In 40 years, much has changed but not everything. For me, a good part of 1982 was spent in Buckhorn Weston[1]. A small village on the edge of the 3 English countries, Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire.

It was the year, I graduated from Lanchester Polytechnic in Coventry (The Lanch). Having been a student apprentice, I returned to the employer who had sponsored my engineering education. That company and its name have disappeared from the lexicon of British manufactures. The Plessey company[2] was divided and swallowed up by others. The work that it did, at that time, continues but as part of a large European multinational organisation[3].

As a young design engineer, I found myself developing low noise preamplifiers. Yes, at that time analogue electronics played the major part in our lives. Digital systems were starting to break through as the recipe of choice for new designs. Each engineer had their own hardback orange catalogue of Texas transistor–transistor logic (TTL) chips[4]. It was the new frontier. Speculation was rife about growing miniaturisation.

It was a year of change. However, the pivotal moment of mine didn’t come until the end of the year. I was a fresh 22-year-old graduate with ambition and a rosy outlook as to what the world had to offer. Economically, the UK had been through some depressing years but in late 1982 the job market was good for a graduate of electronic engineering.

Living in the Dorset village of Buckhorn Weston had its eccentric moments. There were more than a few evenings spent at The Stapleton Arms[5]. On the opposite side of the road to the pub was a Post Office and a telephone box. When I moved to the village, I had little idea how that vivid red telephone box would shape my life for decades.

The daily routine started to have a rhythm to it, as there was a great deal to do at work. There wasn’t a moment when my diary wasn’t full. The summer had opened wonderful opportunities to cruise around the West Country lanes in my bright yellow MG Midget. My family being near by meant that family occasions didn’t go amiss either.

Then a Christmas party in Bristol had unexpected repercussions. It was early December. A good friend from The Lanch had got a job in Bristol working for a wine merchant. I had no hesitation in saying “yes” to an invitation to a party in the city. It wasn’t far to travel.

Now, 40-years on, Sue and I enjoy a life in the southeast. At that Bristol party we met for the first time. That’s when the cold nights standing in a village telephone box started. So, red Post Office telephone boxes will always have a special place in my heart.

In this mobile phone orientated era, a line from Monty Python comes to mind: “And you try and tell the young people of today that … they won’t believe you”[6]

[1] https://bwandkmpc.org/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plessey

[3] https://www.thales.com/

[4] This remains with us in a different form https://www.ti.com/lit/ug/scyd013b/scyd013b.pdf

[5] https://www.stapletonarms.co.uk/

[6] https://genius.com/Monty-python-four-yorkshiremen-live-annotated

Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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