I did the invoicing the for chemicals side of the business, another girl Sibyl Howe did the invoices for the Dove Polishes then Marjorie checked them. We had no gadgets for counting up, it was all done by hand, but Dr Sieman was so clever he could just look down the page and add it all up, he was a marvellous mathematician, One day Majorie made a mistake, an invoice was £1,000 out, as the invoices came to thousands of pounds, it was an easy mistake to do, but Dr Sieman sacked her on the spot, she pleaded for her job, and then her husband came to the factory and pleaded too, but Dr Sieman (sic, Ed.) said that if one mistake had been made, then other mistakes could happen too.
One morning a large Jaguar car was parked at the rear of the building. On investigation I saw a smartly dressed man leaving our raw material store carrying a poly bottle. I questioned our storeman who said "Oh that is the Doctors chauffeur he had come to collect the Doctor's Teepol" He explained that he came every few months to stock up on washing up liquid. I replied that if it was another satisfied customer, well done and keep up the good work and left.
I remember one funny incident when I had only worked in the department for a week or so. One morning I was met by Dr Simon who was as usual taking his walk about to keep up with things. It as a custom which was always appreciated by all employees. He said "What are you doing in here?" I explained my transfer etc., to which he said "Well you had better move quickly because there is a problem right behind you" I turned to find a poly pump repeat filling with the new operative not knowing what to do. I hit the air supply and stopped it. On turning round I saw the Doctor some ten yards down the gangway with a wry smile on his face and with a nod of his head he move off. At the time I thought that I had passed my initiative test.
Evode was also where I met my wife (Clare) and its on this note and with her permission that I finish on this final story. It was on a Friday (The Day the DOCTOR usually walked round) that Clare and her friend Jenny were coming back from the canteen and Clare decided to run on and hide behind the Fire Door in the Stores from Jenny and then jump out on her just a childish prank, at that moment the Doctor came through and saw Clare and said to her "What are you doing" nothing else Clare's reply was "HIDING DOCTOR" no more was said but on passing Clare's friend Jenny she said that the Doctor was laughing to himself (how nice).
There were two cats on the payroll; Auntie, the factory cat who slept among the rolls of Hessian, and George, the office cat, who I once remember sleeping on the mat outside Dr. Simon's office. The doctor carefully stepped over him saying "Are you waiting to come in?" Happy days.
Greater than the fear of awkward customers, however, was the fear of finding the dreaded 'report to HS' on a letter in ones mail; the Doctor always read both incoming and outgoing mail during the early years. Failure to report satisfactorily in person meant serious trouble.
Dr Simon was a lovely chap, he'd been in England for some years, and they interned him during the war which was sad, he would come round each week, he never just swept through the factory he would stop and talk to everyone individually he must have been tired out by the time he got to the end of the factory
Dr Simon came through the factory, he said he hadn't realised that we had got married on Saturday, and if I popped up to the office later there was a present for me. He gave me a £5 note I though that my ship had come in. We bought a rug and a pair of blankets. He then told my husband off for not telling him that we had got married and he told him there would be something in his pay packet for him. He had a 6d pay rise. Joan Emburton organised a collection and I bought a canteen of cutlery.
I particularly remember Dr. Hermann Simon, the Managing Director at that time (sometimes called 'The Doctor' or more irreverently 'the Old Man'). He took a great interest in everything that went on in the company and was a frequent visitor around the premises. Sometimes this caused consternation and a hasty resumption of work if people had been talking or larking about. I recall one occasion when he said to us "Gentlemen, are you discussing chemistry or politics?" We hastily replied that it was the former as we had no interest in the latter!
His Green Internal Memo's were things not to be taken lightly if you received one, and you did your best to answer his questions. He had a special feature on the internal telephone system whereby he could give a long continuous ring (and I believe, interrupt existing conversations). This was the bane of the lives of some of the senior managers who frequently had their meetings etc. interrupted by his questions. Nevertheless, I think everybody felt that he was genuinely interested in the welfare of his employees as well as the progress of the Company and he would often ask questions to show his care.
It was usual for the hourly paid and weekly staff at Christmas to receive a bonus of a weeks wage. One particular year, a few days before Christmas a lorry was being loaded with cartons of polish, one of which happened to be dropped at Dr. Simons feet just as he was passing on his rounds. It was claimed that the bonus was suddenly halved at the last minute because of this incident, though I was never able to substantiate this. It could have been as the result of a poor company performance that year as was reflected by the monthly staff bonus I enjoyed in later years.
Our first job was to open all the incoming mail, separate into appropriate departments, and pass it on to Dr Simon who would read it all - and comment where appropriate!
He also required an approximate value of the orders received and cheques each morning. I recall one occasion he asked "how much money?" I replied "only £2,000", he said "What do you mean, only £2,000 - the difference between having £2,000 and owing £2,000 is £4,000" I have never forgotten that to this day.
I can still recall my interview, and strangely enough, enjoyed it. The only fear I had was when Dr Simon passed a file to me which contained copies of correspondence high-lighting all the mistakes! Can you imagine this happening
these days? Anyhow I decided to give it a go and I thoroughly enjoyed my 10 years (1958-68) working for Dr Simon.
It soon became apparent to me that he was quite amused by most people's reaction to him. He read people very well. I remember one incident when a male employee brought the mail into Dr Simon's office and he placed it on the wrong side of the desk. I can still see the 3 or 4 wicker baskets being thrown across the office!
During my time with Dr Simon, only one thing irritated me and that was he always blew his cigar ash across my desk onto my lap!
At Evode all mail was in fact 'vetted' by Dr Simon or more often by Mr Forman, who was a stickler for the correct spelling of 'Evo-Stik' and any letter with the wrong spelling was promptly returned to the sender.
Shortly after joining the Company I found myself involved in working on a number of topics, initially bituminous emulsions, then polishes as well as building chemicals. As Elias Peak was now becoming more and more involved in the production of adhesives, some of the experimental work was handed over to me. I can recall Dr Simon in a somewhat agitated state asking me to investigate a serious problem in late 1953 which was causing him great concern Considerable quantities of household adhesive were being returned due to the product having turned to a black colour in the tins. Mr. Peak was trying to minimise the cost of this disaster by recycling as much as he could and I set about the investigation of what was causing the discoloration. I found that a chemical reaction was taking place between one of the constituents of the adhesive and the iron in the tin plate container.
We used labour from our own factory as well as subcontractors for roof waterproofing, and until 1955 all large waterproofing contracts were inspected by Dr Simon before the work started. It was felt however that it was not right to have the Doctor clambering up and down ladders and over roofs at 55 years old and so he stopped doing this.
One has to remember that in the early days, because of financial considerations, every ounce of raw material had to be converted into a saleable product. Elias had the ability to take decisions often when considerable financial risks were involved to get products out through the factory gates. I (Barry Jackson) can remember him in the factory at Glover Street being told by the foreman that a batch of adhesive was slightly out of specification for one reason or another. Elias said: "give me the orders" and he went through them and sorted 10 or 12 out and said: " fill it out and send it to those customers, because they never test it". The failure here is, that Elias was not bothering to find out why it went wrong in the first place and trying to get it put right. It was unfortunate. that for one reason or another Dr. Simon seemed to have an instinctive intuition when Elias had been involved in anything which was a risk to the company. Barry Jackson recalls that we used to send the Hycar Rubber (used to manufacture household adhesive) to Universal Grinding Wheel Co. and they would soften the rubber by storing it in one of their furnaces for a short time. Unfortunately one night they overcooked the Hycar and next morning phoned Elias to explain what had happened. He told them not to worry, he would use it and to send it. When the Universal lorry arrived in our yard Elias looked out of the laboratory window and saw a faintly smouldering mass of charred rubber and said: "My god, I hope the old man does not see this". At that precise moment, by some unknown instinct, the window of the Doctors office shot open, his head appeared through it and a voice bellowed: "Mr. Peak come to my office now".
Now company cars were like gold dust in those days, - even reps provided their own car. So in order to evoke pity from Dr. Simon he bought himself this bicycle which had flat tyres and he solemnly pushed it from where he was lodging up the Eccleshall Road down to Glover Street, as he crossed the yard the 'Old Man' would chortle from his office window, "Wouldn't it be better if you bought yourself a nice little car, Mitter Peak?" Elias would push his bike sullenly to the shed. On this particular day, at about the usual time in the morning, I suppose 8.30, the scene paused and shimmered, demanding some plangent event to kick-start it back into action. It happened! A lone figure appeared silhouetted against the rising sun, Elias appeared over the horizon pushing this dilapidated bike amongst all this broken glass and Dr. Simon of course was still there and so was John Forman, all blackened, and the Dr. turned to Elias and said "where were you when the fire was on Mr. Peak?" and Elias said "what fire?" that apparently was more or less the end of his bonus for that year not knowing there had been a fire and not helping to fight it.
Such as the day I came to cycle home for lunch only to find my bicycle had gone missing. I spent all lunch searching every nook and cranny without success. Mid afternoon, Dr. Simon arrived on one of his many visits, walked into the factory and retorted in a loud voice "WHAT IS THAT?" Low and behold there was my bicycle secured to the roof rafters. "That's my bike, thank you for finding it" I replied. The Doctor saw the funny side of it, but it was never repeated.
The Doctor used to come round now and again to see how well the polish was setting, he didn't really stop and chat. His children were very young and still had a nanny called Rhona who had auburn hair. Petra went to the Madam Le Gatt ballet school in London and when I worked in the Packing Department I used to send the parcels to her which had little ballet tights, cardigans and hats. I used to baby-sit for the children at the Doctors house and go on errands, I was a mad-head on a bike then!
During the winter of 1954 there were snow drifts which were quite deep. The men carried our bikes as we walked along the fence to get to work, then they cleared to road for Doctor Simons car, they had just finished when the snow plough came!!
During the first few months most of my time was spent with Dr. Simon working in the Laboratory'. His office/Laboratory contained a desk, a bookcase, which he had brought over from Germany, and a wooden bench. A gas supply had been provided and this was connected to a 'Bunsen Burner' and a gas ring. The other laboratory equipment consisted of a set of weighing scales (second hand from a local chemist), a few Woolworths saucepans and test tubes, beakers, thermometers etc. The most valuable item of equipment was a set of German Hydrometers (which he had also brought with him) and no one but himself used these until he was sure they were in 'safe hands''.
The procedure he followed was to write his formulations in a laboratory note book using code numbers for each raw material
As soon as any raw materials were received at the factory Dr. Simon or Mr. Forman would rush out and obliterate with paint the chemical name and substitute the G Number (code number). Dr. Simon was very insistent that his formulations were kept secret and that Mr. Forman and I always referred to the raw material code numbers. This was not always easy, especially if you were manufacturing something with G400 in it. Then you went to the cold water tap and took what you wanted! When we later took on factory workers it became nearly impossible much to Dr. Simon's great annoyance to get them to refer to G448 and not Portland Cement was difficult.
Until our first workman arrived it was Dr. Simon and Mr. Forman who produced everything in the factory. They wore white coats with towels wrapped round their heads working away over the powder mixer in a choking cloud of cement and lime dust making "Mellitol"
Dr. Simon decided that his new house in St. Johns Road should have the loft fire proofed and I was nominated to carry this out. which I did using a stirrup pump to spray on the solution. Unfortunately I was somewhat over enthusiastic and the impregnation solution started to come through the ceiling much to the annoyance of Mrs. Simon. Next morning the Dr. had a few choice remarks to make concerning my workmanship.
No training was given, we just talked about the products, later we went to the Royal Oak (the Why Not) were we were booked in, John Forman and Eric Barnes joined us for dinner and after we sat in the bar talking and drinking. Next morning back at Glover Street as we were leaving about lunchtime, Dr Simon held out for my coat, I said that it was all right but Dr Simon replied "No, you are our guest" We left about midday and got home about 5-6 o'clock.
It had been decided that we would travel by road on the day in question. The Doctors' Daimler, with the faithful Simms at the wheel, duly arrived at our house in Sandringham Road just before eight o'clock. My wife and (then) two young boys stood at the door and waved us off, with Dr. Simon in the front passenger seat and with me in solitary splendour in the back.
I was offered the Financial Times to read as we sped down the M6 I felt very important, sitting in a chauffeur-driven limousine with the FT! Somewhere near Corley Services Dr. Simon produced a brown paper bag. He said that he had picked some apples that morning and asked if I would like to have one. I said I would indeed like to have one and in no time we were both munching away. Then came the problem, what to do with the core! I could hardly stuff it in the ashtray, could I ? Neither did it seem appropriate to open the window of a Daimler, no less, and chuck the offending item onto the M1.
So I sat back and watched to see what Dr. Simon would do with his core. He simply ate it, pips and all! I was left with a rapidly deteriorating apple core in my hand until we reached the car park at BRE, when I was able to at last to ditch the offending thing under the Daimler.
One of the memories I still have was during my early days at Glover Street, we had to produce emulsions for some of the adhesives to be made in the next few days. Sometimes we tried to get in front by more than one day, so I used to work on Easter Monday and Whit Monday. On these days of course the factory was closed to all other production, I used to work alone (illegal!) and make extra emulsions. Dr. Simon used to walk around in those days, and he used to bring Andrew (his son) with him, leading him by the hand. He used to say "Mr. Newman you look after him while I go to the office" I used to stand him by the stirrer that mixed the emulsion to give him something to watch, hoping that when the emulsion inverted it would start spilling over him, but as usual, he always had an Angel watching over him, in three years he never got splattered once, (I got the splashes!)
The girls downstairs were always singing especially when the daily programme of "Music while you work" came on the radio. They would turn up the volume but this annoyed Dr. Simon if he was dictating. He would immediately reach for the internal phone and shout "please switch off the wireless, I am at the dictating"! Well, - we didn't have "Soundproofing" and it was difficult to concentrate, but I liked the music too! Needless to say - silence reigned!
The view from our windows was not very special - just mounds of coal for the Electricity Generating Station but we didn't have much time to spare for gazing out! We always seemed to be busy. I would only have to stop typing for a few seconds and Dr. Simon would open the door and say "are you finished"! There would always be more dictation.
Although Dr. Simon was a hard task master he was always very fair and I enjoyed working for him. When he was not travelling away he was in the office early (we dare not be late!) He saw all the mail which came in and read most of the out-going mail in those early days. I can look back on some amusing moments. Dr. Simon's English had improved greatly whilst he had been away but when I first began taking dictation there were times when I could not understand him, He asked me to write to London for Sauerkraut and Pumpernickel. I'd never heard of these before. With John Forman's help I got over that hurdle. Then there was the first time I was asked to write for tickets for a Ballet in which two Russian dancers were appearing - Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin - - "Who? Can you spell that please Doctor" In mock disgust he would say "have you not heard of these famous dancers?" Then he would laugh and help me out!
There were times, of course, when he would become angry! Especially when he had been 'cut-off' during a telephone call.
I started in the Twinstik Dept. Previously I was a milkman. My first meeting with the Doctor was when I ran into the back of his Roller with my milk float and when I first met him as an employee on his Friday factory walk abouts that was the first thing he remembered, and from that day on he called me Mr Milkman!
I remember when one of the lads I worked with in the Twinstik Dept. Had a financial problem due to a marital break up, the Doctor on his usual walkabout noticed that he was not his usual self and asked him, he took him to one side and the next thing he has a cheque and was able to pay the company back at £1 a week. I also remember when me and Fred woodman were doing a Fire Duty which entailed a walk about after working hours, we were checking the offices and happened to pass the Doctors office we went in and decided to play at being the "boss" I sat down at his desk and put my feet on the desk, took a cigar out of his box (did not unwrap or smoke it) and pretended to smoke it and to give orders. Whilst doing so the Doctor walked in, he pointed his finger at the door, not saying a word we fled. We worried the next day thinking we were for the chop, but never a word was said, and the next time the Doctor came round he just looked at me and pointed his finger at the door, smiled and walked out.
I always remember Dr Simon without fail walking around the whole factory week by week to see what was going on in the production and laboratory areas, normally Fridays. He would come over and talk to you about specific aspects of the job you were doing at the time. In his way he generated a lot of respect from people who worked for him. He also gained enormous respect, because he started out on the shop floor and guided the company through its prosperous years until his untimely death.
By far my best client was Swansea Council, but at one time I had an order for roof treatment to a large block of flats for more than nine months, and seemingly little chance of getting it done. Hearing that Dr Simon had said that after five o'clock his door was always open, one day I set off to see what could be done. Quite a journey in those days, there and back in a day. No motorways then.
As I walked down the corridor to Dr Simon's office, Mr Foreman, who I had not met before, was waiting to urge me on. How he knew what I was there for I don't know. After knocking on his door, I explained my trouble to Dr Simon who rather rounded on me by saying I was blaming him. I replied that he was the boss, so who else was there? He went out and left me standing there, only to return after some time. He gave me £200 in cash, wished me a safe journey home. Now at 85, one of my most abiding memories, £200 was a fair amount of money in those days.
I was sitting on the steps by the Paints QC lab next to Cliff Stanley's office (Site Safety Officer) with a group of others including Eric Klepacki, John Cochlan and Peter Mellor, smoking a cigarette and drinking a coffee, Eric and John were also smoking. Up strolls Dr Simon, spots me, and has a fit, starts waving his cane at me and shouting, "did I want to burn his factory down!" I had no idea what he was going on about. The Paints factory was by then a non-flam area manufacturing Polytex and Primers and cutting Flashband. Unfortunately the flammable petroleum sign was still on the side of the wall just above where I was sitting. Eric and John had been standing up and seen the Dr coming and had extinguished their cigarettes. Fred came our and spoke to Dr Simon and then 'phoned Personnel to explain. The whole thing quietly died down. I was 18 at the time and had to put up with an enormous amount of ribbing off everyone, including John and Eric, for months after.
Dr Simon used to walk around the factory saying "Hello" one day when I was about to go upstairs in the lift in the Mastics he joined me - as he said "I own the factory so I can use the lift and come with you!!" He recognised me in town one Saturday night and offered to give me a lift home. He used to offer me a lift home from work, well, to town anyway as I didn't like to go all the way
Then there was another fire, the Black Monopol in the downstairs Adhesive, it was the biggest batch they had made, it ignited and went up. Everywhere was black, smoke covered everything and was coming up through the false floor it was as black as the ace of spades, someone had to turn the machine off so in I went, of course we didn't have breathing apparatus in those days. Again the Doctor took us all out for another meal, and another good night was had!!
I will try and pay tribute to Dr Simon and describe something about the 'Glover Street' days.
First of all Mr Hadley, or H.E.H. as was known, (was a bachelor) came in late on Monday morning on the Birmingham train and left on Friday afternoon (living in digs in the week) H.E.H. was a great teacher with a great deal of first rate commercial experience behind him, liked a pint in the evening too - but that's another story. He taught me more in the accountancy sphere than I felt I'd gained elsewhere. Mr Hadley's office was across the yard form the main offices and was generally marooned in isolation by a large puddle, due to the drains into the river 'backpounding'. He used to be a great one for telling jokes, sometimes much to the annoyance of JJEF (John James Ernest Forman) and the embarrassment of Sheila Banks, he also used to burst into song - to such an effect in the summer that, Dr S. Had been known to open his office window and shout 'stop de noise' H.E.H.'s hobby was 'stocks and shares' and occasionally he would come over to accounts in the evening with a wad of dividend payment tickets about 4 inches thick and tot them up on the adding machine.
One day at Glover Street, there was all hell let loose, everyone was looking for the VASHER file which Dr Simon wanted urgently as he had to see this man in the afternoon. He kept repeating 'Vasher, Vasher, what is wrong with you!' ..... I do not know when the penny dropped, but he was after the personal file of Mr Washer, a roof waterproofing supervisor.
One of my main reasons in deciding to 'write' these lines about Evode was to take the opportunity to make my tribute to 'The Doctor'. He may have been the Boss and he would let you know it at times, but you always sensed you were in the company of a 'big man', who could put all the status to one side and be human and considerate when justified or required. I was slightly in awe of him, but enjoyed working with him, I think in mutual respect.
To make the point ~ a few 'Doctor' stories **
After a long stretch of overtime of many days, I overslept and did not get into work until about 10 am. As soon as I came through the gates, I bumped into Dr S. (returning from his private toilet downstairs) 'You had better come up to the office' he said gruffly. I was in no mood for this and thought 'don't start on me mate' but I held back from experience.
When I followed him into his office, he asked me to sit down and have a cigar, which I refused (a bit big for me), then he offered me a cigarette, a cup of coffee followed. He said he had asked me to go up to the office to say a personal thank you for the amount of work I was doing. I don't know ... Mischief - kindness - or what?
One of my duties was to look after the detail and make royalty payments in respect of those products which were made under licence, exchange rate mechanisms - the lot, in those austere days - no computers. With Mr Hadley going home weekends, and Saturday discussions and account research fell to me, so I often provided management statistics. On one occasion, Dr S. was going to U.S.A. To visit a manufacturer from whom we were licensed and required figures going back to the year dot. I told him it would take days and there were other things to do - all I got was to be told he definitely could not proceed without them. After a couple of days, on the Friday evening he was enquiring re the figures, I said I needed more time and it was finally decided he would come to Glover Street about half an hour before leaving on Sunday. He came in the yard at the appointed time and I gave him the figures in an envelope. He stood by my desk and said 'Mr Thomas, I do not use my own cheque book unless I am forced to, but today is an exception. Here is a cheque for £100, and you are to tell Mr Hadley you are having a few days off to take your wife out'. Off he went to the States.
During my time looking after the accounts there was another incident which reveals how considerate Dr Simon could be. Doctor had asked me to do some
research into a project I was busy with the accounts at the time and asked my assistant, Geoff Leedham to do the job. He duly gave the finished article to me and I handed them to Dr Simon in due course. When I was with Dr S on another matter he complimented me on the figures Mr Leedham had produced, so I told him I had been busy on the accounts and that Mr Leedham had done them. As I was going out of the office with more jobs to do, Dr Simon said send Mr Leedham up with those things and I will express my appreciation of his work personally.
I have one more story concerning Dr Simon which I think is worth relating, above all.
Late one afternoon there was a meeting in Dr Simon's office, three very senior members of the staff were present - it was concerning a certain Sales debt (I can still remember the name of the account). After a while I was summoned - although not over accounts anymore, I did maintain a brief on Credit Control - and Dr Simon brought me up to date on the proceedings of the meeting so far. Where upon I told Dr Simon that he had got hold of the wrong end of the stick on this one and that the true story was a little different than that outlined to me. He blew up - how dare I say such things 'go home and I will deal with you in the morning'. Off I went.
In the morning I was sitting at my desk wondering if I'd be allowed to say my goodbyes when, a shadow appeared over the desk, I looked up to see Dr S standing there. 'Sir' He said 'I usually make people come to my office, but I come to you to apologise, you were right - I have spoken to the other gentlemen'.
When they started to make adhesives, the Doctor asked about eight of us to stay behind one night. He had made the first batch of adhesive and the tables where covered in tins which we filled with the adhesive which was in a jug, the tins were 4/5 of a pint and it took us until 9 o'clock, then the Doctor took us all over to the pub. He was a really nice person. I remember one day at Glover Street after they had loaded a lorry up as it went round the corner the load slipped and it all fell off right in front of the Doctor!!
One scary moment in the mid 1970's is still fresh in my mind, I was in the lab with a colleague, and as usual I was being cheeky, this resulted in me being pinned up in the corner and roughed up a little, during this activity we became aware that we were being watched. The Doctor was standing in the doorway taking a keen interest in the proceedings. We were both red faced expecting the worse, but, thankfully the Doctor was in a good mood that day, and his main concern was his mistaken belief that a young lady was being mistreated, as long hair was the fashion then, he had mistaken me for a girl. On learning that I was not, he decided that things were O.K., and off he went with nothing more said!
One of my last memories of the Doctor was the Christmas dance at the Top of the World, a night spot in Stafford's town centre. The Doctor had decided to turn comedian, and armed with a sheaf of papers he stood up on the stage and proceeded to read jokes out with no emotion or timing, everyone laughed for whatever reason, and as usual we had a great evening out.
On return form holiday in 1978, I was told the sad news that the Doctor had passed on, no more were we to see his tours of the works, or him arriving for work in his Rolls Royce with 'HS 6666' number plates, with Stan the chauffeur at the wheel. His death seemed to mark an end of an era.
I used to sometimes wait at the bus stop in Marston Road. One morning this big posh car pulled up and the driver asked me if I wanted a lift, it was DR. Simon, I felt so proud going through the gates in such style!! I didn't realise he knew who I was.
During lunch time most of us ate our sandwiches in the laboratories. It was rumoured that this could produce instant dismissal if seen by The Doctor. Of course it was bound to happen and one day he appeared at the far door, sandwiches were hurriedly hidden. The Doctor was an astute man and knew exactly what was going on and from a distance began to issue a staccato rebuke that only Germans can do. Eventually he saw what we were playing Chess and his tone instantly changed to one of gentle inquiry, even offering free membership to the Stafford Chess Club!
Dr Simon visited a water tank in Rugby one day during heavy snow to find two frozen 'mites' trying to work with a brazier to dry the paste, and expressing such surprise that they weren't at the pictures that afternoon, and he wouldn't go away without leaving them with some cigarettes, which were in short supply at that time. Another time, some years later after the war, the Doctor visited them at the water tower at Stoke, it was a bank holiday Monday, and the Doctor arrived in his first new Humber car. When he saw the 120ft climb that was required to speak to the workmen, he managed to persuade Mr. Forman that it would be a good idea to climb to the top of the tower to get Mr. Washer down so that the Doctor could speak to him.
A most interesting occasion just after joining the Company happened one Friday evening. I was returning to London from Stafford Station and was just in time to board a crowded rain. As I stood in the corridor, Dr Simon came along. He recognised me, couldn't remember my name and invited me to join him for a meal in the restaurant car. There followed a most interesting hour or so as the train made its journey to Euston. He told me of the early days of Evode and the occasional; struggles. We parted when the train arrived, he on his way to visit a daughter in Stuttgart, and then to licensees of the Company in some other part of Europe. As I made my way to Barking to visit my mother, I was quite elated - I had only been in the employment of Evode for a few weeks, and had been invited to dine with the Chairman of the Company.
About 4 pm the Board members arrived in the laboratory and I started the presentation. Many questions were asked and we rapidly passed 5 pm when everyone normally left. About 5.30pm, still in the middle of some discussions, Pauline was pushed through the door of the laboratory dressed in black plastic bags covered with balloons and stickers (I believe that Dave Ward and John Bennett were the key culprits). Dr Simon asked what was happening and Mr. Vohralik (Technical Director) explained that we were getting married the following day and this was a traditional "good luck" event at Evode. Dr Simon turned to me with a straight face and said " I assume you will not be demonstrating these products tomorrow!" Extremely embarrassed and nervous in the presence of these senior executives, I could only stumble out with some inane comment; then the whole laboratory broke into laughter. The next day at our wedding we received a lovely telegram from Dr. Simon wishing us luck and prosperity.