Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter March 2016

Letters to the Editor

FROM Alison Jenner

Nevil Shute weekend 07-08 May 2016, Isle of Wight

Dear friends,
  I suggest that we meet for a "Mini-Nev" weekend on the Isle of Wight Saturday 07 May - Sunday 08 May 2016. We need to avoid the busiest days on the Island if we are going to be able to get about. 
  I have booked some twin and double rooms at the Premier Inn, Newport, IOW for us at a cost of £86 per room. 
If there is a sufficient number interested in taking part I suggest that those of us from the mainland meet in Southampton and car-share on the ferry 
on Saturday morning
  Please let me know straight away if you are keen to take part so we can firm up our arrangements. 

FROM John Anderson

UK Book Group Meeting

The next meeting of the UK Book Group will be on Saturday 12th March at Yorkshire Air Museum, Elvington, York
The book to be discussed will be An Old Captivity.
Meet in the NAAFI at 12 noon.
See  for more details on the Museum, location, exhibits etc.

FROM John Anderson

The following email was send to our member Nancy Anderson: 

Official opening of Shute Drive, Frankston, 1st March 2016

The official opening of “Shute Drive” was held this morning, guests includedmembers from St Thomas Church, Frankston Historical Society, Nevil’s Godchild – Margaret Folds (Greenwood) and Local Langwarrin Sporting and Community representatives.
   I felt very humbled and delighted to meet up face to face with some of the lovely local Langwarrin community who provided information and supported me through the naming process.
   Nancy provided us with a heartfelt and informative speech which was captured by our media when she accepted the “sign-blade” from the Mayor on your behalf.

I have attached a few photo-highlights from today’s event.
Annie Flynn
Governance Compliance Officer

Editor: the photos will appear on the website shortly

FROM Paul Spoff

 Aviation Quote of the Day
"Try to stay in the middle of the air. Do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognized by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly there. "

FROM Charles D

An in-depth, detailed discussion of the current state of the Airship business.

The Blimp-Maker
Igor Pasternak, the C.E.O. and chief engineer of Worldwide Aeros, is fulfilling his lifelong dream of creating aircrafts that are lighter than air.
  A few of the airship engineers I talked to lamented the fact that, until 1999, when a compilation entitled “Airship Technology” was published, the only textbook available to them on airship engineering was Charles B. Burgess’s “Airship Design,” which came out in 1927.
  In recent years, the aerospace heavyweights Boeing and Northrop Grumman have developed airships; Russia, Brazil, and China have built or conceived prototypes, and Canada has designs for a few of them, including the Solar Ship, which looks like a bloated stealth bomber, with solar panels spread across the top of helium-filled wings. All are racing to be first to corner a cargo market that may be worth billions. Three projects are currently attracting the most attention: the Airlander 10, which is scheduled to launch next month, in England; Lockheed Martin’s LMH-1; and Pasternak’s Aeroscraft, the machine he first envisaged as a boy in Lviv.    

An interesting blog that brings up Shute

Go to the Comments and find “Mike Blamey”.   Kind of poetic
I hadn’t seen this before,  maybe others have???,%20No.2%20(2006)/25_Oosthuizen23.pdf

FROM Simon Allen

Dr Fopp writes a fascinating letter to us and I am sure that we all appreciate the time and trouble he took.
To the point: "Just a theory, but  I am surprised Nevil did not write a novel on the theme!"
I suggest that if the events were as suggested, that Shute would have never considered writing about them, even in the most veiled of ways. Those that participated in covert operations rarely spoke about them. There is a case of a man and woman who met whilst working at Bletchley Park - but met outside and did not know it. They were married for well over 40 years before they accidentally discovered that they both worked there. Other examples have come to light. My own father (RAF WWII in Night Fighters) did not speak about many things until in his 70s.
   Given that Shute felt so strongly about such matters, had his journey involved such secondary activity, my guess is that he would never have revealed it. Nor left any information to survive him.

FROM Julian Starguard

Chequer Board / Purple Plain

My 8 year old son and I went to Myanmar (Burma) for Chinese New Year. We went to visit my mother, an archaeologist, who is excavating at the 2,200 year old ancient city of Sri Ksetra, near Pyay between Yangon (Rangoon) and Pagan.  Myanmar / Burma is part of the setting for Chequer Board. So on our return when I saw "Purple Plain" a 1954 Gregory Peck classic film about a RAF pilot in Burma in the closing days of the 2nd World War, I had to buy it. We watched it last night. Purple Plain is based on HE Bates novel of the same name which like Chequer Board was published in 1947 and in part deals with similar material. We enjoyed the film immensely and recommend it to Shutists for its parallels to Chequer Board.

Like Chequer Board, a novel partly drawn on Nevil Shute's experiences in Myanmar / Burma in the closing days of the war, Purple Plain is drawn on H E Bates, who served with the RAF, experiences of a visit to Myanmar / Burma in the closing months of the war. Apparently Purple Plain is based on an experience Bates' heard about while in Myanmar.

Myanmar is rated as among the world's poorer countries and as a developing economy. But we loved it. The people are friendly, dignified polite, gracious, and have a sense of self respect. We did quite a road trip so had ample opportunity to observe driving skills and habits. And we witnessed the most polite driving I've ever seen anywhere in 47 years of living in Asia, indeed anywhere in the world. None of the frenetic horn-honking, aggression, or drive-as-fast-as-you-can that characterizes some other countries driving styles. Instead a well mannered driving style at sensible speeds and a tendency to obey rules-of-the-road. Yangon (Rangoon) suffers from dense traffic during most day-light hours and this climaxes during rush hour. But the traffic management system of fly-overs and traffic lights keeps traffic moving and even when traffic is barely creeping along or is stopped one doesn't suffer the incessant honking that is so common elsewhere in similar situations. Despite being low down in economic rankings, Myanmar gives the impression of a country with great prospects. I was particularly impressed by the irrigation system that the enables rice cultivation.

How long the charm of the country will survive the onslaught of foreign investment and tourism is anyone's guess but for now it is a wonderful place to visit. Probably the best time of year to visit is the Northern winter, say from November to February when it is dry and cool at night and in the mornings but hot during the latter part of the day. I'd suggest avoiding visits during the rainy season, though there is nothing like a tropical monsoon rain storm, and I love the first rains of the monsoon season and the smells they bring out from the sunbaked earth.

Best wishes to all for a Happy Healthy and Prosperopus Year of the Monkey.

FROM Tom Wenham

I know many Shutists share an interest in engineering and having just read the three volumes of the autobiography of L T C Rolt I can recommend these both for their coverage of  engineering in the nineteen-twenties and thirties and for the parallels that Tom Rolt's career as an engineer-turned-writer had with Shute's.    The three volumes, 'Landscape with Machines' (1971), 'Landscape with Canals' (1977) and 'Landscape with Figures' (1992) are available in a single volume as 'The Landscape Trilogy' (2001).

The landscape theme derives from the fourth of Rolt's passions, the other three being vintage cars, steam trains and narrow boats.    The landscape, especially that of the Welsh Borders where he was raised, was his great love and throughout his autobiography he recounts the struggle he had to reconcile his admiration for technological advances with the sure knowledge that they would eventually be responsible for the destruction of his beloved landscape.

Rolt was born in 1910 so he was a close contemporary of Shute.   He spurned his education at Cheltenham College choosing instead to to take an apprenticeship at a small engineering firm in Gloucester where he worked mainly on steam-driven agricultural machinery.   When this company went under he completed his apprenticeship in Stoke-on-Trent with a company building steam locomotives and where he also worked on the development of the first diesel-engined lorry.    On completing his apprenticeship the depressed economy made it difficult to find work and he became an engineering journeyman.   This ended when he and two friends bought a garage at Hartley Witney, which they named Phoenix Green Garage, specialising in vintage car repair and restoration.    Phoenix Green Garage remains a specialist in vintage cars to this day.  It was at this time that he and several like-minded enthusiasts started the Vintage Car Club and he was also instrumental in acquiring the site of the Prescott Hill Climb.

A believer in the dictum that when something becomes an obsession it is time to focus your interest on something else he bought a narrow boat on which he lived for several years whilst travelling the inland waterways across the country.   He was a founder member of the Inland Waterways Association that set out to resurrect the abandoned canals but fell out with them spectacularly over the ultimate aims of the Association.   From narrow boats his attention shifted to railways and he became a part of the team that rescued the Talylln railway.

Whilst Shute's career in engineering took a completley different course to Rolt's both eventually turned to writing as their sole means of earning a living.    Here again though Shute's and Rolt's writing careers differed as Shute concentrated on fiction whilst Rolt specialised in non-fiction, especially biography, his most successful being those of Brunel, Telford, Trevithick and the Stephenson brothers.

The autobiography is beautifully written and evokes times in this country when trains ran on small branch lines and the roads were empty.   Somewhat heavy on philosophy at times, Rolt acknowledged that life was changing rapidly and, more than anything, he rued the loss of engineering skills and craftsmanship as they were superseded by button-pushing machine operators and he mourned the loss of quality, both of the product and of life, that was the consequence.

Rolt died in 1974 at the age of 64.   The third volume was written as Rolt knew he was dying and he brought it to an end shortly before he died.   The second and third volumes were published posthumously by his widow.

I am now going to get started working my way through all Rolt's books. 

FROM Eunice Shanahan

I am very envious of the UK Book Group who have chosen ‘An Old Captivity’ for their book this time, as that is always in my top 5 for re-reading.  But this will be an incentive to me to take it down from the shelf and read it again.

We find it very frustrating that there are hardly any copies of his books to be borrowed from our local libraries, but when we made a request, they took some out of storage and put them on the shelves, and they were borrowed almost immediately.  Probably a lot of older people remember reading them years ago. ‘ On the Beach’ was part of the required reading in Queensland Schools, perhaps because of the setting.  I grew up in England, and only read it when I was reading all the Shute books I could find -  yet that was one I found so depressing I have never read it again.



Some interesting articles this month. See you all next month.