were on. Lights were on all over the house, but everybody was asleep, and I could not, by throwing gravel at the windows, wake either Jim or Shari, so eventually found an unlocked window, and crawled in through it, thus apparently offending Sonny's moral code. To bed, I this time in the single bed, and woke up round 1430, when Sonny suggested to tell the McGibbons that Jim had let us in, rather than admit to having climbed in the window. One of the few things about him I do not understand. Then had breakfast, and after that I spent a while writing up my diary, rather to Sonny's impatience. Eventually set off for Tunbridge Wells at about 17hrs, and gave an Elan a good run for its money along the A272. Then playing our geographical names game, in which I eventually won by never getting stumped, though Jim and Sonny did 3 times each. As a result of the game, broke no speed records, but got back to Westwood early enough. Later out to the Wimpy, met a bloke called Graham, whose amplifier Sonny used to use, then up to the George, had a burn, and back home round midnight.


Monday, 27 January 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC.
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Carried on talking to Sonny at great length, rather unwisely, into the small hours of the morning. He is bloody worried over Bev's attitude to him, which seems rather pointless to me, as it is pretty obvious that she is extremely fond of her[sic]. He showed me her most recent letter, dated the 22nd, which was worried rather than worrying.

Nevertheless, it worried Sonny, and I somehow had to comfort him and at the same time tell him to comfort her. It mush have had some effect, because the next thing I knew, we were talking about cars - he is buying a Ford special for £5 and his wow-wow pedal (that is becoming a joke now - we shall have to enlarge on it). Only thing he needs for it is an engine, and he wants to fit a 105E into it, and put a 4 speed box in as well. Then thinking about doing up the heads of my Ami and putting a couple of Amal cabs on it. Then, finally, at about 0200, off to sleep, and woken again by the alarm at 0530, and pretty snappily off to Welwyn Garden - possibly too snappily, in fact, since I arrived at 0730 feeling like death warmed up, this being due no doubt at least in part to the tablet Sonny gave me last night in a well-meant effort to tidy up my gut, only it made things worse. Told Nigel to tell John that I was unwell and would be in either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, and then hit the sack, being woken at 1200 by Mrs Garrard and waking again of my own accord round 1500. Then down and had some soup, and came back upstairs and read for a while - I feel completely run down, and am sure I would have felt better had I come down last night. If only I had some money! This continual lack of same always makes me feel depressed. I think I shall have to touch Owen for £5, and hope that lasts until my money comes through from the P.I.B. If only I could recover some money from Matin or Paul. Maybe I should write to the former, and get him to send me some money.

Later on, to Fine Fare over this side of town (forget the name of the road), and bought what I could afford for makan. Bumped into Richard Wales on the way out - he looked surprised, though whether from my absence today or because he did not recognize me, I can't tell. Home, and had a chat to Nigel on cars, and he tells me he knows of a bloke with a 3CV and supercharger which will do 90 mph. Would like to hear more of that. Then had some makan and spent the evening flute playing and reading, and also wrote out the poem for Lesley to which I have been adding for the past 9 months.


Tuesday, 28 January 1969 WGC.
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Up a little later today, not out of tiredness, but because I had decided to go and see a doctor at the Q.E. hospital about my gut. Accordingly up a little later, discovered no milk, and had thus no corn flakes, then off to the hospital to see what could be done. In this country people do not go to hospitals much, and I had to be treated as a casualty, but this might have been as well. Was ministered unto by a rather attractive looking nurse, a P.M. Wynn, who said every 5 minutes that they were trying to get hold of a doctor for me. In the meantime, overheard a talk on life in the QEII hospital from a sister to some third party, who, I hope, found it more interesting than I. Then, finally, came the doctor, who examined my fingernails and chest and stuck his finger up my arse and told me I had piles.

In other words, nothing I didn't know already, and nothing that explained the symptoms. Somehow this is in keeping with the impression I have gained of the British medical profession.

Prescribed some suppositories, and then left me.

To work, where the place appeared deserted, but eventually found John over in the HP labs doing something or another, probably getting Al(C₂H₅)₃, and then back again to the lab, where we just had time to get some polydrums before lunch, when I had to borrow some money from John, who promptly told a story about the unhappy fate of the last lab assistant who borrowed money from him. Had a grotty lunch, then back to the lab and off to sleep. Why the hell do I not try and make some sort of contact with Ann? If only I could find something, apart from her or me, to talk about. But I am not very good at talking about other matters.

In the afternoon, packed up some drums to send to Wilton, then back to the lab and on with the preparation of some more Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound , which used up all my supply of Al₂Cl₆, and most of the P₄S₁₀. Ann gave me a registered parcel from Dad, without saying a word. Proved to be a watch which would fit over my wrist without opening up.

Spent most of the afternoon adding Al₂Cl₆, then started refluxing everything and off to the supermarket. I have lost my cheque book and glasses, and am annoyed on both counts. I feel completely demoralised. Spent the evening reading “The Honey badger” and my diary, and the latter makes me wonder why I have not tried anything with Vicki Andrew before.


Wednesday, 29 January 1969 WGC.
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Up late this morning, for reasons similar to those of yesterday, except that today it was the dentist, to see what I could have done about my lost filling. He put what he called a dressing in, but which, I think, recalling days gone by in KL, was more likely to be [illegible; something like Fen₃(PO₄)₂], which would also fit in with the appearance of the stuff. Then to the bank for a new cheque book, which was not as simple as I had thought, for they wanted the numbers of any other cheques which were still unsigned. Got a new cheque book - they are economising now, on a cheaper paper and without blotting paper at the front. This country's economy has obviously reached a very low ebb.

Then to work, and found John just returned from the stores with all sorts of goodies, and got on with hydrolysing my Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound , which I did a little better than last time, using too much ice this time, with the result that, when I tried to extract with benzene, the stuff froze. Warmed it up and separated by lunch time, then to the bank, where I was able to cash £5, leaving nothing in the bank. Then paid back Owen, into town to get some air and have my watch done, but the bloke just did not know how to shorten the strap, which strikes me as being a little dim. Back to the site, bought some oil, and to work again. Perhaps it is my imagination, or if not maybe I am making too much out of it, but I noticed Ann and Richard Wales smiting at each other. Why don't I take the bull by the horns?

Spent most of the afternoon druing Benzene Phosphorus Sulphur compound , CH₃COOH and iso-C₈H₁₈, which managed to take most of the time, and not without a few minor crises, such as the CH₃COOH distillation apparatus going mad as a result of the risella oil in the lute [?] tube. At the end of all that, decided to change my oil, so up towards Welwyn, with the idea of killing 2 birds with one stone and being seen by Ann with by [sic] bonnet up, and then being offered any help. Accordingly pulled off the road, and drained my sump into a rather soggy field, and was seen by Ann (from which I might conclude that she lives in Welwyn).

Somehow I must have guessed that if I chose to do the oil change there.

However, apart from making an exaggerated gesture of surprise, presumably for my benefit, she did not stop, and so I changed my oil and discovered I was bogged down. Used Duckhams Q20-50 this time, looks and smells like New Era Diesel Detergent and, strangely enough, costs hardly any more. After a lot of skidding around and churning up a lot of grass, a police car came along, but fortunately caused no trouble, but could not help. One bloke observed that the council would do their nut if they saw the mess I had made, which is probably true enough. Another bloke in a Rover 75 stopped and eventually towed me out, very kind of him. Home and had makan and read, as usual. I am now reading 3 books in rotation - “The Honey Badger”, “50 enthralling stories of the mysterious east” and my diary. All very good.


Thursday, 30 January 1969 WGC.
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And so to the first full day I have worked this week - I actually managed to arrive at work early, an error which, I hope, I shall not repeat. When I got in, discovered that Andy Pajoczkowski had seen fit to turn off our fractionating column overnight, as there was a fire risk induced by not putting a water-controlled switch in the heating circuit. John swore about this, but there was little to do, and so I was given the job of connecting up a suitable switch, which proved to be little fun, as the switch somehow contrived to be able neither to switch the current off when it was on, nor on when it was off, without outside help. Left it on, and trusted that it would remain that way come what may, and on to make some TiAcAcCl₂, the exact composition of which I am uncertain, but which proved to be rather easy to make once I had got rid of the fumes caused by pouring 5 ml of TiCl₄ down the drain. Messed about cooling the stuff in an icebath, which arguing with Lola about the respective merits of standard and super petrol, and were joined by Alec Harness, who was in a mood to talk about cars, so we did for some considerable length of time, until I realised I could not possibly have my stuff boiling by lunch time, and so had to stay back until it was OK. Then off to lunch at about 1230, and after that into town to buy an Exchange and Mart. Couple of Big 6's going there, but rather expensive. Also a Bijou, only £50 - I wonder why they go more cheaply than a comparable 2CV.

In the afternoon, did exceedingly little. According to Andy's desires, set to finding a powder extinguisher for the fume cupboard with the fractionating column in it, and John suggested we should hang it round Andy's neck. Then to see a C.W.Wood about some old “Motor” and “Autocar” test reports, and got quite a few - there are no less than 4 different reports between 1950 and 1954 on the Big 6 and 2 each on the Big 15 and DS19. I was surprised by the tests of the latter - I had expected pure, undiluted praise, but such was not the case. Even in those days the engine pulled it down, and they were not (strangely) too kind to the suspension. Then came a couple of reports on the 2CV, round 1953, which gave more praise, with the 9 bhp 375 cc engine.

Finally packed up and off home, and reading more test reports, which kept me occupied the whole evening, except when I cooked makan, and I even forgot to have a bath until 2330, when Mrs. Garrard suggested I forget it. The Bijou could be an interesting A type to modify.


Friday, 31 January 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells. → So'ton
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The weeks seem (mercifully) to become shorter as each successive one goes by. The only real thing to worry me is that the same seems to apply to the weekends. I really must do something to ensure that my evenings during the week are more interesting. Woke up late this morning - either my alarm did not go off, or I did not hear it, and had Nigel not made a fair amount of more messing about outside, I would doubtless have slept in. As it was, I just made it to work on time. Not so Ann, however, who rushed in looking rather red at about 0915. In the morning, had yet more fun with the fractionating column, which had somehow succeeded in both switching off the current and flooding all over th flasks of alkyl. Spent a while trying to tidy up the mess, and then got moving on a few of the other things we were working on - the TiAcAcCl₂ seemed to like the toluene it was dissolved in, and showed no inclination of what John's stuff did and crystallising out, so we thought about cooling it down in CO₂, to which, for some reason, I added water, with the result that the beaker broke, but no noticable quantity of solid cyrstallised out of the solution. Did quite a bit of tidying up, topped up the H₂CrO₄ bath, burnt through a pair of gloves, and then off to lunch. Wrote diary up after lunch, and, as we had little else to do, set to tiding [sic] up the debris of the last couple of weeks. Spent quite a while on that, but fortunately, while Jack Layton was prowling around between16 and 17 hrs, I was over with John at the SEB getting some alkyl out of the system for purposes of analysis. Then tried to set up a new N₂ line in the bench, without any success - we were out of black rubber piping. Eventually off to Tun. Wells, with a very low tank of petrol, which got me as far as Barnet, and then I filled up and through to Tun. Wells, arriving at the usual time of about 1940, when Sonny and Jim were watching TV. Then Sonny rang Bev up - she is apparently still depressed, and worried Sonny no end. Did not make me feel much better when she said that the money still has not arrived from the PIB. Swore, and eventually persuaded Sonny to come after all to the West Country. Off as a result to Southampton, arriving as late as usual, and late as a result to bed.


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