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SO Review June 1980

by Reg Walker

Recent correspondence with Sue Holden (now based in Northern Ireland, which she doubtless refers to as Norn Iron to assimilate with the locals) has directed me to this copy of SO Review.

For 3p you received a 28-pager, the front cover of which ‘showed the Phoenix HMSO rising from (or subsiding into) the ashes of Vote accounting. Keen eyed readers will note the clipped wings and pained expression of the bird, but unfortunately our art department’s talents were not up to depicting a tall thin man running away from the conflagration with a box of spent matches . . . ’ The tall thin man is still around — I hope he didn’t use matches in his job with the Forestry Commission.

Then there were the results of the Crossword winners: JH Jones, WR Baggs, L Bishop for one; Miss J Holt, CJ Dann and Mrs JV Thorington for another. It was always a dilemma for promotion boards to decide whether the Crossword winners were the brains of the office or just preferred completing crosswords to getting on with their work. Other honourable mentions were RR Das Gupta, K Davis, SR Smith, RE Chalk, Mrs M Bradley, JS Struthers, Miss C Hindle, Mrs JI Johnson, Mrs J Pawsey, A Clary, Mrs H Goreham, Miss J Rudling, W Roberts, Mrs B Deane, Mrs HL New, PHJ Storey, A Smith, C Pickett, J Prior, Miss H Pike, Miss C Neale, Mrs A Cullum, J Upton, IA Sutcliffe, Miss P Brent, S Johnson and Mrs P Randlesome. You decide.

A house was for sale, described as a ‘unique detached Victorian 5 bedroom, 3 reception . . . full gas central heating . . . sympathetically restored . . .one third acre garden with magnificent views over Norwich. £47,950 including extras, carpets etc.’ Phil Storey was also selling a set of gaskets for a Fiat 124 for £2.50. I wonder if you can still buy a five bedroomed house for the price of 19,900 sets of gaskets.

The retirement of RT Walker also featured. He joined HMSO as AC Supply and Publishing in 1972, and the presentation was made by Controller Thimont. Margaret Bass also retired from the Staff Side Office, and Frank Ashman, after 45 years with HMSO from Supplies Division, destined for ‘a retirement spent in the pursuit of bowls and the cultivation of his enormous garden in Tasburgh.’ Manchester retirements included Percy Tattersall, Fred Pinkerton, Alec Wilkinson and Clem Dronsfield. Teresa B Cremmins retired from HMSO Scotland after 43 years, the last of which as Chief Supervisor of Duplicator Operators. Ken Rhodes made the presentation. Ruari McLean retired from his post as Typographical Adviser to HMSO, which he assumed when Sir Francis Meynell left the post in 1966.

With all these retirements it was surprising that there were enough people left to worry about the rumoured death of the 1974 Pay Agreement, but two pages were devoted to it. There was also a quote from the PS Monthly Report: ‘CWO attended CSMAS with IP and WD to discuss LMO aspects of a new NGA agreement with SSPP.’

Literary content was ratcheted up by an article on Umbrellas by L’Apprenti Sorcier.  The author claimed that ‘Norwich has undisputed claim to the most cutting winds north of Dronning Maud Land’ and ends with the words ‘There are worse things than carrying a well-rolled Fox’s . . . if there is one thing that irritates me . . . it is the current snob craze of carrying coloured golf umbrellas in the City . . . I shall pass lightly over the Oxford Street self-opening horror, which ranks with the Common Agricultural Policy, the electric toothbrush, Punk Rock, Mrs Whitehouse and HMSO Management Accounting in the list of things that are neither beautiful or useful.’ The only one of these no longer with us in 2006 is Mrs Whitehouse.

A letter from Chris Randall responding to his retirement presentation and a competition proposed by CG Lloyd for the best four-line verse containing the most preposterous pun or puns. As an example, he offered:

A parrot whom I used to know
Fell in love with a big black crow
The result of the union was eggstatic
The eggs, of course, were pollycrowmatic.

On the other hand, the Official Civil Service Poetry Competition was won with a poem which began:

The picture houses cuddle steady pink
and blue by water, a riverside parade
for stale thoughts grouped on the brink of decay.

I leave it to you to decide between them.
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