Greg
Greg's diary
March 1969
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This diary was entered manually from the paper original between 6 August 2016 and 5 September 2016.


Saturday, 1 March 1969 So'ton → Tun. Wells
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St. David.

Just for a change, it was Jim who got me out of bed this morning, which doubtless was a result of Sonnys burning in at about 0315 and telling me (isn't he always?) that he wanted to get married, and asking if I knew a 1000 cc Mini in Plymouth that would do 125 mph.

Down for breakfast, which was in 2 servings - it is a bit of a burden on the Mc. Gibbons, usually living with 2 in the house, to have this capacity swollen by stages to the 10 that it was this morning.

I count 8 in the diary. Did the McGibbons have house guests too?

In any case, in one way and another had some breakfast, Sonny also staggering down towards the end and wondering what to do. After that, boredom set in, and we decided to go into town to get Jim a haircut - this seems to happen or threaten to happen most times we come down here. Went down in 2 cars, and found a barber near the Bargate, also saw a puke-coloured (brown, not green) Ami 6 Kombi over the other side - funny sound these cars make. Never really noticed it in my own. Then bought some Gunk and back to Greenacres - looks as if Shari has developed a crush on Sonny. In any case, she changed her previous decision not to come down to Tun. Wells this evening, and seemed to have something to do with Sonny. Then out, Sonny and Trevor to attempt to poison themselves, I to remove some of the excess oil from my engine, and as far as I can see, I was more succesful. In any case, Sonny and Trevor also turned up to lunch, and after that off to our old test road on Romsey direction, but the ruts are bigger and I am getting a bit more worried about having all these fog lamp breakages, and so did not take it too fast. Then back to Greenactres, where Shari had in the meantime decided not to go this evening after all - apparently she had rung Bob up and been told he would call her this evening. In any case, we had a long argument about the subject, somehow changing the subject to the Pill and then sex in general, which brought us back to Bob again.

Then Jim's parents came back, and we had makan and set off for Tun. Wells, Sonny pulling a long way ahead. We had intended to get a photo of Sonny yumping at Billingshurst, but he changed his mind en route, and when we got there, he and Trev were waving us over, but it was so slight, I thought I had not yumped. Sonny set I got my wheels off by about a foot, and so the one I did at Postbridge must have been at least 6. Then on back to Westwood, and then out in Sonny's car (alone!) for makan - that car is really hairy, and performance does not seem too good, either. Back again, and shortly later enter Trevor with violence written on his face, furious that I had submitted his girlfriend to the indignity of sitting next to a hitchhiker - silly bugger. Then off to some pub in the middle of nowhere (between Maidstone and Biddenden) called Headcoren [?], where Sonny had a dance to see. Then off to Lamberhurst, doing several yumps each way - I think I did 9 or 10 this weekend - and broke my 3rd foglight glass in a week in so doing, and arrived at Lamberhurst abbey in none too happy a frame of mind. Then off to see the place, which seemed in no way spooky, and the only thing of any interest was when Nick (friend of Trev's) was opening a window and found a bloke in there, who promptly jumped out after him with a torch, swearing - Jim reckons he came out so fast, he must have come through the wall - and we all bolted. Then everybody hanging around, despite the fact that the police could arrive at any moment, and so I peed off up the road, and they went in the other direction. I then to look for them, found them not, and off to sleep on the common.


Sunday, 2 March 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC.
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Up round 1000 hrs this morning, the temperature in the car not being much above freezing - why is the weather still so cold? After all, it is spring now, and in a couple of months it out to be (some hopes!) warm. It seems to be much colder than usual for this time of the year, though. Tried to write up my diary, and could not find my pen, which did not make me feel any happier, as I had obviously left it Beyham Abbey last night. Over to Westwood, where Sonny was wondering what I had done last night, and then I persuaded him to take me out to Lamberhurst to look for my pen - I am getting just a little fed up lately of doing all the driving. At Lamberhurst, I went along the path I had been doing, while Sonny examined his plugs. After walking a long way along there, I found the thing in my pocket, though I am prepared to swear it was not there before. In any case, back to Westwood, stopping on the way to wash Sonny's car at the self-service place, though without any altogether remarkable degree of success. Then back to Westwood, where I was stopped just as I was about to enter and told that Mrs. Lane was inside, so left them to have their makan, and off to Forte's for some myself. Came back, and Mrs. Lane was gone, so upstairs and read a few magazines for a while, then Sonny got me to come down and have a look at his carbs with him, and discovered what I had thought, that they were only opening halfway, so adjusted the cable, and then off for a burnup - so much for Sonny's claims of 40 mpg! No wonder it was so economical. On this burn, though, he must have only done 20 - 25 mpg, and the thing really moved - Sonny was delighted again, and as soon as he got back wanted to bleed the brakes, which under the circumstances seemed rather pointless, as they did not seem spongy. In any case, it made no difference, and confirmed my opinion that he should adjust them. Then inside, and I wrote up for yesterday, intermingled with talk to Sonny about Bev and new flats and Yugoslavia and 4wd 2CVs, and then off to see “The Twisted Nerve", starring a Hayley Mills who reminds me enormously of Jenny Hallett. In any case, the film was quite frightening - about a sexual psychopath who is not “discovered” until it is too late, and has killed his landlady, stepfather, and tried to rape landlady's daughter (Hayley). Made me think of Alan in many ways. Then back to Westwood, and along came Trevor, and we had an argument about whether and how Sonny should fix an aerofoil to the front of his car to keep the thing on the ground. Left quite late for the Garden City, and did not get there until about 0030. I am low on money again.


Monday, 3 March 1969 WGC.
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Didn't wake up until 0825 this morning - hope that doesn't become a way of life. Just had time for a gulp at a milk bottle before leaving, and arrived more or less on time. Didn't do anything for a while - don't think I would have been capable of it anyway - and so nothing happened for about half an hour, until John came in and suggested I dispose of the obviously abortive Al(C₂H₅)₂OC₂H₅ catalyst, and see if we couldn't get round to making some more large scale preparations for use at Wilton. This entailed dragging out all our old equipment, and was in no manner helped by Alex Harness suddenly having a fit of meglomania and running into our lab, throwing things all over the place in an effort to tidy the place up. Prudently hopped it to the stores, though not before he disposed of a few empty winchesters via me, and when I came back, things had calmed down somewhat. Got the iso-octane in before lunch, and had trouble with leaky Gacko [?] seals. More or less solved this, and after lunch into town to send a money order to British Rail, but the post office was too crowded for my linking, so back.

After lunch, over with John to the SEB to get some AlEt₂Cl, and then back to put it in - saw Ken Whitely looking apparently good humoured - amused at the sight of me in my alkyl suit, which rather surprised me. Then putting in the TiCl₃, which was the usual messup. Then I discovered I had only put 5 l iso-octane in instead of 10 (used a 1000 cc measuring cylinder instead of a 2000 cc), and so hat to degas a further 5 l and transfer it under N₂. That done, put in as much hexene/decene mixture as we had, about 970 cc - should have been 1050 - and then knocked off and into town, and finally sent the money order to British Rail, which at least put me in the black now with everybody except Owen, who will have to wait. Home, and had yet another curry, this one somewhat better - I have discovered why my curries were not pedas enough: not enough spices.

That took a long time to discover.

This one was quite pedas enough, and knocked me off to sleep, from which I only had time enough to recover for a bath and diary-writing.


Tuesday, 4 March 1969 WGC.
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There are times when I wonder if I should not give up keeping a diary during the week - the monotony of it is terrible, and yet I feel that I must continue, every day, as I have for the past 6 years and more, or the whole thing will somehow become worthless. In any case, my worries of a few months back seem to have been unfounded: I am still keeping the thing, and look like continuing to do so for the forseeable future.

Into work today approximately on time, and then in came John to suggest we got moving with our catalyst transferal. This we got round to without working at all quickly - John went out on the scrounge for TiCl₃, which is again in demand, and so I was left to do a bit of tidying up. It looks as if we shall have to make up a new acid bath. Then over to the HP labs to get some iso-octane, and back in time for tea, where the tea ladies were selling cup holders, which amounted to little more than a plastic ring with a handle on it. Few of us bought any, and Owen took the initiative by boring some suitable holes in polythene plaques about 13×6 cm, which seemed to do the trick. Then catalyst transferal, in the middle of which Ann walked, just as (I think) I was pouring catalyst down the N₂ line, and into the lute. This is not the first time she has come in at this sort of juncture - I wonder if there is any significance. Then started doing something about preparing to make up some standard suspension of TiCl₃, which we managed to defer until after lunch, while I tried polymerising with a different catalyst. After a rather long lunch break, back and discussed the tea cup holders with Lola - Owen had presented most of our side of the lab with one by this time. The main trouble with the things was that they were very soft and holding a cup full of water at about 70° bent appreciably, so we decided to use the polymers I made here last month. The natural upshot of this was, since Lola reckoned to need 40 gm per go, that I decided to make some more, and really went to town with 50 ml of our miracle catalyst 9WAB (or in John's new code, 2ET), TiCl₃ and Al(C₂H₅)₃, which gave us an efficiency of 8000 last time If all goes well, we should have over 1 kgm of polymer to play around with.

Transferred a good deal of TiCl₃ in the afternoon, including a not insubstantial amount onto the floor - one of our joints had sprung a leak - and then I was left to titrate it and somehow managed to spend all my time doing other things. The tea ladies were rather taken aback by our holders, which even in their present LD form were quite useful.

Then, after work, to Sainsbury's, which is probably better than Fine Fare, and bought some stuff, At home, long talk with Mrs Garrard, up for tea, and had barely read about adjusting ignition timing when it was time to make makan, after which came another talk, bath, and bed.


Wednesday, 5 March 1969 WGC → Reading → WGC.
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And another day like the last and a model to the next. This is slowly but surely driving me mad, and I am constantly longing more and more to be allowed to go back home to Australia; it is now 7½ years since last I was there, and I am feeling homesick, to say the least.

The weather was cold this morning - which meant once again a car covered in frost - but clean, and I saw a sunrise in England for, I think, the first time. I must confess, when the weather is good, England is a beautiful place - but right now I would equally well enjoy myself driving from Darwin to Alice, which is what I hope I can persuade Dad to let me do.

The best we managed was further south, from Marla to Adelaide.

At work, the weather made me feel like setting to work with a will; I am very weather-dependent. In the morning, got round to titrating the TiCl₃ that I was supposed to have done yesterday, and even got reasonably consistent results. That seemed to be all I got done in the morning, though I supose I must have put some iso-octane in the flask and gone over to the SEB to get hold of some alkyl.

After lunch, rang up the Australian High Commission, whence I was given the the joyful news that I would not have to register for callup, as I was not in Australian in the second half of last year.

More to the point, the conscription process started with a lottery: 9 birthdays every 6 months. Only people born on those days were eligible, and my number didn't come up.

While getting the phone number (from Ann's series of books), she asked me for a light, though I am fairly certain her lighter worked. Why don't I take her up? I wish I knew. In any case, spent the afternoon getting another lot of catalyst made up, and after that home, where the sun was still shining brightly, the sky still cloudless, and so I decided to dispose of my snow tyres and put X's on all round. Then cooked a totally inordinate amount of dhall and rice, and was only able to eat about half of it. Then into London - the car certainly has perked up since I changed the tyres - and to look for Harrie, who was not there. Then to Brunos, who was also not there, and finally, almost in desperation, to look for Jennie Hallett, who was there though with a bloke (Colin, who was at our ouija session on the 14.I.1969). Rather split that up, and did my best to drag Jennie off to Maidenhead. She did not resist all that violently, though she did not want to come - she has changed, has Jennie. She is obviously making no pretence of being faithful to one bloke any more. I wonder if she would to me. I must go and see her again, anyway - I did not enjoy myself this evening.


Thursday, 6 March 1969 WGC.
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Weather today was similar to yesterday - I hope the frost goes by the weekend, without taking the sunshine with it. My mood has changed considerably with the weather, and even the fact that I am broke does not seem to make all too much difference. To work as usual, set to work with a will, and before long was transferring catalyst with John again. In the middle of that, Ann walked in - she seems to have a habit of coming in in the middle of something tricky - to give John his salary advice, which caused him no end of mirth, as it seems that the taxation people could not be bothered to take any tax this month. This started a general conversation about means of extracting income tax, and kept us going for some while until we turned our attention to a polydrum with rather weak walls and our considerations as to what happened if some careless worker threw it down from a lorry to a mate who would then cop the lot. Then put the CrO₃ into the acid bath, and over with John to get a good 3½ l of alkyl from the SEB. Then doing a bit of calculations on my petrol consumption until lunch.

After lunch, John was keen to get on with the new batch of catalyst, D19/4CT, and so left some iso-octane degassing. Decided in the meantime to ring up Bruno Sampson, and discovered he was at the Carnaby Market. In to Ann to get the phone number - not quite sure what the point of her answering “no” was when I asked if I could use the book, but it was not the obvious (hope not, anyway, as I went ahead). I am a silly bastard - possibly, when I have more money, I will be able to take the initiative. Then put the alkyl in with John's help, and drained the TiCl₃ flask just about dry, which was rather an achievement, without. He helped putting it in, and then I had the rest of the afternoon free for contemplating my fuel consumption, which (overall) has fallen from 38,2 to 39,2 mpg [7.4 to 7.2 l/100 km] since last I did these calculations. Nevertheless, I reckon to have spent £130 odd for petrol for this car. Rather took me aback.

Then home, and spent the evening (during daylight hours) doing my best to make the car look more like a car and less like a rubbish cart, and not unsuccessful was I. Noticed sidewall damage in one of my X's - I wonder how that got there. Still, it is not visible from the outside, and on the rear wheels it should last out its life span. Inside, and off to sleep for a while before waking to eat some dhall from last night. Then read for a while and executed other sundry functions before going to bed.


Friday, 7 March 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells
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And to the end of another week. If only I could get out of this financial mess in which I now find myself! Will it be any better when this month's salary comes round, or am I just not capable of living within my means?

To work this morning in somewhat unusual circumstances. Going round the roundabout near home, I heard a funny noise which proved to have been from a flat tyre, and so stopped to change it, only to discover that I did not have my wheelbrace with me - this in itself would not have been so bad had it not also been the starting handle. Still, I can't see myself using that too often - even if the loss is a nuisance. Changed the tyre with the aid of my socket spanner set, then back to look for the wheelbrace, to no avail. Then on, decided the wheel was making a loose noise, and so stopped again and tightened it, cutting a knuckle in the process on the hubcap. After getting to work, to the ambulance room and had my knuckle put back together again. Then in to say hello to John and to transfer some catalyst, after which I was more or less left to my own devices to get rid of the 3 polydrums of catalyst that we had hanging round the lab, which I more or less completed by lunchtime.

After lunch, brought the tyre into the lab and repaired it, though I am damned if I can work out what was wrong with the old tube. Maybe it is the valve after all. Then in with the catalyst dispatch, after which over to the SEB and got hold of some aluminium alkyl, and then back to try to make up another bath with aluminium diethyl butoxide and triethyl, which might be a little better than previous butoxide and ethoxide attempts. That somehow, with a little stretching, managed to last all afternoon, and then with Owen and Alan into London, and dropped them at Oxford Circus, as they wanted to go on the new Victoria line which opened (finally) today, not without aid from the Queen.

It seems that this was just the official opening. The line had been operative for over 6 months.

Then down further, and arrived in Tun. Wells at 1930, to find Sonny in a state of just having bought a 1000 cc Imp engine and twin 45DCOE's to match, and having spent a considerable amount of time working on the thing over the past couple of days. Accordingly he is more broke than ever, and is likely to have to spend £100 in the next few weeks. Off for a drink, after which we split up, and Jim and I looking for birds, eventually picking up a couple in Tonbridge, nearly scaring hell out of them, and then having a drink with them in the pub at the top of Pennington road. One is Margaret Rock, lives in opposite road.


Saturday, 8 March 1969 Tun. Wells.
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Up later than usual this morning, mainly owing to the cold: there was another frost last night, and my feet, strange to say, were absolutely freezing. In any case, not until the sun came out and warmed the thermometer up to the wholly unrealistic figure of 10° did I venture out from under my blanket, by which time it was also the best part of 1000 hrs. On the way to Westwood, picked up a couple of girls who were going to London, and so down to Westwood for a hurried conference with Jim (Sonny had gone into town to collect his engine), decided to go into London, but got as far as a fillup and the Sevenoaks bypass before Jim (apparently) remembered Sonny would need our help with his engine, so dropped the girls (God only knows what they must have thought) and headed back to Westwood, where Trevor had been. Hung around for a while, then Sonny came back in Trev's car and pretty smartly went out again to meet Shari at the railway station, returning after a while to pick Jim up (this unknown to me). Then Trev came along and wanted to see Sonny, so I saw him - apparently they can't get hold of the workshop they were looking for, as Sonny left it in a mess yesterday. Down to the station to tell him, and almost immediately Shari arrived, and they back for lunch, then I followed, after some fish and chips, and finished Shari's makan for her. After that, looking round town, and showed Shari Toad Rock and the Chalybeate water, neither of which I had seen myself - latter is in the Pantiles, and ridiculously small. Then uptown to the Wimpy bar, bumping into Larry in the process, and after a cup of coffee, were just about to follow Sonny somewither when we bumped into Annette (of a couple of months ago) and a friend, Mary, whom we too jumble sale hunting, only to find the remains of said jumble sale being loaded onto a truck, so down to Tonbridge looking for Sonny, then back via Vauxhall lane - car feels decidedly skittish and somewhat unstable of late. Found Sonny and Shari (that sounds good) at home, and so up, all 6 of us, into Jim's room, where Annette proceeded to talk cameras to me, Sonny (after taking her for a drive) persuaded her to come with us to Beyham abbey for a reprise of last week, and she persuaded me to lend her my flash gun for some photos. Then took her home, where she decided not to come, but kept my flash gun nevertheless. Off then for makan, back, and hung about for a while before going via Wendy's house to the George to meet Trevor, only to discover that he did not fit the required standards of cleanliness for the place, so up to the Bull, where Wendy was, and had a drink (I milk, just for the laugh of it).

There was some commercial going around at the time recommending milk rather than getting drunk. My recollection was complete astonishment on everybody's part.

Then off individually up River Hill near 7oaks, to do what I know not, as we never made it. Following a 1969 ID20/21F up to the bypass, watching his swivelling headlights.

This must have been the first production year with this feature. It's really sad that they discontinued the idea: it really worked well.

Fantastic - and they are as bright as my Oscars. Sonny did not make it, so after waiting a while, followed Trev down and got into a spin/slide round one of the corners - I really thought the thing was going to roll, as the gradient must we [?] 1 in 10, and we were drifting broadside down the hill - I think I must have lifted a wheel. Fortunately, nothing was coming, though almost immediately a police car came down in and offered some advice. Came to the conclusion that it was caused by a combination of low outside tyre pressure (1 atm.) and slight ice on the road, and in some ways I am glad it happened, as it has proved, to me at any rate, how difficult it is to roll an Ami. Then back to Tun. Wells, where, as I had expected, Sonny had also had car trouble: his distributor drive had sheared in the middle of town, and they were halfway down Pennington Road when we saw them. Trevor went off with him to tow it back, while we waited at Westwood, and then we set off in 2 cars for Beyham Abbey - and then Trev had car trouble! Apparently the brushes had worn out on his dynamo, so we left the thing outside Angie's place, and set off, all 7 of us, in my car, though Sonny, Jim, Shari and Angie were sure that, as all 3 of us had had car trouble, something was going to happen at the abbey. Nick, Trev ad I went ahead to try to scare them, but they panicked and turned back, and so we could not do much - they insisted they had sensed ghostly presence, though I think it was all circumstantial. Then back to Nick's place, where we arranged what to do about the Imps tomorrow, and then took some back to Westwood and myself slept just behind.


Sunday, 9 March 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC.
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Woke up somewhat before 0900, and up, at Trev's request, to wake Sonny up, and then down to Crowborough to wake Trev up - he was already, and so up to Tun. Wells to get his car, and when we got there we discovered he had left his keys behind, so we had to go back to Crowborough [about 11 km] to get them. Then got his car started, and discovered that his dynamo was charging again. Across to Westwood, where we were just in time to drag Sonny out of bed, and then he and Trev started talking in terms of going down to this place in Uckfield again, and so, after he had shared his breakfast with me, Sonny went off with Trev towing him all the way to Uckfield, while Jim, Shari and I discussed what to do, and Jim decided that we would have makan in town, as it would be cheaper than paying for Shari's makan at Westwood. I then spent some time reading, before Jim suggested we went into town for a drive first, somewhat forgetting in the process the fact that this would cost petrol, a commodity of which I was anyway in short enough supply. In any case, went to buy 2 gallons, was given 3, and had an argument (based on lack of sufficient funds to pay) which ended up with me taking the extra gallon and not paying for it. Then to the fish and chip shop, which was closed, and had an “open” sign on it, so left a little note to that effect on the window. Had makan at Fortes, then back to Westwood, where we found Sonny and Trev working on the cars. A bit later out, as Sonny wanted my socket spanners, and found him removing his inlet manifold and carbs. Off then to see “Shalako”, at Jim's expense, and quite good it was, too. Must confess, though, that I don't like Westerns, not even particularly this one. Then a grotty documentary on Delphos, which could easily have been improve just with the dialogues.

Home to find Trev belting up Pennington Road with Sonny's inlet manifold on, and then they came back, we talked for a while, and I decided that the best thing I could do was to go home, which I did, talking as long as I ever do on Fridays (shouldn't have gone through the West End), and fortunately (it was 2030) Mrs. Garrard was not home, so I was able to cook a curry and then spend the evening much as usual.


Monday, 10 March 1969 WGC → London → WGC.
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Up much as usual and to work, where, for some reason, I felt more inclined to work than usual - nor was this in any way abated when I received a letter from Dad, saying he had cried all the way through my last letter (why? - does the bastard still think I am a spendthrift?), and enclosing £60. I was rather annoyed when he suggested “maybe if you curbed your extensive touring of SE England, you would find it easier to make ends meet". I have made it clear enough already that I seldom pay for my own petrol on long journeys, and that it would be cheaper than staying here over weekends, but either he has ignored it or does not believe me.

Typing these pages in in mid-2016, I'm puzzled myself about where the money went. Clearly I wasn't very careful; continually buying magazines is a sign for that. And then there are the various car accessories—both figure further down today. But my guess is that a lot of the expense happened in Germany over Christmas, where things happened that I hadn't reckoned with.

Over to the stores for a new lab coat, and discovered that they are out of white ones, so had to have a brown one instead. Back to the lab and rang up Lloyd's for my cheque stubs, only to discover that they had destroyed them all, but would, however, send me all cashed cheques, which under the circumstances would be more to the point. Then got down to trying out some of the 30BT catalyst that we made on Friday, and after that setting up 2 different further catalyst batches, a 14 litre one and a ½ litre one (1CT and 50BT respectively). Did not get too much of that done before lunch, when I went to the Lloyd's representatives and was again given the brushoff by their bloke there - I am getting fed up of this. Does it not suffice that I have moved my account? After lunch, went in and looked for some clothes shops, but found little to my taste, and so just bought “Motor” and Exchange and Mart.

Then down to making the catalyst, which went fairly smoothly, though I had slight difficulty with the TiCl₃, and then had the rest of the afternoon to my self - until Frank Bevington came across and asked for some dried toluene, which I then had to arrange.

At home, read a couple of interesting ads in Exchange and Mart - a Bijou Van (?!) for £35, needs attention, and, better, 4 2CV tyres for £5, which could solve my tyre problem for a while. Rang up, ascertained they were still there, then had makan and headed into London, through torrential rain. Finally found the place, in Barnes, opposite Hammersmith, and got not only the tyres and tubes, but also (2CV) wheels - makes 6 I now have. Unfortunately, 2 of the tyres were Pilotes, but might still be usuable - will have to experiment. Blokes who had the 2CV had taken it across the Sahara, where it had acquitted itself well, but had fallen apart in the Congo on as the result of a few accidents. Must meet the blokes and talk to them about it.

Then back to Bayswater and to see Harrie Andrew, who seemed pleased to to see me - I must confess I am getting to like her more, though I don't know that this is going to be a good idea. To Soho for a drink, then walked around Carnaby Street before taking her home and back in only 30 minutes myself.


Tuesday, 11 March 1969 WGC.
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And back to the endless routine of life. At times I wonder if life on the whole is worth the candle, when so much of it is taken up with dull mundane operations such as i do here. In to work as usual, and did nothing out of the ordinary - distilled over the toluene for Frank Bevington, and then John came and suggested we did nothing about the batch of catalyst in the pot, which quite suited me. Then he disappeared and suggested when he returned that I take Frank's toluene over to the HP labs for him, which I did. On my return came a phone call from Lloyd's (not Barclays) bank, from this idiot who runs the banking thing at work to tell me that Barclay's had returned my cheque to Barley's [?] because it was post-dated to November. I don't know how they worked it out, as it was dated 5.III.1969. I wonder what that means. In any case, he was unsufferably rude, and told him I intended to complain, and got his name - Shortman, which seems somehow descriptive. Then rang up Barclays, who said they would cash it, and had a think, which brought me to the conclusion that, as this Shortman bloke had rung me up, not Barclays, and as he had obviously had it in for me in the past, and also as Barclay's had not yet returned any cheque of mine, though dated more ambiguously than this, that the rejection of the cheque must have been Shortman's idea, and so rang up Joleys, the manager of Lloyds, who was no more civil than Shortman, though he acted a good deal more pompously. He spent the entire conversation beating around the bush and saying what a bad customer I had been, and that he knew his men, etc. When I finally hung up on him, it was to a comment of “That's the only way to treat them” from John, but I still felt annoyed. I feel now like writing to Lloyds in London and telling them all about it.

Then off to lunch, and after that into town to get a new cheque book, which, I was told, would be posted this evening. Had been followed by Ann, whom I somehow inadvertantly left behind. Back at work, concentrated my energies to get another low pressure polymerisation and to drying some iso-octane and toluene over sodium. That again somehow seemed to take up the whole afternoon, though I did manage to book my car in for service in Potters Bar on Monday, and to ascertain from Citroën that they would have to have chassis number before delivering brake shoes, so I don't know how Middleton Motors intend to have them ready then. Also rang up Watford Auto Electrical and they said that, in emergency, they would cannibalise a foglamp for my glasses for me, and I could, should I want, collect them before 1800 hrs tomorrow or Friday. Plumped for tomorrow, and then off home, filling up on the way with Mobil's new anti-wear petrol. Did little in the evening - felt dead beat and slept 4 hrs.


Wednesday, 12 March 1969 WGC.
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One thing that does seem to break the monotony is the prospect of this holiday (holiday? hah! weekend) in Devon this weekend, and the possibility that something with Vicki will come out of it. I rather hope Harrie decides not to come - it might make it easier to make off with both of them simultaneously.

Today was much as yesterday, except that today the distillation was iso-octane, and some other stuff came over at round 70°, just possibly a chlorine compound. John seemed, rightly enough, a little reluctant to use it for catalyst making, though i thought it would be good enough for most purposes.

I could have used it instead of petrol in my car, for example.

Then had a bit of fun decanting yesterday's catalyst, to see if anybody in Wilton can find any use for it. John says that the D12/4CT catalyst they tried yesterday had given yields in the order of 180000, which is by far the highest we have had - possibly the highest yield ever obtained in making polythene from any catalyst. After that, off to lunch (how did we manage to make it last all morning?) and then again into town, where I bought some food and went to Barley's, where, strangely enough, they have not had my cheque returned. OK by me.

In the afternoon, got another polymerisation set up, this time using only 5cc of catalyst, as the efficiencies have been such that we have not been left with any diluent after the reaction has finished. Then, between measurement of the thickness of my feeler guages, Lola told me she was puzzled about residual acidity in the polymers she has been getting, and so I jumped to the opportunity of making a standard solution of NaOH in C₂H₅OH, discovering in the process a) the stuff is not as soluble as it is made out to be, and b) (in the titration) phenolphthalein, as most other indicators, is insoluble in iso-octane. Decided to try again, and left, 15 minutes early, for Watford, and arrived at only 1720, which was very good going. Got my glasses, as well as a couple of plugs, and back to the Garden City by 1815, where I cooked an exceptionally greasy ghee rice which consequently proved almost inedible, and then spent the evening reading, and wondering what to do with “Where in the World” (sounds good, doesn't it?) Think I will enlarge it 3 or 4 times.


Thursday, 13 March 1969 WGC.
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One thing about this routine is that I am waking up of my own accord lately - this morning I jumped out of bed at 0809, and only then looked at my watch (which, come to think of it, was 1 minute slow anyway).

At work, we again had little to do - it was misty (weather) and I spent most of my time talking to Owen about people who don't turn their lights on. Then came John, and we looked at the fractionating column, on which the water had been turned off, presumably by Andy Pajaczkowski - and that before it had even started to reflux. Further examination showed that the Variac had given up the ghost, so got another and distilled over just enough for Frank Bevington's use today, and then left it refluxing. Then John decided to go over to the HP labs, and left me with instruction to make some catalysts, while in the meantime I weighed the product of the stuff we made yesterday - with an efficiency of 22000, this is fantastic. I wonder how this one (5 CT) will do over in the HP labs. Then made one catalyst in my own sweet time with the result that I just added the last instalment of decene before dashing off for lunch to read in Plastics about a fellow who had contrived to win two BNC fwd cars in a competition about a subject no more to do with evaluating dog's faces (not faeces). Some blokes have all the luck.

Then to the car, where I did everything except what I had originally intended to do. Noted Ann parked right opposite me - maybe something will come of this yet, though I am now wondering if I am really interested. Her voice has that horrible London tang on it on occasion. Still, I am unfreezing a bit, which is a good sign.

Then rang up Harrie, who decided to come after all - pity in a way, as it will put an end to all activity with Vickie, or at least severely inhibit it - though she does want to make a dress, so she should not be too much in evidence.

In the afternoon, decided, after coming to conclusion that I did not really feel like working out residual acidities, to make the other catalyst that John suggested, and using this as an excuse, did little else all afternoon, be it not tidying up the sinks to please John to please Andy. Then took Alan into town (pity - had thought of striking up a conversation with Ann on the way), and then bought some prerequisites for a simple (very) nasi goreng. Home, and had some tea, then put all my hundreds of tyres in the back of the car (with the seat folded forward), and then cooked myself a nasi goreng which proved I had not lost the touch. After that, read “Where in the World” again, and in the process came to the conclusion that it is far too short. Must divide it into 3 or 4 books, dealing with various phases of my search for ideals, standards, country, career.


Friday, 14 March 1969 WGC → Grimstone.
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And to the end of another week, though seldom have I so looked forward to a weekend as this - probably for no good reason. In any case, woke up at 0730, which is in itself a bad sign. Then to work as usual, and started distilling some toluene, after which I decided I should go over and see Nurse about my left little finger, which is going septic again. I expect Nurse is getting the idea that I have a crush on her - not that that would take much doing. Back again, and at John's suggestion had a go at tidying up the chromic acid bath. This I did until I considered it fit time to go to the dentist, who disposed with me in a quite disappointing time - gave me an injection which only started really taking hold as the filling went in, and which left the whole left side of my jaw numb, until about 1500 hrs.

This was the first time in my life that I had had an anaesthetic at the dentists, and at the time I wondered why it was necessary. But it does seem to have been quite a dose.

He did not find any other cavities, thank God, and so I was back at work again within an hour, and spent the rest of the morning extruding sodium wire and drying solvents.

After lunch, discovered, rather to my chagrain, that I had nothing to do, and so did a fairly protracted tidy up, which had quite a few diversions. Good old Lola! She is always worth talking to, even if, as today, she is just talking about how beastly she is to her children. Had tea on credit (money supply is low!),

Why? I had just got £60.

and then did a bit of talking and failed miserably an idiot test, which made me hardly happy. Then off in the direction of Rickmansworth, which took me an hour, and picked up Harrie at the tube station, then on to Reading, where there was one almighty traffic jam. Finally got through there, and hit fog to make up for it. Near Basingstoke, to the west, opened a door to get out and adjust the fogs, and a passing car promptly pulled the door off, which did nothing to improve my mood.

It's difficult to decide who was at fault here. I had stopped on the side of the road, of course, and apparently didn't check for passing traffic. My recollection is that I only opened the door a little, but since the passing car (a Jaguar) turned it through 180°, it must have been more than that. He offered to pay for it, but I was so angry with myself that I declined.

I also considered whether the injection at the dentist's had impaired my judgement. Certainly it must have been a massive dose.

Wedged it into place and drove to the next service station, where I discovered a bent body member, which does not help any. Hooked the door back on, and on then with a 2" gap in the bottom. Arrived at Grimstone at 2340, when everybody had gone to bed, which rather disappointed me. Waited in the kitchen with Harrie and Bev for hours before finally going to bed.


Saturday, 15 March 1969 Grimstone
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Up at a more or less usual time this morning - sleeping in a bed of weekends is becoming continually less common, and it hardly made any difference today. Bev came in shortly and told me something pretty obvious. Then down for breakfast and allied operations, after which Bev talked me into taking Vicki up to the top of Horrabridge Hill, which I did - they have done something crazy in the village and changed the road priorities. Came back down again, and before long was looking at the Old Grey Mare and decided to remove the box there and then, but eventually decided to do something more simple, like taking the head off. Set to this, which proceeded quite easily until it occurred to me that I had to take Georgina into Tavy to have an exam. Bev went with her, then I came back and complete my head removal, which was somewhat confused by an oil pipe at the back which I had not noticed. Then back into town to look for Bev and Georgina, and found them walking across the moor. Came back and tidied up a little, then off with Bev and Harrie into Plymouth, with the primary intention of buying some new clothes. In this we were comparatively successful, and at the same time bought some food. Got a Harris Tweed jacket, pants at the same place, also shirt, tie and a couple of jumpers. Picked Vicki up in town, then back to Grimstone, where I cooked a nasi goreng as of old, albeit not enough, despite Bev's convictions to the contrary - we will obviously have to be careful about letting her cook for us. We had just finished that when Sonny rang up to say that Trevor and he were in Tavistock, which considerably annoyed both Bev and me, but eventually had to let Trev come up here as well. When they arrived, down almost immediately to have a look at the Old Grey Mare, whose engine is in remarkably good condition. Trev was going to take the head back, but changed his mind when he saw the size of it.

It's not clear why I took the head off in the first place. The problem with the car was the drive, so the [gear]box at least made sense, though it proved not to be the problem. And what was the point of taking the cylinder head to the other side of the country?

Then up, where Trev got he idea (somehow) that he was not wanted, which was true, but he reacted in such a way as to leave Sonny stew and headed off to Tun. Wells. A little later - about 30 minutes - Angie came back and said he would pick Sonny up at midnight at the end of the drive, and then off again. Talked for a while - Cathy and Penny had come along as well - and then they went off in their Imp, which amused Sonny and me somewhat. Then Sonny and Bev went off in my car to the weary friar in Pillaton, and we were left behind. Wrote a letter to Mum, and just as I finished entered William and parents. Had makan, including an argument with Vickie over how one should cook rice, which added up with us each cooking our own, and I finally had Vicki admit that my rice was better than hers. Spent the rest of the evening messing around in the sitting room, and though I did little (Harrie was trying to make a dress, and Vickie was doing some scrapbook on interior decoration) did not get to bed until very late.


Sunday, 16 March 1969 Grimstone → London → WGC.
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Up a little later this morning - did not show any semblance of being awake until Bev was almost in the door. Downstairs before Bev, and found Vickie cooking breakfast - why didn't she yesterday? In any case, had breakfast, and then decided to go and remove the gearbox from the Old Grey Mare, and got William to agree to help me later. When I got down there, however, there was a terribly cold, biting wind, and do decided to give it up as a bad job and just change the oil in the Ami 6, so that when William came down he had little to do apart from helping me to put the cylinder head (which is by no means light) into the back of the Ami. Then up again to the house and got back inside the not-so-cold. After tidying up, decided to go and play my flute, which, however, was not too enthusiastically received. Before long, spent talking to, watching and thinking of Vickie, outside to discover that the Andrews were going out for lunch, and Mrs. Andrew was trying to work out how to persuade us that the rabbit pie she had made was in fact chicken - apparently the kids are none too fond of rabbit. In any case, the next thing I knew was that Vickie was delegated to get it fixed up, and later came out to discover that Mr. Andrew had inadvertently let the cat out of the bag, so that by the time we sat down to makan, only William and Georgina didn't know it was rabbit - and the former couldn't care and the latter was in such a huff at having (deliberately) broken her knitting needles that she did not have any makan. After that, back into the lounge room, where we shortly discovered that some people or another were going to come over for tea, apparently hardly to Vickie's or Harrie's delight. In the meantime, trying idiot test and tricks on Vickie and William, which gives me the impression that the former is more intelligent, as distinct from clever - or maybe it is just that William is thick. In any case, although this weekend has been a bit of an anti-climax, I don't feel it has been wasted. Certainly I know Vickie better than I ever used to, and I think she must like me. Had tea, in which Vickie was absent, and was nearly paired off by some snobbish old dear to some world-champion tennis player from Durban, who lives in Tun. Wells. Outside on the pretext of packing, and found Vickie baking a cake, and offered to let me lick the bowl (which, after the sick jokes we had been telling at lunch, might have been distasteful), and I felt like saying, “No, thanks, why don't you pull the chain?”. In any case, after a while of talking, Bev came in, and put an end to any further possibilities. Did not get a chance to taste the cake, though Vickie was prepare to chop a bit out for me, as Harrie was in a harrie (no, hurry) to get back to London, and so left at only 1740. As it was, it was just as well, for both weather and traffic were awful, and we only just got there by 2300 hrs. Then back to the Garden City and straight to bed.


Monday, 17 March 1969 WGC → Tun.Wells.
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St. Patrick.

And another week, starting off in none too happy a state with my car in the condition it is. Into work, finding John equally depressed, having done a mischief to his flute while drying the thing - buckled the end joint. As well as that, we had no work to do, as we were clean out of TiCl₃. Hung about for a while distilling iso-octane and contemplating the the state of my car, having found that a new door would cost £20, with respraying, and doubtless more would come thereto with hammering out the bent chassis member, etc. I am considering ridding myself of the car and getting hold of a second-hand something else, preferably considerably faster.

Then entered John with a drum of polydrums of TiCl₃, so that we could start work on it after lunch. The rest of the time before lunch was spent cleaning and vaccing a couple of flasks for the TiCl₃. Then into town before lunch and bought a copy of “Stern” while I was there - first time I have seen it in Smiths. After lunch, did little for a while, then set to transferring the TiCl₃, which took quite a while, and then trying to fuse some Na and Li in decalin and to titrate the stuff, which was rather irritating, as the stuff was at the wrong concentration. Gave up at 1700, home and at a couple of eggs, then changed my clothes and of to Tun. Wells and Westwood. Made it in absolutely record time - left at 1735, and arrived at the top of Pennington Road at 1935, which for the time of the day was absolutely unbelievable. Rang up from there and discovered a) Sonny was in Bournemouth b) he and Jim have to leave by Saturday. Accordiingly down, and showed Jim the socket spanners which I had bought for Sonny, and then returned Sonny and Trev with an abortive day behind them. Sonny was delighted with the spanners, as were Jim and Trev, who each asked me to buy them a set. Then talked for a while - Sonny had seen a photo of Batu 3 [Malaysian race track] in Bournemouth, showing basically one of their Imps, but also, in the background, his Mini lapping the Imp. The bloke treated him with more respect after that! Then Trev off, and we to Jim's room, where I ate Sonny's makan, and then decided to go out for a drink, just as Trev returned with the money for the socket spanners. All off together to the Bull, where we discussed the grotty roadholding of my car of late, and as a result lowered the tyre pressures, which seemed to help. Off for a drive with Sonny, talking about various aspects of life, and he suggested I sell my car and buy an 1100 and hot it somewhat up, which is not at all a bad idea, though it goes so much against the grain. Still, it should be much cheaper to maintain.... Back home, while Sonny said he would get Trev to arrange me a test drive on Saturday. Slept in Sonny's room, despite all rules, etc.


Tuesday, 18 March 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC.
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Up at 0600 - boy, does that hurt! Slept a little while longer after the alarm went, and then downstairs into the fog - though at 8° it was not too cold. Left my typewriter in the garage, where I hope Sonny finds it, and then off due north. At least I felt a little healthier than last time I did this. It took me about the same time to get back as to get down, and I arrived at Thistle Grove at 0755 - there is still something with the roadholding of this car - the front axle was sliding all over the place. Had breakfast and got some wierd comment which I did not understand from Mrs. Garrard about staying away all night - she had apparently thought that I did not go to bed at all.

More likely she had thought I had spent the night with a girl.

To work as usual, and almost immediately had to get down to titrating the TiCl₃ from last night, and got that worked out well enough without all too much in the way of problems - though I only just had enough Ce(SO₄)₂. Then over with John to the SEB to get another 3½ l of Al(C₂H₅)₂Cl, which did not go quite as smoothly as usual, possibly because I was tired and brought over the wrong fittings. Got back, found a letter from Paul Hallett and read it while vaccing some iso-octane. He seems even more bored than I. Poor Paul - I wonder what sort of fist he will make of life. I often feel he has a hard time ahead of him. Then to lunch, after which I discovered I had nothing to do, so went round the research car park looking at all the 1100 and 1300's there - I am still thinking about what Sonny said last night, and I may well sell my Ami and buy a BMC. Certainly it would not be a bad thing to do, and equally certainly it would give a lot more scope for doing the sort of tuning work I want to do.

Then back to the labs, and on with the catalyst preparation. I think John has suddenly realised that his time here is limited in the extreme, and is trying to get all his ideas finished before he leaves the place, so we are spending a lot of time running round like chooks with their heads chopped off. Got the catalyst in by teatime, and after that, over again to the SEB, where John wanted to transfer 560 gm of Al(C₄H₉)₃ into a flask - at a rate (as we discovered) of 4 gm m⁻¹, which thus took up the rest of the afternoon, and even then was not finished.

Back home, where I met Joe, the other new lodger, and talked to him - he knows Malaysia quite well. Discovered I had left the meat I had bought at the shop, and cooked some dhall instead. Also left my pen at work, which ensured that by tomorrow I would be 3 days behind with my diary again. Furious about that, late to bed.


Wednesday, 19 March 1969 WGC.
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And on drags life - this depression about my car is out of all proportion to the trouble I have actually got myself into. Over to work as usual - had intended to get up extra early to get my diary written up for the last 3 days, but as it was did not get up till 0820 and brokefast on a bottle of milk. At work, John was there and away as soon as I arrived - he is obviously doing his best to make up for the fact that he is leaving at the end of next week. Over immediately to the SEB with him, where we got the alkyl transferring, he sat down to read a folder beautifully presented in the series about the “Hoechst-ICI Erfahrungsaustausch” on the subject of the Ziegler catalysts, and I back to write up for Sunday and Monday, then back over again to help him out at the end.

Back in the lab again, did more catalyst transferral, which also involved getting home of some iso-octane, so over to the SEB, and saw them all at the beginning of a run. Very interesting - I hope I get a chance to do some work over there after John leaves.

Miraculously, it was lunch, and into town to get some money for the socket spanners, and also to get some magazines, which is becoming a bad habit, even if they do forget to charge me for every other magazine. Back to work, and with great effort left the magazines in the car, and back to making a new catalyst with the Al(C₄H₇)₃, which went as uneventfully as it now always does - nothing ever seems to happen to disturb the monotony. Also took some polydrums over to dispatch to Wilton, and got some empty ones back - good 6 of them. Did a bit of work associated with that, then finally - I am getting a bit fed up with John's flat-out attitude of late - off, being informed by a bloke on the way that my nearside front wheel was wobbling, which doubtless has something to do with the fact that the roadholding has been so bad. Tightened up the wheel nuts on both sides after doing some shopping, and though they were not very loose, the difference it made was outstanding. And I was just about convinced it was a couple of dud shockers! Wrote a letter to Dad in the evening, 10 pages, telling him what had happened, and giving the pros and cons of getting an 1100 - though I don't know if I could face it. Notice also, Citroën have brought out a new car at the Geneva show, the Ami 8, looks like a mixture of Ami 6, Dyane, Bijou and Renault 16, but has the same engine and, of all things, an anti-roll bar.


Thursday, 20 March 1969 WGC.
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And again up late - I had better, in the near future, do something about this before I discover myself arriving habitually late for work. Gulped down an icy cold bottle of milk, then off to work as usual. At work, more fun with fractionating columns having given up heating, so put that back on, then John thought about transferring the catalyst. This routine is once again getting me down, all this purging, blowing, heating [?], etc - I hope to God I am put onto something different when John leaves, preferably over at the HP lab.

After transferring the catalyst, John once again decided to transfer some Al(C₄H₉)₃, with its consequent hour or two over at the SEB - for him, if not for me. Rang up Middleton Motors in the meantime, who told me that they would not be able to start work on the thing before next Friday, which somewhat put me off, but I don't suppose there is much I can do about it. Will just have to see if Sonny can pick me up next weekend. Rang John up at regular intervals to see how things were going, and just before lunch he manged to empty the bottle. Over to help him, and he poured the dregs on the ground in a vain hope that they might inflame spontaneously, but the did not. Then to lunch, after which I hung around in the lab - I am rather missing having something to do with the car, and in the meantime am wondering whether I should not get an 1100 after all - the thing will certainly move a lot faster.

Then down to the business of making the catalyst again, this time a smaller volume, only 9½ l, as the was all we could make with the volume of alkyl we had. Everything went smoothly enough, and we had no trouble whatsoever. Amazing how much easier a process is after one has got used to it. Off into town, and posted my letter to Dad, then bought “Der Spiegel” partly to see what it is like, but mainly because there was a (quite protracted) discussion about the merger of VW/Audi with NSU on the one hand, and Citroën/Fiat (which I thought had been scrapped) on the other hand. Seeing as though NSU and Citroën are working on Comobil, this gives the possibility, reckon Spiegel, of an enormous European car firm embodying Fiat, Autobianchi, Citroën, Maserati, Panhard, Comobil, NSU, Auto Union, VW, Porsche and Daimler-Benz, to name only the cars - I couldn't work out the accompanying goods vehicles. Would be larger than the whole Chrysler mob.

Spent the evening very unprofitably - ate, slept, wrote up my diary, slept.


Friday, 21 March 1969 WGC → Tun. Wells.
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And to the end of another week. I don't know how much longer I am going to be able to stand it here - I suppose it would considerably help. Up slightly earlier this morning, and was somewhat (not the word) infuriated to find Mrs. Garrard having a bath, and thus effectively stopping me from so doing, or from cleaning my teeth even. Off to work in such a state, and John was (mercifully) a little later than usual today, but nevertheless we had the usually catalyst transferal to do. That, mercifully, did not take as long to do as usual, as there was only 9½ l of the stuff, and after removing 1 l for use in the HP lab, we were able to get the remainder into a normal sized polydrum. Then John though it a good idea (as it doubtless was) to get hold of some Al(C₂H₅)₃ for making the next batch of catalyst, which was to be D26(?)/2OBT, and so got hold of requisite quantity of O₂ and H₂O free iso-C₈H₁₈ in a flask and over to the HP labs, where things were transferring even less rapidly than last time. Left John still inground in Hoechst-ICI Erfahrungsaustausch, and over to the labs to write up my diary. Then into town to get some money, of which I am using far too much lately, and then had makan, after which over to help John, spewing alkyl all over the place in the process, which promptly burst into aflame after a moments reflection that it was in air.

Clearly this wasn't what people usually mean by alkyl, but presumably Triethylaluminium.

Then over with the alkyl, and John went off for lunch, and left me to tidy up, while I smoked my pipe instead. Then over to get some iso-octane, and got everything set up for another preparation, which in this case included addition of 300 ml of CH₃(CH₃)₂CH₂OH, which caused it to increase violently in temperature.

The formula suggests Butanol, but it doesn't make sense. Hard to say which isomer I meant

Then did a bit of catalyst (TiCl₃) transferral, getting the stuff all over the place in the process. Then John asked me to pass some ethylene from the cylinder from Wilton through H₂SO₄, only to discover that the cylinder was empty, and that John, for some inexplicable reason, had emptied the other one. Laughed at length about that one, then off south with Owen, and discovered after not having gone far that I had very bad wheel wobble, and so changed the wheel, wichi improved matters considerably - obviously I must have buckled the wheel, as well as probably the baseplate. Arrived in Tun. Wells about, nevertheless, 1930, and found Shari also just having arrived - the old Ouija board was right about that one as well. Did little of great interest in the evening beyond a dirty great chase along the A21 to some pub the other side of Flimwell. I am fed up of having to travel alone with Jim. Got back, and nobody else was there, so gave it up as a bad job and went to bed.


Saturday, 22 March 1969 Tun. Wells
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Sonny and Shari came in at about 0300, having apparently been to London, and the next thing that I knew was Jim coming in to sleep on the camp bed in Sonny's room, and making a damned nuisance of himself in the process, grunting, sniffing and snorting all the time. Then he went out to see what Sonny was doing, and I must confess that I was myself more than a little curious. In any case, the next thing I new was that Sonny came in with the opinion that he had told Shari that he was already booked, and that one girl was quite enough, thank you. Then proceeded to talk to me - he got into rather cramped bed with me - until we finally and mercifully got some sleep. Woke up at about 0900, which apparently worried Sonny, and so down and outside for some reason, and threw a spanner in the works by being seen by Mrs. Taylor - I don't know what Sonny had intended me to do. In any case, back in again, had a cup of coffee, and then off with Sonny to look for an electric fuel pump, which we found after a bit of looking - at one place for £5:14:0, at another for £3:10:0: the same unit. Then looking around, again at length, for the unions for the thing, and discovered that, try as we might, we could not get any banjo unions for the 40DCOE, and so swore and went out to Flimwell, where Sonny's car was sitting with the engines hanging about round the back of the thing. Thing could conceivably be ready by Monday, though per usually I must confess to doubting that liklihood. Back to Westwood, where Trev had come and taken Shari, so down to the Wimpy on the off chance of seeing them there, but no such luck. Came back after lunch, and not too soon later arrived Trevor, complaining of a justifiably poor brake performance - he and Sonny have a thing about bleeding brakes, which they did, and made no difference to the performance, as in all liklihood the master cylinder is worn out. Then out with Trev to look for a few second hand 1100s, and drove one at a mob in St. John's road, opposite Caffyns, which seemed none too inspiring - no better than mine in its present state, and I have come to the conclusion (by looking at the thing) that my car has a bent track rod. Trev reckoned that there was accident damage on the car we drove, which might very well have been the case. Then had a look round, but found nothing further of interest until we came to Penshurst, where we found a couple more, and drove one which was pushing 2 years old, but nevertheless a lot more interesting then the other - wanted £550 for it, which is not unduly inspiring, though possibly up in London, where competition is higher, I could get something better for that money. Then Trev drove a Vanden Plas 3 litre round the same course that I had driven, and gave us cause to laugh ourselves sick - the rear axle broke away at the slightest touch, and the demonstrator broke out in a cold sweat after a very short time.

Then back to Westwood, where we did little until the arrival of Annette, who seemed rather friendly, but apparently I was rather over-friendly back, as she transferred her attention to Jim by the time we got to “The Bull”. Had a few drinks and an argument with Trev, and as a result of the latter to Crowborough to find Nick perfectly safe asleep in bed instead of with his head in a gas oven, as had been feared. Then back again, where I felt too crook to go on, to the great annoyance of everybody except Jim and Annette, who were doing fine. Slept in the car by mistake.


Sunday, 23 March 1969 Tun. Wells.
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Up early today, as I did not really feel tired enough to be able to sleep on: funny how things change as time goes on. Used to be the time when I would sleep on longer because I had to sleep in the car. I think it is about time I availed myself of a car with reclining seats so that I can sleep in relative comfort. Over to Westwood at about 0930, which was apparently far too early for anybody there. Eventually Sing let me in, and then up to Sonny's room, where rather to my surprise I found him in bed with Shari, which looks like it will take some explaining, but which I suspect was as innocent as Phil and Bev, if not more so.

In to find Jim, and Annette had indeed gone, but Jim was dead to the world and unavailable, so down with Sonny for “breakfast” (actually got a bit of Sonny's bacon omelette) and then enter Shari, so we all went up to see if we could work out what had happened, which, however, appeared not to have been much. I wish Jim would, one of these days, get round to having a girl properly.

Did little after that - the whole day was, to a greater or lesser extent, wasted. In the morning sat in the lounge reading about various things in the Reader's Digest, then off after a while for lunch at the Wimpy - they seem to open and shut that place when they feel like it, rather than following any fixed times. Came back to waste the afternoon - Trev came along after a while, but I decided it might not be a bad idea to keep out of his way for a while, so sat in Jim's room talking to Shari, who has been considerably more friendly of late - I wonder why. Maybe she recognises in me a kindred spirit or something. Then she off somewhere, and I spent a bit of time deriving a few formulae for the differential calculus, and rather surprised myself by so doing. Then downstairs, where people were beating Trevor up. He eventually left, apparently none too peed off, and everybody had makan, while I waited upstairs. Then to see If..., quite a good film about a revolution in a public school, somewhat unlikely, though the atmosphere was absolutely perfect - I shall have to see that again, and then possibly finally get down to writing my essay for Jimmy Edwards, now 2½ years overdue, about discipline in public schools. Then back to Westwood, where I played Shari snooker, then off for a drive, and arrived back round midnight. Shari had a not very nice phone call from Bob.


Monday, 24 March 1969 Tun. Wells → WGC.
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Woken up this morning, apart from a few hazy recollections, by Jim shouting at his mother over the phone - I wish he were a little more considerate.

And yes, I did mean towards his mother.

It seems, though, that he might well have had cause in this particular instance, as she was suggesting to him that he did not move into a flat with Sonny, but instead stay on at Westwood or some similar boarding house. I must confess I find this a more logical thing than moving in with Sonny, which I see as one sure-fire way of ruining a friendship which Jim has already strained. Sonny up shortly later with something to eat, then both down, I pretended just to have arrived, and then out again with Sonny and off to pay a visit of Alan Fraser's. Eventually a bloke arrived in a modded 850 Mini and told us not to fit fuel injection, but to use twin 38DCOE2s and a Matsuba [?] pump, as he doubted that the SU would keep them (or, for that matter, the 40 DCOEs) happy at full belt - but who would be able to afford to open that collection up full bore?

And if not, why go to the trouble?

Got what we wanted, and off to Flimwell to see how Sonny's car is getting on. At last they are making progress - the engine is in, if still held in place by a jack at the back, and the thing looks like being ready today or tomorrow. Then back to Westwood, where Mrs. Lane was showing some surveyors - why don't I become a surveyor? - about, and then hung around for a while doing little. Then into town, while Sonny went to the laundrette, and we messed around - Shari is a great girl for messing around and having fun with. Walked down Camden road with an opaque polythene bag over my head, with Shari holding on and guiding me, doing her now-famous spastic walk. Had some makan at the Wimpy, then home to waste an afternoon, which I spent reading “Reader's Digest”. Then Sonny started thinking about going out to Flimwell again - all of us went, and the only thing of interest that happened was that I decided that the Escort in there was Rod Chapman's famous Autocross Volvo-Escort.

Rod Chapman himself was so famous that I can't find an unambiguous link to him.

Sonny's car was supposed to be ready tomorrow. Back again, the others had makan, then out with Sonny to the Curry Inn for makan - not bad, but not all that different from what I have every day anyway. Then back to Westwood, noticed Trev's mother's 1100, and then off with Sonny and Shari to London. Dropped Shari at Waterloo, Sonny in Earl Scourt [sic], and then on to the Garden City, , having a burn with a DS 21 Pallas on the way - he left me standing on the A1.


Tuesday, 25 March 1969 WGC.
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Everybody seems to have colds today - I came in as usual, with apologies to John about my alleged attack of the squits yesterday (which apparently had been communicated to everybody in the lab - I have never known everybody to be so concerned with my well-being).

It seems that the British national digestive ailment is constipation, not diarrhoea.

It seems Sonny told Ann in as many words that I had the squits - shall have to talk about it to him - (see topline) and found John sniffing away, Owen feeling none too good and Ann hugging the radiator with her coat on. Got to transferring the catalyst first, though it was one of Ann's days to be running in and out of our section of the lab, asking confusing questions at inappropriate times: maybe she was wonder whether I would make a dash for the bog (which, strange as it seems, I did - I haven't had a shit since Saturday!) That transfer somehow contrived to take up the greater part of the morning - how, I know not, though I suspect that it probably has something to do with the lumpiness of the stuff - John put the decene in, and must have done so with one hell of a rush, as it was full of lumps. Then came a lab meeting at which some senior member of staff did a more than considerable amount of beating round the bush and saying nothing - I don't know why he bothered. Something to do with a letter from the Personnel director at Millbank, which, roughly translated, said: „Do more work“. Then off into town, got some money, C3 and Practical Motorist Annual 1969, and ran out of petrol on the Campus, which is a confusing way of having to fill a tank. Result was that my lunch hour was over before I got any lunch. Then spent the afternoon making up standard Ce(SO₄)₂ solutions, etc, and titrating TiCl₃ suspensions, made somewhat more interesting by the fact that I decided halfway through that the method we used was, to say the least, primitive, and that the whole affair should be done under N₂ in a flask. Accordingly found a burette, etc, and after a bit of thinking came to the conclusion that I should use a magnetic stirrer, the first of which I poured into the waste solvent can. Eventually got everything set up, discovering in the process that H₂SO₄ solution takes a hell of a lot of degassing. Still, it is very easy - the magnetic stirrer makes shaking unneccessary, and it is all a lot quicker. Now all I have to do is find a better way of measuring out the TiCl₃. That took most of the afternoon, along with some idea of John's of titrating some TiBr, which Richard Cooper reckons to be a mixture of TiCl₂Br and TiClBr₂), which had to be washed, and titrated, but did not have time for the latter. Home to do nothing in particular, had makan and read. If only I could persuade myself to get out of this apathy and do something.


Wednesday, 26 March 1969 WGC.
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And on with life - I am not looking forward to this weekend without the car, though I suppose I shall survive it somehow or another. To work as usual, and got down to titrating John's TiBr₃ suspension, which in one way and another took its time - this H₂SO₄ really does have a lot of gas in it. Then did a bit of messing round with the new batch of catalyst, which John promises will be the last, and was about to get the alkyl when Ken Whitely got hold of John and kept hod of him until lunch time, so there was nothing done at this juncture except the degassed iso-octane.

After lunch, to the car to tidy up the mess in the boot, and on the way saw a 2CV parked outside TS. Had a good look at it - it is lhd, with the name of some car company in Gent on the back of it, and is not in very good condition, though it is an AZA or AZAM - I can't be sure which. Also only recently registered. Wonder if it is here to stay. Rather hope so - would be nice to have another A-type about. With this sort of consideration I wonder if I could ever get rid of my Ami - of late I have been seriously thinking about it, but at times I honestly feel I would rather have the Ami, and hot her up if I can, which looks probably. Must see if I can get hold of a couple of Amals....

John was late back from lunch, after doing his best to rent a van to shift his barang, and prospect looks none too cheerful. Over then to get some alkyl, and had trouble with delivery, with the result that we had an unknown quantity in the flask and had to throw it away.

What? Didn't we know the weight of the flask?

- what an enormous cloud of smoke! Then got our 4,355 litres of the stuff and back to the labs to add that, and were just going to add the TiCl₃ when we discovered an alternative of watching some films on the flow properties of polymers, which were not very good, and the difference in lighting levels (I assume) put everybody to sleep, though we were tired neither before nor after. Then got the catalyst going, and then off home after some shopping. Took my wheel off and ascertained that the track rods were, in fact, OK, but one of the steering arms was bent. Adjusted the track so that I have a bit of toe-in, but later on in the evening it occurred to me that I have adjusted the wrong side for some reason, the bent arm is on the right-hand side, which precludes the damage being done by that knock which buckled the wheel, and I am damned if I know how it did happen.

Did little in the evening - felt very sleepy.


Thursday, 27 March 1969 WGC.
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And on time advances, at the same old rate as it has been dong for aeons before I came onto the scene - 1969 is as good as a quarter gone, and I have achieved almost nothing to show for it. I hope things in the Garden City will pick up a bit after I come back from seeing Dad.

Letter from Dad in this morning, written from Melbourne - he has got my letter (Monday) and wrote to say, don't worry, but sent no money - just hope it doesn't come to more than £40 odd. He is due here on Easter Day, though I am not too sure he recognises this identity, at 0750, which will be more than a bit of a drag - looks like an 0500 start from Tun. Wells. Hope the weather picks up a bit before he arrives - it was not snowing today, but looked as if it was thinking about it. He is also thinking of spending a couple of weeks on the continent, in France, which will give me ample opportunity to brush up my junk-yard French and get hold of some parts for my car. He does not want me to get rid of the Ami in favour of an 1100, and I heartily support his opinion. I don't think I could ever get to like an 1100. Now to find out about dropping a Panhard engine in.

Did little in the morning: transferred the catalyst, proving in the process that it did not cause any burns if spilt on the hands, and then set myself to the abominable process of cleaning the flask, and did it in a rather colourful way by refluxing a mixture of C₂H₅OH, C₃H₇OH, C₈H₁₈ and CH₃C₆H₄CH₃ in it, which worked like a charm.

After lunch, set to and removed the toe-in on one wheel, and put it on the other, where it belonged, only I went 1¼" over the mark. Then inside, having no time to remedy this, and set to on a general cleanup, also with a view to doing something with Ken's idea of C₃H₅MgBr and TiCl₃ or TiCl₄, and so did each of these with an equal measure of failure. Then Graham Reid rang up from the flow lab and said I could have the track setting gauge if I wanted (did I ever!), and so over there to get hold of the thing and some axle stands, which cost me 2/-. Then home via Sainsbury's and spent about an hour adjusting my wheels to be absolutely parallell - I have a feeling that this might give better stability than the recommended -1 to -3 mm. Checked the rear wheel track, at 4,0 mm exactly in the middle of the range 0 to 8 mm. Then had makan and out for a drive - thing is handling better now, though I can't help feeling it was even better with toe-in. Early to bed to get the car to Potter's Bar tomorrow.


Friday, 28 March 1969 WGC → So'ton.
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Up at 0730 as a result of having overslept, and as quickly as possible off to Potter's Bar with the car, and just about arrived at 0800 as intended, and was given the somewhat heartening news that it ought to be finished, door and all, by this evening, but was not too certain that they would in fact keep to that. Thumbed back in two lifts and a fair amount of walking, and second bloke took me all the way to the ICI site - VW driver/enthusiast (I find it funny that drivers of cars which in their home country are perfectly normal are enthusiasts when in another country). In to work as usual - the only difference (and what a difference it was!) was that the sun was shining, which made life only half as bad. Had no work to do as such, just tidying up the accumulated mess of the past 4 months, which took quite a while - John was getting snaky about something, and disappeared for a while, during which time I managed to get the bench looking about as tidy as I can remember it - maybe it was tidier before we started the Ziegler catalysts, but I can't be sure. Then on came lunch, and after that, back at the lab. Middleton Motors rang up and said that the car was ready, though they had not put the door on, as they had had the wrong model. Tough luck on them, I suppose, as they can't really send the thing back now that they have painted it, but it seems that they could have avoided that if they had just made sure of what they were ordering - surely if they quoted the chassis number they could not have made that mistake. Rang up Tallon of Citroën, and he said he would reimburse me for what I had paid, and then off by thumb to Potter's Bar, along the A1 and ended up nearly in Barnet - didn't arrive at Middleton Motors until 1540. Got the car, not without a bit of swearing, and then off back to the lab, where awaited me a letter from Mum. Tidied up for the last hour, then off to Southampton - uneventful enough journey - and picked up a South African girl just outside Basingstoke - I don't know how I could tell, but as soon as I saw here I reckoned she was South African. Talkative and liked England, so didn't do anything about it. Then to Greenacres, where all were, also a block called Andy, just returned from Israël. Out later for a drink, and had several, later on wandering all over Bassett Avenue in a decidedly disorderly state. Still later talking to Shari, who was being very friendly, about her problems, of which she has more than her share.

This may have been the occasion on which she came into the lounge room dressed only in a nightie and sat down on my lap. Sonny took Jim out of the room with him. Her intentions were clear, but apparently no match for my obtuseness. My recollection of this matter is so vague that for a long time I thought it occurred in October 1969.

Saturday, 29 March 1969 Southampton.
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Up at about 0930 this morning, a reasonable enough time, one might suppose, in view of the fact that Sonny and I had a visit to pay on Janspeed today, but somehow time slipped at a greater than usual rate beneath our feet, and before we finally left Greenacres it was 1000. First into town, to where Sonny's car was in the hands of a mechanic who accused it of improbable sexual acts, and told us that Ernie, Rod Chapman's bloke, had made a mess of putting on the head gasket, and that was why the thing had blown. Off then to Salisbury, without giving the poor car much chance to get a rest, making it in 30 minutes, which for my car on a Saturday morning can't be bad. Then had a look around Janspeed, and Sonny bought a silencer, then off back to Southampton again, just as I was admiring a Cooper with Cibiés and XAs's. Arrived back in Southampton in similar time, then discovered that Sonny's car wouldn't start, so people laboured hard and long trying to adjust the ignition, time the cam, etc, and seemed totally disinterested in the fact that the plugs were connected up wrong. I into town to buy some oil, then back, and after a while they finally thought about checking the plug leads, so fixed the thing up and went home, buying some petrol on the way. Had makan, and then spent a lazy afternoon having a bath and catching up with an ever-neglected diary, and wondering why I was jealous of Andy, just because he could play the piano with Shari. Then had makan malam, and off, I in a joyous mood, to the Top Rank, rather against my will, and back again to Greenacres when the decided Andy was not suitably dressed. When we finally did come in, my good mood vanished like desert snow, and Sonny's attitude did not help - that fellow ought to know by now when I am peed off, and not go out of his way to make it tougher. Would have left then had it not been for the fact that the others needed transport, and so sat round feeling peed off as hell and coming more firmly than ever to the conclusion that I did not want to dance with any girl, unless it be Jennie Hallett, who is about the only girl who would have been able to soothe me then. In any case, she was not, and instead I had to put up with Sonny asking me if I had picked up any girls yet - only I didn't stand for it, but threw his beer in his face. Unfortunately, I hit him with the glass and cut his chin. All hell broke loose after that - Sonny was standing there wiping beer and blood from his chin, two burly great Top Rank blokes came over stop what I am sure they thought was an incipient race riot,

Sonny is Tamil. It seems that the cut scarred him for life, at least physically.

and I tried to see what the others wanted to do before I went off with the car. Eventually took Andy home - he hadn't had much off a time of it, either - and then off for a drive, as I didn't feel like going home. Saw Sonny, Shari and Jim thumbing, and picked up Jim, but Sonny did not want to come. Watched a film on Oscar Wilde's private life, then heard Jim wax eloquent on his, and off late to sleep.


Sunday, 30 March 1969 So'ton → Maidenhead.
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Up late today - I was (justifiably) a little apprehensive about what Sonny would do when he got up. Accordingly up at 1230 and down to find Mrs. McGibbon and Andy talking - I wonder if about me. Anyway, they stopped, and we had some coffee before breakfast, and by 1400 we were having breakfast. Sonny was rather subdued about the whole affair last night, and so I kept out of his way. After breakfast (what a name for it!) upstairs and collected my barang together. Put that in the car, rather to Jim's disconcert, inside again to find Sonny with a ¼" AF spanner trying to tune the piano, without all too much success. Then upstairs with him - damn it, I had to talk to him about next weekend - and lent him £15, as he was bloody low on cash. After that, thoughts were about going to see “The Fantastic Voyage”, but eventually we gave it up as a bad job, and I decided to leave early and see Paul Hallett in Maidenhead, so off about 1630, and arrived there at about 1820, without having much trouble finding the place. Paul was not apparently surprised about seeing me - I think it is beginning to wear off. In any case, up to his room, which is not too bad, and in any case larger than mine, even if it is less comfortable. Had a bit of a talk, and then decided to go into London to see what we could find. Chased a Dyane for a while - fun - and then into the West End and decided to go and see a flick, and did so, in the same place as I saw „Tannenzapfen im Rücken“ some months back - this time it was a French Film, “The (les) Teenagers”, which was not much good, definitely nothing like what was advertised. Then gave that up and back to Maidenhead and had some coffee. Round about 0030 decided that I would probably stay the night, and hit the sack (no, floor) round about 0200, and carried on talking until about 0430, when Paul developed nosebleed. Turned on the lights, and found Paul drowning in a pool of blood. Looked for his dissecting equipment with a view to operating, but could not find them, so wiped up excess blood and told him to drink the rest. Then threw all his bedclothes into the tealeaves in the basin, and did my best to see that he did it again by making him laugh. Carried on talking until 0600, when I thought it expedient to get a few minutes sleep.


Monday, 31 March 1969 Maidenhead → WGC → M'head.
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Rose from bed this morning at about 0715, not knowing the reason, though Paul tells me that the alarm went off. My watch strap fell apart, at a time which could hardly have been less appropriate, as I was still more asleep than awake. After 15 minutes of buggering around with it, gave it up as a bad job, and headed off for Welwyn Garden, arriving at 0915, and was immediately pounced upon by Richard Cooper, not for being late, but to make him some unlikely catalyst from TiCl₃, TiCl₂Br and some equally unlikely alkyl. Set to at half pace, still trying to wake up, and eventually came round to find Alan of the opinion that I was just returning from an LSD trip. Then got on a bit faster, making a good 100c of the stuff, using a magnetic stirrer which simplifies things considerably. Then sat down and thought what to do next, over to the stores for something or another small - syringes, probably - and then came back to find that I was wanted in the stores, as a parcel had arrived for me, so back over to find the Reader's Digest book of the road. Back and read this for a while until lunch time, somewhat to Richard's disconcert, and then borrowed 2/6d from Alex Harness and had lunch, into town to get some money and bought some paprika. Then back to the lab, and just as I was feeling somewhat relived that I had nothing to do, Richard came in with a method for preparing Al(C₂H₅)₂Br, and the next thing I knew (well, almost) was that I was weighing some AlBr₃ in the open air, and large quantity of HBr fumes was heading for Andy Pajaczkowski's door. He came out („I smell hydrogen halides“) and suggested that I brush up on my ſafety precautions, and then - gave my equipment the once over and found it wanting, so the next half hour was spent talking about how to handle aluminium alkyls, etc, and the dangers of spilling same. Rather infuriated him when I suggested that the small amount of residual alumina powder left when an alkyl has decomposed would not make much difference with all the polythene powder hanging about. Made the alkyl, wrote up for it, and then off home to get some stuff, then off to Maidenhead, filling the tank on the way, and I have done 41,7 mpg [6.8 l/100 km] on the last run, which, considering I was not trying to go easy, was none too bad. Then cooked a nasi goreng at Paul's place, which was a bit of a farce, as the pan was too small, after which we went off on a pub crawl which culminated in going round in circles in a car park, trying to turn the wrong way into an (unmarked) one-way street and being observed by a copper in the process. Then home, and I decided that, once again, it would not be worthwhile going back to WGC tonight, and so slept the night once again, though at least tonight we did not stay up as long as last night.


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