When, as I have told you in the page called 'A product of my time and experiences', it became nearly time for me to leave the navy, I used to sit and ponder, then panic, about what I could and would do as a civilian to earn a living which was at the very least, equal in remuneration to that which I was earning  as a Royal sailor.  Most of the jobs I had my mind set on, paid somewhat better wages, and this, with the buffer of a naval pension, would, if I were lucky, elevate me to a substantially better standard of living.  However, before I had these lofty aspirations, I had originally applied for a civilian position within the Royal Household, but was turned down because I was over qualified. Click to enlargeClick to enlargeClick to enlarge  It was put to me that whereas I would consider it to be a honour to work for the Royal family, I would eventually consider the work menial and become dissatisfied, for no obvious promotion channels would be available, and in whatever capacity I was employed, 'dead man's shoes' was the only way to better my pay, prospects and working conditions.  Moreover, especially in the early days, I would be expected to live in accommodation provided so that I could be readily on-call to serve, and that accommodation would be judged to be a part of my salary.  Not only would the accommodation be of the bachelor-type and therefore too small to accommodate my wife and family from time to time, but it would reduce my salary to a point where my living standards would be very much lower than that provided from my naval salary.  Furthermore, there was no guarantee that any of the positions offered would be in the south, traditionally in London, and being domiciled in Scotland [for example, or indeed Norfolk] didn't suit, because the last thing I wanted as a civilian, was to be away from home:  I had had enough of that in the navy.  Thus, what I thought would be my ideal job had too many disadvantages, and I chose to honour and serve my Queen from outside the gates of her Palace's.  

Almost as a jerk reaction, and a continuing need to belong to a group where genuine comradeship was on offer, I applied to the Tower of London to become a Yeoman Warder, a Beefeater.  The standards were high, extremely high, but I had every possible asset required of those criteria except for one thing: I was a warrant officer in the Royal Navy and as such was debarred.  Only SNCO's and warrant officers of the RAF, the Army and the Royal Marines [who are soldiers when not serving afloat] were considered.  I was amazed but wasn't allowed to ask why!  

For many years  I had been involved with teaching technical subjects to officers and senior ratings, and was fully  au fait with all types of telecommunications equipments widely fitting in the fleet.  With a handful of other instructors, I had become an acknowledged expert in my branch, and my knowledge and experience were widely sought by operational and non-operational [experimental/administrative] departments and ships at sea.  Some of my erstwhile colleagues who had belonged to this handful of specialists had taken jobs in civilian life with the manufacturers of naval communications equipment, and appeared to have done well.   When my time came, I too applied for jobs in that industry, and was accepted by Marconi and by Racal.  However, I was frequently reminded that there were many ex-RN'ers in both companies, and it would be rather like swapping my naval uniform for a civilian uniform where the status quo would remain,  effectively having the same officer and peer group.  This I didn't want.  I wanted a clean break and the opportunity to show my new boss that I had great potential far in advance of that which the restrictive nature of the navy had allowed me to demonstrate.  I chose not to join either of these companies.

In many ways that decision was near fatal, because I readily found that outside my core skill in telecommunications, I had little to offer an employer who didn't understand the navy.  Few appeared willing to bother to find out what I could do, and no amount of detail on my C.V., would convince them that I had management skills, loyalty, proven recorded ability, and above all else, reliability and diligence.  Those who were remotely interested in me  found that I could not reciprocate because of location [re-location], pay and start time of employment.

For some inexplicable reason, and why, I shall never know, I must have flipped-my-lid, because I applied to Cable and Wireless Limited to join their company on a foreign posting teaching Saudi Arabians telecommunications.  It was everything in life that I didn't want:  to be away from home; to be in Arabia where I absolutely detested their people, and teaching arrogant and inferior students.  Only the tax free remuneration package was attractive, but material things didn't matter to me, especially when I was' selling my soul' for them.  In any event, I have already explained that I could better my naval pay quite substantially by getting a job at home, and more importantly, near to my home!  I went through a 'bad patch' searching my soul and continuously wondering why? why? why?  God knows what Beryl, my wife, thought deep down.  She has always been supportive and loyal, and it would have been a case of .....if he's happy then I will go along with it. I was most unhappy, but being the guy I am, I had given my word, and the forms poured in for me to complete and return to Cable and Wireless.  I wrote and received letters to/from my boss to be in Saudi who knew me in the navy; a guy I had always got on well with, so that would have been a bonus.  Then, I received my contract followed closely behind by my joining date and instructions.  The situation was now grave.  For two consecutive nights I tossed and turned and finally, on the third day, now fatigued and distressed, I decided that what I had signed-up for, had, at best, to be put 'on ice' to give me breathing space.

Neither Beryl nor I believe in miracles, but what happened next cannot be explained in any other way.

One evening in mid June 1983 [my final payday in the navy was the 28th June and I was due to fly to Saudi on the 9th July] the telephone rang at our home in Waterlooville Hampshire.  Beryl answered, and after a couple of yeses, she passed the 'phone to me.  The caller began by saying that he was sorry to disturb my evening and dinner.  My name is Ian McGeoch he said {see this page Ian McGeoch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Sir Ian, and I was an Admiral in the navy and at one time FOSM [Flag Officer Submarines] - the top boy [my words].  As soon as he said his name I knew that he was a famous second world war submarine captain and  I remembered him being in HMS Dolphin the submarine base in Gosport Hampshire at the time I was in between the Canadian and Singapore commissions of submarine Auriga, and was serving either ashore in Dolphin or at sea in submarine Grampus. An Admiral,  phoning me?  He continued that he had got my name from a fellow officer who had served with me who had highly recommended me, and wanted to know whether I had yet left the navy, and if so, was I available for employment with him and his company.  It was like being on death-row, being reprieved and having whatever discharge present I wanted regardless of cost or availability.  I can't record what I said, but I left him in no doubt that I was available and that I would respond soonest in writing,  to give my availability, oh!,  and of course, my CV.  Despite my elation at this 'gift from heaven' which Beryl and I enjoyed to the full, my sleep pattern was again disturbed, working out how best to tell Cable and Wireless that I would not now be taking up the position.  How sweet those first few wakening moments the next morning when I gathered my thoughts and realised that I was going to be a free man, free from the navy [which didn't necessarily suit my requirements], but most of all, free from my own stupidity and amazingly bad judgement.  I told Cable and Wireless that Beryl had a recurring back problem [which was true] and that shortly she would see a specialist.  The outcome of that consultation would determine whether I went abroad to work.  Some weeks before that consultation I wrote regretting that I was unable to fulfill the requirements of their contract for domestic reasons.  They were as kind in their regret as they were in their offer, so we were able to part amicably.

Admiral Sir Ian McGeoch had long since left the navy after a long and distinguished career when he and a group of business men, one, his son, and some with naval connections as wartime reserve officers, got together to form a company, which would be part funded by government grants and part by them.  The company, called MIDAR [Marine Systems Limited] - MIDAR meaning 'Maritime IDENTIFICATION and RECOGNITION' would first seek a solution to an age old maritime problem, and then steer the solution through its R and D [Research and Development] processes.  If those stages were successful and viable, sea trials would begin using selected ships in operational conditions.  If proven in such environments, then  manufacturing would be the next stage, followed by a fitting-out programme.  It was an enormous challenge which had an international outcome if successful, involving untold millions of pounds in manufacturing costs and the fitting-out process which would involve every merchant ship and warship in the world - a tall order for any company!  I was appointed MIDAR's Commercial Manager on a one year contract, the company's only employee!  When I joined  the company in July 1983, Sir Ian had already used his house address in Essex as being the company's Head Office address; had appointed a company  in the Strand in London to run the financial side of things [which included paying me] and which  became the address of our registered office, and finally, had secured the use of an officers cabin in the cruiser HMS Belfast, part of the Great War Museum and moored in the Pool of London for a peppercorn rent, as the company's Project office, a place where I could be contacted.  My very first job was to tour the second-hand office furniture shops in south London, all in Southwick and mainly in the long Borough Road areas, seeking a chair, a desk, one secure filing cabinet and one non-secure filing cabinet and all with an extremely limited budget.  The carpet came from my own home which was already laid in Leecroft, the house we were to buy in November 1983, and which otherwise would have been taken to the tip.  At the very best, this little  claustrophobic cabin fitted out by me as explained above, became a place where I could meet occasionally with Sir Ian to discuss progress, and at worst, it was a door [literally] upon which our name plate was attached.  There was a telephone, an extension of HMS Belfast's main exchange number so any callers had to be 'put through', and nothing else: no FAX machine, answer machine or computer.  Mobile telephones were in their infancy and often called 'bricks', an item not even considered by Sir Ian.  Thus the company was launched on a shoe-string budget and every now and again I would meet Sir Ian in the Belfast for half and hour or so, then he would take me for lunch and I would be back home by 5pm at the latest.

Throughout history, warships [before the established navy, these were often merchant ships commissioned as men-of-war] and merchant ships proper have always had an uneasy acquaintance with one another whilst upon the high seas.  Foreign merchantmen were vulnerable to attack especially those with a good cargo, when the spoils where sold and from the sale, prize-money was given to the captain of the warship who would share it out amongst the crew on a rank/rating seniority basis.  Even to this very day, when a warship has gone to the rescue of a merchant vessel in distress and the vessel is towed/escorted safely into harbour, the resultant reward money paid out by the insurance company/shipping line is shared amongst the crew of the warship as prize-money.  As Britain made the seas safer and wars became fewer and fewer, trade increased as routes to India, the Far East, the Americas and Africa were opened up.  The omnipotent Royal Navy had a presence in every part of the world and it demanded recognition of its explicit protection for safe passage to all neutral and friendly merchantmen.  That recognition became the exchange of flag/ensign saluting and to this day works as follows.  When a merchantman is about to pass a warship during daylight, it dips [lowers its national flag] in submission.  The warship then dips the white ensign [the flag of the Royal Navy] - warship do not fly the Union Jack whilst at sea - counts ten, then raises it again.  This is the signal for the merchantman to raise his national flag and the salute is completed and the ships go their respective ways.  However, the salute apart, the navy keeps an eye open on the movement of merchantmen, and during the salute, the warship would have used an international radio frequency to ask the merchantman  his name, course and speed [the navy would know its position], where from and where bound and sometimes, what cargo, all data received being recorded in the warships log.  Quite often the information received was inadequate or incorrect, but in daylight hours it didn't matter that the voice manning the radio was incoherent or that the reported course and speed differed from that which had been accurately calculated by the warship, and with binoculars, the ships name could usually be ascertained.  Virtually all merchant ships challenged  during daylight hours would respond, but during the dark hours this was not always the case.  It has always been desirable that ships in close proximity should know each others course and speed and intentions so that a CPA [closest point of approach] can be calculated so as to avoid collision situations.  Merchantmen do not keep the same professional watch [visual or radar] as do warships, so that even the best practices of naval rule-of-the-road can be frustrated or even threatened by less diligent and less professional fellow seamen. If an automatic system of finding these details could be designed it would circumvent the need to ask. 

That is why MIDAR was setup, to find an automatic solution to resolving the problem.  Were it possible, it would mean that every merchant ship in the world would have to be fitted as would all warships, so that no matter where, any ship could interrogate any ship and ultimately, safety at sea would be greatly enhanced.

As so often the case, the proposed solution was simple, although much too complicated for the casual reader.  It would involve the use of transponders and responders using radar frequencies, a kind of question and answer technique. 

Whilst Sir Ian was spending the bulk of the company's money on research and development with a company called PA Technology at Cambridge, I was asking questions about the likelihood of the IMO being interested.  The IMO [International Maritime Organsiation] whose premises, usually flying every maritime nation's flag from its roof, is on the Albert Embankment just by Lambeth Bridge, controls the worlds shipping companies and every vessel afloat other than warships.  Once inside, it is a massive complex of offices, conference and meeting rooms, and to get an interview there, was difficult simply because the subject I wanted to discuss was new and commercial, and therefore, had no appointed point of contact. I was to learn that commercial outlets normally lobbied their own government who in turn brought the subject to the IMO as a member nation. After some lengthy wait I managed just one interview and that with a junior executive.  Although he readily saw the need for such a proposal, I don't think that he would have had the clout to introduce the idea from within.  At my level it was a lost cause, but instead of it becoming an issue of great importance with the senior members of MIDAR to commence their lobby, it was put on the back boiler and as a team, we concentrated on testing the prototype which PA Technology had produced.  As a foregone conclusion, Sir Ian had asked the navy to assist by giving us access to Portsmouth Dockyard, in the provision and use of a small craft plus its crew, and portable radio communication equipment.  For several days, we used naval facilities in the Portsmouth areas with  a transponder sited ashore in the back of a PA Technology Land Rover, and the responder fitted to the small naval vessel, busy sailing up and down the coast.  As with all prototypes, there were breaks in our trial days when it was back to the proverbial drawing board, and thus the trial fluctuated with the senior management  showing signs of stress and impatience.  A great deal of time and money [including the government grants] were spent on R and D, and virtually nothing, except for my salary on anything else.  As we reached the ninth month without a satisfactory outcome from PA Technology, my position as Commercial Manager became less and less tenable.  Although I couldn't say it, as far as I was concerned, the IMO issue was just as important as R and D, for without their approval to sanction the fitting to all merchant ships, the exercise was academic.  At the 9 month stage with little or no progress, I was given a months notice and the contract finished 1 months prematurely.  We parted friends and on good terms with an excellent reference.  The company's one and only employee was no more! Thereafter, I didn't follow the company's fortunes, but they faced insurmountable barriers, barriers which were so laced with red-tape, that even if PA Technology had succeeded in achieving the aim, the IMO would have taken years to debate and argue whether or not it was really necessary to spent millions on a problem which was seen to be a naval, rather than a mercantile problem in the first place! [In February 2005 I discovered, quite by chance, a website which showed a similar coastal {but not a blue-water} concept in REAL TIME, where anybody can watch and track the worlds commercial shipping on their screens and it is all for free: ships download the internet via satellite communication so they have the AIS on the bridge screens. Whenever the Queens sail from and to Southampton, I track them down to and up from the Western Approaches. The system works because some years ago [but long long after my MIDAR times in 1983-1984] it became international law that all ships should be fitted with AIS [Automatic Identification System] whereby all ships when in VHF range of land automatically transmit their position, course and speed; their radio callsign and their movements/intentions. VHF receivers are linked to a central computer which collates these reports and maps them showing the overall product on the internet using many animated interactive map overlays to cover the world. Regrettably however, in May 2005, this magic website with all I have mentioned will be available only to the corporate world and at a cost, and we, the general public, will still be able to watch but with reduced facilities and a real-time tracking which will be at least one hour old before we are allowed to see it - the good thing is that the website remains free of charge to non-professionals].  The concept will be [and can be] extended to AIS blue-water {or deep-sea} by sending reports via SATCOMS, so when that happens the whole of any ships journey can be tracked - exciting stuff !].

So ended my first job with some weeks to go before I 'celebrated' my first year outside [naval jargon for civilian street].  I had been paid well and had enjoyed my first stab at commercialism, but as the only employee and with no real terms of reference, I had learnt little about being a civilian.  When I joined MIDAR we lived in Waterlooville Hampshire with no garden as such,  but four months later, in November 1983, we moved to Leecroft.  It was whilst sitting in the over grown acre garden at Leecroft, that the telephone rang and the result of that call was the beginning of my second career proper.

The following description will be, quite understandably, offensive to the modern female Royal sailor , who will quite rightly stamp equal opportunity and parity on most, but not all [submarines being a good example] jobs in the navy.    However, way back in the 1970's, the women's service, the WRNS [more commonly known as Wrens] did not have equality with men, didn't go to sea, and were not fully integrated with the Royal Navy.  WRNS wore blue coloured badges on their uniform and WRNS officers had blue coloured rings on their sleeves.  Apart from women doctors and dentists [who wore gold rings] WRNS officer's were not saluted by the men of the Royal Navy, but only by WRNS personnel.  RN personnel and WRNS personnel did have parallel training where the skill required was used ashore as well as at sea, but where a skill was unique to being afloat only, only male officers and ratings were trained. WRNS officers also had their own ranks [unlike WRNS ratings who held comparable ranks to their male counterparts] and a woman with two rings on her sleeve was called a second officer, whereas her male counterpart in the Royal Navy [with gold rings] was a lieutenant. Such a person whose name I cannot divulge, had left the WRNS as a second officer and was working  for a down-market security company called Consolidated Safeguards, [CS] based in Emerald Street off Theobalds Road London WC2.  Seemingly, after some time at the pit face managing sites around London with security guards supplied by [CS], she had been elevated to become the manager of Cititels a division of [CS] set up to address the so-called technical problems of these same clients.  The number one perceived problem was that of industrial espionage [eavesdropping] and I gather that it had been sold to clients rather than the client requesting the service.  It was new and hot stuff with great earning potential for [CS].  Wearing the hat of manager of Cititels, she was dispatched to the USA for a 10 day induction course on the use of equipment to combat electronic interceptions, culminating in an agreement by [CS] to purchase several bits of equipment. She returned home as an 'expert' and set about building the Cititels empire. Since there were few people on the books of [CS] who were qualified to become 'sweepers' - the technical terms for people searching for eavesdropping devices and eavesdroppers - she had to advertise for suitable people with a technical background in telecommunications.  Apart from advertising in the national press, feelers were put out into ex-service organisations and into Territorial Army regiments [mainly Signals regiments] based in London, whose full time representative and instructor was always a regular soldier in the Royal Signals.  This trawl resulted in a good response, but not all who applied had a technical background:  one was a taxi driver and had always been an unskilled civilian.  No one from the female gender applied nor was the Royal Navy represented.  Hence, this group, headed by a non-technical woman where, clearly, 'a little knowledge was dangerous', a mixed bag of by and large technically aware men, and the newly acquired equipment from the USA, offered their 'skill' to the City of London and set about looking for eavesdropping devices.  They had a ready made clientele though not all of Consolidated Safeguards clients used both their guarding and their sweeping divisions.  Much effort had gone into setting-up the Cititels division and the former WRNS officer gave it her best-shot with sincere endeavour.  She and her secretary were the only full time employees in the division, and the co-opted men, who had full time jobs elsewhere [even the taxi driver] were used as required at weekends and on weekday evenings, the only time sweeping could be conducted because of its disruptive nature [movement of office furniture etc etc], and were paid an hourly rate for their services.  Their initial training at Consolidated Safeguards premises, was short and biased towards the physical side of sweeping [looking behind cabinets etc etc] much to the bewilderment of  those who had expected a technical [amps and volts] approach.  The training was inadequate from every body's point of view, and long after, was considered a charade!   What began as a good idea worthy  of commercial merit, soon ran into trouble because the building-bricks were not right, and little or no thought had been given to team morale or acknowledgement of the men's technical ability.  She was the boss and she had been an officer in the armed forces - moreover, she clearly enjoyed lording-it over the men.  She had trained in the USA and had brought back American ideas which were to say the least, totally unsuited to the UK environment, and considered by team and client's to be over-the-top [OTT].  The inadequate initial training was supplemented by on-job-training [OJT], and in the client's time which was not popular!  However, her two biggest weaknesses both came from her lack of understanding the technical requirements of combating eavesdropping, were eavesdropping occurring in the first place.  In their need to get the division up and running, her bosses at Consolidated Safeguards, who after all simply supplied security guards to sit in buildings, had failed to understand that they were dealing with a new core business, one which required management with technical qualifications and a detailed understanding of how the City moved information from one area to another.  In their haste, they created a manager and immediately dispatched her to another security company [in the States] who were providing both guarding and sweeping services to a neurotic, shoot first, [reds in every bed] American public.  It was ironic that the American security company had purchased some archaic and practically useless pieces of kit ostensibly designed to meet the threat of eavesdropping, and they had convinced this visitor that she should follow their lead and ship this rubbish into the UK.  The equipment was encapsulated into shiny modern metal boxes, but the technology was designed for the late 40's early 50's, manifest in the supporting technical manual if she had bothered to read it, and could have understood the implications of the purchase as regards the UK market.  Thus she nodded through the equipment purchase and brought home the need to set about making the UK public as neurotic and irrational  as were her American hosts. When, as so often was the case, she was advised by her part time sweepers that the equipment she was using was incompatible with the equipment being checked for 'bugs', she would not only ignore their advice, but she would impose the boss mentality and changed the emphasis towards the physical search,  accusing the men of not paying enough attention to turning chairs upside down to look at the underneath.  In the early 1980's the hourly rate for part time workers in London was approximately 3.00.  These men were being paid 9.00 per hour [albeit Saturdays and Sundays, and  with a full time job Monday to Friday, it is pushing it somewhat!] to cover labour, food and travel.  For that money they were willing to toe-the-line and they went along with the party whip  however wrong, for an easy hassle free few hours.  Quite naturally, that attitude developed into ridicule and indifference, and very soon, they came for the money as it were, and not to bother to seriously look for devices.  The modus operandi had to change to succeed but that needed a collective effort of all concerned and the men were not willing to give that given that they were treated no better that an ordinary security guard.  Clients became aware and the business did not build; some of the men became disaffected and left, and finally, the manager herself decided that it was time for her to leave and seek employment in some departmental store, for which no doubt, she was absolutely well qualified.

Like so many sailors leaving the navy, I was encouraged to have as many 'pokers in the fire' as possible when seeking civilian employment, and the one place we all headed for was the White Ensign Association, which like MIDAR [see above] was based in HMS Belfast. It was from there that Cititels got my telephone number and off I went to London for an interview.

The premises of a security company supplying security guards is a sad, dirty and run down place beset with the problem of supplying a guard NOTWITHSTANDING.  This led to witnessing an itinerate population of less than able people, the majority of them black and whose English was often incoherent and therefore questionable at times of emergencies, swilling around, working for peanuts in less than ideal conditions particularly when guarding buildings which were being built with no running water and sometimes no toilet even, for the bosses, who, without exception were white.  Every now and again, there would be a guard, clearly different to most of the others, and usually this man or woman was studying full time at university and working these dreadfully long shifts not just for the money, but also for the opportunity to study in a quiet surrounding.  After the Navy and then MIDAR I felt very uncomfortable whilst awaiting my host, the manager of Cititels, but nonetheless happy because in a few hours I would be on my way home and that whatever happened that day, or indeed in the future, I was certainly not going to make the same mistake of applying to work abroad as I had done at Cable and Wireless, whose headquarter building was just around the corner in Theobalds Road.  That near self imposed exile to the distant shores of Saudi Arabia and my reaction to my utter stupidity, was to serve as a morale booster to me in the times ahead, and when I became low and self pitying [for I really didn't like being a civilian - not at all] I would comfort myself and think ahead to a few hours hence when I would be home.

After a short wait, the manager greeted me cordially, and although we called each other by our first names, we had never served together nor had ever met before.  The job turn-over took two weeks, and I stayed in London overnight for about 4 nights during that period.  She left and disappeared somewhere into Oxford Street and I set about my new job.  Unbelievably, I found myself, again, the only employee of Cititels for during the change over of managers, my secretary had disappeared, and my requirements would be met by a part time secretariat somewhere in the bowels of the building - what a start.  I had an office, the use of normal business communications, a business card,  a company car and of course a part time sweeping team, some of whom I had met during the two week turn-over.  It was all down to me!

I have purposely avoided a physical description of the erstwhile manager for fear of being accused as sexist.  However, I have to say that during my first visits to our established clients, it was mentioned that expertise aside, they missed her good looks, good figure and charming ways and that my expertise would have to be "bloody good" to take her place!  She was a good looking woman, gregarious and a flirt.  She was also single [always had been], swore like a trooper and was, I am told, game for most things!!  Her passing was uneventful, and in keeping with human nature, bit by bit the stories about her came thick and fast.  What was apparent was that most of the clients considered sweeping "good fun" at best, and few appeared to take it seriously.  If I was to make a success of this job, I had to change that image of Cititels to cement my relationship with the existing clients and to win over others in the City who were not clients of Consolidated Safeguards.  My very first mistake  was not in my dealing with clients, but was an in-house problem.  Over several days at work and evenings at home, bright eyed and bushy tailed, I wrote a draft which I called 'change of direction'.  I am a professional typist [navy trained] and when at work, I typed my draft into a formal document ready for presentation to the bosses of Consolidated Safeguards.  I submitted the document through the 'normal channels' and sat back waiting for the world to change.  Not so!  Within an hour all six permanent secretaries plus the part time secretariat had gone on strike because I had dared to lessen their work load which "could have resulted in redundancies."  Although I apologised, and thereafter got on well with the girls some of whom used to say "here comes sailor boy", I was never forgiven and often my typing would be delayed unnecessarily even when marked urgent to meet a dead line imposed by one of the bosses.  I could not believe that a delay was acceptable but typing my own letters was vetoed - hey ho, the ways of civilians!!

My self typed document, 'a change of direction', was not well received by the bosses.  They were interested in business continuity warts and all, and if my predecessor had made it work, then I should continue in her footsteps.  Of course I would in the early days I assured them, but I wanted to build the business, and that meant a more technically professional approach with relevant equipment addressing UK and not US problems.  I told them that we had the necessary expertise in management and part time sweepers, and that collectively we all thought that with the right equipment we could prise ourselves away from the court jester's [cowboys] and God knows there were plenty of them - every security company had so-called sweepers!  Many of you will remember the rotary dialing telephone wheel, where a number 1 took ages to finish its course and the number 9 [3 of them] was chosen as an emergency number because of its short time to complete.  That type of dialing was [and is, where they still exist] known as PULSE.  The keyboard we use today, where pressing  numbers creates a tune, is called TONE dialing.  By 1985, London had a 60/40 split in favour of the modern TONE dial 'phone, but our equipment addressed PULSE dialing only.  Other pieces of equipment covering non-telephone eavesdropping were just as outdated, or so insensitive, that it wouldn't receive a radio signals even if the radio transmitter were sitting on it.  Calibration is of the utmost importance in all measuring equipment, but it was not possible to calibrate ours because it was constructed of out of date components with stability at best, described as 'wild' even when it had been switched on for some time and had reached its operating temperature.  I had a problem!  I could and would work hard at convincing my bosses that my predecessor  had not got it right, and anyway, I didn't have big tits and a nice smile, or I could increase business by conning the client into believing that one so knowledgeable [me] must have good kit.  

Throughout my time in the navy I had been involved with technical equipment used in the exchange of information in the telecommunications branch and navigation at sea.  What I didn't know about radio frequency, audio frequency, power outputs, antenna theory, signal processing, terminals, data transmission, satellite equipment, spectrum analyzers, power metres , navigation and navigation aids etc etc wasn't worth knowing.  That ability was proven and recorded for my bosses to read, and in addition, I had won prizes for modifying 'as supplied' radio equipments to enhance their performance over and above the original design specifications.  I had been communicating for a very long time in all parts of the world, and when not a sea, in a classroom/laboratory teaching officers and men the inner most secrets of 'sending' and 'receiving' messages for signals and for navigating around the world. It doesn't really matter that on the one hand we have a big powerful transmitter pumping out 1000 watts of energy to send a message around the world on high frequency [HF] and on the other, a tiny covert transmitter with 100 thousands of one watt designed to send a message a few hundred yards on very high frequency [VHF].  Both devices take some kind of AUDIO Frequency [voices for example - the ones you can hear with your ear], change it into RADIO Frequency [the ones you can't] and via power amplifiers and antennas [transponders] transmit the signal, overtly or covertly.  The reception processes are also the same!  In my first couple of months, I had taught myself the necessary and separate functions of all telephones sited at our clients premises and was fully au fait with the audio and direct current [DC] waveforms, and where used, the alternating current [AC] of the ringing systems.  I knew what could be bugged and what couldn't and where the 'tap' would be added for best effect and least chance of finding it.  I had kept my ear to the ground and had sourced several telephone eavesdropping devices readily available on the streets of London.  I had read, observed, tested, played with all kinds of devices and documents, and could demonstrate when asked to do so, any aspect of eavesdropping, radio frequency interference [RFI] and electromagnetic compatibility [EMC] and the special engineering required to protect equipment from radiating  intelligence, whilst in the manufacturing stages which is called TEMPEST.  I had all the knowledge required to launch Cititels into space; all I needed was some good equipment.  I had already impressed the bosses by ditching the sweep reporting system I had taken over, and in its place had produced a report pro-forma which by feed-back, was immediately liked by our clients.  I also set up a database from which the new pro-forma could be part completed before adding the specific client details and outcome of the sweep with findings and recommendations, to avoid eavesdroppers gaining the upper hand.  In short, I learnt a great deal about technical 'new' things in the first few months, and consolidated my existing knowledge into what was becoming a fascinating subject.

But still no money for new kit, and a continuing realisation that the bosses considered me as any other manager.  This led to problems.  Business did improve albeit slowly, and I attracted some new clients none of whom had used the guarding services of our company.  This suited me fine, because I could give them a service [pity about the equipment] which was not sullied by the grime of the other side - the guards.  I suggested to my new clients that our guarding side was down market and that they should look elsewhere for a better company.  The bosses were not aware of this approach, and only gently asked me to put in a good word for them - I was under no pressure.  However, the bosses decided to have a duty manager outside working hours and my name went on the list with the managers in charge of guarding contracts. I argued that since I already worked the occasional weekday evening and at weekends I should be excused, but they were having none of it - I was a manager and that was that.  Conscious of my battle with them for better equipment, but that I needed a bread-ticket [and ANYTHING was better than Saudi] I ceased my resistance and joined the roster of duty manager.  Needless to say I also stopped sweeping; after all, I couldn't be in two places at the same time, and one assumes that bosses would have seen this coming despite their insistence that I was just a manager.  Their response to this was that I should choose three of the part time sweepers to be team leaders, and then use them alternately to be in charge of a sweep.  From the beginning, this was a recipe for disaster.  Although I had brought a new type of management and understanding based on technical know how and appreciation for their knowledge and skills, the equipment which they so ridiculed under their first manager was still being hauled around various sites, thrown into a corner on arrival, picked up on leaving, and in between very little else except turning the odd chair upside down.  Now they were being let loose, not even company employees and left to their own resources not even supervised.  Bearing in mind that they had full time civilians/army jobs, Monday mornings usually brought demands upon their time to attend meetings or to get out and about so they were not always available to debrief me on the happenings of the sweep in order that I could complete the sweep report, and forward it and an invoice to the client.  Even if they were available, their reporting style, always verbal left out important things, or failed to tell me that a cup of coffee had been tipped into the Chief Executives computer, whatever. I compiled the reports blindly and it wasn't long before an influential director in a blue-chip company wanted answers.  I was hastily taken off the duty managers roster and resumed control and direct authority for all subsequent sweeps, so much so, that if there were a great number of sweeps to attend, I would receive a special bonus. 

Despite my continuing protestations about poor equipment, the bosses shut their ears, but did give me back my own secretary!

I continued growing the business and the reports and invoices went out and presumably, the cash came in.  I was reasonably happy in my job and I had certainly made many good friends within the company and in the City - clients and non clients alike. I can safely say that I had much support, but not from where it counts, and that I was well respected and generally treated by my peers as being something above a guarding manager, even though some of these managers were very friendly to me and didn't see me as aloof or a loner.  I am not the type of person who will  accept poor quality superiors without at some stage rebelling.  Had I been so, I would have had a chest full of medals for diffidence.  I ask nothing other than recognition for what I have achieved, little though it is, and to rubbish my achievement is to rubbish the aspirations of millions of men and women trying to get on by merit and not by connection, position or money.  I would bide my time, and if it suited me I would stay, but deep down, I needed recognition that I was a cut-above the majority of those who manage security companies at my level.  As the confidences grew between me and my clients, even those of Consolidate Safeguards in the first place, I grew ever apart from my bosses [superiors] who even at that late stage were still seeing pound notes coming out of Cititels instead of offering the City a service of real quality, fronted by a guy who knew his job, and, in fairness, was a credit to his profession well able to articulate the in's and out's of industrial espionage both in person and in the written form.  If nothing else, the City IS a bottomless pit of money for the necessary reaction to stop its demise whether it comes from Frankfurt directly, the Euro by referendum or from sabotage by industrial electronic eavesdropping, the latter, a long-shot I would suggest!

I saw the kindnesses of Consolidated Safeguards in allowing me to use my company car to travel from home to home without any cost implication to me [directly on payroll or subsequently on tax roll] a daily return distance of 110 miles, a generous and tangible gift, and if I am honest, what better recognition that I was a special person in their company.  It knackered me, the daily return trip, but it knackered the poor old car, which I used to thrash.  I regularly told my immediate boss that I would willingly forego that privilege  were he to honour my request for new equipment.

Why they stood their ground is incomprehensible.  I know that a woman, especially an attractive woman is an asset to any organisation, but to hang onto her every word and to choose hers against mine must have a hidden agenda.  Were the bosses in love with the manager of, rather than with Cititels?  We shall never know!

For my part, things went on as normal - why rock the boat for an uncertain and unsure gain?  After 6 months as the manager I had doubled the business I inherited and was doing pretty well from the bonus paid for attending all the sweeps I had won or maintained.  Leecroft during this period suffered and no progress was made in restoring this delightful Edwardian house and potentially beautiful garden.  My bosses had rather foolishly  decided that my lack of lobbying for more money heralded my acceptance of the status quo and that I had settled down.  Little by little they were informed of the defects on the equipment they had bought from the States but did nothing about it until everything in the arsenal was  now defective, and with no maintenance agreement with the supplier it was now literally junk, and very very expensive junk at that.  When finally reminded  of their predicament, panic set in, and they ran around like headless chickens.  It was the only time whilst at Cititels that I got the recognition I deserved.  As a technical expert, could I fix it, or did I know a man who could? The answer was succinct. No I couldn't, and the part time sweep team, many of whom worked for technical companies who could have fixed this old fashioned equipment decided not to co-operate, claiming ignorance and lack of technical skill.  Without the backing sought, this 'technical company',  born to a non technical and non caring mother was doomed.  To my amazement, the bosses had forewarned their clients who were using both sides of the business, that a major restructuring was about to take place on the sweeping side, and asked their clients to bear with them during the transition.  Thereafter, wherever I went, the clients would ask me to amplify my bosses comments and I simply told the truth.  The truth was that I was leaving because of restrictions denying me giving my clients a proper solution to their problems: so were the sweeping teams of their own choice.  At no time did I suggest that I would continue with another company nor did I hint that I would go it alone and set-up my own company. However, I did enjoy the uncertainty shown during many meetings called to discuss the future, and whether it be better to ditch Consolidated Safeguards per se and to seek a more professional outfit.   

We had many clients, mostly blue-chip but with government departments too.  Paddy Drummond, very sadly deceased for many a long year now, had been a senior officer in the Life Guards in 1979 at the time of Lord Mountbatten's murder/funeral.  We bonded immediately and  surrounded by pictures of his wife and children on his desk, he saw me as trustworthy and as of the same 'old school' as he himself had come from.  The day I met him over coffee was cordial but I could see that he was not well and somewhat uncomfortable.  Paddy was the boss-man of International Military Services [IMS] a quasi government department linked to the Ministry of Defence [MOD] selling British made armaments to the international audience.  They were based in Abbey Orchard Street just behind Westminster Abbey in central London.  On a post announcement of change visit, Paddy had quizzed me about Consolidated Safeguards, warning me that a government department  [quasi or not] could not tolerate such bad business practices.  He asked me outright what my plans were and I told him of my intention to set up my own company, but not before I had enough clients who would use my services and break ranks totally with Cititels. He told me that he would support me fully in this venture and assured me that any contract in force would be cancelled in view of the uncertainty of the companies trading position. Dear Paddy even went as far as putting this in writing.  It is really too difficult to say why the majority of the clients lost faith in Cititels or rather Consolidated Safeguards, but they did, and by the score.  The majority called me in for an update on their contract, and in just about every case, their financial/legal boys attended the meeting normally attended by just their security manager.  It became clear without solicitation, that I had proved my credentials as an able manager, a diligent sweeper and a competent technologist and that if I were willing to launch a new company and equip it properly, they would be willing to agree to a new one year contract to be renewed on merit if required necessary.  Where a contract had been struck with Consolidated Safeguards, the contract was terminated and due compensation paid, leaving the way clear for me to bid for new contracts without 'stealing' their business and thus leaving myself wide opened to litigation.  I left a free man and launched a business on fresh appeal rather than on old hatreds.  The Boss of Consolidated Safeguards, Peter Holroyd-Smith left me in no doubt that my warnings had  not heeded and that he wished me well for the future.  So, now two years as a civilian my second job had come to an end, and in July 1985 I started my own company Godfrey Dykes Consultancy Limited.

Godfrey Dykes Consultancy Limited, now sold and with a name change, was my baby and my nest-egg.  It had to be right in all respects and the ready made clientele had to be pampered and looked after, which hopefully through word of mouth, would spread organically through the City offices.  This is exactly what happened.

First and foremost, I had to put my money where my mouth was, and after complaining that we had the wrong equipment, I had to make sure that we had the right equipment and enough of it to meet the requirements of the biggest London sweep imaginable. So I set off with just over 50.000.00 which in the mid 80's was enough to buy a top of the range Marconi Spectrum Analyzer, a second Advantest Spectrum Analyzer, various antenna arrays used for RFI/TEMPEST testing, a top of the range ICOM scanning receiver, digital as well as analogue telephone testing and monitoring devices plus many other devices which would probe and test with confidence all aspects of the clients communication suite plus their entire  building infrastructure.  I can well remember the look on the faces of the part time sweepers I had retained when we assembled to sweep our first client Warburgs situated at the north end of London Bridge. Nearly all of the equipment would have been familiar to them for it was commonly used by the armed forces to do a similar job for national security.  Thus, we were onto a good start:  the management was sound and focused, the team loyal willing and competent and now on 13.00 per hour and the equipment sure footed, and perhaps more importantly, sophisticated enough to address the searches of some years yet to come.

For obvious reasons I cannot divulge all the names of our clients, but the contracts were plentiful and we went from strength to strength.  On average a blue-chip bank would offer an area of 20000 square feet for sweeping which would take five men four days to search physically and electronically. This, they would repeat, often four time per year and over a two to three year period, in this case a potential total of   twelve sweeps totaling forty eight days or twenty four weekends.  The men did well and so did I. I regularly reinvested in new and additional equipment the very hallmark of quality and technical awareness.  More and more, companies started to view sweeping for electronic industrial espionage as an insurance policy, and those involved in mergers and acquisition [M and A] work could offer a 'safe' area known to be free of eavesdropping devices to their clients where meetings of great sensitivity could be held with total confidence.  When a M and A client could not meet in London, the M and A Bank would recommend that we visit their premises to ensure that they were 'clean' so as not to undermine the security of the multi site talks.  These were excellent referrals and provided regular work in the provinces.

For the first few years, I used to give lectures to all types of organisations ranging from the BBC to Government departments, taking in universities, world class accountancy companies, insurance companies, loss adjusters, crime prevention organisations as well as to the Boards of the world's largest blue-chip companies.  I had always enjoyed instructing in the navy and was not at all nervous or apprehensive nor awed by my august audience.  From the lectures I met many people who were to become my clients, and from there, my friends:  it was also a nice little earner!

Whilst the majority of our clients had a sweeping requirement in London only, several had offices in Europe and it was not uncommon for us to fly in a private jet aircraft owned by the international company to work in places like Antwerp, Luxemburg, France and Brussels.  Some, typical of which were Scottish banks, had their headquarters in UK cities other than London and the sweeping team would fly by shuttle scheduled flights to either Glasgow, Edinburgh or Eire.  Apart from when flying in a privately owned jet aircraft where our equipment accompanied us from start to finish without subjecting it to customs or other searches because it was considered to be our client company's business baggage, the equipment always travelled by car separate from the sweep team.  This avoided the costly business of crating it for protection against rough handling, plus the inherent problems associated with shipping freight.  At the height of our equipment holding, we had 23 separate and cumbersome pieces, many of them extremely sensitive to knocks and bangs,  weighing over quarter of a ton which took a lot of muscle power especially when moved several times a day during a sweep.  It was also common for a company to have its flat[s[ or house[s], where visiting executives would stay whilst in London, swept on a regular basis.  In some companies this was extended to the private homes of its senior board members, and exceptionally, to the holiday home of the Chairman or Chief Executive Officer [CEO].  This we did more than once.

We worked for some of the highest profiled people in the land to protect them against eavesdropping, but, especially in the early days, we were also courted by people wanting us to get information from others by eavesdropping.  This was never entertained despite the rich rewards for being successful and on several occasions we tipped-off the authorities about the requests we were receiving.

At every opportunity, I beavered away to get first hand knowledge about currently available eavesdropping devices and bit by bit I compiled a database on how various devices worked; where and when they would/wouldn't work, the capacity for data transfer, their frequency, antenna polarisation and power output. In many cases I actually got hold of a device and could use it to show a client the effect of an attack on his premises/communications suite.  

After approximately 18 months of being in business in London, the client's I had inherited on joining Cititels were no longer treating the subject of eavesdropping as "good fun", but were seeing for themselves the realities of paying only lip-service to the potential problem.  In that same period I had decided that the best attack was to target directly the Company Secretary of a company or the Compliance Officer instead of the Premises Manager or Security Manager which had been the norm up to that time.  The first two mentioned office holders had the ear of the board and were more likely to see the overall picture of corporate security than were the managers who dealt with day to day operational problems.  However, since it would be the managers who would control and cooperate with the sweep team, it was always a good business practice to get them on your side, by sending them their own separately addressed copy of the letter.  That way one hoped that at least a director or a manager would react favourably.  

Learning the technical side of the business was easy, but I had to study and adopt new techniques to fulfill my aspiration to become a businessman as well.  Nevertheless, after a couple of years I had achieved enough business acumen to succeed and to avoid being swallowed in the rat race.  Although it was not obvious at first, companies were beginning to trust and consult with 'little' companies like mine, sweep companies which were not attached in any way to security companies offering guarding services.  They wanted specialists, masters of their trade and not jacks of all trades.  They also wanted a highly personal service from a trustworthy source for they rightly believed that their secrets were their crown jewels.  What better than an ex navy man with a proven and provable record of expertise in the field of telecommunications, of character and efficiency records and who had been the leader of the coffin bearers for a member of the Royal family.  I was hungry for their business but didn't show it, explicitly enthusiastic and eager to please, inform and assist employing perspicuity to  would-be clients. When I had won them over and had entered into a contract, I brought along a team who had self discipline, were always clean tidy smart sober and punctual, clearly able to use the highly sophisticated equipment which was uniformly bagged in covers bearing the company logo.  At all times I encouraged the client to observe our procedures and when time permitted, I would set up a demonstration and talk to [not down to] the client using ordinary non-technical English so he could understand what he was observing.  I can never remember an occasion where the client didn't appreciate being treated in this manner, and many admitted to actually enjoying the experience.  Virtually all related their experience to other city colleagues when recommended us to other companies.  So the business grew in a most pleasing way and many friendships were struck and are still in place today.

Whilst I was always conscious that I had more to offer than the navy allowed me to do, I regularly pinched myself and reflected upon my good luck.  

On the other side of the business-coin, client attitudes ranged from the astute hands-on type of director/manager who watched our every move, attended every sweep, asked every question [relevant or otherwise] to the director/manager who really objected to turning out in his own time at weekends [or evenings/nights sometimes] and either appointed a representative to attend in lieu, or left instructions in an envelope with the necessary keys and combinations at the security guards position.  Whether accompanied or not, our unrestricted access to all areas and all things in the pursuance of our search, gave us an unprecedented and extraordinary depth of  view into  the most sensitive subject matter imaginable.  Had we had the necessary skill of interpretation of financial data, I am sure we could have benefited hugely on the stock market.  We saw staffing plans on which were the names of those who were due to be made redundant in the coming weeks.  Pay slips which were incomprehensible having such entries as 2M bonus, on top of a 250K salary and share options of 20K each at 13 each, a total yearly gross income of 2,510000.00  Letters to and from companies which even to the untrained eye, were dynamite in the wrong hands.  Personal 'things' which would have brought untold embarrassment to the office incumbent were they to know that we had seen the contents of their drawer.  Money swilling around in drawers and on desk tops, in coinage and notes, amounting collectively to large amounts of money, placed there for safe keeping but without accountability or care suggesting that they have too much anyway and the odd 50 or so was of no consequence.  We saw many things which we should not have seen, but we had a code of honour and implicit trust with our client not to divulge any information, and we had signed an explicit confidentiality clause as an integral part of the contract.  Thus, at best, I can only generalise.  The client attitudes mentioned in the first line of this paragraph were to become important in that it was far more difficult for me to motivate the men when a laissez faire attitude was taken by the client than it was when the client was present and focused.  There were many examples of 'focused' directors/managers but the best example has to be the BBC, and since both of these gentlemen have long since departed from Broadcasting House, I will mention their names and a very special situation whereby the shrewd alertness of Bob Hodder, saved a potentially disastrous situation from developing.

Very early in my second career [just like that with Paddy Drummond of IMS [see towards the top of this page]], I cemented, on technical merit, a good working relationship with a Brigadier who had been a JIMMY. JIMMY is the proud badge of the Royal Signals Regiment and a sister to our very own and proud Communications Branch plus the equally proud and equally  important branch of the GREENIES, based at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, Hampshire.  Brigadier Ronnie Stonham was the head of security at the BBC in 1985.  He was an ideal and wise selection for this post because he understood telecommunications and had had first hand military operational experience in both overt and covert communications.  When we first met, the questions he posed and the answers I gave told of a mutual understanding and recognition of comparable skills which  put in place a commercial contract, but more importantly, an unwritten contract of trust in my ability and his confidence in that.  Ronnie was the overlord of an organisation which had in itself, many able and competent sound and recording experts, going about their business in the making of BBC programmes, both radio and TV, who were also well placed to turn their microphones onto their bosses in times of industrial upset and dissatisfaction, to gain information advantageous to their cause.  Ronnie wanted a counter balance in which he could match and out maneouvre their skills without  pouring petrol on fire.  I and my team were a match for the BBC technicians but the timing had to be right!  His skill in good management and his personal kindnesses to my company ensured that when he shouted go, no matter what the time of day or day itself, we responded and set-up the counter balance he sought.  At all events and stages, when and where necessary, we rendered the technicians impotent and the Director General [DG] and his Chairman safe to continue the planning of the BBC.   In due course, Ronnie retired and went back to his old Regiment to be the Curator of the Royal Signals Regiment Museum at Blandford in Dorset, a place he was best qualified to spent his days in retirement.  In his place at the BBC came Bob Hodder.  In the early days of his incumbency, Bob continued with me because of his turn-over notes.  We had nothing in common and to this day, I am not fully acquainted with his background or his qualification to follow Ronnie.  However, as time went by Bob became a powerful presence in the BBC, and stamped his mark as his own man.  He was selective and actively got rid of some contractors whom he felt were not up to his mark.  He questioned every contract and demanded a reassessment of cost and longevity of contract periods, and in my case, a demonstration to the board of what we had offered Ronnie.  I passed the test and our association with the BBC was assured for the duration of Bob's term of office.  We continued servicing the BBC and security managers came and went, sadly, seeing the passing of managers we had known in City banks who were our friends and who were now down on their luck: one such person, John Skillern, a delightful man and hitherto a helicopter pilot with the Royal Marines was one such person.  For a period Bob went low key, almost underground, and we continued fulfilling BBC contracts in Broadcasting House and at the TV Centre at Wood Lane in White City. I can remember vividly a film star - a female American - who was being stalked, asking for an assurance that she was not being followed electronically.  I left my home at 2am to arrive in Holland Park London to visit her premises.  I was met by her personal bodyguard and there I searched her apartment for signs of eavesdropping.  Nothing was found.  At 6am, on my way home, a journey of 50 odd miles, I received a 'phone call from Bob.  Bob was reluctant to say why he had called, but asked me to be available on the 'drop of a hat' for an assignment on national importance.  I continued my journey home, tucked myself into a welcoming bed, and fell into a deep and well earned sleep, sad, if anything, that I had not personally met this international film star, although I had met her personal clothing in her drawers and wardrobes.

I was wakened by Beryl asking me to take a call from Bob Hodder of the BBC at some unearthly hour of 11am.  You are on standby at a time I will communicate soonest to you - can you meet that and do you have the facilities? Yes, I told him and relaxed back onto the pillow.  At 3pm I was enroute to his office at Broadcasting House central London to attend a meeting.  People who do not really understand security, be it physical or whatever, cannot begin to understand what was to follow.  There had been a requirement to make a programme in which Diana, the Princess of Wales would admit adultery on the air.  The programme selected had been Panorama, a BBC topical programme with its normal  front of stage production team. The BBC was therefore given the job to record the interview and to edit it ready for normal time-slot Panorama .  However, there had recently been some mutterings by BBC technicians over pay and conditions accompanied by a veiled threat of industrial action and whilst the editorial team of Panorama was beyond doubt in terms of loyalty to the BBC, the behind-the-scenes  team, cameramen and soundmen  loyalties were in doubt.   To avoid the admission and the ensuing ugly bits being broadcast prematurely [either by word of mouth, publication in the media or by some kind of BBC recalcitrant behaviour] by the disaffected back-stage boys, the BBC needed an emergency change of direction to ensure the purity of the time broadcasted historic and devastating  event, would be met. The BBC therefore decided that it would give the original Panorama tape to a second company who would re-write the script without it detracting from the admission of adultery by the Princess.  Then, if the disaffected BBC technicians were to give details of their recording prematurely for gain or disruption, they would be left with 'egg on their face' because it would not  match the transmitted programme and would therefore be considered a fraud or a misrepresentation:  just what the BBC wanted!  Bob had heard of this subterfuge and had whole heartedly agreed with the change of direction.  However, he was devastated [literally] when been told of the address of the new outfit. "Have they been swept and do we know that BBC sound/recording personnel are not picketing the new premises?"  No, was the answer.  Bob set about addressing this problem.  He sent me immediately to the American company in Camden Town north London to sweep their premises.  Have you ever been to Camden Town?  On certain evenings/nights it is the busiest thoroughfare in the UK bar none because the whole area becomes an alfresco market.  After a final brief in Broadcasting House we set off to cover the 9 miles to the new venue.  It took two hours.  Now bearing in mind that the speed of traffic in London is 12 mph, this journey  should have taken hour, but such are the traffic conditions in north London.  The premises were swept by us but nothing was found and there were no pickets or disruptions of any kind.  The video tape was re-vamped although the original and hard-hitting centre piece of the interview was not altered or amended, and it was transmitted as scheduled.

Many newsworthy incidents occurred whilst sweeping high profile individual, like film stars, sports stars, and media stars, but they cannot be reported for fear of litigation.  However, paranoia was common place especially amongst Americans, and what was dished out to Wimbledon umpires, we got in double measures for our inability to find something which wasn't there in the first place.  Media figures were  sometimes masters at the game, and it was regularly reported that the boss of the Daily Mirror, Robert Maxwell, had had all his subordinates bugged to keep a tight check on what he considered to be his own property - time showed us that he considered the Daily Mirror pension fund his own property.  Still avoiding litigation, the boss at Harrods, reportedly an immigrant with untold and corrupt powers within, reportedly kept the daily confidences of his empire in check by employing a large force of ex-services employees seemingly adept at eavesdropping and counter eavesdropping procedures.  

We found some devices though not what the popular press would have you believe. The worrying part was that the devices we did find were of the serious type, certainly military in design and concept, and from either the CIA, MOSAD, MI5/MI6 or the KGB.  It wasn't too difficult to understand the results of demolishing the Berlin wall and the cessation of the cold war at which time members of the now discredited KGB and Statsi [East German Secret Police] would be prepared to sell their skills and equipment on the open market.  The receivers of this windfall were not necessarily commercial, but the IRA and their off-shoots, plus the many Arab organisations proferring the Islamic fundamentalist cause.

We were regularly courted by the spouses of the infidelity brigade.  Mainly women, but all comers, these were people who wanted their erring or estranged partners followed to establish liaisons.  I forget the number of cars I fitted with tracking devices [note, these are not eavesdropping devices] and mostly to no avail simply because of the mass volume of London traffic and the ability of an indigenous driver, hell bent on evasion, to circumvent the the traffic chaos.

Many things were 'thrown at us' but we were in a position to be selective and yet prosperous.  It was paramount that I should stay on the straight and narrow, and surprisingly, we were never seriously harassed by the authors of discarded enquiries, some from known 'heavy boys.'

The City was full of ex servicemen, many in quite influential positions - the likes of Paddy Drummond and Brigadier Ronnie Stonham already mentioned.  Just about every second contact was an ex serviceman and a sizeable majority were either navy or marines.  Not only did meetings/quotes/acceptances and contract come easy, but friendships were formed through our common experiences and esprit de corps. Such bondings tended to sideline the 'cowboys' who could not offer either a proven technical skill, the equipment necessary or the track record which was manifest in our pedigree.

Bearing in mind the time frames available in which to do our sweeping [weekday evenings or weekend days] the scope to earn vast amounts of money was curtailed.  Even so, we became 'top-dogs' and swept the board, earning the maximum possible, and no job was too small, and where advice was given freely and in detail to the enquirers benefit.  

By 1995, ten years into being an established company, I had a team who almost became members of my family even though they remained throughout part time, such was the bond between us: a clientele of the worlds blue-chips and largely on a first name footing, equipment which was behaving itself [although in fairness, regularly replaced, maintained and up dated], and a business acumen which suited my accountants, and the local TAX/ VAT departments. For many a long day, I left my home and headed for London, so that when I had to head for my local village and beyond that to my local town, I felt a stranger in my environment.

Now, at the turn of the century I am considering my RDP [naval speak for Run Down Period].  It is now time for me to start my third career.  I am already an expert, a much admired and envied grandpa [tongue in cheek !!!!!!!! - even though true!!!!!!!!!] and I am seeking a way out which will give me a reason to continue with my enthusiasm for life, but at a much lesser stress level.

Today, the 29th of June 2001, I attended a submariners rededication of their Standard in the former submarine base of HMS Dolphin in Gosport Hampshire.  It wasn't exciting, not by any means and I only met one old buddy, Roy Dixon - a fellow radioman in submarines but of the same rank [there is only one in each submarine] so that we never served together.  Roy, true to his calling did me proud as my host.  However, it rekindled my desire to be with my old buddies: to re-establish  the human links of years gone by, which I have neglected by being preoccupied with my business: years which I have lost because of commercialism.  Roy's simple but sincere and caring ways is in stark contrast with the aggression of business, and I much appreciated  being part of this laid back band of brothers.  In the city, such a laudable person as Lady Fieldhouse would have been met and courted by a courteous audience, but today, in the intimate surrounds of the submarine world, she was treated with that same dignity, but also with love and affection, almost teased and regularly kissed on both cheeks by men who hold her dear husbands memory in profound respect.  God bless you Lady Fieldhouse, for you were the loyal spouse of a man who more than many, stood out above all others in the submarine fleet and in the fleet at large.  His name was Admiral of the Fleet, The Lord Fieldhouse of Gosport.