Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter July 2018
text only version

Letters to the Editor

FROM John Anderson
It was with great sadness that we learned of the death earlier this month of Kate Dawson-Taylor. I first met Kate when registering for the Shute Conference at Southsea in 2003. Her warm friendly smile made me feel so welcome, as I'm sure it did for other first-timers. And it was always the same, whenever we met at other Shute events. She was always genuinely interested in what you were doing and how you were.
Kate trained as a teacher at Homerton College, Cambridge and it was there she met David, then an engineering student at Sidney Sussex college. I feel sure that during her subsequent teaching career, many of her pupils benefited from her warmth, kindness and wisdom.
We send our sincere sympathy to David, Amanda, friends and family at this sad time.

FROM John Anderson

UK book group meeting at Farnborough.

As we were discussing No Highway, the location had to be Farnborough. Our discussion was preceded by a visit to BAE System Heritage Centre within the perimeter of Farnborough airport. This centre is an absolute treasure trove of documents, photographs and memorabilia covering all of the history of BAE Systems from boats to cars and, of course, aeroplanes. We had a fascinating 2 hour guided tour, hosted by archivist Barry and Heritage manager Howard. The 10 of us then repaired to the local pub for lunch followed by a good discussion of No Highway. The weather was warm and sunny, the company excellent, so thank you to all who came and made it such a memorable occasion.
Taking the books in order of publication, the next UK meeting will discuss A Town Like Alice, which Noelle Robson volunteered to organise. Date and venue to be announced.

FROM Beall Fowler
Our discussion of Pied Piper at the June 17 Tri-State gathering inspired me to compose this letter, which was published today in the Morning Call (Allentown, PA).

Having just re-read Nevil Shute's classic 1942 novel, "The Pied Piper," I cannot help but contrast the theme of that novel with what is now happening at our Southwest border.
In Shute's novel, an elderly Englishman, John Howard, makes his dangerous way through France as the German invasion of World War II proceeds, in the process collecting a motley group of young refugee children (three English, one French, one Dutch, one Polish Jew and eventually one German).
His goal is to escape with them to England and then to resettle some of them with his daughter's family in America. When asked whether America will accept the children, Howard assures the questioner, "They are a generous people. ... [T]here would be many people in America willing to provide for them. Americans are like that. ... They would pour out their money in a cause like that."
If he were alive and writing the book now, would Shute still consider America as a welcoming destination for these refugee children?

FROM James Fricker

I am wondering if anyone has copies of these radio plays in MP3 format:

Series: 238245
Summary: Upon learning he has not long to live, ex-army officer John Turner decides to spend the rest of his days tracking down three miserable men who had been his companions in hospital during the war and who had shown him great kindness at that time. An endearing story of an ordinary man.
Contributors: Nevil Shute (AUT), Richard Lane (SCR), Roly Barlee (PDR), Australasian Radio
and Television Productions (PDC), Grace Gibson Radio Productions (DSR).
Cast: Keith Eden (John Turner), Patricia Kennedy (Mollie Turner), Campbell Copelin (Dr
Hughes), Frederick Parslow (Phillip Morgan), Mark Kelly (Duggie Brent), George Fairfax (Dave
Label: ART
Episode duration: 15 mins
Episodes produced: 104
Broadcast details: 1950s


Series: 238772
Summary: Romantic story of a European doctor and his attempt to make a new life in the sheep-farming country of Victoria.
Contributors: Nevil Shute (AUT), Grace Gibson Radio Productions (PDC), Peter Yeldham
Label: EMI
Episode duration: 15 mins
Episodes produced: 52


Series: 239349
Summary: Radio suspense drama about when Theodore Honey, a ‘boffin’ with the Research Structural Department of the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, England, develops a theory that the latest British airliner, the ‘Reindeer’, will crack up due to metal stress, after running approximately 1,400 hours.
Contributors: Nevil Shute (AUT), Richard Lane (SCR), Roly Barlee (PDR).
Cast: Brian James (Theodore Honey), Terri Aldred (Marjorie Corder), Mary Ward (Monica
Teasdale), Frederick Parslow (Dennis Scott), Douglas Kelly (Capt. Samuelson), Kenrick
Hudson (Director of Farnborough Aircraft), Joan Harris (Shirley Scott).
Label: ART
Episode duration: 15 mins
Episodes produced: 52

Series: 239372
Summary: Radio drama serial based on the novel by Nevil Shute. An enthralling and heartrending story of the last months in the lives of people living in Melbourne, the only remaining large city in the world which has not yet succumbed to radioactive fallout which was caused by the Third World War which erupted in Europe and brought instant death to the entire population of the Northern Hemisphere.
Contributors: Nevil Shute (AUT), Richard Lane (SCR), ART (PDC).
Cast: Brian James (Dwight Towers), Robert Peach (Peter Holmes), Beverley Dunn (Mary
Holmes), Marcella Burgoyne (Moira Davidson).
Label: ART
Episode duration: 30 mins (15 mins)
Episodes produced: 26 (52)
Broadcast details: 1959- ; 2UW.

Editor: Reactions to the Jersey pattern question in the last newsletter.

FROM Ann-Joy Coombs
I have had Nevil Shute  books for many years , All goods yarn. Recently read them again with appreciation. a Jersey pattern is a thick jumper oiled proved as I remember, I had one in navy as it was fashionable  mine was  plain , but some had patterns  20 - 30+ years  ago. Having recently moved house the jumper turned up ! Alas too small. I did  hear that Neville Shute was turned down after his proposal, the lady was a noted painter & lived  near Petersfield  I do not know her name , But I think it was this lady that challenged him to write a book about an older person , rather than younger, I think that was Pied Piper?

Editor: That must have been Flora Twort

FROM J.B. Roberts
I believe it refers to a type of sailcloth.

"The first class of knitted fabrics is comprised of weft knit fabrics. Weft-knitted fabrics are made by looping together the yarn along the weft direction (left-right across the width as it sits on the loom).
As a rigger, the first weft knit you need to be familiar with is the classic stockinette knit or jersey knit pattern."

FROM Dan Telfair

Greetings All:
I had my 80th birthday May 6, 2018.  On that day, I became a member of the UFOs (United Flying Octogenarians), an organization limited to those 80 years old or older who are stil flying as Command Pilot (First Pilot/Captain, etc.).  There are something around 1,500 pilots around the world who have that distinction, perhaps the most experienced group of aviators who ever lived. I flew my first flight as a UFO Command Pilot on May 8, and my second flight a few days later. (I began my flying career over a half-century ago in 1962)
In my “prime”, I flew helicopters and airplanes in all sorts of weather, in high winds, at night, with passengers, etc. When I turned 75, I stopped flying passengers.  Since then, I have given up instrument (weather) flying,  night flying, flying in high winds, etc.  I decided to continue flying as Command Pilot indefinitely, but only by myself, (no passengers), daylight only, with clear skies and moderate winds.  Even so, I managed one last bit of excitement this past year when my plane experienced a mechanical problem over unfavorable terrain in the New Mexico desert.  I managed to put it down with minimum damage and walked away without a scratch - my third “successful” forced landing.  The Federal Aviation Administration official who reviewed the accident and the report congratulated me on the outcome.

I will continue to fly indefinitely, primarily over the southwest desert, as long as I am not a danger to anyone else.  I would never go willingly but, if one day my plane comes to a sudden stop against something hard, I can’t think of a better way to go.  (Remember NSN’s car racing in his final days?)

FROM Gadepalli Subrahmanyam
As many Shutists do, I was re-reading his novels.  I was reading 'Old Captivity' , for the umpteenth time.

When you do that, you cannot help but noticing some slips. Despite being a great human, Nevil Shute, was after all human.

Mayark, the Eskimo helper, was shown deserting the camp. Well, how did he go back to Julianehaab ? Apparently, there was only the boat and seaplane to carry people from Battalid to that town.

Secondly, when Aunt Jane received the second of the cables, by telephonic message, which was confirmed by a written copy later next day, it was written that 'she set the new cable up on the kitchen mantelpiece beside the one from Reykjavik', that night itself.

Please don't think that I am trying to belittle him or something. I only want to tell our brotherhood, how keenly we follow him.

FROM John Forester
  So, the next book for discussion is No Highway. That's not the first Shute novel I read; the first was Pied Piper, which I read in serial form as it was first published. Having moved (fled?) from England to California because of the war I was immensely interested in the Pied Piper story as what might have happened to me. Then, later, the next of Shute's novels I read, as an adult, was No Highway. I recognized that as real science fiction written by an authority on the subject, and it was a very human story as well. Good science fiction has to have one undiscovered or barely possible hypothesis which is fully developed in a fictional version of the present (or future) world to tell a humanly interesting tale. Shute did this perfectly in No Highway. The hypothesis that exposure to vibration collected energy that altered the nucleus of aluminium to weaken its crystal structure was, I repeat, not so far away from the unknowns of crystalline fatigue failure as to be seen as impossible. For the purposes of the story, one could believe it. (But of course, the energy to alter an atomic nucleus is far greater than any that could be collected in that manner.) The rest of the story, of how this hypothesis by a not-very likeable scientist filtered through the accident reconstruction boards, the other pilots, and the top ministries, and how the scientist took professionally courageous action to prevent flight by another aircraft that he considered in danger, with all these events collecting friends around the scientist to support him, is a heart-warming tale.You may note that my father was the novelist C. S. Forester. He wrote one science-fiction story whose plot was so scientifically defective (in the criteria that I mentioned above) that it would not meet the above criteria and would, had it been offered, been rejected by John Campbell, editor of Astounding, for that reason. In other ways, CSF was proud of having received a scientific education (as opposed to the traditional classical education), but it did not take as it should have. His descriptions of technical engineering parts of naval affairs contained many small discrepancies. Shute, on the other hand, was as engineeringly correct as it was possible to be, within the plots he chose to narrate.



A very sad message about Kate this month. She was a lovely lady.
Bettina and I have just returned from our holidays in the Ardennes in Belgium. As we were very close to the French border, we went to the french city of Sedan. There we found a lovely little second hand bookstore. We went in and asked the owner if he had any Nevil Shute books. I had to write down the name and he checked his computer. He had just one book. It was in another room, on the second floor of the building. The owner asked Bettina to watch his store and he and I went up. After some searching, we found  Le Dernier Rivage, which means The Last Coast, which of course is On the Beach.

So for just € 1,-- we have started our French set of Nevil Shute books.

From the Netherlands, where it is very very hot, see you all next month.