The Tales of Flashover House – The Bombshell

It was as though Hiroshima had come to Flashover House. One could sense the desolation. Haggard faces were finding it impossible to smile, breakfast cereals were unable to pop and crackle, the sausages were attempting to conceal themselves under the bacon, and the porridge, which was a depressing substance at the best of times, seemed to have lost the will to live.

Whatever can have happened? I hear you ask. Well, it all stemmed from something Matron said as the residents sat down to breakfast. Without any previous warning, she came straight out with it. “I am going to do that RAE thing!” Big Angus, who can deal with doom better than most people, was the first to speak “Ye’ll be going to the night school then?” He should have known better than to have asked the question because he must have known what the answer would be. “No” said Matron, “not when I have all you clever gentlemen. She turned to G2.

“Tonight, after dinner, when I have finished the dishes, you can come to my room and give me my first lesson.” “He wouldn’t know a transistor if he fell over it.” muttered a sniper from over by the sideboard as soon as Matron was out of earshot. “There should be a law against women being radio hams. They talk in squeaky voices and get extra S points.” complained Rees Morgan.

Later, when Matron was at the shops, the hams held a council of war. “If she gets her ticket,” said Weasel, “All our meals will be late, that’s if we get anything to eat at all.” “I’ve been thinking.” said the senior G2 who reckoned to come up with a bright idea about every ten years. “We will have to give her all the wrong answers and then she won’t pass.”

There was a gasp from the others, they knew that their leader would steer them to victory, and it sounded so simple. So when G2 went to open the batting, in response to Matron’s beckoning finger, they watched him with feelings of pride. An infant of 67 over in the corner even started to cheer and had to be restrained.

An hour later , when G2 emerged from the lesson, they clustered round to see how he got on. “Not bad at all” said G2 “We have been doing condensers and resistors in series and parallel, but, of course, at my age I may have got them the wrong way round. Anyway, Matron and I have worked out a training programme. Rees Morgan is doing the DC mains transformer, Angus is down for the tripole antenna, one of you young G7s can tell her about packet and meteor scatter, and, for you Weasel, it is the plum job. You can give Matron her first lesson on soldering ICs with a blow-lamp.”

There were cries of dismay from all concerned. “Don’t worry,” said G2 “I am only joking. I had a nice chat with Matron and she told me that she only wanted to take the RAE because she thought it would please us. I was quite touched to be honest. I explained that we are, in the main, a bunch of doddering old fools with failing memories, (I believe she is already aware of this!) and that if we had to take the exam, now that valves have almost disappeared, the chances are that we would not do very well. I told her however that we would send away for the book on how to pass the RAE and help her all we can. “Yon man has gone soft in the heed”, said Angus, but there was something about the way he clapped G2 about the shoulder which suggested that he approved.

The RAE book arrived a few days later, and with it came a more relaxed atmosphere at Flashover House. Somehow, Matron had become one of the boys. She delighted in asking the ancient ones specimen questions from the back of the book and doubled up with laughter at their replies. Meal times, which had hitherto been the occasion for grim prophecies about the weather, now reached a higher intellectual plane. There were discussions about the specific gravity of the brown Windsor soup, the resonant frequency of the rhubarb, and the insulating properties of the tapioca.

At last the day of the exam arrived and the old hams waved a very nervous Matron off in her taxi. In spite of their previous misgivings, they all wished her well. On her return they all gathered round to hear the best or the worst. “Well,” she said, “I could make a reasonable guess at about a quarter of the answers but then I dried up. It was then, I am ashamed to say that I decided to cheat. It says in the rules that text-books are not allowed in the examination room, but it doesn’t say anything about hat-pins, so I took mine out, concealed it beside my pen, closed my eyes and stabbed the answer boxes on the paper. Was this really dreadful of me?” The hams all agreed that, in a similar situation, and if they had been blessed with enough hair to conceal a hat-pin they would have done just the same.

All that remained was to wait the three months required for the computer to mark the papers, but eventually, there it was – the self-addressed envelope on the door-mat. Matron tore open the flap and looked at the contents with disbelief. “One pass and one credit!”, “We’ll have that hat-pin of yours mounted and put in a glass case, laughed Rees Morgan. “We will celebrate tonight” shouted Matron “Double treacle pudding all round!” The application for the licence was completed and posted without delay, then, three days later, a small parcel arrived for Matron. She opened it and inside was a 2 metre hand-held complete with spare battery and charger. Also included was a card saying “To Matron from the boys.” She looked at their smiling faces. “You are all so very kind.” she said. “Kindness ain’t nothing to do with it.” said Weasel we got it so that when you’re walking round the Co-op, you can call us and ask us what we would like for tea.” “Right,” said Matron pulling herself together, “Let’s see about this Morse. G2 has just told me that A is “dah dit dah”, but I don’t believe everything he tells me.”

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Month on the Air - G3MGQ's popular monthly DX contest/expedition list.
Wilf Gaye Memorial Cup - The clubs annual operating event in the memory of Wilf Gaye M0GYE.
St. Richard's College Buildathon/STEM/ARISS - HERC attends St. Richard's Catholic College for their various events surrounding the Tim Peake ARISS contact.
G3BDQ - John Hey's Rare QSL Cards.
Sussex Electronics Radio Fair - SERF Sussex Electronics Radio Fair 2016.
Vital Spark - A selection of articles re-published from the Vital Spark.
RSGB News - Find out how to get RSGB news on your mobile or PC.
Experimenters Corner - A selection of Proteus projects by Bob Gornal (G7DME)
BBADL - Bath Based Distance Learning Course.
Conquest Hospital Radio - Presented by HERC member Antony (G4CUS).
Radio Rallies 2016 - An up to date list of radio rallies scheduled for 2016.
Club QSL Cards - A selection of QSL cards the club has received over the years.
Other Newsletters - Excellent newsletters and magazines from other clubs.
TX Factor episodes - Take a look at the TX Factors YouTube videos.
John Taplin - A bio of the late John Taplin.

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