Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A work of art

My first full time job was as a first year Radio Trades apprentice, way back in 1970, I joined them as an eager 15 year old, anxious to show off my diagnostic skills. By the time I got that job I'd already, after all, repaired a couple of dozen radios dating from the 1940's and I knew quite a bit of the theory behind TV.

You can imagine my disappointment when my duties seemed focussed solely on the installation of car radios. A nasty job at times. It's been at least 25 years since I last looked under the dashboard of a car so I have no idea if they still use fibreglass insulation up there but back in 1970 they surely did. Lying head down under a dashboard worming a cable through the maze and dislodging loose bits of fibreglass can lead to very painful ocular effects.

Sometime that year we ran out of work for a few days and, as the apprentice, I found myself assigned to other duties in the despatch department. That involved packing spare parts orders for despatch to country radio repair shops. Boring work for the most part but we found a way to liven it up.

One order consisted of a rectangular box plus a cylindrical tube (it contained a ferrite antenna). They were pretty much the same length and it occurred to us that the best way to ensure they arrived together was to tape the cylinder to the top of the box and wrap the whole in brown paper. When we'd done that I suddenly realised that what we had looked like a little house. It didn't take long to draw some windows, a door, some flowers around the door and a little chimney. And so we despatched it to its destination.

I've often wondered what that country repairman thought when his package arrived!

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