Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

What a crap month so far and amazing how things change, 2 weeks ago today I was barely able to stand up due to the amount of swelling in my legs and to be honest with the pain I was in and the way I felt would have been happy for it all to come to an end.

Yet today I feel almost human again, that's probably the best Christmas present I could ever have.

So, to any out there who are having a crappy time, all I can say is that as long as you feel healthy, then anything else that happens will get sorted eventually.

Have an awesome Christmas and thanks for stopping by.

Keep the faith and in the wise words of Andy Latimer, "Always Live For Today".

Monday, 20 December 2010


In the dim distant past when TV's and Videos were worth fixing and when Betamax still stood a chance, there was a TV rental organisation called Telefusion.

The head office of the company was in Blackpool if I remember correctly and had repair centres all over the UK. It also had a retail outet called Trident and contracts to service equipment for a lot of the larger suppliers such as Boots, SWEB (South Wales Electricity Board) and others. In those days there were many other rental companies that have now dissapeared, these included Visionhire, Radio Rentals, Multibroadcast, DER and Granada.

I had resumed my training as a TV engineer and attended an interview with a company in Swansea called Radiocraft. I was the sole engineer in Swansea although there was a service department in Cardiff who could handle stuff if I got busy. Conditions weren't good in the workshop and the manager of the branch looked as if his head was about to blow on many occasions. I eventually found an advert for a delivery driver for Telefusion. Although this was a step down, the salary was a better and I got the use of a company van (a Ford Transit).

I attended an interview quite late in the evening and met Bernie Murphy who was good enough to offer me the job. I started work and met the engineers there, they were probably one of the best bunch of people I have ever worked with and included Tony Green, Paul Beer, Roger Solomon, Bernie of course, Frank, Bill and Alan whose last names elude me , Jeff the other delivery driver and Paul Beer.

After about a year or so and a temporary move to Visionhire, an engineers position became available and I re-applied and was succesful. My company vehicle then became a small white 980cc Ford Fiesta, in this I travelled about carrying all sorts of things in the back and wearing down brakes quite rapidly as I normally covered quite hilly areas with tools, spares and a spare TV in the back.

We all got into work in the morning, got handed our calls and made our way down to the Civic Cafe run by Steve the Greek. I had known Steve some years earlier as we used to frequent his establishment for refreshment when out on calls.

We sat down over coffee and a steamed pie covered in Tomato sauce and sorted our calls into a more reasonable order then went on our way. As we were a rental company and also supplied slot TVs, some of the houses we had to go to defied description. I remember one where my feet stuck to whatever was on the carpet and I had to kneel down and my trousers were wet when I got back up.

We had to repair video recorders that had been fed bars of chocolate, toast and on one occasion chicken curry. And then there were times when the customer said could they get the tape back before you took the machine back to the workshop as the tape belonged to a mate. This normally meant that the tape was of the adult variety and of course could not be removed in the home due to possibe damage. The machine was taken back to the workshop, the tape removed and added to the vast library that we had acquired there.

On one occasion I had to attend a house and having fixed the VCR asked the customer for a tape to test. The customer informed me that the machine was her sons and got one of his tapes for me, the tape was marked “Treasure Island”. I inserted the tape, pressed play and noticed that the scene was of a woman putting lipstick on, I thought this must be a commercial and turned my attention back to the tape path to make sure all was well. At this point the customer shouted “Jesus Christ, I'll bloody kill him”, I ooked back at the screen and noticed that the woman was now doing something else with her mouth and the gentleman that accompanied her in this scene was looking very happy.

Paul Beer and myself became quite good friends and we visited each other quite often to help each other out on repairs, we unofficialy formed the Telefusion Ford Fiesta display team as one of us moved towards the middle of the road and the other would pass on the inside etc.

Then came the news that the company was being bought by Visionhire, Telefusion had been losing money for some time and despite a restructuring was still doing so. Apparently when Visionhire took over, the company had about enough reserves left to trade for another 2 weeks.

I was one of the people made redundant as the company became part of Visionhire's repair organisation called Serviscope, this was eventually taken over by Granada and then dissapeared.

Airport by the Motors is one tune that reminds me of the good times and always brings a smile to my face. The last time I heard of Bernie and Tony they were working at Swansea University, Paul left before the redundancies to work for Comet and the last time I spoke to him he had moved to Mastercare, I don't know what happened to everyone else.

The Civic Cafe is no more although the building is still down by Joe's Ice Cream parlour, I kept in touch with Steve from there for a few years until I moved to Cornwall. 

Good times with good people that will never happen again

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Some useful stuff

I don't normally post junk like this, my junk is normally of a better quality. But some of this is worth knowing.

How many of these did YOU know about?

Wrap celery in aluminium foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

When boiling corn on the cob, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the corn's natural sweetness

Cure for headaches: Take a lime, cut it in half, and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Don't throw out all that leftover wine: Freeze into ice cubes for future  use in casseroles and sauces.

To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area and you will experience instant relief.

Ants, ants, ants everywhere ... Well, they are said to never cross a chalk line. So, get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants tend to march. See for yourself.

Use air-freshener to clean mirrors. It does a good job and better still, leaves a lovely smell to the shine.

When you get a splinter, reach for the scotch tape before resorting to tweezers or a needle. Simply put the scotch tape over the splinter, and then pull it off. Scotch tape removes most splinters painlessly and easily.

Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer........
Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action clean vitreous China ..

Clean a vase. To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets.

Polish jewelry. Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the jewelry for two minutes.

Clean a thermos bottle. Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets, and let soak for an hour (or longer, if necessary).

Unclog a drain.
Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of White Vinegar. Wait a few minutes, and then run the hot water.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Machines can have soul too

I've been reading a Jeremy Clarkson book called "I know You Got Soul" which goes on in Clarkson's normal entertaining and informative way about how machines can appear to have human flaws and traits and is is this that makes us think they are more than just an inanimate object.

So I decided it was time to start making my own list of these things, I probably won't finish it all in one article but let's see how it goes.

Going back to when I was a lad and just making my way into double figures, I remember being given a small Philco Transistor radio for my birthday of Christmas, this was a little red thing with Medium Wave and Long Wave as  in those halcyon days FM was something that only posh people had. Radio 1 was on 247m on medium wave and radio Luxembourg was available in the evenings on 208m.

This little radio introduced me to the likes of Queen, Cozy Powel and many others, the UK Top 40 was broadcast on a Tuesday and the countdown was carried out by Johnie Walker before he decided to go off to the US.

The radio accompanied me everywhere and got dropped, bashed and in once case thrown and still managed to carry on working. Basically, it was the Captain Scarlet of transistor radios.

Eventually it expired and was replaced by an ITT Weekend Automatic with FM and shorwave, this was a good radio but it never reached the levels of the old Philco.

Moving on a bit we come to the land of the cassette recorder, I had used open reel devices before but the time came to go portable and my first and best device was an ITT KB SL52 portable cassette recorder with automatic recording level and a green button that you pressed to show how flat the 5 batteries that ran it were going. It was a mono device but gave really very good quality sound for a portable device and at the time I was convinced that stereo was really a waste of time and could see no real benefits to it.

It was used regularly over the years and was eventually replaced by an Amerex Stereo system that was good but never managed to live up to the portability of the old ITT. Now, of course cassettes are no longer in use and the same applies to the old open reel machines although you can not beat them for the sheer joy of watching the big reels going round and round while the sound quality was generally excellent.

Nothing has really managed to succesfully replace any of this equipment. and given me the same levels of joy that I used to get from using them, sure I can now carry all my music collection round on a portable device but it's not the same as having a huge selection of cassettes on a shelf arranged in alphabetical order

There was a special one marked Singles Collection 12 with a selection of music that was designed to cause the ladies to cuddle up to you. It didn't start out that wau and was just a selection of music that I really liked.

All the above devices were not prefect, just like humans that had their flaws but they were loveable and I miss them.