‘What a wonderful thing’ is a phrase that would skip off the tongue without a second thought in those far off days when I first started in business; and rightly so’ as one colleague after another used their limited recourses to create some innovative piece of equipment.
I’ve seen some extremely original gadgets cobbled together in sheds and tiny factories that would have served better as chicken runs; split drive pulley innovations for welding machines, ironing machines, or yoyo’s that lit up as they span. The list goes on but with one common thread, they were all developed without wads of cash by enthusiastic self employed people who, it appeared, could hardly wait to get up in the morning to try out some new idea.
If that sounds a bit like Utopia, well to me for one, it was. There was always the wonderful rush of excitement and enthusiasm, made all the sweeter by the realisation that you didn’t have to go to university or have a massive bank account to be creative; and of course, there was always the belief that just around the next corner was a fortune waiting to be made!
Most of that world is now history and many of the people that inhabited those dens of creation are no longer with us, but I still can’t think about those early creators of England’s wealth without seeing grease stained fingers being wiped on an oily rag, or the dimensions of mandrel being scribbled on the back of a fag packet.
We now inhabit a world of business plans, bottom lines and computer operated machine tools that speak in a language most of us don’t understand, which I believe they call progress but it leaves very little space for the old style innovators to squeeze into.
Men like Trevor Bayliss, the inventor of the wind up radio, who brought his idea to life in a garden shed, or going a little further back in time Mr Logie Baird who demonstrated the first television pictures in a make shift laboratory in an upstairs room in Hastings.
I imagine someone at the time must have commented “what a wonderful thing” as they squinted at the tiny screen trying to make out the head of “Stooky Bill”
That’s why I just had to pen a short story about a fictitious inventor of that period. In this little tale Mr Brierly comes up with yet another brilliant idea and manages to persuade his old employee Hubert to carry out some trials. Even against the advice of his mother and uncle Fred, Hubert maintains his absolute belief in his old boss’s genius; well, this and the offer of a partnership in his new business! A situation that I’m sure many readers will recognize, but let me stop here and ask you to read the story yourself and make up your own mind, because as uncle Fred remarked “Reflected surfaces Ltd. Gosh, that sounds technical, lad.’
What a Wonderful Thing!
‘Whatever do you mean?’ said Hubert staring at his uncle as if he’d gone batty. His uncle Fred had just fished another of those obscure words from his bucketful of jargon.
‘Why don’t you use plain English uncle?’ retorted Hubert, ‘Anthithesis. What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Well, two sides of a coin if you like,’ replied his uncle, ‘you see Karl Marx once said that for me to own this house, people like you have to carry on working.’
‘Did he?’ snapped Hubert, ‘well I don’t suppose this Marx fellow happened to mention were I might find a job did he?’
‘I know it must be difficult lad,’ replied his uncle leaning back and closing his eyes, ‘see, it was different in my day, the local paper was full of adverts for all sorts of jobs.
Just then Hubert’s mum came round from next door,
‘Morning Fred, is he botherin’ you again?’ she said, as she handed her son a letter that had just arrived, ‘I bet it’s another of those job applications telling you how sorry they are they can’t take you on.’
‘Well done mum,’ replied Hubert, ‘I’m glad somebody still has faith in me. Anyhow, you’re wrong! It’s a letter from my old boss at Brierly’s.’
‘Oh him!’ interrupted mum, ‘he was a nasty bit of work, I never did like him. What does he want now?’
‘He’s only offering me a partnership in his new business, would you believe!’ blurted Hubert. ……read more