Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Made In Britain and Teabags

Dave 6 Sheet Blue 26_9_08How often do you suddenly see a rash of stories in newspapers and magazines about some obscure TV programme, celebrity or product and think about the mechanics of it all.

Right now forget about that bit, on to the Made in Britain thing, anyone my age 50 plus will be only too familiar with the gradual decline of manufacturing, the short lived perception that products manufactured anywhere but the British Isles were cheap and cheerful.

Sometime around the mid seventies, the masses started to realise that things like cars and consumer electronics were a damn site more reliable if coming from anywhere but good old Blighty.

As I type away on my Chinese manufactured computer with blimin “intel inside” on my desk which came from anywhere but the UK, and my backside sat comfortably in my “Managers chair” again from China, I think just what the hell we do make in Britain.

My family owes its existence, in this country to manufacturing as my great grandfather came to Britain from Germany at the end of 19th century, sought out for his technical skills in glass manufacture.

With manufacturing being at an all time low, I was prompted to think about the subject and this is conclusion, although we no longer make much, in the way of manufactured products, we are still creative and we make things like, TV programmes, Music, art and Britain still influences the worlds thinking through the Media.

Right what prompted me to get all nostalgic well I see that a new TV programme “Made in Britain” starring Dom Joly, comedian and journalist who in the show, has his family home stripped of everything not made in the UK. Each episode a room in the house has to be refurbished with British goods and cameras follow his quest to buy British from the inevitable quirky, eccentric and ingenious manufacturers who wont give up.

This show is to be aired next week on Blighty (the digital channel that celebrates unique Britain Sky 534 VTV 206) it starts at 8.00pm Monday 8th June through every night till Friday.

Oh the teabags yes, well, the arts, media and PR are strong parts of the British economy and well it would be a bit dishonest for me to not mention, what really prompted me to waffle on this subject, I received an email from some public relations wallahs, seems if I give this a mention they might send me a box of Tea Bags, how cheap do they think I am. I just hope they haven’t found some eccentric growing and picking tea leafs on the Welsh hills with someone hand knitting them into bags.


  1. I think we are on the downward part of the cycle... from 3rd world to 1st world and now heading back to 3rd world... Thatcher butchering our industries because she hated Unions left us with not much more than our Financial institutions, now they are crippled we really are coming unglued... before long we'll all be working in Asda and Tescos.

  2. Our industry was out of date by World War 1.

    The UK created its own tension between "Knowing your job" and "Knowing your place".

    And for over a century decline has occurred due to the ascendancy of those "Who know their place".

    This is now characterized by the graduates of useless subjects and the public sector nanny state artificial employment sector.

    In other words the country managed itself into terminal decline. The obsession with having someone in charge.

    Whether you look at inquiries into rail crashes or into serious nuclear leaks like Dounreay 1998 (four to ten billion clean up and decommissioning resulted) look at the layer after layer of management before the first technically qualified employee echelon is reached. And that competent layer is now most likely to be derived from temp workers or contractors who are agoing without a younger skilled pool to replace them.


    Plessey Torpedos and Sonar Factory 1989. Take on temp site electrician. Turns out he is the 19th sparkie they have given a temp contract to. Asked to look at the "Barra Compliance Winder" (making sonar buoys the RN dangle out of helicopters to find enemy nuclear subs)

    19th sparkie (me)

    "Who designed this machine ?"

    Plessey manager "Dunno"

    So I did some detective work and found out it was a Derek ....... who was an engineer employed through a temp agency but whose contract had been terminated when Plessey managers thought they could commission his design themselves.

    I traced Derek through a temping agency and faxed him at a new temp employer he was working for.

    We agreed design modifications and changes to machine code programming and I designed and made an overriding speed controller for the operator to work manually.

    In my home I still have the circuit diagrams and fax exchanges.

    All Top Secret. And none of it known to any Plessey manager or employee.

    Whilst I was doing that I was also working with a pipe fitter contractor who was temping installing some compressed air equipment for torpedo propulsion testing.

    He had deduced that the Plessey manager "In charge" was of the opinion that a "Bar" and a "PSI" are the same thing.

    And that basically the design he had been called in to build was actually a de facto bomb ! A tidy volume of compressed air being compressed to around 14.7 times the safe maximum pressure.

    I worked out with the fitter the volume of compressed air in the system. The pressure. And knowing that a lorry tyre at 100 PSI contains the same explosive force as a hand grenade we were able to tell the unqualified Plessey manager in multiples of hundreds of hand grenades what his design amounted to.

    The pipe fitter got told the same as all other contractors

    "Well do it however you think is best"

    Now why was it Conqueror had to fire torpedos first designed 1925 at Belgrano ?

    Because the modern system suffered "Notorious unreliability".

    I suggest that the truth about the strategic advice to Thatcher to attack outside EZ was that reliability analysis shew the modern weapons systems were unreliable. Attack upon opportunity. And that the Thatcher knewshe had sent the armed forces into the fray with equipment already designated as too unreliable for combat.

    After the Falklands five of the modern torps (which could have been fired at Belgrano) were test fired at a hulk. Two failed to go off and three simply missed.

    The woman was a vandal, a risk taker with our armed forces lives, a champion of the most damaging restrictive practice of all (management right to manage) and a committer of treason on a massive scale (using forces of the Crown under non Crown control ... to offend against the people ... Police on Miners)

    The role that Thatcher played in accekerating the decline of UK should not be underestimated and neither should it be forgotten.