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SO Review No.202, August 1963


The second-hand bookstalls in Farringdon Road


That is the title of the drawing by John Mathews on the cover of the first copy of SO Review  I have. Dated August 1963, it must have been in the drawer of the desk I sat at in ITW1c, Cornwall House, as I didn’t start as one of Mrs Wilhelmina Robbie’s pupils until October 1963. I still have a shelf full of Dickens (all from different sets) and other standard works bought from those barrows, from when the owner used to reduce the price of the shilling books to sixpence on a Thursday and Friday.


Sore View,  as it was sometimes unkindly called, was ‘Published monthly by the Staff Side’ and, in 1963, edited by JH Mathews, Room C44 Atlantic House. Business manager was W Yendall and advertisement manager J Nye. The leading article was concerned with the fact that the Government had announced its intention to ‘move substantial numbers of civil servants out of central London.’ HMSO had to examine the proposal that 850 staff members should be moved from central London to a location ‘beyond the North West periphery within easy access of London.’


IPCS Jottings centred on pay. ‘It would seem that the Pay Research Unit is running into heavy weather in its search for analogues to our PO and BO grades in the trade.’


A chess puzzle was set by PR Vivian and a meeting notice for the Recorded Music Circle — ‘the charge for each concert is 1s 6d including refreshments’ — organised by RG Vine. The Horticultural Society Summer Show (Secretary JE Johnson) awarded its top diploma to S Westaway, closely followed by Miss Horne. GS Glover, G Stewart, EJ Cletheroe, PJ Feehan, and JM Brooke all received honourable mentions. H Pickford (AC2) opened the show. The judge was EC Robinson of the Colonial Office and DE Masson (DPB) presented the prizes.


D Abra produced an article on Night Driving (‘the problem of obtaining petrol along the A303/A30 route to the west need cause little worry’) and a regular feature — Hollerama — gave space to one of the few 1963 staff still employed by the descendants of HMSO - George Rokahr. He wrote the article with Don Folland. Both were part of the technological revolution that was known as A/MA. Mention of an annual outing to Margate (where are Jackie Palmer, Pat Constable, Carol Gladman, Brenda Bamber, Mark Farrington, Pat and Marie Loxton and Susan Mackie now?). Their sign-off line was ‘Mablethorpe for bright, breezy holiday accommodation; Percy Thorpe for bright, draughty office accommodation.’


TVC reported on a holiday in France and JP gave details of how to set up a 16-fish aquarium with all the trimmings for £6.16.8 (including guppies at a shilling each). Harry Edwards reviewed four theatrical productions - Oh! What a Lovely War was ‘a terrible mess.’ A Severed Head was ‘well produced and directed.’ Private Lives gave ‘a lot of enjoyment’ which is more than he could say about The Beggar’s Opera


AJ Rankle (Manchester Press) submitted one of the several poems to appear, and two pages were given over to cricket (‘First Slip’) and football (Harry Wright). Honourable mentions in the cricket stats went to Eddie Truscott, Geoff Chung, Skipper Alec Gravatt, Pat Moore, Kissoon Deo, Jock Smith, ‘Lucky’ Kanchanlall, Arthur Brunwin (I shall remind him of his 23 not out against Beaufort at Chiswick when I see him again in December), Les Brotherton, Terry Molloy, and Tom Harris (who is still to be seen around Norwich). A note tells us that ‘the fact that the Sunday team plays under the name COI is primarily an arrangement to enable us to have use of the wicket at Eltham.’ Manchester also ran a cricket club. The names Lloyd, Dowler, Bramall, Mercer, Clegg, Drew, Buckley and Alan Bintley (I remember him as Welfare Officer) may ring some bells.


Eddie Truscott was a busy man in those days, as he also acted as secretary to the football club (and was of course also a table-tennis whiz). He was not mentioned in the two pages given over to the Camera Club, however, but JG Smith (HMSO Laboratory) was a leading light (the temptation to say that the club was a flash in the pan is irresistible, unfortunately).


This edition contained few advertisements. Gamages of Holborn (‘open Thursdays 7 pm’) provided a barber’s shop with modern sterilising system and manicure. Also on offer were a cocktail bar and lounge, restaurant, snack bar, paper patterns, record bar, food department and theatre tickets. No mention of the large South African gent who presided over the guns and ammunition department and specialised in frightening inquisitive little boys.


So that’s just the first SO Review. 168 to go. It will not have escaped your notice that I have concentrated on names rather than content. This may well jog some memories and incline you to write in with your own reminiscences.
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