18 Jun 15 June 2022 – Memories of Paul Segolo from Peter Wells
Reg, I was very sad to hear of the passing of Paul “Seggie” Segolo. He had a great sense of humour (even when he was the butt of the joke) and a huge fund of tales. Prior to joining HMSO, he’d been an estate agent, landlord of The Bush at Costessey and a radio operator in the merchant navy on oil tankers.
One of his maritime tales was when the fire bells went off on the tanker that he was sailing on! Quick as a flash he rolled out of his bunk and started hammering out “Mayday” on the morse key. Instead of the expected reply he received another ship telling him to get off the maritime airwave and use ship to shore – whereupon Seggie looked out of the porthole to find that while he’d been asleep, they had docked and were tied up in port!
On another trip they had a particularly obnoxious first mate (or captain – I can’t remember which). One morning this chap failed to report for duty whereupon the ship was searched but they failed to find him. It was entered in the log as “lost at sea – presumed drowned”. Paul said that it didn’t pay to be a pain to others when on a long voyage . . .
Paul also had many “sayings” one of which was “never trust a man with slip-on shoes”. Seggie of course always wore slip-ons! Another was “never do anyone a favour – give them a pound and tell them to go away” (or words to that effect)! In fact his screen saver used to say “here’s a pound” . . .
I recall one morning coming into the office to find everyone crawling around on the floor trying to find the source of a strange high-pitched whistling. Someone eventually realised that when Seggie went back to his desk, the sound diminished. We eventually tracked the noise down to Paul’s hearing aid which was whistling as it needed a new battery! Of course, Paul (being hard of hearing) couldn’t hear it!
Paul also used to collect the post and take it downstairs. On one occasion he came back with one of my transit envelopes as he couldn’t find anyone in the office by the name of Thai Ping. When I got him to read it out aloud the penny dropped!
Another of Paul’s duties was to hand copies of tenders through a sliding hatch to any contractors in the exhibition room which was behind Seggies’ desk. To attract Paul’s attention the contractor pressed a button which activated a flashing light on Paul’s desk. He would then pull a cord to turn off the flashing light and open the hatch to hand the contractor a copy of the tender.
I’m not sure who’s idea it was (probably the late John Bloomfield) but we decided to cut a bit off the pull cord each day. Paul didn’t realise what was going on until one day when he had to kneel up on the desk to reach the pull cord!
Of course, we all had a laugh and promised Paul that we would replace the cord (full length) which we did – but with a piece of elastic in the middle! The result was quite spectacular! As Paul was talking through the hatch to a contractor, Paul reached for the cord to turn the light out and disappeared head first into the adjacent fax machine! Quite what the contractor thought as he saw Seggies head going from left to right across the hatch I cannot imagine!
Oh we had such fun . . .
Hello Peter, Good to hear from you. And you are right: Paul Segolo was good company. In fact, I used to go on those Ekers-inspired drinking trips to Burnham Thorpe Lord Nelson among other places, in the company of Paul, Dick Smith, Colin Pulford and others. And my brother-in-law, Geoff King, lived in Costessey (he married the daughter of the Landlord of the White Hart) and knew Paul from the days of The Bush. I know that when Paul and Dick were in story-telling mode we were in for a good evening!
We will have to catch up when we next meet at a Festival somewhere. Best wishes, Reg.