Welcome

Click on the above to have a look at this piece of video software.

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Well done Holiday Extras on winning this prestigious award.
Well earned and well deserved.

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Coincidentally BBC2 is running a five part series called Back in Time For the Factory about how life would have been in each decade on from the 1960s in a garment manufacturing company. Two episodes have already been shown and are available on iPlayer. Set in Wales, the experiences of the participants is very much as I remember them and in the second episode they speak about the piece rate system. This was the payment system whereby the machinist earned a basic wage and additional bonuses were given for achieving and exceeding targets set.

I remember as a young trainee sitting with the production manager as he timed an operative so the rate per process could be calculated based on time taken to perform. When the machinist had a break, I took the opportunity to suggest that the she was likely to work slower than usual in order to increase his or her earnings by making the task seem longer. “That is true”, said the manager, “that’s why I am actually timing the machinist over there who is doing exactly the same job”.

I am sure they sussed out that trick and ensured they all worked at the same pace when timings were being carried out.

I would strongly recommend this series.

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It is incredible how many memories flood back when you start to think about a specific era. One such recall is when Philip Curtis and I went to London to present a business case to a Government Department. In the 70s the Government offered grants for capital purchases and we at L. C. Clothes wanted to buy some new  overlocking machines. We duly arrived at the appropriate building and was ushered into an austere, wood panelled room where a civil servant greeted us. I started by explaining what an overlocking machine was and the dimensions. The civil servant asked me to slow down and asked for our indulgence as he’d only been transferred over from piggeries at the Department of Agriculture that morning. “An overlocking machine”, I said “was one pig high and two pigs deep”. “Please”, he said “hang on whilst I make some notes” and he proceeded to write down the dimensions in pigs without the slightest indication that he realised that it was meant to be a joke.

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Strike a light…

Whilst sorting out some papers, we came across this poster. Does anyone remember when L. C. Clothes workers went on strike in Folkestone? I worked there from 1972 to 1979 and it would have been about 1976. I know it started on 11th June as the picket line sang happy birthday to me. L. C. Clothes had production units in Folkestone, Whitby Bay and its head office was in New North Road in London.

It was owned by Louis Curtis who had two sons in the Company, Michael and Philip. Les Watt ran the production and every once in a while he would organise sales’ evenings when discontinued lines and no longer needed fabric was sold off. They were very popular events and afterwards he would treat us helpers to a slap up meal at the Elizabethan Grill in Sandgate Road. Those were the days.

In London Mrs Feldman was Company Secretary and there was a delightful personal assistant called Molly Harding. It was a company on the cusp of change and I remember Molly telling me that I should address the two sons as Master Michael and Master Philip. I said I would if they called me Master David; Michael and Philip it was.

If you remember the strike or even just working for the Company I’d love to hear from you. Either use the do get in touch section of this blog site or email me at david@rtsmtc.co.uk. Thank you.

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rtsmtcer Jim Brown whose stories from the 60s and 70s can be found on this site here has also written and published a novel called Seaside Stories: a tale of disaffected youth based on the heady days in the 60s in a provincial seaside town. You can read an excerpt and buy the book at:

Alternatively if you register to become a rtsmtcer on the right of this site and tick the box, I’ll send you a version in .pdf format for free and who knows what other delights will accrue in the future.

I have to confess that the arrogant little [expletive deleted] walking towards the camera holding aloft a placard on the front cover is me in 1968; nothing’s changed much apart from an extra 20 kilos and disappearing hair.

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My thanks to rtsmtcer Janice for this wonderful addition to the Dust if You Must verse origins of this blog site:

 

To dust was a must, and l’m so sad to say,
With a visitor due, on this very wet day.,
I sprayed and l wiped, it was all such a chore,
When blankets need knitting; plus mittens galore.

To dust was a must, l flicked here and there,
Moved the odd table, and the old rocking chair.
Brushed a few cobwebs down from the wall,
Cleaned the chipped skirting, the length of the hall.

To dust was a must, and l felt so distressed,
With time ticking by, on this ludicrous quest.
I thought, l know what, l’ll send David a rhyme,
And the dusting can wait…for a very long time!

Janice getting ready for the zip wire; ✓

Janice is a fine example of an rtsmtcer and has a bucket list the length of the hall’s chipped skirting board of things she is hell bent on doing. Already crossed off are wing walking, parachute jumping, longest zip wire, had a tattoo and completed a sponsored 26 mile walk to name but a few.

If you would like to submit a piece of creative art to share with your fellow rtsmtcers then do feel free to do so. It can be in your medium of choice.

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I once read that contemporary man (or woman) receives as much information in one day that someone of equal social status would have received in their life time during the first Elizabethan era. The human brain has probably evolved somewhat to meet the challenge of this massive input but it does go some way to explain the tremendous stress we endure in modern society.

It was wonderful therefore to attend a workshop given by the multi talented Emma Mitchell on jewellery manufacturing using the silver clay technique at her delightful house near Cambridge yesterday. Emma not only explains the methodology of this magical process but also the therapeutic effect that foraging for suitable material and its construction can have on our lives.

Emma has had an enchanting book published which includes a chapter on the subject:

You can read about the workshop we attended here.

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If you missed Mike Vines of Sandgate Bakery on Academy FM 105.9 at midday on Friday, 17th August talking about the Sandgate Farmers’ Market you can hear it here:

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Read here Sue Cowell’s account of an evening with Kaffe Fassett who has inspired people across the world with his colourful work in fabric, knitting, needlepoint, patchwork, painting and mosaic

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This is the next part of Jim Brown’s adventures in the seas around Southeast Asia  in the 1970s.

Click here and enjoy!

 

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Minchi

My wife of 47 years and I always had a division of labour set up very much to reflect the contempory, social, chauvinistic guidelines ie I pursued the career and generated the income and my wife raised the children and provided a comfortable home . I’m not saying that’s right, it’s just how it was. I always knew that when I retired, should we still be together, I would rebalance that structure.

I am delighted to say that we are still together and I managed to retire at 59 and, over the last decade or so I have attempted to fulfil the promise I made. Cooking particularly is an area I have persued with some enthusiasm and I have recently been ably assisted by Si King and Dave Myers who collectively form the Hairy Bikers. Their book The Hairy Dieters make it easy is full of superb recipes and if I can follow them then anyone can.

I have just made Minchi which they describe as a cross between a curry and a hash. It is superb. Just follow the recipe.

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Here’s a guy called Paul Dodgson who, in the true tradition of rtsmtcing, realised a dream.

You can read about it at:

 

 

 

 

He also comes from my home town.

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This is an interesting article from That’s TV Swansea Bay about a new Dylan  Thomas trail from 5 Cwmdonkin Drive. Early in the piece there’s a shot of the bust we took to the house.

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The Showbiz XI. Tommy and Harry are at the ends of the front row

I once got Tommy Steele’s autograph when, along with Harry Fowler etc, he played football at my home town’s ground with the Showbiz XI. I have been able to forge his signature ever since! You can read a review of The Glenn Miller Story starring Tommy that we saw at the Coliseum Theatre in London yesterday here

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Over tourism

This documentary by Responsible Travel is well worth a watch:

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Choosing a holiday

Part 3 – Pastéis de Belem – the real thing at last
 
This is the third and final part of a series charting the process from inception to completion of a holiday. It is hoped that it may be informative and give you ideas and how to bring your holiday aspirations to fruition.
Guest writer Jim Brown related his experience in Portugal in the 60s. He said:
I was in Portugal in the Winter of 1967. Walking and hitching with ole Cash as he was called then. The main auto route was being built, motor traffic was sparse, outnumbered twenty to one by donkeys. Outside the rural bars, hitching posts were still in use. Donkeys and mules tethered in the winter sun, twitched and kicked at flies the size of bumblebees. Each evening all along the construction of the motorway, fires blazed out, as the night-watchmen settled into their shift. Ray, ole Cash, and I would go down and join a group sitting around their fire. They always welcomed us.  The men  threw pine cones on the embers popping out the kernels, chewing the nuts and yarning away. Bawdy tales surmount language but not as much as food. Around  midnight out would come their lunch. Wine and bread and a collective stew. A full belly, weary from wine and walking made for a good nights sleep in the freezing conditions. In the village cafes, basins of hot ashes were placed under the tables to warm the drinkers legs. Neat eh? I expect it’s changed for the better.

 

You can read part 3 here.

 

Part 2 – Pastéis de Nata

This is the second part of a series charting the process from inception to completion of a holiday. It is hoped that it may be informative and give you ideas and how to bring your holiday aspirations to fruition.

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or register and use the submission space to ask any questions.

Part 1

Choosing a holiday

This is the first part of a series charting the process from inception to completion of a holiday. It is hoped that it may be informative and give you ideas and how to bring your holiday aspirations to fruition.

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Our guest writer this week is Gordon Parker who, to my mind, is the quintessential rtsmtcer. A retired civil servant, he has enjoyed (some more than others I am sure) postings around the world. At the age of 68 and following surgery, he decided to join a friend and travel on the trans Siberian railway from Russia through to China. This is his account of that journey.

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Our guest writer again is Jim Brown who lives in Scotland and currently has a play in rehearsal and another being performed. In the 1960s or 1970s he followed the fruit picking seasons in Europe, leaving the grapes of Spain for the clementines of Corsica and it’s about that island that he writes. He has previously told me that, on arriving on the island he met a gnarled old Sardinian shepherd called Luigi. This is part of his experience that he related to me having gone to Luigi’s farmhouse with his then girlfriend:

Luigi re-appeared in minutes washed and brushed up. His hair was plastered down with some form of animal grease. He wore the same clothes and his hands were still stained by the green sheep shit that was everywhere. A set of ill fitting false teeth, that made him look like a lipless goat, completed his cosmetic transformation. He was carrying a big round cheese. He gentle lowered this on to the table. The rough wooden surface was covered with things not associated with cooking; bits of machinery, cutters, knives and tools for castration. We gulped down the strong, rough Corsican red. It was good on an empty stomach. We settled a bit and started to relax. Luigi opened up a large sharp knife and shushed us into silence. He cut into the cheese. At first the noise was imperceptible, but as we quietened the “buzzing” noise became louder. As Luigi continued to cut into the very mature cheese. I became aware of the origins of the expression “humming”. It was if the volume of a cheap radio had been turned up to distortion. The white soft centre of the cheese was moving, vibrating, and in the dim light the eyes started to believe what they were seeing. Maggots, white, large, and fat, spilling out of the hollow centre of the cheese. Luigi signaled for us to eat. He broke off a piece of bread and using it like a scoop, dipped into the mass of wriggling creatures, bursting like milky bubbles as he squashed the bread and maggots into his mouth. The girl turned and left. I broke off a piece of fresh bread and gathering up a crust of maggots smiled at Luigi and munched them down. A delicate, delicious flavour burst into my mouth. Effervescent like a sherbet sweet, melting and exploding onto the taste buds.

My eyes light up. We continued pouring large glasses of strong wine and breaking off chunks of bread and fighting over the final scraps of the escaping food. I staggered back down the track swollen bellied and half drunk. The tent was firmly zipped up. My sleeping bags piled neatly at the door.

In this article Jim explains the two types of people he met on Corsica:

editor: Casu Marzu is created by leaving whole pecorino cheeses outside with part of the rind removed to allow the eggs of the cheese fly Piophila Casei to be laid in the cheese. A female Piophila Casei can lay more than 500 eggs at one time. The eggs hatch and the larvae begin to eat through the cheese. The acid from the maggots' digestive system breaks down the cheeses making the texture of the cheese very soft; by the time it is ready for consumption, a typical Casu Marzu will contain thousands of these maggots.