Tag: G3PUK

G3PUK!

The story of me gaining my radio amateur licence.

As I spoke about yesterday in my introduction, when my mother remarried my sister and I had a new man about the house, so to speak. He was Richard Mills.

I was 13 or thereabouts and already struggling with my school work (the result of my father’s sudden death). And ‘Dad’ as we called him was finding his feet in the strange world of going from having no children to instantly having two step children!

Anyway, Dad found a theme with me that I enjoyed: building a shortwave radio receiver. It was full of learning for me and over the years I became hooked on listening to radio stations both near and far transmitting in morse code. I also joined the Harrow Radio Society and went across to their weekly meetings by tube and bus. (Despite the Society no longer being at the Harrow address it is amazing that they are still going strong.)

It was also a time when there was a great deal of ‘radio surplus’ equipment going for next to nothing and I ‘upgraded’ to an R-1152 receiver.

War surplus R-1152 receiver.

In time I became sufficiently old to take driving lessons and pass my driving licence. I then got a secondhand car. It helped because then I could drive up to Bushey and spend Sunday mornings at the house of Ron Ray. Ron was a keen amateur. On Sunday mornings Ron had a small group of people who wanted to pass the morse code test and apply for a licence.

I was already a member of the RSGB, the Radio Society of Great Britain, and that surely encouraged me further to study for my amateur licence.

In time, I sat the exam and much to my amazement passed!

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So that is the story of me and amateur radio.

Well, almost the full story.

In 1963 I volunteered for the Royal Naval Reserve, London Division. In time I was accepted and chose the join the radio branch, my G3PUK status coming in useful, because I reckoned that when we went to sea, on flat-bottomed minesweepers, it was better to be sick into a bucket between the knees than be sick on deck!

So there you are – G3PUK!

Progressing Wisdom – the preamble.

A reflection on intelligence, learning and knowledge.

Today’s essay has been prompted by a fascinating exchange of views and comments on a post recently published by Patrice Ayme.  More of that tomorrow.

Before getting to the heart of things, I feel compelled to offer a little background on my own educational journey. It is presented today as a preamble to tomorrow’s main essay.

By rights, I should have enjoyed a stunning academic journey as a young man.  My mother holds a double degree in French and German from Cambridge University.  My father was both a Chartered Architect and Chartered Surveyor and worked for Barclay Perkins & Co at their Anchor Brewery in Southwark, London all his working life.  My uncle, Christian Schiller, took up a mathematics scholarship at Sidney Sussex college at Cambridge University and ended up HM Inspector of Schools in the United Kingdom. Notably, he was a promoter of progressive ideas in primary education.

But it was not to be so.

My father died suddenly and with very little warning five days before Christmas in 1956.  I had turned 12-years-old some six weeks previously and just completed my first term at Preston Manor County Grammar School.  My secure, comfortable young life was thrown into emotional turmoil with one of the consequences being that instead of passing a clutch of GCE ‘O-Level’ exams, I barely managed to pass two subjects and was unable to continue on with a higher level of studying and the consequent sitting of GCE ‘A-Level’ exams, a pre-requisit for university.

Somehow, I then managed to win a place as a student at the Faraday House of Electrical Engineering, in those days based at Southampton Row, London.  It was to study for a Diploma in Electrical Engineering.  The requirement was that by the end of my first year at Faraday House I should pass two A-level examinations.

I was very happy as a college student.  That first year was spent entirely learning about engineering with much time ‘hands-on’ in the engineering workshop. Then came time for me to sit those two A-level exams. I failed both of them! There was no choice but for me to leave the college.

faradayhouseplaque
So that’s enough to demonstrate that academic prowess was not my speciality.

However, being unable to jump through the hoops needed for a degree or equivalent didn’t mean that I was a poor learner; far from it.

After my father’s death, my mother remarried and my ‘new’ Dad was very supportive.  He had a background in communications and quickly encouraged me to become a radio amateur.  I joined the nearby Radio Society of Harrow (still in existence!) and their encouragement enabled me to pass the full set of exams necessary to become a licensed radio amateur and a full member of the Radio Society of Great Britain.  My amateur call sign was (and still is) G3PUK. I was 17.

 

G3PUK0001
I can still whistle the alphabet in morse code, from A to Z, and the numbers 0 to 9!

Later on, when I was an apprentice at the British Aircraft Corporation’s site in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, one of the commercial staff, Jim Jenner, spent many hours preparing me for the Institute of Advanced Motorists examination. I passed that exam and became a full member of the IAM in May, 1966.

So there’s my background that, hopefully, will set the scene to a wonderful exchange of views and ideas that flowed from Patrice’s blog. Ideas that will be explored tomorrow.

For the reason, the powerful reason, that the intelligence and wisdom of humanity has always been important.  But now, in this time of the affairs of man, our collective intelligence and wisdom has never been more important.