Third Time Lucky!

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The primary focus of UKIRT was outside the dome. This was because it allowed the dome to be smaller (and thus cheaper!) than would otherwise would have been possible. The telescope had two ‘top end’ sections which could be swapped over – although this was a tricky operation. The above photo gives a good view of the f/35 top-end in use. (ROE 823705)

Various meetings and discussions during September 1982 led to a change of direction in the work I was doing for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) development project. By the end of 1982 many of the early uncertainties or unknowns about the details of the JCMT optics had started to be resolved. As a result it was felt that it would now be more useful for me to investigate a different area. I continued to have an interest in the optical design, but I also began to investigate the development and provision of solid state local oscillator (LO) sources for use in improved mm-wave receivers. The plan was that these would eventually be used on JCMT, but in the interim might also produce better receivers for UKIRT. The solid state LO sources should be easier to use, more reliable, and have a much longer service life than the klystrons which were employed at the time. In practice they were also safer for users because they didn’t require the high voltages which klystrons or other beam tubes needed! And could be expected to offer a higher level of receiver performance.

In October I was given a fresh contract to work for Derek Martin. This was mainly aimed at the development of receivers. I got the letter offerring me the contract on the 6th of October and promptly accepted. It meant I now had a job at QMC until October 1984 and replaced my old contract which would have ended with 1982. The stated purpose of the contract was to work on receivers.

On Tuesday 26th October Chris Adams and I went and had an evening meal in a Chinese restaurant in Cranbourne Street. When we got back to her home late in the evening her behaviour was different to usual. She turned on the radio and started to dance to the music. She then held out her arms showing she wanted me to dance with her, and to hold her. Things progressed and she made it quite clear that things should go further. Before that point we’d often had a kiss or a cuddle or hug, but it was obvious that she had made a decision that we could go further. So that night the situation changed and our lives began to take a new direction. It was about two years after my Mother had spoken to me about her first marriage breaking up. From her experience she’d said that it took at least a couple of years to get over something that painful and to be able to trust someone else enought to consider sharing your life with them. And that night, it turned out that she was correct.

I did eventually go back to my parents flat, early the Wednesday morning. But by the Thursday afternoon, when we together in the Seniour Common Room Bar at QMC I said to Chris that I’d rather go and stay with her than cycle back to my parent’s flat each day. She said she’d been intending to invite me. I started moving in to her home and we began the process of becoming a couple, sharing out lives, with eventual marriage in mind. It was for me a great source of happiness and the biggest and most welcome change of my life. We have had ups and downs at times since, but I have never regretted that decision.

Unfortunately, in one way it was badly timed, because I was due to fly out to Hawai’i a few weeks later. I would then be spending some time there, on the other side of the planet! This trip was at the request of Glenn White. I was going along to help Glenn set up and operate the InSb mixer system he had developed at QMC. This was packed and flown out to Hawai’i for us to use. Although common user receivers had been developed they weren’t at that point truly available as user systems. In part this was because they were still being improved and made more reliable. But in part is was also because a specific practical skill-set was required to use them. One which had to be gained in those days by practical experience! In effect, they were only useable at the time by the people who had developed them, and didn’t work as well as Glenn’s QMC system.

On Saturday 20th November I took a TWA flight from Heathrow to Los Angeles as the first leg of my trip out to Hawai’i. This connected with a UA flight which got me to Hilo on the Big Island during the afternoon of the 21st. It was my third trip to Hawai’i. Although I did not know it at the time it was also, sadly, to be my last, but the must successful in scientific terms. For obvious reasons it also set something of a record for the number of air mail letters I sent and received. Having been together for such a short time, Chris and I wrote to each other quite often! Younger readers should note this was back in the days before mobile phones, the internet, etc, we take for granted today. The choice back then for personal international communications was between very expensive poor-quality landline phone calls, or air mail letters. Given the cost, difference in time zones, etc, letters were the preferred method for us at the time. Quaint, perhaps, but has the advantage that, yes, even now we still have the letters...

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The postcard I sent to my parents once I had arrived.

The flight from LA to Hilo had been a bit bumpy. This was one of the effects of a bad storm that had recently hit Hawai’i and moved on by the time we landed. Apparently this had disrupted observing at the summit, so we had to hope that the weather would now improve. I spent the first night at the Sheraton Hotel in Hilo. I wrote postcards to my parents and to Chris to let them know I’d arrived OK. At the about the same time Chris had started writing her first air mail letter to me! During the Monday I went shopping. I wanted to buy Chris a small gold pendant of the kind that has a Chinese idiogram for ‘Good Luck’, or ‘Long Life’, etc.

There wasn’t a spare observatory vehicle to get us to Hale Pohaku. So we took a taxi and arrived during late afternoon on Monday 22nd. The place seemed much the same as for my previous visits. I had dinner at about 6pm and, as usual, this was excellent. Indeed, in my experience the food in at Hale Pohaku was always very good, and plentiful. I particularly recall things like the Blueberry cheesecake, the cookie jars, and the range and quality of the ice cream on offer – considerably better than the ice cream widely available in the UK at the time! As usual, I expected to fly home heavier than I’d arrived. That was one drawback. Another was that the air was so dry that I tended to get a static shock when I touched metal items like the lamps. So I kept an ashtray filled with water in my room to try and dampen the air. But it wasn’t an ideal solution. (Pun alert!)

Tuesday morning I got up early to watch the sunrise. The first cloud level below looked a lot of restless mountains that had been cast adrift and were wandering around looking for a new home. I went up to the summit, reaching UKIRT just before noon and stayed there until 4:30pm. Glenn and I unpacked the receiver’s front-end and put it in the prep room. We also took most of the electronics out of its packing and stacked it in the control room. This was because it was damp from condensation and we needed to let it dry out before use. The weather was still windy and clouds were blowing though the site. The road between Hale Pohaku and UKIRT remained a fairly rough one, much like during my earlier trips.

On Wednesday, the weather was worse at Hale Pohaku than the day before. Rain and high winds. A Hurricane passed over Kua’i at about mid-day. The TV reported a lot of damage on Oahu and said they’d had, temporarily, up to a 90% power supply failure. So it must have been pretty bad. Fortunately, we’d escaped the worst of it up on Mauna Kea. The weather at the summit was fairly clear and dry. Cirrus cloud enough to upset near-IR observations, but probably wouldn’t have bothered 350GHz operation much if we’d been ready.

Glenn and myself had gone up to UKIRT at a about 8:30am, unpacked the rest of the receiver’s electronics, and came down again at 4:30pm. Unfortunately the graphics terminal we'd brought refused to function correctly and we hadn’t packed the manual. As a result I couldn’t check out and test its circuits. I tried the usual tricks like removing, checking and replacing boards, etc, to make it function. Dealt with some minor problems, but without real success. Fortunately, we were able to ‘borrow’ another graphics terminal from elsewhere. I also assembled a mylar sheet diplexer for use with the receiver. However at the end of the day Glenn went to bed because he didn’t feel well – headache and nausea – presumably due to not yet being sufficiently acclimatised. We’d been at the summit for about 8 hours on our second day there. We’d also been doing a lot of lifting and shifting kit. I felt OK… or at least no more than unfit then usual. In the evening the main cloud layer seemed about 2 - 3,000 ft below Hale Pohaku and the wind was only just strong enough to nudge the leaves on the trees.

Over the next day or so we ran the system and adjusted it to get satisfactory performance. By Saturday 27th the weather at the summit was excellent. The air humidity at UKIRT was only about 1%. I could look down to see the cloud layers below us riding on a sea of darker, more moist air. And the next island seemed to rise out of a pale blue sea (of damper air) upon which the clouds floated. The views were spectacular, and I’ve never seen a photograph that does them justice. UKIRT also seemed to move with an easy grace that showed no sign of the complex engineering which made this possible.

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The above is another photo of UKIRT viewed from outside the dome. However this one was taken while the f/9 top-end was fitted to the telescope.

Thursday 25th of November was Thanksgiving Day. This was celebrated at Hale Pohaku and was something I’d never experienced before – or again since! At 5:30pm, after the mid-day meal I started writing an air mail letter to Chris which described the dinner I’d had. I commented that, “Everyone is expected to eat until they reach their pain threshold. I’ve just eaten about half of my portion of the Thanksgiving dinner prepared by the staff here. Both quantity and quality were superb. Soup first dish, Turkey and glazed ham with four vegetables and a side salad for the main dish. All followed with pumpkin pie. Good – but I may never walk again!”

I’d phoned Chris that morning and in the letter said that it was good to hear her voice, and I was pleased to hear then that my first air mail letter had already reached her. I wrote that Glenn and I would be calibrating the klystrons that evening, and that Kevin (Richardson) and Lorne (Avery) had arrived earlier that day. Then I wrote about my feelings for Chris and how I missed her, adding, “I care about you, and would do anything for you – even wake up in the mornings to the sound of Terry Wogan!” (At the time Chris was addicted to his program on BBC Radio 2.) Having written this, Glenn and I went back up to UKIRT to work on the receiver. We came down again at about 11:20 pm, so had spent about 14 hours out of 24 at the summit at that point.

I then added more to the letter at about 7:25am on Thursday 27th. On the way back up to the summit the previous night Glenn had stopped the Bronco and we had got out to admire the sunset. The Sun had actually already set, but we watched the reds and purples of the sky above the clouds slowly fade to darkness. Glenn was usually quite brisk and businesslike, so it was quite nice to see that he enjoyed this. Unfortunately, we’d found that one klystron was oscillating at too high a frequency to be used. And another had a broken tuning screw, so couldn’t be adjusted.

The Varian klystrons we used only had a limited electronic tuning range. This was sufficient for lock-loop adjustments and sweeping out spectra. But to alter the frequency enough to change which molecular line could be observed required a mechanical tuning. This consisted of a captive screw which pushed against the klystron’s cavity. As you rotated the screw it distorted the vacuum cavity and altered the oscillation frequency. The problem was that repeated use eventually caused something to break. Then either the klystron ceased working at all, or could no longer be mechanically tuned. i.e. usually became useless. In effect, Varian made the klystrons assuming that the mechanical tuning would probably only ever be done once. The presumption being that, once set, it would then be run at that frequency for the rest of its (electronic) life. As a consequence of the failures it became clear that some observations Glenn had hoped to be able to make at around 460GHz were now unlikely to be possible. Instead we’d probably be limited to the 350 GHz region. This was a dissapointment for me as well, because I was hoping to see how high a frequency we could reach when making observations. My interest being mainly in pushing the engineering rather than as an astronomer!

During the daytime of the 27th an event occurred that did make me realise that I wasn’t always as much of a sympathetic softie as I tended to assume. A German tourist had tried driving up to the summit in a hired jeep. This had packed up on the dirt road because it wasn’t modified for the thin air or powerful enough to cope with the poor surface and steep gradient. We came across him on our way down to Hale Pohaku and gave him a lift there. He got no real sympathy from anyone for various reasons.

Firstly, the hire companies used to make very clear that their vehicles must not be driven up into the mountains because of the likelyhood of an accident, breakdown, or damage. He ignored this clear warning. Secondly, when at Hale Pohaku he wanted to use the phone to call for a taxi. Fair enough, the cooks were happy for him to do that. But he then wanted to call the hire company to argue with them. (We’d already allowed him to notify them via the radio phone in our Bronco.) The cooks said no, and he began shouting at them and complaining finally leaving, slamming the door behind him. What struck me was his attitude that she should be able to call whoever he wanted, for as long as he wanted. He also initially took for granted someone from Hale Pohaku would drive him back down to the coast. Perhaps we should have been more sympathetic. But the real point was that he had no business being there at all. Being allowed to call a taxi and notify the hire company seemed sufficient. Given that he had ignored the hire company warning, if he wanted to spend time arguing the toss with the hire company, or being upset that a taxi would cost him money, that wasn’t our concern.

I finished the letter to Chris by noting that on the 29th I’d start operating on the ‘dawn shift’, nominally from midnight to 10am each day. I’d taken a small ‘snoopy’ wind-up toy with me which Chris had given to me and I wrote that this reminded me of her. I added that after my earlier expeditions to Hawai’i I’d taken a few days off afterwards to have a holiday or make a side trip. But that this time I would fly home asap to be with her again. One the letter was dispatched my mind then switched back into work-mode...

Our allocated time on the telescope for observing officially started on Tuesday 30th November. However we were actually able to install the receiver on the 29th. The f/35 secondary had been on the telescope when we arrived. So to suit our InSb receiver this needed to be swapped out and replaced by the f/9. That could be a fairly difficult and anxious process. On this occasion John Clarke (UKIRT) nearly trapped his hand in a pulley when lifting the f/35 top end. A process of telescope re-pointing and calibration then needed to be carried out before we could begin actual observations. This was finally completed just after midnight.

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These photos show UKIRT with the f/9 top-end fitted. The image on the right also shows the f/35 top-end laid on the floor of the dome. You can see that the f/35 top-end is larger and makes the telescope longer than the f/9. This is because the smaller secondary used for the higher f-number arrangement requires it to be placed further from the primary. ROE 797705 and 7927707

Glenn had arranged to divide the observing into two shifts – himself and Kevin Richardson operating the first shift, Lorne Avery and myself the second. The handover being at about midnight. Lorne and myself had tried to get some early sleep at Hale Pohaku, but for me it was too warm to sleep and I was wide awake from previous work on the receiver system and getting it onto the telescope. There was also a small earthquake at about 3pm, but UKIRT was OK. Following the attempt to rest, at about 10:30pm we went up to UKIRT to join Glenn and Kevin Richardson. Unfortunately, from about 8pm until 2am the dome was shut because of high winds. It was then opened and observing commenced. This finished at 6:30am. We then drove down to Hale Pohaku and I managed to sleep from about 7:30am until 4pm. The forcast was also for high winds so Lorne and I planned on the basis that we might be able to observe objects that were sufficiently ‘downwind’ for the dome doors to be open. Whilst Lorne and I were observing we talked about various things and he understood how awkward it was that Chris and I should be apart just a few weeks after we had decided to live together. He was about 40 years old at the time and had brought his family over from Canada with him for his year at QMC. They were used to him going on observing trips, but even so, this one was different for them because they were away from home as well.

Chris’s first air mail letter reached me on Wednesday, 1st December. When incoming letters arrived they were put into a ‘visitors’ box. Yolanda then arranged for them to be brought up to Hale Pohaku. It was clear from Chris’s letters that she was still trying to come to terms with her decision that she wanted us to be together. So she alternated between worrying and telling me not to be concerned about the worries she expressed. She had started writing at 10pm on the 21st, and then added more the next day. She’d had problems travelling to and from QMC on Monday because a tube train had broken down at Bank station, halting the Central Line. She’d had tried to use the buses instead, but there were, of course, what she described as “long queueueueueues” at the bus stops. So to avoid the rush she went to the Post Office to get some stamps, and air mail letter sheets. She also visited the CHC (Community Health Council) offices rather than just stand and wait in the cold for a bus.

Her first air mail letter included a page typed onto a sheet of “Action For Epilepsy” notepaper because it was what she had to hand when she started writing it. The notepaper and the CHC visit illustrates that she was an active campaigner for mental health issues. While out she also bought a copy of a Hi-Fi magazine I’d asked her to get for me. Then as she passed the station again she noticed that the blackboard which had displayed the message about the trains being halted had been wiped clean. She went home and rang Ben Godfrey who was the technician in charge of the QMC Teaching Labs. He said he hadn’t heard about the problem with the Central Line. But the radio broadcasts were still saying the Central Line wasn’t running. So she abandoned trying to get to QMC on the Monday. The end of the sheet outlined that she was still wary of a full releationship, but despite that it made clear that she did miss me.

Chris had bought some air mail letter forms when she had visited the Post Office, and used one of these to continue her first letter to me. This contained a mixture of reports on what she’d been cooking, etc, along comments like, “I don’t know what you’ve done to me or my home but it feels all empty today!” and saying that she’d been bored at work as there was no-one to talk with.

At the time Chris was in the middle of a part-time Open University degree. This became a mixed-subject one which included physics and psychology. She was intendeding to qualify for entry to the British Psychological Society (BPS) as she had become increasingly interested in psychology and mental health. However by including some physics courses she could raise her honours level more easily. The uncertainty was because of the judgement of what might satisfy the BPS as well as being an efficient and interesting route forwards – and, of course, to avoid being bored. Overall, Chris enjoyed doing her OU courses. But in one instance they had led to a really distressing incident. She had been granted a home exam for a course because of her epilepsy. A tutor was arranged to come to her home, bringing the paper, and then to invigilate. She had prepared quite carefully – only for the tutor to fail to appear! Chris was quite upset by this and the thought that she would have to go though the process again. She ended the letter by saying, “Carey was claiming that she gave you your cold. I think Joy and George also have one, so what did you get up to before you went away?”.

A problem I kept having at Hale Pohaku was that there was a large group of French observers who had rooms in the same hut as myself. They used to make a lot of noise moving around the hut and seemed to have no concern at all for the fact that others might be trying to sleep! Since they were wooden huts with thin internal walls, sounds penetrated easily. So some consideration was required, but proved sadly lacking in this case. During the Wednesday-to-Thursday night’s observing there was almost no wind and only some high cirrus cloud which we could see though fairly easily. The air was cold and dry. As a result we managed to gather data from 4pm to 9:45am on an HCN molecular line (at about 350 GHz, i.e. just under 1mm wavelength). The receiver worked like a charm. On previous nights it had been fiddly to get the LO frequency locked, but it was now easy, and operated with good stability.

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The above shows part of spring 1983 UKIRT Newsletter which reported that our observing run had gone well, and showed some of the results for various molecular line sources at frequencies around 350GHz. Fuller analysis and data was duly published in various journal papers. (e.g. Richardson et. al Ap J. 290 637-652 1985 March 15, and White, et. al. Ap J. 302 701-710 1985 March 15) (Newsletter courtesy of ROE.)

During the morning on Friday 3rd Dec I phoned Chris again to let her know I’d advanced my flight home and would be back one day earlier than originally planned. By this time I’d settled into a routine and – the French noise sources excepted – was able to sleep during the day, have a good evening meal, then go up for the second shift. During the first shift on the Friday-to-Saturday night Glenn stayed on late to change the LO frequency, but when he left he forgot to reconnect the signal ADC (Analog to Digital Convertor). As usual I was keeping my eye on ensuring the front end and lock loop, etc, worked correctly whilst Lorne was looking after the data collection and assessing it. The ’raw’ signal was too weak to see without some processing, so it took Lorne about an hour and a half to realise that something was wrong. I then found the disconnected lead. Shortly after that the liquid helium in the InSb mixer’s dewar ran out. By then it was about 8:30am so we decided that there was no point in making a fresh transfer of helium. Hence we lost about 2 hour’s worth of possible data on the source, IRC10216. My note book adds, “Get it tomorrow!”...

On Saturday I was awoken again by loud French voices in the corridor of the hut where I had a room to sleep at Hale Pohaku. But by then my routine took into account being woken up like this at 6 pm. I had a conversation with Andy Longmore about the way that it could be quite tiring to work at the summit and he pointed out that it tended to raise the heart rate without you being aware of it, even when just sitting down. I checked, and my heart rate was, indeed, about 80 bpm even though I’d been sitting doing nothing.

Again on the Sunday, both I and Andy were awoken by the noise made by the French. I managed to talk to some of them and asked them to bear in mind that other people were trying to sleep. And over dinner Andy said he’d shouted at them to be quiet when he was woken up. During the day the French visitors had turned over a jeep on the road to the summit. A group from Cambridge (Richard Hills, Adrian Webster, and Scott) were following them down about 10 mins behind, and were able to phone for help. They then gave them some oxygen until they were rescued. One was taken to hospital. This was actually the 4th accident on the road in a period of just two weeks. In addition to the ‘German tourist’ incident there had been two Bronco breakdowns.

On Tuesday 7th December we began packing up the equipment and preparing for the flight home the next day. During the time we had on the telescope the weather had become excellent, and Glenn’s receiver was working well. As a result we were able to obtain data on a number of astronomical objects and produce spectra for some relatively low-population molecules – i.e. ones which only provided quite low signal levels that were a challenge to detect. I also thoughly enjoyed working and being with the UKIRT crew. Overall the trip was very enjoyable and productive. But the timing was awkward given that I had only just started the process of moving in with Chris and re-arranging our lives.

I’d not yet received Chris’s most recent air mail letter to me. Andy Longmore commented that for some reason letters sent to the UK seemed to be delivered much quicker than ones sent to UKIRT from the UK. I spoke to Yolanda (UKIRT office) and she said she’d see that any which arrived for me after I had gone were posted on to me, back in London.

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This photo shows me in the UKIRT control room. For me the most significant point about this image is that seeing it made me realise I was developing a bald spot!

By this time I was also beginning to wonder how the QMC Physics Panto preparations were going. Because of the trip I’d had to drop out of the preparations and didn’t have a role in the performance. I was still looking forwards to it. But would the special effects bring the roof down – again!? ...and would the script be sufficiently scandalous? However I had confidence that Carey would, erm, pull it off.

By 10am EST on Wednesday 8th December Glenn and I were on the United Airlines flight from Hilo to Los Angeles. During finishing the packing at UKIRT I felt very out of breath and had to go and have sit down for half and hour and have a cup of cocoa in the meal room. Reason for this was that I’d worked too hard lifting and shifting because we wanted to get everything packed in time for shipping. Dave Beattie and the others came and checked I was OK, but I was fine having had a sit down. We had lost a few hours of observing at the start of the trip, and also had to shut down at midnight on the last night, both caused by high winds and airborn dust. But otherwise things had gone very well.

The group from Cambridge were taking over, running the UKIRT user system. But they were having some problems. Glenn made some new multiplier whiskers for them, but their (user system) lock loop kept misbehaving and simply wasn’t as reliable and easy to adjust as Glenn’s. At one time this was so bad that I heard one of the UKIRT staff who I will tactfully not name comment: “Cambridge had a good night last night. They managed to get the receiver working!” In comparision, although I’d not had much practice with Glenn’s lock loop, I could easily get it to lock reliably. On the rare occasion when it fell out of lock it only took a minute or two to tune and lock up reliably. And despite my limited experience with it I could retune the klystron, multiplier, etc, and get the system working at a new frequency in about 10 minutes or so. In comparison, setting up the ‘user’ lock loop was at times like trying to balance a pencil vertically on the tip of your finger. I can’t now say for sure, but I kept feeling at the time it had too much loop gain. This may be good for reducing sideband noise, but can make the control loop unstable, etc. This wasn’t helped by the nature of the klystrons used. They tended to have a narrow electronic tuning range which wasn’t very linear. To make a large change in LO frequency, mechanical tuning was required. It then could matter exactly how this was done as that in turn affected the electronic tuning, and thus loop behaviour.

I’ve outlined the general arrangement used for the Local Oscillator and lock loop on some previous pages in this series. But in addition to the complexity they were quite fussy about how they were operated. For example, starting up involved a series of steps that had to be carried out in the right order and with due care. Otherwise something could be damaged and need repair. For example, powering up the klystron required carrying out a series of steps which included:

That leaves out various details and checks. There was an attenuator in the waveguide between the klystron and the multiplier diode (tripler for the InSb mixer). This also had to be checked to ensure it was wound down to block the klystron’s output power from reaching the multipler until the klystron was running in a stable and controlled way. There was then another routine to ensure that the multiplier could be brought into operation without accidentally blowing it up! This could happen if too much klystron output was delivered to it without sufficient ‘reverse bias’ voltage being applied. The snag being that if you applied the required amount reverse bias without the klystron power the bias would blow up the diode. So you had to alternate between slight increases in the applied klystron level and bias level, to ensure you got the system working OK. In addition, you might need to alter the waveguide backshorts on the multiplier to optimise performance, which again – unless done with care – might suddenly alter the power applied, blowing up the diode! So the whole process required some level of care and knowledge. The klystrons also would have a short operating life if used at full power. So when possible the system was tweaked to work with the lowest convenient klystron output level. The principle of the mm-wave heterodyne receivers was the same as in a bedside radio. But switching them on or off was a bit more demanding.

I checked at Leilani Street (UKIRT office) as we left, but Chris’s missing air mail letter hadn’t arrived before I flew out for home. A few days later when I was back in the UK Chris’s air mail letter reached me via QMC. We then realised that Chris had mis-addressed the letter! She had written only a part of the address. So it only mentioned “Queen Mary College Team, UKIRT”. Someone at the sorting office decided to send it to QMC, and it must have rattled about there. It had reached Ben Godfrey who recognised who it was for and had added the full UKIRT address in Hawai’i and sent it on. But of course by the time it got to UKIRT I had left, so it was then duly send back to me. Hence it was an air mail letter that went around the world and returned to where it had started.

In her letter Chris wrote a bit about Terry Wogan, and then commented on an article I’d written that had been published in the December 1982 issue of Hi Fi News magazine. This had actually been written and published as a result of the unhappy ‘review’ they had printed some months earlier. It did give me a chance to make some comments on the design, etc, of high performance audio amplifiers and also publicise the Armstrong 700 amps without directly dealing with the dubious parts of the review. Having looked at it, Chris wrote, “I’ve just read your article in Hi-Fi News and it made a surprising amount of sense.” Erm... I’m still not quite sure what she meant by that, however she then went on to criticise my English. So it seems that everyone is a critic! But it did give me a chance to air some views on audio amplifiers, etc. In later years I wrote various articles for the magazine, and a monthly column. So it is strange that my first article there had such an unhappy genesis.

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The above excerpts from the Treasure Island script gives a glimse of the quality of the wit and wisdom it contained.

Sadly, by December 1982 Karen Worgan had left the Physics Department. There was no one to replace her. So we lost both her and her skills as a programmer. But towards the end of term that year’s Panto was duly performed. This was a somewhat ‘improved’ and updated version of Treasure Island. It proved to be as full of smut and nonsense... erm I mean wit and elegance as usual. So down to the low moral standards that audience and performers preferred. Alas, I regret I wasn’t one of the performers. Fortunately the audience seemed to accept this tragic loss with remarkable cheerfulness.

My thanks to the Royal Observatory Edinburgh for some of the images on this page.

Jim Lesurf

25th Jan 2018

6000 words

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