Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated August 2008

Lettters to the Editor
From John Anderson

With just a year to go to the next Nevil Shute Conference, planning has been underway for a while and we have just launched a website for the Conference at .At the moment there is just a single page which has links to the venue chosen and to York tourist attractions. The site will develop as planning progresses and will include an online booking form plus information on getting to York to help you plan your visit.

So whether you're a first timer or a veteran of previous Conferences, you will all be very welcome

John Anderson, Conference Manager UK2009.

From Mike Blamey:

I am an individual, probably unique, who was, albeit not family, actually "touched" by NSN (I was 6 months old and almost certainly asleep ) when he came with father to visit our house near Portsmouth for supper in 1941.

Apropos Shute sequels. I have had a lovely correspondence exchange with Subra following his last suggestion. He very kindly offered a critique of a few short pieces of "my" writings: and I have taken on board his views. If appropriate I would be happy to share them with you.

I note the comments about copyright and sequels: my intention was and still is to try to write in Shute's style but using the detailed knowledge of textiles, textile machinery (as wide a field as Shute's knowledge of aviation) gained in a 45 year career in such as the basis of my theme. Adding characters and situations with which I am very familiar in just the same way as Shute did so masterfully.

More to follow

From James Fricker

When Runagate becomes available to fans, I would love to sail on her as a crew. Anyone else interested?

I used to race on Fiji Express, an Adams 13 (46 footer). Return from one race was forecast 40 knots reducing, but was in fact 50 knots on the nose for 20 hours, across Australia's Bass Strait (a home turf of Nevil Shute), with the mast touching the water four times even though we had the storm jib and a triple reef on the main sail, such was the roll of the huge cross-swell. We even had one crew up the mast at one stage to correct a rig failure. Our brilliant skipper was on the helm and I was on the main through the night, with other crew under hatch below. These days I mainly windsurf.

Cheers, James Fricker, Melbourne

Editor: After visiting Runagate in January 2007, Mike Meehan, John Anderson and I decided that Mike Meehan should try to keep in touch with the owner of Runagate. Mike's last email to Barry, the owner of Runagate, was on June 13. Barry didn't respond until July 16. Here is his email to Mike:

Hi Mike

Sorry I have just picked up your email (I dont check it very often)

My plans are still a bit up in the air regarding Runagate but I have at least started to do some work on her. I am removing the spray screen which is obviously not original and looks completely wrong. I am hoping to build a small wheelhouse at some point however this is a very tricky operation due to the mast passing through the cockpit and the gaff sail on the foremast needing clearance just in front of the mast, further complicated by the companionway. I think that I have come up with a compromise design that will look right and not involve changing anything else. I know some Hillyards were built with wheelhouses and I would like to see some before I go ahead but I think they may have had Ketch rig's

Hope is all ok with you

regards Barry

Editor: So contrary to what I wrote last month, Runagate is not for sale at the moment. Instead work is going on on her. Good news.
From Paul Spoff

I've still got my Christmas present, "The Seafarers," unread. I really do hate to read it, it's my LAST book. Do others feel the same way?

Paul Spoff

Editor: I emailed to Paul that he should read the book. I had the same feeling as he has, didn't want to start, because it would be the last book of Nevil Shute that one would read without having read it before. Still I read it, and while reading was thinking all the time, "I wish that this book would never end". It ended of course and it is a beautiful book. So I urge anybody that has not yet read "The Seafarers" to do so.

Paul emailed again:

OH MY GAWD---Wow, what a read. It took me two days for an hours worth of reading. I slowly read and savored every word. I can hardly wait till I can read it again. It's possible that some of our members have not read The Seafarers as of yet, it was worth the wait, BUT IT NEEDS TO BE READ. I can easily see how this could have been the first third of a much longer story.

When I got to the part when one of their friends treated them to dinner because of his buying a boat with 380 gallons of petrol, I didn't know whether to cheer or weep.

When I was about three, during the War, my mother and my brother had to go to De Kalb Illinois, our original hometown. It was snowing, (NOT THAT I WAS COGNIZANT OF IT) and as luck would have it, we ran out of gas/petrol. We trudged half a mile in the snowy northern Illinois vast farm land to a gas station general store. There were several farmers in the store sitting around a pot bellied stove to ward off the winter cold.

Mother explained the situation and also stated that she hadn't enough gas ration stamps for any more gas. One of the farmers spoke up and said, "Aint you that Pratt girl from De Kalb?" Mother answering yes was then told, "Well, you went to school with my daughter Becky." He then proceeded to give her several pages of gas stamps. It was deemed that farmers could get all the gasoline that they wished for the war effort. Then with another man they went and retrieved and filled up our car and saw us safely on our way. The stamps lasted us to the end of the war.

I can see the BBC, the people who do FOYLE'S WAR, doing a nice two hour movie on THE SEAFARERS. The girl that was the "farm wife" in the next to the last episode would be perfect for the part of Jean. I don't have a clue as to a Donald though.

The way they do FOYLE'S WAR, it's like taking a trip back in time. I'm sure they could capture the flavor of THE SEAFARERS.

I do urge those who have not read The Seafarers, to do so as soon as possible. Wishing all a great rest of the summer.


From Bob King

Recently on an Alaskan cruise we met a couple from Melborne. When I asked if he knew of Shute he replied that years ago he'd run a taxi service in Melborne and one of his regular passengers was Shute's secretary of many years. I told him of the Shute Foundation and asked him if he'd mind corresponding with any of us about stories of Shute. He said he'd be glad to and gave me his card.

Editor: I have contacted this person and asked him if he maybe had some anecdotes for us. Lets wait and see.
From Brian Wickland

I am particularly interested in NSN's wartime activities and have read with great interest those contributions your readership over the past two years. Query: Surely there must be broadcast recordings of the voice of NSN: would it be possible for a GB-based member to check with the BBC?

Editor: Would it be possible for a GB-based member to take this up?
From Cedric D

Instead of sequels, let's think of inheritors...

I believe that those who miss a new Shute novel could find satisfaction with Clare Francis, perhaps Cormac McCarthy, Len Deighton, for examples. I remember "Goodbye Mickey Mouse", "Piece of Cake", "Aces High", "Danger: UXB", and "The Shepherd" as having special impact.

At a certain stage in my life, I went in for mystery writers, such as the John D. MacDonald: Travis McGee series, Sjowall & Wahloo: Inspector Beck series, and Nicolas Freeling: Castang series. (And Van der Valk series)

I recently purchased "South Pacific" and watched it for the first time. I would suppose Shute readers would enjoy the Mitchener original stories.

Editor: Great idea, I myself also like Michener very much. And if you like sailing, how about "We didn't mean to go to Sea", from Arthur Ransome. A childrens book, but still.


The newsletter is late this month, as I have been away to France for my holidays. I'll try to publish on the first of the month in future. Thank you very much to all those people that have send me emails with good wishes after last months Newsletter. When asked to do the Newsletter I contacted Laura Schneider, and she told me that I would be in contact with many very nice people. She was right, thank you.

Joost Meulenbroek


Write in if you want your name listed and would like to get together with other Shutists in your vicinity.


Jim Wells lives in Lindfield, Sydney
Richard Michalak lives in Paddington, Sydney
Ruth Pearson lives in Adelaide
Neil Wynes Morse lives in Canberra
James Fricker lives in Melbourne


Joost Meulenbroek lives in Enschede


Julian Stargardt


Bruce A Clarke lives in Bangkok


Jim & Kristi Woodward live in Broken Arrow (east of Tulsa), Oklahoma, USA.
Priscilla Pruitt lives near Bellingham, Washington State
Bill McCandless lives in Joliet near Chicago.
Joy Hogg, Harrietta Michigan (northern lower Michigan, near Traverse City and Cadillac)
David B. Horvath near Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
Al Benkelman Warrenton, Virginia
Mary L Barnich lives in St Petersburg, Florida