The Tales of Flashover House – The Visitor

In the quiet backwaters of a small south coast town, snuggling cosily within a veil of badly-hung wire aerials is Flashover House the home for aged and discarded radio hams. Some of the inmates have been deposited in this home by unfeeling relatives at the end of their tether, while others have been left on the doorstep at dead of night, nestling in tea-chests half filled with old tuning condensers and QSL cards.

In charge of the home is a 20 stone female known simply as “Matron”. No one, so far, has dared to ask her real name. She has no medical qualifications but she does have the ability no purchase liquid paraffin and senna pods at trade price. It takes a brave man to complain of constipation in this establishment!

All the residents have their own bed-sits (or bed-shacks) with their call-signs on the door. Seniority is strictly by call-book order, and the head man is a rather antique G2 who keeps an assortment of resistors in his waistcoat pocket in case he meets someone who wants to do a swap.

Angus the GM3 is a large man who seldom speaks and works solely on CW. This is due to an unfortunate experience he had in the late 1940s. Apparently he said “Good-morning” to a complete stranger in his home-town of Aberdeen, and the next thing he knew, the man had sold him a raffle ticket.  Rees Morgan is a larger than life GW who claims, that when he was in his prime, he almost lost his licence with an inebriated rendering of Men of Harlech on 20 metres.

The one they call Weasel is a bit of an enigma. He is a mid G4 and the others don’t really trust him. They suspect that he enhances his signal reports on incoming QSL cards, which offends the code of honour and upsets those who hadn’t thought of it first.  There is a communal lounge to which the hams retreat when the sunspots are a bit thin on the ground. On these occasions they usually sit in a circle and lie about DX. On a recent occasion, however, one of them had some disturbing news.

“My sister is coming to see me” said Rees Morgan, right out of the blue. “Not your sister Blodwen from the Rhonda?” squeaked a terrified G2 from over in the corner.”  “Yes” admitted Rees Morgan.”

“But she is a tyrant” complained the G2. “The last time she was here she made us all wash our feet, and it wasn’t even Christmas” said big Angus, the bitterness of the memory causing him to break his vows of silence. Soon other voices were joining in and expressing their anxiety.

“What are we going to do?” “Let’s pretend we’re not in when she calls.” “She will see us through the window.”  “We’ll hide under our beds.”

“I have a bad leg.”

“Then hide in the wardrobe.”, “If we all hide, Matron will let her in.”  “I will take Matron to the pictures that will keep her out of the way!”

There was silence and all eyes turned, with a touch of reverence, to the Weasel, who had made that last remark. Surely, this type of bravery had gone out of fashion with the charge of the Light Brigade. Weasel basked in the adulation for a few minutes, and then brought them back to earth.

“I will need one and ninepence.”  “There is no such thing as one and ninepence anymore.” said the G8 with two suffix letters who knows all about financial matters “You will need about £4.”

“Make it a fiver.” said Weasel, ever the opportunist, “She might want a choc-ice.”

They looked in the paper to see which of the two local cinemas offered the most suitable fare, and settled for a light musical comedy in which, in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, a multi-headed creature from the sea-bed was roaming the earth devouring the survivors. It was said to have some nice catchy tunes.

On “B” for Blodwen day the plans all took shape. Weasel and Matron were despatched to their cultural feast, a look-out was positioned behind the lace curtains and there was a general air of excitement. When Blodwen was sighted at the entrance to the drive, the signal was given; they scrambled into their various hiding places and lay still.

She pushed aside the radials of a 10 metre vertical to give herself access to the door-bell and gave a long ring. No reply. She rang again and still no reply. The ancient hams were beginning to scent victory, but twenty years on the road with the Kleen-Ez-E Brush Company had equipped Blodwen to deal with this sort of thing. She peered through the letter-box, and, when that revealed nothing, she started on a tour of the windows. It was then that things went sadly wrong. The senior G2 who was folded into a ball under his bed, suddenly got cramp and shot his leg out of its concealment. Blodwen was on to this in a flash. “Come on, I can see you in there, open the door.”

Sheepishly they dusted themselves off and let her in. “What do you think you are doing?” she demanded. “It is G2s birthday party.” said someone with a burst of inspiration, “and we are playing hide-and-seek.” “You should be ashamed at your age, and anyway, if it is someones birthday, where is the cake?” asked Blodwen.

There comes a time when the only logical course of action is complete surrender, and this point had been reached. When Weasel and Matron returned from their night on the town, they could hear, from the kitchen, the sound of bowls being filled with hot water and, in the privacy of their own shacks, the defeated hams were reluctantly removing their socks.

Return to the index of Vital Spark articles.

G3MGQ’s Month on the Air

Prepared by the clubs RSGB trainer, G3MGQ, you will find the latest DX contests including the ones to shoot for as well as ones to give a wide berth. Why not download the latest edition of Month on the Air and enjoy your DX just that little bit more.

Become a member of HERC

Join the Hastings Electronics and Radio Club.

Why not join one of the largest and most established Radio clubs in the South East of England? Very low joining cost, and free for a year to new licencees.

Vital Spark Archive

Vital Spark newsletter articles

Take a look through a large selection of articles written by club members over the years which have been published in the monthly Vital Spark newsletter .

Used Ham Radio Equipment

View HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list..

Every four weeks, HERC's Used Ham Radio Equipment for sale list is updated on the site. Bookmark the gear for sale page to re-visit easily and take advantage of the used equipment on sale through the club.

Club Photographs

HERC Image Galleries.

Here is the official HERC photograph archive which contains multiple image galleries spanning several decades since the club was formed many years ago. Enjoy the images!

UK Amateur Radio Repeaters

UK repeaters

Click button above for full list, or a local repeater callsign below for info.

GB3EB 2m in Uckfield- Active
MB6EB 2m DStar Node in Eastbourne - Active
MB6RY Wires-X DigiGate in Broad Oak - Active
GB3HE 70cm in Hastings - Active
GB7HE 70cm DStar in Hastings - Coming soon
GB3ZX 70cm in Eastbourne - Low Power
GB3JT 23cm ATV in Hastings - NoV cleared
GB7RY 70cm X-Wires Repeater Rye - Active
GB7ES Eastbourne - DSTAR Rpt. - Active
GB3ES 2m in Hastings - Active

For a complete list of repeaters, head over to
the UK Amateur Radio repeaters list.

Popular pages

Get your amateur radio licence - Find out more about amateur radio licence training.
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.

Amateur Radio Resources

Other Radio Clubs & RAYNET

BSARS - Brede Steam Amateur Radio Society

RAYNET - The Hastings and Rother RAYNET Group.

HERC members sites

Sigord - Gordon Sweet
Hastings Radio Comms - Andrew Haas-Campbell
Hoofbags - Liz Costa