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Nostalgia

Nostalgia - that wonderful aspect of life when you can look at old photos and stories and happy memories come flooding back. Companies where you worked, colleagues that you had fun with, places you went - all part of that rich tapestry of life.

We want to bring a light-hearted section to our site which our partners and clients will enjoy.  WARNING: Although our contributors had fun sharing their memories, we have edited these stories for political correctness. We share this section in good humor but caution you not to read the following if you are affected by sensitive content. 

Do you have a good story too?  Send us your memories, and we will try to make them part of our Nostalgia section to be shared by all. Enjoy the stroll down memory lane!

Those were the days when you could drive your car on to the block, stroll around in an old pair of overalls and climb around the racks like a monkey. Afternoon outings involved taking the site mini on a site tour to clock up some miles. Henry managed 42 miles one afternoon covering every avenue and all at 15mph. Record attempt at handbrake turns down in the tank farm area behind the bunds, sunbathing at the marine terminal or if really bored taking the car out for trip to Lepe beach or the New Forest. Behind the chemicals building was a well used unlocked gate leading to the local Forest Home pub. Security? What security.

Aaah, here's a few more.  Smoking Wilde Havanas in the model shop.  Smoking a pipe at the drawing board. Luncheon Vouchers - 50p per day. Agents parking their Jags outside the office and paying their blokes in cash from a case in the boot. The first electronic calculators. John I. was selling them for £25 in 1974, a week’s wages for me. These were a white Commodore that just add/subt/div/mult no scientific or fractions, just added up.  I had shoes with a 3" platform and fell down the stairs at Reading station. The pipers uniform was Farah trousers, brown slip-on tasseled loafers,  Ben S. button down collar shirt with 4 darts in the back, a tenner in the top pocket and a packet of Marlboro Reds. Beer at the Rising Sun was 15p a pint. Imagine going in the pub with a fiver...that over 30 pints worth.

There was a great little scam in the early days when they used the punch-card clocking in.  If you pulled hard as you were clocking in, half the card would be left in the machine enabling a manual written card for that week where you could enter fictitious hours.

In Holland one agent used to pay the boys cash from his car at the back of a local pub. One day he was jumped by some crooks, out came the shot gun and, so I'm told, it wasn't just pellets that scattered that day!

Somebody mentioned getting paid cash in Holland...well I was one of those lucky ones in early '75. Worked in Harlem and Mr. X used to pay in cash in a bar called DeLeifel in the Hague every Wednesday. Used to drive down in my V12 E-type and park next to Andy T's E-type, Pete F's Porsche 911, Peter C's Pontiac Trans Am and several other typically posey motors, all UK regs. Mr. X would arrive in his Maserati Merak and the '60s briefcase full of our cash. Out came 3 white enamel buckets full of beer for the boys...good old days eh.

I always remembered the traps at McDermotts. By mid-morning there was a different daily paper in each one. To reduce time spent reading during the colder parts of the year, somebody from management would enter and open the windows as wide as was possible. Within minutes it was too cold to finish even reading the Sun newspaper.

The bun run. Oh what joy it was when it was not your turn. The pressure not to make a mistake was intense. At FW there was a choice from the van next to the station: crusty plain, crusty mustard, crusty sauce, soft plain, soft mustard, soft sauce. I dread to think what was in the sausages, but they tasted great and were always perfectly cooked. I’m dreaming of a soft sauce right now. Chris B. always read the menu in a comedy Monty Python voice. He usually offered to go on the run because he could palm a few coppers out of the change as he was always on the scrounge. I think he usually managed to scam a free bun for himself. No doubt a stern denial of this will appear on Facebook later today!

What a lovely life we have all led.  A wonderful bunch of blokes and ladies. Great fun with all the strokes that were pulled by all to grab a few more hours, dodge a few quid due to the tax man and slope off early with somebody booking you out while you went and got the round in.  I can't throw out all my old gear - Sinclair Oxford, slide rules, sandpaper blocks and modelling tools. We have been the charmed generation, and I have loved every minute of it.

Buying the Evening Standard on Wednesday and Daily Telegraph on Thursday if you wanted to see what jobs were around (or already gone as was often the case). Imitation pencils with a collet so you could use your drawing pencil right down to the last inch rather than the company giving you a new pencil too early. Spitting rubber as you erased. Making the bun run. Smoking at the desk. Lever arch file full of copied standards from companies who stated they shouldn't be copied but who had obviously copied them from somewhere too! Hellerman's drawing equipment catalogue. Getting your pools (and spot the ball) coupon in by Friday. Heating elements for your mug to make a brew because the dispensing machines were so awful. Back up isometrics saved in a drawer. Dyeline printers...

Most memorable were the various Am Dram performances by Henry D. (honorary Oscar nomination here) both at Fawley and Berk House, Basingstoke. Anyone remember Father Christmas bursting out of the stationary cupboard carrying a plate of mince tarts and dressed in full (and thick) red fancy dress cloak? He had been standing in that cupboard over three hours after one of the lads locked him in there at silly-o'clock that morning and was sweating like a pig. The cupboard was like a Santa's grotto with fairy lights and music playing. Then there was the Drill Sergeant performance and the Sicilian mobster at the Xmas do. Each time there was a twenty minute carefully crafted monologue as entertainment.

An agent once had a client visiting his 'offices' in Southampton but he had no in-house capability. So he hired 20 guys for an hour to sit at rented boards and pretend to work (that was easy then) and when he took Mr. Client upstairs we all rushed up the fire escape and took off/put on jumpers or coats and sat hunched over desks on that floor.  Ahh, happy days.

I remember a posh exhibition at one of the big hotels in Park Lane. We exhibited the whole Marathon A platform, drilling derrick and all. She was 17 feet high by about 20 feet long to the tip of the flare stacks. It looked pretty average if I say so myself. Many dignitaries from the oil companies were summoned, but not one of them noticed (a) the piano player on an upright piano, (b) a chimney sweep broom head sticking out of a vent pipe, or (c) little men playing jazz instruments. Model makers had too much imagination! Bless 'em all!

Click here for a scan of an older article  with photos - do any of you recognize yourselves??  Thanks to a reader for sending this - he is barely visible in one photo as an 18-year-old just about to go contracting for the first time.

Thanks to a reader for submitting the photo to the left.  It was taken approximately 10 years ago in 2004 at FW in Reading.  Although it does not quite fit into our Nostalgia time frame, we hope you recognize some familiar faces and enjoy past meeting present.