Remembering Early Times at HP

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International Procurement Can Be Fun...!!!!
An autobiography of my working life..., by John Wastle

Part 8

Table of Contents:

Dedicated to:
Harris. The greatest Grandson in the world.
"The world is what you make it. It isn't fair, but it is good."

  • Part 1
  • Part 2
  • Part 3
  • Part 4
  • Part 5
  • Part 6
  • Part 7
  • Part 8
  • Part 9

  • Part 8

    52. GPCD Sign Up...

    After a while things became even more muddied on what was the best option, an IPO nearer to the PCA CM, or an IPO nearer to the HP division. Our IPO ended up doing a considerable amount of this PCA CM business because of a smart decision on our part. It was on a visit to Grenoble PC Manufacturing Division, where I had an unplanned discussion with the division's Materials Manager. This was just as they were in the throes of considering using our IPO to supply a new PCA CM in our region, as opposed to using the USIPO, basically because of all the heartache the USIPO had caused them. It was during that discussion that I realized there was something else we could bring to the party, something the USIPO didn't have; they were only an ordering function. We had engineers, and it was this decision which led to the previous development of Judy W.

    GPCD liked the suggestion of us supplying an engineer who they would train, someone they would have right on hand to deal with issues immediately, without the need to send someone over straight away. That hit the sweet spot with GPCD and got us in the PCA CM door with them. As for the USIPO, I didn't know what they would think of our approach, but to be honest, I didn't care, it was time to get some justice back.

    My suggestion to GPCD was I could send an engineer to Grenoble for six months. During that period the engineer would learn all the manufacturing techniques needed for supporting their PCA's. GPCD were by then well aware of the benefits to them having an engineer so close to the PCA CM. There was going to be cost to all this and my suggestion was, I'll pick up the engineers salary and GPCD pick up all the expenses for that six months the engineer would be in Grenoble. They agreed, seemed a fair offer, and we had now broken in to supporting GPCD. No other IPO had or been able, or had even thought of offering this level of support.

    As luck would have it I had the very engineer to take on the task, Judy W. Judy was a very good engineer, with a good brain in her head, but there was one problem with her, she lacked interpersonal skills. She had upset a few of her work colleagues in the past, which was the main reason she joined the IPO in the first place. She also spoke French, not totally fluently, but she would learn more in Grenoble. The plan was in place and she set off for six months in Grenoble.

    I was always concerned about Judy's relationships with others, particularly in GPCD, with that in mind, I would go over every six weeks or so, to make sure she felt I was giving her all the support I could. Meantime I also checked out the background to ensure that she was getting on alright with the other GPCD team members. After the six months were over, GPCD said they were very happy with her progress, but that they had noted her interpersonal skills were lacking a bit. She was a good engineer that I knew, and I was also aware that her lack of people skills could be made useful when dealing with subcontractors in the cut and thrust PCA CM business. PCA CMs had a hire and fire approach to managing their business, from that point Judy would accept none of their nonsense that was for sure. But how she went about it might be a different matter. I think GPCD also thought along similar lines.

    I had heard before from other suppliers that Judy was, 'Well different' from other members of our IPO team. Our IPO now had a good strong team for dealing with the PCA CM's, no other IPO team could offer the level of service we could now supply. We were truly in the driving seat when it came to supporting the Division needs with their PCA CM's.

    Jim Rooney's team was managing the controls for ordering and shipping with Judy W. on the engineering support side. Her level of engineering support was later surpassed when Malcolm Newlands came on board. Malcolm Newlands was to prove he was one of our IPO's great players, not just on his engineering ability, but also in his people management and marketing skills.

    Getting to Grenoble was never an easy task, you had to fly to Heathrow, then either catch a flight to Lyon, of which there was few, then drive to Grenoble, or fly to Geneva, of which there were many flights, but you had to drive to Grenoble and cross the Border from Switzerland into France, which was always a hassle when you have a hired car!

    I remember once on our way home from Grenoble, Jim Rooney and I were going home via Geneva, but this time the Swiss Border Police decided to check us out big style. They stripped everything they possibly could out of the car, then let us go, we had to put everything back into the car, as they smiled on at us. The delay of over an hour meant we were pushing it to catch our flight home. I had no choice but to put the pedal to the metal and risk getting caught speeding in order to catch the flight. We caught the flight just in time, but we must have set off around twenty speed cameras along the route, we were getting flashed all over the place. But it was a hired car, so I didn't give a (expletive), serves them right for stopping us in that way on the border crossing. I heard no more about it, I guess they realised it would be too much hassle to track down the driver of a rental car.

    53. IPO Continued to Develop...

    Malcolm came to us from the in-house blank Printed Circuit Board manufacturing department; he took to his new role like a duck to water. Malcolm quickly took to my style of management and he thrived on being cut loose to make things happen. His skills helped to bring more business to our IPO and he contributed greatly in helping me with our teams' development. His people skills led our customers loving his involvement with their projects. Malcolm's good people skills not only helped with our IPO, our customers, but also with our suppliers. With Malcolm's in-depth Printed Circuit Board engineering manufacturing knowledge, not only did it add an extra strength to our PCA support business, it soon brought more actual blank manufactured PCB business to our IPO, particularly as HP was by now rapidly divesting itself out of this internal business.

    We had on our doorstep a globally capable raw PCB supplier ISL, within two hours' drive from our office. It wasn't long before we had VCD (Vancouver Ink-Jet Printer Division) on our books as a customer. The VCD procurement team was under the management of Dave Bennie, they were demanding task masters, but the exception was they wanted us to be successful and operate as part of their off-shore procurement team. A strong friendship soon built up and we had many fun times working together and supporting each other.

    The PCB business with VCD, also led us into another area of support not too far apart from the PCB business. We were soon to be involved in a new high volume business in Flexi-circuits, which every Ink-Jet Printer requires. Malcolm through his knowledge in PCB work, identified and developed a supplier on the south coast of England, called Flextronic. Dave Bennie, though having been born in Edinburgh, had moved south before emigrating to the USA, as a result Dave still had family in the south. Maybe that helped us a bit in winning some of this flexi-circuit business. That aside, Flextronic was to turn out to be a good supplier, very willing to take onboard any input and keen to develop their processes further With Dave Bennie's direction and guidance, they developed more into the more difficult and demanding flexi-circuits. However it all would never have flown had it not been for Malcolm Newlands knowledge and support.

    Malcolm was also instrumental in getting us onboard with Bergamo in Italy, which was another division partly linked to HP's Ink-Jet Printer business. The ball was starting to roll; we had an IPO team with a good strong knowledge that could now support all the different manufacturing needs across all HP products that would be required. It wasn't long before BCD; Barcelona Printer Division also came onboard, though we did have a few ups and downs with them.

    One of the worst downers was on the Mechanical side. I was really annoyed with myself, as I took my eye off the ball and missed all the signals that one of my senior team members was having a problem. I didn't know it at the time but he was going through a major personal crisis, which all came out into the open very much later. Had I known about it and had he taken me into his confidence about what was happening in his life, I'd have ensured he would have had the maximum of support during his tough and difficult transition. However, he was old school and chose otherwise and didn't let me know the difficulties he was going through, for that matter no one else knew either. The results of which lead to him deciding to leave our IPO. As a senior player in our IPO for a number of years, I had no reason not to put my trust in his work, I had always trusted him in the past and without fail, he always came up with the desired results.

    Our IPO had to make a full high level IPO presentation to Barcelona Materials Management at our site in South Queensferry. At that time BCD's Materials manager was Tony Alonso, Tony had been transferred from San Diego to help BCD set up the newly burgeoning BCD. Alonso was a strong ally of our IPO and as such pushed his procurement team to avail themselves of our knowledge and skills. Unfortunately also at that presentation we had in attendance our new European IPO manager Wolfgang Zenger. It was a meeting that would lead to many ongoing issues with Wolfgang Zenger and get covered shortly.

    54. VCD UK Visits...

    VCD were frequent visitors to our IPO and to our suppliers. They were strong supporters as mentioned with Malcolm Newlands involvement in PCB's and Flexicircuits, which meant we were frequently in Newcastle and Bosham with them, resulting in many funny occurrences. We always made sure that either Malcolm or I or Jim Rooney was always on hand to support VCD. They were a big customer and we were playing a big part in their procurement success. Each and every one of them under Dave Bennie's management were fun to work with, we all worked hard but also had lots of fun times together.

    Some of those that Dave brought over had never been to Europe before and of course Dave wanted to make sure they appreciated all the best bits, as he would call them! On one of the visits to Chichester we had arranged that evening to go for dinner in a nice restaurant that overlooked the sea. No they didn't want to do that, they had heard Dave Bennie going on and on about fish and chips from a chip shop and eating them out of the paper! So here we were, Brenda Lashbrook, Rusty Osborne, Dave Bennie, Jim Rooney, Malcolm Newlands and I hunting all over Chichester for a fish and chip shop.

    Eventually after asking a local where there was one, we arrived at the chip shop door. I asked Jim Rooney if he had any cash with him, he didn't, but neither did I and neither did all our visitors. Chip shops don't take switch or credit cards! So off we set again, this time looking for a hole in the wall cash machine, which did take my card, then it was back to the chip shop! They were like kids in a sweetie shop, asking all sorts of questions, we eventually emerged with a selection of fish and chips and pie and chips and we all trundled back to the car, where we all squeezed in to eat them on our laps. Needless to say, within minutes we couldn't see a damn thing out of all the steamed up windows! It was all washed down with cans of Coke. Never in all my years of entertaining visitors had I ever bought such a cheap and nasty dinner, which they all loved!

    That same trip created some other funnies, especially with our Scots accents. We were sitting in the Millstream Hotel in Bosham, a nice Olde Worlde hotel, having breakfast, I looked up and saw Brenda Lashbrook coming down the stairs to join us and I said to the others at the table, "Here's Brenda in a tartan mini skirt!" Rusty roared as he laughed, "You can't say that!" Just as Brenda sat down beside us, "Said what?" I asked, Rusty replied, "Brenda a tart in a mini skirt!" Dave Bennie about choked on his toast and Brenda gave me a look. Dave, after he cleared his throat said, "That's not what John said, he said here's Brenda in a tartan mini skirt." Rusty had misread the brogue. Brenda laughed, I said, "By the way Brenda you look good in that tartan mini skirt."

    Later that day our visitors wanted a look around Bosham, which has some historical interest, I overheard Malcolm say to Rusty, "King Canute was here." To which Rusty indignantly replied "No it's straight!" Dave Bennie burst out laughing again, Malcolm and I wondering what on earth Rusty was on about. Dave Bennie explained that it appeared when Malcolm had said "King Canute was here" Rusty because of the brogue had heard, "Is there a "Kink in it!" Hence what we thought was his rather odd reply, now made sense, "No, it's straight!" More laughter all round.

    On another visit, Dave Bennie had brought Jim Ash with him. Jim was a nice chap but was having some domestic issues at home with his wife not wanting to move to Vancouver. Jim had always wanted to drive on the left side of the road. Despite all my protestations that we would drive, for everyone's safety, he wanted to drive. Reluctantly I conceded, bad decision. Firstly it was a stick shift, Jim said it would not be a problem as he had driven one before. It was a problem! I also said to him that spatially his eyes were used to driving on the other side of the road, so he would need time to readjust. Not a problem he said. It was!

    I swapped seats with Jim and he took up the driving position, I'm glad they were quiet country roads. Off he went, crunching the gears because he would forget to use the clutch. I'd keep saying to him, pull out a bit Jim, you're getting close to the curb, a little bit further on, I'd shout, pull out a bit Jim! Just as the tyres bumped up onto the curb, he would pull out a wee bit, but minutes later I would shout the same words at him again, too late this time, he had taken a bush out by the side of the road. Dave Bennie and the others in the car were helpless with laughing. It was time to say, enough was enough and we swapped seats and I took over the driving! Jim had his experience of driving on the left, and he lived to tell the tale, so did the rest of us!

    The Millstream Hotel really is a beautiful hotel where you can have afternoon tea on the lawn by the Millstream with the ducks and swans wandering up to you looking for tidbits. On the other side of the stream is the local church, at which point Jimmy Rooney said, "Finished your tea John, let's go get conkers (horse chestnuts) for my kids!" So there we were, two men dressed in their business suits, rummaging around the church yard gathering conkers, I'm sure passersby were thinking we were bonkers! The hotel had one drawback, at night the car park was pitch black. On this occasion my room overlooked the car park and the rental car I had, had this very loud horn that on this occasion also operated as an anti-theft device. I could make it go off by pushing a button on the key ring. That evening I could see how dark and quiet it was outside in the car park. The devil in me would watch cars arrive and park and as the owners would creep their way along in the dark and quiet pathway to find the hotel entrance, they would pass my car, at which point I would set off the very loud car alarm horn. The passerby would let out a yell or a scream as it scared the pants off them, meanwhile I was giggling away to myself in the peace and quiet of my hotel room! The things that can amuse an International Procurement Manager are endless!!! Just as well no one took a heart attack!

    When we visited the South Shields Printed Circuit Board Manufacturer, ISL, we would stay whenever possible at the Lumley Castle Hotel. It was a big draw to our visitors to stay in an old medieval castle, with all its long dark creepy corridors and creaking stairways, also reputably known to have its own ghost. All the staff that served you were always dressed in medieval costume dress.

    I was sitting in the library bar with some of our visitors, the waitress came over to take my order wearing a long low cut medieval dress, I ordered a couple of beers and some other drinks and two double gin and tonics. When the waitress returned with the drinks she bent over to place them on the low table in front of me and I unthinking said as she was putting the drinks on the table, "Two large ones?" She smiled, everybody laughed, I said, "I meant the G&T's." She smiled again, so I said, "I'm not complaining though!" Still smiling she returned to the bar!

    We had dinner in the hotel that evening, which was really good with the candlelight bouncing off the old castle walls giving a great ambiance to dine in. The hotel was fully booked and Derek (Bugs) Buglass had a room that was way up a spiral staircase into the tower. The path to that room was extremely poorly lit with long dark shadows. As Bugs made his way along the dark corridors, I couldn't miss the chance to make ghostly and eerie like noises to help him on his way, much to Bugs's scary annoyance! I'm not too sure Derek Buglass slept all that well that night, because he slept in for the next morning and missed breakfast!

    The Vancouver Procurement Team poses to record their meeting.

    We had a visit from another of the VCD procurement staff, whose name was Gary Christie, Gary was a happy sort of Chappie, he and Malcolm were great buddies always trying to pull a fast one over the other at their expense. We were visiting a supplier in the Manchester area and the hotel we were staying at was the Haydock, near the horse racing track. To me it fitted in with the typical plastic type hotels, but had a good sports and spa area with swimming pool, sauna, hot tub and gym.

    When we got back after the supplier visit, we all agreed to meet in the sauna, Malcolm had told Gary that when in the saunas in Europe, you went in starkers (naked), which is true on the Continent, but not really in this Haydock Hotel. Malcolm and I were sitting chatting in the sauna waiting for Gary to arrive, and arrive he did. Gary was not the slimmest of shapes, quite rotund actually, and he entered the door of the sauna with the skimpiest towel wrapped around his butt, which barely covered all the parts it needed to cover. Gary was cussing the fact he could not find a bigger towel, Malcolm was ending himself in laughter. Eventually the penny dropped with Gary when he saw us sitting in swimming costumes. "Malcolm you wee (expletive)" he shouted, but proceeded to sit down beside us and joined in the laughter.

    55. The Wolfgang Pack...

    I never agreed with Wolfgang Zenger's appointment to the IPO, and it would prove one that I could never get to grips with. I knew Zenger's management style from his days in Zentraleinkaufen, everything was for his own benefit. What's more the GIPO Manager Karl Heinz Hartmann absolutely detested him and his management style. The strange thing was, it was KHH who hired him years earlier into HP.

    Despite both Karl Heinz Hartmann and myself trying to convince Bill Boller our HPP Corporate IPO Manager that hiring Zenger would be a bad idea, and that it would lead to the demise of the IPO s in both Germany and Scotland, Boller still went ahead and hired him anyway. True to form as we had stated, it led to the end of the IPOs in Europe. I knew within myself Hartmann would not last long in his role as GIPO Manager and that it would only be a matter of time when I would come to blows with him. My prophesy would be proven in the future.

    The meeting our IPO had with BCD Materials was going to plan, with each of my senior team players giving their presentations in turn. I kicked the whole thing off, followed by Jim Rooney, John Keogh, Malcolm Newlands and another was to bring up the rear and close it all off. With all our busy schedules, as a group we didn't do a pre-meeting dummy run, I knew my team had done dozens of presentations in the past and all over the world, I had nothing to make me think that this presentation would be any different. I trusted each and every one of them to give a top notch presentation on our IPO support and what we had to offer. Which each and everyone did, until that is it came to the final presentation.

    The presentation was a complete and utter disaster. It totally missed BCD's needs and requirements from our IPO support on their mechanical parts. I can still see in my nightmares an overhead slide that was presented, showing a hare running across the map of Europe. The presentation was immature and bordering on the amateurish side, it was certainly not up to our and his usual IPO status of previous presentations given then and on many other occasions in the past. I could see the BCD procurement team starting to squirm and look at each other, I'm sure they were starting to wonder if they had the right person in charge of their mechanical parts in our IPO.

    This whole presentation was on the verge of going "belly-up" and becoming a major disaster for our IPO, if I didn't do something very quickly. I had no option as I had been left no room to manouvre or manipulate the situation, I had to show we were in control no matter what. My direct interjection was bold and harsh and led directly to him later leaving our IPO. His confidence was shattered and my trust in him at an all-time low. If only he had taken me into his confidence, this situation would just never have arisen.

    In my response, I took a deliberately harsh stance of taking a very unprofessional opening to make the mark and draw the attention away from what had happened. I opened with an expletive that was intended to capture the attention of all at that meeting. I still regret to have to use such a hard opening line, but the situation demanded aggressive control. I said, "You've (expletiving) missed completely the needs of BCD in the support of their mechanical parts." I moved the discussion on to getting back to BCG within three days on an update on how our IPO would support their needs.

    Tony Alonso spoke on behalf of BCD, he knew like I did that we were doing an outstanding job in supporting their needs. Afterwards he said to me that there must have been something else behind this aberration. I tried afterwards to find out what had gone wrong with him, but he clamped up and even then wouldn't tell me about his personal home situation. What a waste. He was of the age group who didn't believe in letting others know what their problems were. There was another downside I had to manage from this presentation disaster. It of course had given Zenger the opportunity he was looking for to stick his jack-boot in. He stated that he wanted from now on to approve all presentations beforehand.

    I was livid at Zenger demanding to see every presentation before they went out, and it resulted in him and I having a full blown argument about it. I refused point blank to share any presentation of mine beforehand. I went on to say, "You might intimidate others, but you don't intimidate me." I further went on to say, "You've painted yourself into a corner by demanding that you preview all the presentations. So I obviously need to help you out of this embarrassment. I'll tell my team you only want to do this once." I also went on to tell him my reasons why, "I can't allow you to impact their ability and confidence, especially as it was based on one guy's lapse of control, all the other presentations were perfect." To which he agreed. So he got one preview from each, which allowed him not to lose any face with my group. I told my group that he wanted to use the first preview of their presentation so as he could get to know each of them. The members in our group knew differently, they knew of my support for each of them.

    The German IPO was a different story, Zenger vetted all the presentations and had them change them to what he wanted. This situation was the start of many further disagreements still to come. In a way I think Wolfgang sort of liked them as it made sure he was on his toes. I certainly noticed on numerous occasions he would change his planned approach and include the inputs I had given. To Zenger's credit, he did reward hard work and good effort. On that score both he and I saw eye to eye.

    The big difference was in our management styles. I encouraged my staff to question and challenge my proposals, statements and directions, more so if they totally disagreed with me. They all knew that any resulting heated discussion, was and never would be held or used against them. They also knew if they had any better inputs or suggestions to what I was proposing, they would be incorporated in whatever line we took, and I'd drop my proposal. That approach always ensured we had the best solutions to meet our IPO and our IPO customer needs. It was true unfettered teamwork, where all were encouraged to make their inputs. In addition, I always made sure that those who had come forward with a great decision or input, or idea that everyone knew it was their own creation. Neither I, nor anyone else was going to steal their thunder or get their credit.

    Whereas Zenger's management style was to dominate everything, he had to be the Fuhrer, telling everyone what and how to do it. He would line up all his 'yes-men' behind him, as we were to see as time went on. It was important to him to be recognised as the boss, the leader, and he expected all his staff to fall in line behind, in an unquestioning manner. He bought loyalty with cash, but that would never be true loyalty. This fitted well into the German structure, I'm sure they would have all followed on behind as their Fuehrer walked off the end of a pier into the water! I could never fall into line like that, to me it was a suffocating entrepreneurial spirit killing structure, being me, as a Maverick, I would always fight and resist it.

    I would have lots of head to heads with Zenger, many in the GIPO office would look on in disbelief, they couldn't believe the relationship I had with him, and none of them would ever dare to speak to him and say what I would say. Unfortunately, it also meant that members in our IPO would talk to me in a totally different way than they would talk to Zenger and he knew it, and he commented to me on how my team supported me and were loyal towards me.

    I always believed that my management style and approach, allowed all members of our IPO team to develop and not to be afraid to make suggestions or give inputs. No input would ever be considered as irrelevant or silly, it was our team that developed the strategy. Unlike Zenger whose style was always to be the one that set out the strategy and order the other IPO members to do it without argument, and in that way he could always claim it as his.

    56. Off-site updates...

    I always knew that department communications were of prime importance. To me I felt strongly that every member of our IPO team from the bottom to the top were always fully aware of which direction our IPO was heading. In that way there would always be an opening for all to make inputs to help that happen. To fulfill this we would have a day off-site on a regular basis, where all my senior players would present to everyone on the team, what they were currently working on and future plans to be addressed. There was no way I was going to have some person say to me they didn't know what was going on, or who would be visiting our IPO office.

    The off-site meeting was always a full day starting at 9.00 am and would finish at around 3.30 pm, with lunch set up for everyone to bond. I would see folks come into work early that day and work away till we left for the meeting. As well as lunch we made sure there were always snacks and drinks laid on for all to enjoy. After the meeting, instead of going home many would go straight back to the office to deal with anything urgent that might have arisen whilst they were away from their desks.

    Witnessing commitment like that from the team allowed me to take a relaxed approach whenever any team member needed unplanned or planned time off work to deal with some personal matter or other. The team members would ask if they could take time off to go do something. Their request was always met with a, "Sure, take whatever time you will need, we'll see you when you get back." Never once did I ever have to say to any team member it would have to be unpaid or the time made up. I didn't have to, I knew that every one of the team would always go beyond their daily hourly need, many would stay late to ensure the customer's needs were met or would contact customers around the world from home, because of the time zone differences.

    Not one of the IPO team abused taking time off, with an openness and trust like that, our IPO always got more back than it had given out.

    57. Dead Horse's head in the bed...

    Barcelona was turning out to be a good customer, despite the one major hic-cup we had with them, turning that situation around worked to our benefit. We got a call from one of their PCA engineers, Alberto Martinez, who asked if he and his Purchasing team member Pili Sebastian could come over and talk with us. No problem, come whenever you want and we'll work around your schedule. They both came over within the week, which made me wonder why they were in such a rush. It turned out to be a very beneficial visit for our IPO. They wanted our support with 'Buy and Sell' and wanted us to support a Barcelona PCA CM in Naples Italy. We didn't know then it would turn out to be a somewhat worrying experience for one of our team, Sue McCann.

    The business was to be kicked off with Alberto setting up a meeting with the PCA CM and he wanted both Jim Rooney and I to attend. Alberto said he'd fix up all the arrangements and he would pick us up at Rome Airport and drive us to Naples and back. True to his word, Alberto met Jim Rooney and I at Rome airport and he drove us down to Naples. The journey was great as neither Jim nor I had been to that part of Italy. We drove past Monte Casino, which I had known about from history of the last war. Both Jim and I were glad that Alberto was doing the driving, when we entered the city of Naples it was a nightmare, cars just drove anywhere, there seemed no logic or system to driving. Going up the wrong side, never seemed a problem, not stopping at traffic lights when at red appeared to be accepted practice. Even driving where the tram cars only should be was the norm. During all the time we were in Naples, I didn't see one car that did not have a bash or large scrape along one side or other. Naples is an experience and fun place to visit, I just wouldn't advise anyone to drive there though, rules of the road as we know them, just don't seem to exist! After my previous experience driving in the Milan area, why am I so surprised?

    The hotel Alberto had chosen was one of the oldest hotels right on the sea front of Naples Bay, we could see Mount Vesuvius on our left and the Isle of Capri dead ahead. What was even more spectacular, was that view was where they served breakfast up on the roof terrace, served by waiters dressed in white aprons and bow ties no less!! It felt like something out of the movie "The Italian Job".

    The meeting with the PCA CM appeared to go very well. They looked like they were technically capable of manufacturing the HP Barcelona PCA, plus Barcelona would oversee all the technical aspects, Malcolm Newlands in our IPO office would hold a fall back upon support role should the need arise. Barcelona would also manage the PCA CM and the finished PCA assembly. Our IPO focus was to only manage the component supply.

    Barcelona and our IPO explained the process of ordering parts through our IPO, at first the PCA CM Managing Director, a jovial sort of chap, had some difficulty in coming to terms with that. He just wanted us to tell him where to buy the parts and at what price. We had to explain that the pricing was confidential and that our component suppliers also wanted it kept that way, as HP did. We explained that if the PCA CM's knew what price we were paying they would demand it for their other customers, the PCA CM Managing Director said, "Oh we wouldn't do that!" Yeah right, this was the process and he would have to live with it. The PCA CM Managing Director gave us a plant tour and the history of the company from when they first started up the company. Which included him telling us of his facility total shut down due to their water supply being cut off? It was then he told us the reason for the water shut down was due to it being controlled by the Mafia, who demanded regular monthly payments to keep the water flowing!! Which they duly paid!

    Sue McCann was our IPO office staff member who was responsible for the supply of components to the Naples facility. The PCA CM relationship with our IPO worked very well. Our Sue liked dealing with all those guys speaking their English with their sexy Italian accents, This was at a time when demand for HP products were high, at a time of even greater demand for Drams and other components which HP could gain a price advantage on, which were also in short supply in the open market. Sue's job was challenging enough in trying to get enough components and the coordinating of component shipments. Everything was going smoothly, until that is, the worldwide shortage of components started to bite. Every OEM was feeling the pain as components were now being rationed from the component suppliers. In turn this affected our IPO ability to supply the PCA CM's with all the quantities they all needed to keep production up. The Naples PCA CM was no different from all the other PCA CM's we were supporting, BCD were also fully aware of the global component situation and asked us just to do what we could. The Naples PCA CM thought differently, they started to apply threatening behaviour, it just added unnecessary stress and pressure.

    The PCA CM Material Manager who had been told exactly what to say to Sue McCann by his Managing Director, started to use threatening language to Sue by saying that they had access to contacts in the Mafia in Naples and that they would single her out if she did not supply the parts they needed to keep their production going. Sue came directly to me looking worried and tearful and told me what they had said to her. This was totally unacceptable behaviour on the PCA CM part.

    I set up a conference call with the Naples PCA CM Materials Manager around a speaker phone, with Sue McCann, Jim Rooney and myself so all could hear what was being said, and to also record the conversation on tape. I called the Materials Manager in Naples and started off by asking him if he was aware of the worldwide shortage of some components. He was. I progressed the conversation further by asking then why if he was aware of the component shortages, he used threats involving the Mafia to Sue over the telephone. He fell silent for a while, then went on to explain that he had been told to do so by his Managing Director, who wanted to keep all his production lines up and running. He had decided that the Mafia might help him achieve that.

    I went on to state that I now needed to escalate this to his Managing Director and to Barcelona as well as HP Corporate, but first I would speak with his Managing Director after I had spoken to Barcelona. Barcelona agreed with my line of action in dealing with it and I was to report back after my discussion with the Naples PCA CM Managing Director. I contacted the MD, who admitted he had said this to his Materials Manager as he wanted to keep his PCA lines up and running and that his goal was to keep BCD happy. I told him that this was totally unacceptable behaviour and that he or anyone on his staff had no right whatsoever to threaten any member of my staff, let alone a young lady who was already trying hard to get his company as many parts as she possibly could. I went on to say that the matter would be escalated to Barcelona and HP Corporate, it would then be up to Barcelona to decide whether his company should be black listed as a PCA CM supplier to HP.

    I fed back to BCD and HP Corporate the results of my telephone conversation with the PCA CM, HP Corporate immediately wanted to install a ban on the PCA CM and to escalate the matter even further, I stated that any thoughts that HP Corporate may have on escalation, should only be carried out after BCD had decided upon what path to take. BCD top level management contacted the Naples PCA CM Managing Director and informed him that his company's behaviour was totally unacceptable and unwarranted and that a top level management meeting was about to be held about removing their business from his company and blacklisting his company throughout HP for any business.

    The PCA CM MD, did an immediate 180 degree turn, he said he was only joking and that he meant no harm and apologised profusely for their non-professional behaviour. BCD Management accepted his apology and went on to state that they would now monitor the situation. HP Corporate then had to agree to BCD's decision on the matter. I later received a call from the PCA CM MD apologising for the matter; Sue McCann also received a call from the PCA CM Materials Manager apologizing for their behaviour. A day later a huge bunch of flowers arrived on Sue McCann's desk from the PCA CM MD containing a card of apology. The flowers were returned to from whence they came, that way they would get the message on how they had upset Sue McCann and they also had to learn the lesson to live with the global component shortages, just like everyone else had to.

    After the dust had settled Sue McCann was always very businesslike when dealing with the Italian PCA CM supplier in Naples, they had destroyed the open and friendly trust that they had built up with her.

    58. It's all about Management Style...

    Our IPO team was always head and shoulders above every other Procurement Group in our host division There was also a noticeable difference in our IPO Team when compared to the other global IPO's. Even our worldwide customer divisions just didn't seem or show the same level of ability. Many of course would say I was biased in this line of thinking, but I strongly believe that it is they who are the ones who are wrong. Everyone in our IPO Team had this air of enthusiasm, confidence and capability. I'm big headed enough to believe it was down to my management style.

    Having worked in Ferranti's, learning to be a Toolmaker, a company that was organized along military lines where there were three layers of management above the workers, of which I was one of the lowest, being an apprentice. Those three upper layers of management, with each having their own cafeteria and toilets, I could never see any distinctive business benefit to be gained from such a rigid class structure. In fact it created the opposite effect, a 'we and them' structure which would always keep each other at each other's throats, 'divide and rule' being that kind of structures motto. Worse, it further enhanced a complete lack of sharing of information environment. It led to everyone from the bottom up to the top, going out of their way to screw each other level for their own benefit and to maintain their inflated egos and believed class status.

    When I heard about HP, it was like a breath of fresh air. On joining the company, I couldn't believe it at first, everyone shared the one cafeteria, and shared the same toilets. Everyone was on an equal status, no matter what their job function. The use of everyone's first name was the norm in daily use. The "HP Way" as it was called, was a visionary act, well ahead of its time back then. Bill and Dave, Messrs. Hewlett and Packard were true entrepreneurial visionaries of their time. Their style was so successful, that many companies would later follow in their shoes and implement that style of management.

    Communications was the key factor, information was freely communicated downwards for everyone to know. A monthly site update meeting was the norm, particularly on how the company was faring. In later years when the company got so much bigger, Bill and Dave were involved less and less in the company, then the information being fed downwards became less and very selective. I was a true believer, follower and supporter of the "HP Way." It convinced me that if you put your trust in people and gave them the responsibility for their actions and for them to be successful, then they would rise to that challenge. I tried to practice all these things, but I also recognised that as HP was a non-union company, my role as my teams' manager, also meant that I had to operate as their shop steward. On a few occasions that didn't go down too well, with some of the higher management levels in the South Queensferry site!

    It was never an easy task to operate as the IPO team manager giving guidance, direction, tasks to be done and discipline. On other occasions, I was standing shoulder to shoulder with my fellow employees and defending them against issues which may affect them negatively. Somehow I managed to do it and enjoyed all the challenges and problems that such a dichotomy would throw up at me.

    First and foremost I would always stick to the first basic rule, trust your employee, give them the responsibility and ownership of their tasks. Learn to stand back and ignore the urge to step in and interfere and take over, a trick Zenger would never get the hang of.

    If you are of the attitude, "If you want a job done, do it yourself," you will never succeed. You must stand back and monitor from a distance. If things don't go to plan or the exact way you want them to go, try to make alternative suggestions, but let the employee work it out as his responsibility. Gradually that approach will build employee confidence and ability, as well as their trust in you.

    I had a few other rules I would apply to myself, and I managed by them.

    I would never have an employee come and ask for permission to do something, just have them come to you to seek forgiveness if it all goes wrong. Even then, give them the support and help to get over whatever went wrong. Never use a mistake against them or cast it back at them. They'll learn better and faster and make fewer mistakes in the future.

    I would never steal an employee's thunder for their good ideas, good work, or good inputs. I would always make sure that everyone knew from whom the good work, good idea, or good input came from. People like to know they are doing a good job and openly welcome recognition for it. In turn it will lead to even more employee enthusiasm, participation and employee success and growth. Always make sure that whenever possible, your employees actively witness you operating on their behalf, even if that may directly have an impact on yourself with higher levels of management. That supportive approach will bring honesty, trust and loyalty to you and your whole team. You will eventually find out that your team members will also jump to your defence when that need may arise.

    Communications are crucial, share all the information and trust your team members to treat such news with confidence. Make sure you reward those who consistently go the extra mile. Money is only a short term motivator, but it is also a very important one and should never be underestimated. It may well be only a short term motivator, but get it wrong and it is a long term de-motivator. Open recognition of efforts is the biggest motivator of all and it has to be a continuous ongoing process. I always remember my Foreman from Ferranti's Bob Robertson, once saying to me, when he failed to get my pay increased, which led to me leaving Ferranti, "John, the money is not very good, but look at the laughs you get!!" Sure I had lots of laughs, but Bob had forgotten the most important part of all and didn't play that card. His recognition of good work done, was to give me even more difficult and varied work to do, knowing full well that I could do it and would rise to the difficult challenges. That was the best motivator of all, but the pay had also to be right, if I had been paid fairly, then I may not have had a career with Hewlett Packard.

    I previously mentioned paid time off, helping team members in this way to deal with their personal issues will also help reap even bigger dividends. Always try to offer a form of supportive counseling help which is private between yourself and your team member. It will help to build even more trust within the team, but disguise it in such a way as to not come across as counseling. If ever there's a word that will scare people off from being helped, it's the word counseling!

    Anyone who has ever experienced depression-which could or could not have been induced by the stress of work-will tell you it's a very difficult issue to work through and solve. Most mature people will try and hide it from others, they don't want anyone to think they are weak and cannot deal with things. Depression is an illness, no different from any other illness, but it seems to have a stigma attached to it.

    I have had personal experience in dealing with depression which included overcoming panic attacks and the fear of going to work. True to the norm, I followed the standard pattern and the only two people who ever knew about it were my doctor and my wife. Not one person at work knew about it, it's amazing how you learn to hide it and cover it up. But I did battle on with the illness for two years, to fight my way through it, which I successfully managed to do, thanks to the support from my wife and my doctor. I once met my doctor in a restaurant, he and his wife were out celebrating some event. I was in the restaurant with a group of American business visitors. My doctor, at my next appointment with him, said to me, that he was sitting there knowing what I was going through and how much of a fight I was fighting to keep it all together. That to him proved I was determined to get well again.

    The secret to winning though with depression, is to recognise and understand what you have and how you develop your own process to deal with it internally within yourself. I noticed those patterns in one of my senior team members, casually one day as it neared lunchtime. I openly asked him if he fancied a walk at lunchtime, the weather looked nice outside, a lovely day for a walk and I wanted spending a bit of it out in the sunshine.

    Daily lunchtime walks around the outskirts of the facility were common with employees since the facility was situated in the countryside, and people liked to get away from their desks for a little while. So there was nothing suspicious to be garnered by others from me suggesting a walk.

    During the walk I asked the team member how he was feeling? After a little while he started to describe the feelings and effects of depression. He was most surprised that I had spotted what was wrong and freely admitted he was suffering from depression and was under medication. I explained to him that I could read the signs as I had the 'T' Shirt, I had been there before and knew exactly what it was like and what he was going through. Like him I hid it from everyone else around me. I went on to offer my support and told him he could have someone to talk with about it, without anyone else ever knowing about what he was going through. When we got back to the IPO office, I shouted to him across the office floor, "That was a good walk, I needed the exercise, and it got me away from my desk, I need to do that much more often, do you fancy doing that every day?" Saying it like that, everyone around heard it and would think nothing untoward about it. However, my team member also recognised I had a very different reason for saying it and he replied, "Yeah, let's just do that, I need the fresh air and to get away from my desk also."

    So for a number of months, we both went out in all weathers for our lunchtime walk and I was able to support him and help him talk through his illness, leading to a much speedier recovery. He thanked me for all my help and understanding as well as maintaining his privacy. Taking that line of action also allowed me to help make sure the team member had every support at hand to maintain his success with the projects he had in hand. That made it a win-win for all, the employee and our continued IPO success.

    59. All work & no play is no fun at all...

    Everyone in our IPO team worked hard, so it was important to allow fun in the office and to have off-site fun and play. Daily fun and laughter could be heard emanating from our IPO office, I encouraged it. Fun and laughter in the office is very important as it relieves the built up stresses and allows the team to relax a bit during the normal work hours. I would make myself the brunt of the amusement from time to time. This also helped ensure that I as Manager, I was also seen as being human and approachable. The laughter that emanated from within our team, on occasion caused some displeasure with other managers whose offices surrounded our IPO office, particularly when members of their staff joined in on the fun.

    I would always try to use humour at every opportunity. I would have all sorts of comical things around my desk area, I'd pick them up in the various places I would visit when traveling. I once had a Gorilla sitting on my desk that whenever a noise was made, he'd start singing a rock and roll song! All those things helped to relieve the work tension and bring a smile to peoples' faces. A happy worker is a productive worker.

    It was also important to make sure we had fun outside the IPO office. The office Christmas party was always just a wee bit on the wild side, you'd likely find our IPO group members forming a circle and all singing "Simply the Best," when the DJ played the Tina Turner classic number. All helping to further emphasise we were "Simply the Best." It was our signature tune after all!

    At one Christmas party, which normally started around 11.30 am, we'd arranged transport to pick us all up at the HP plant and take us to the Maybury Roadhouse for our Christmas meal and disco. Then around 7.00 pm we all headed into town, usually using a Corporation bus, helping the public to get into the festive spirit with our singing. On hitting the West End we made for the Rutland Bar. There was always a huge crowd in the Rutland and loud music blared, the bouncers were always on their toes. On one occasion though they missed the trouble that suddenly sprang up. I had my back to it, so was completely unaware of what was going on. Suddenly one of my staff, Claire Urquhart, who I was talking to, pushed me to one side, she had seen a bottle get thrown and it was headed straight towards my head, Claire pushed me out of the way, but she took the full force of the bottle on her shoulder and fell to the floor. At that point the bouncers had the guys ejected and came to see if Claire was okay. Thank goodness she was, but she had a bruise, which she said was better than the team taking me to hospital to have my head stitched up!

    Sadly, one Christmas the bouncers wouldn't let us into the Rutland bar. You always had to make sure you appeared sober to enter. John Thomson bent down to tie his shoe lace, lost his balance and fell over, that was enough for the bouncers not to let any of us in! There are plenty of other bars in Edinburgh, so no harm done.

    60. 10th Anniversary...

    On the 10th anniversary of our IPO I decided to organize something special. I had previously realized, especially since it also happened to me, that because of the efforts of each of our team members who were managing their business, they were often kept away from their homes. It was now also time to reward their partners in our celebrations. This was to be in the form of an off-site celebration for IPO members and partners or spouses at the Drimsynie Resort on the west side of the Scottish Highlands.The plan was we would all stay for a fun filled weekend, with a choice of activities for all to choose from. There would be Golf, Horse riding, Clay Pigeon shooting, and Bowls and for the winner of each event, there would be a fun trophy. Each trophy was in the shape of an egg and it would be presented to the person who proved to be the most "eggcellent" in partaking in that activity, at that evening's celebrations.

    Drimsynie complex is a hotel surrounded by log chalet type cabins, with a varied selection of outdoor and indoor activities and sporting facilities, which we were going to make full use of. We would kick off the event with a party in the largest chalet on the Friday evening. As most of our team was involved in frequent overseas travel, we had a more than ample access to the supply of 'duty free' spirits. To these we would add a supply of beer and soft drinks, mixers and nibbles. Some of the team member's partners made even more delights to eat. We were all set for a fun filled evening, complete with party games. Needless to say the evening soon drew out into the small hours of the next day, creating a few hangovers that had to be managed during the next day's events! This only helped to add to all the fun.

    As this was our first visit to Drimsynie for our celebration, I had also invited the GIPO Manager Karl Heinz Hartmann and his wife Christel and their youngest daughter. Knowing what my group were like, I had those guests housed inside the hotel, I also knew Karl Heinz wouldn't come to the party in the chalet, he would recognise it as not ideal for his little daughter. That though didn't stop the Hartmann family from having a great time at dinner. After dinner they were on the dance floor all night for every Scottish dance, including a rather long and tiring 'Strip the Willow'. Their energy was amazing, they all just loved learning the Scottish dances. Years later Karl Heinz would comment on such a great night he and his family had and that every member of our team made sure they were not left out. In fact they encouraged them to take part in all the dances.

    It was at the evening party in the chalet that my IPO team gave me a huge surprise. Totally unknown to me my team presented me with a whisky decanter inscribed with,

    "Simply The Best!"
    Presented to John Wastle

    The IPO Team
    On Our 10th Anniversary.

    Sheila was also given a huge bouquet of flowers. They had caught me unawares and for once I was completely speechless, much to the team's amusement. I was so chuffed (pleased, grateful) that they had gone to this length on my behalf. That decanter still holds a prime position in our cabinet at home.

    At breakfast Derek Buglass commented that he had looked out his chalet window at the loch. It is a sea loch and between the time he last looked at it and when he looked at it that morning, the tide had gone out. This lead Derek to ask, "God did I drink all that as well in my drinks?"

    On the golf course, Jim Rooney played the longest drive of his golfing career. The ball went straight for 275yards, but it was vertical, and straight back down 275 yards, giving a total drive shot of 550 yards. Unfortunately the ball only landed about 30 feet in front of him, nevertheless it was the longest drive of the day!

    Out at the horse riding event, Malcolm Newlands, who was not the tallest member of our group, somehow managed to end up with the largest horse on the planet. However, his height didn't stop him from clattering his head on the stable roof. Malcolm was quite a sight to behold with his short legs split astride this monstrous brute of a horse. He was virtually doing the splits around the whole trek. Every now and then he would let out a loud yell as he bounced up and down on the horse's back and smacked his 'family jewels' in the process. It was to get even funnier as after the trek, watching Malcolm dismount and try to waddle bow-legged back to his chalet!! Mind you he did get off lucky as we trotted along the water at the side of the loch, his horse wanted to have a roll in the cold water. But by then Malcolm's able riding skills had improved to such an extent, he did manage to stop the horse from rolling in the waves.

    The Clay Pigeon shooting contest turned out to be quite a surprising event. In this case the trophy being played for was the "Eggsterminator Egg" The winner and undisputed champion for this particular event turned out to be the biggest surprise of all. It was Rose Patrick. Rose was one of those ladies who would never go anywhere without her handbag, high heeled shoes and all her make-up on. The fact that the Clay Pigeon shoot was taking place out in the countryside half way up a mountain, made no difference to our Rose.

    Rose appeared at the Land Rover with all the slap on, skin tight pants that looked as if they were sprayed on, high heeled shoes and handbag. She promptly climbed into the back of the Land Rover whence they all set off up the side of the mountain to the shooting area. The instructor had two shotguns a large one and a smaller shotgun. It was soon Rose's turn for her first shot, as she steps up to the line, she says to the instructor, "I've never fired a gun in my life." She picked up the shotgun held it loosely, shouted pull, to release the Clay, and said, "Ooohh," She pulled the trigger, and her shot went all over the place. Rose then said, "That bloody thing hit my shoulder!" At that point the instructor said to her, "Next shot hold the shotgun butt tight into your shoulder." Rose is a quick learner, she shouldered it tightly for her next shot. From that second shot and every shot thereafter, Rose never missed hitting the Clay Pigeon. She was incredible for someone who had never fired a gun in her entire life; she was a natural, and richly deserved her 'Rambo' trophy. She put all the boys to shame! Maybe it was something to do with her first marriage... A shotgun wedding!

    Between the rows of chalets lay a small grassy slope which had to be negotiated to get from one chalet to the next one. Not a problem really, until that is when it became wet after a drop of rain, and even more treacherous when combined with the copious amounts of alcohol that everyone consumed. All of which led to hoots of laughter from all as they made their way from one chalet to another dressed in their Sunday best! If they were to give a score card for negotiating that journey, the highest score would have been awarded to Claire Urquhart. It was she who made the most inelegant downward passage towards her chalet much to the amusement and pleasure of others and with their encouragement as they egged her on. Just as well clothes are washable!

    On the night after the party and the dance. Sheila and I left to go back to our Chalet, before the others, they were still deep in merrymaking. We were lying in bed and could hear the noise as our IPO team were making their way somewhat unsteadily back to their chalets. They stopped outside our chalet, and started to sing at the tops of their voices..."Simply the Best"...! Guess they all had a good time.

    61. EIPO Black Forest Eat Out...

    On one of our joint UKIPO and GIPO meetings in Boeblingen, or Bubblegum as my guys would call it, we had each of our two IPO group's key personnel, engineers and key business staff get together. We needed to share ideas and strategy on how we would work together to address the bigger HP opportunities. On this occasion, Karl Heinz Hartmann had reserved rooms in Bad Tienach Spa and had arranged a dinner in an old hostelry in the village of Zavelstein. As we were all staying in the Bad Teinach Spa resort right on the edge of the Black Forest, the village of Zalvestein was a walk through part of the forest to reach the old Inn. Fortunately, we were walking there was in daylight and uphill, so getting there would not be a problem, however, the journey back would be a somewhat different matter!

    The entire EIPO Team meets with GIPO Dick Locke.

    We set off for the dinner. Walking through the Black Forest was fun as there was plenty to see, everyone on the lookout for the wild Boar! We all reached the hostelry after a wander around an old ruined castle of sorts, and were led inside by Karl Heinz, to wend our way down a windy stair. We were to eat in the dark cellar! Karl Heinz said, "This is a special place where we eat only with our fingers and a dagger and a wooden board as a plate, plus we drink out of Bull horns." The party soon got into full swing with these wild guys from the UK IPO.

    Karl Heinz went on to say, "You can only take a drink by saying, Zum wohler allerzeit!" At which point everyone has to lift up their Bull horn and shout out "Zum wohl(e) allerseits!," and then take a good swig at the wine in the horn. The Scots contingent just loved that, as well as drinking the wine of course. So every thirty seconds or so one would shout out "Zum wohler allerzeit!" and down the throat the wine would go, with everyone else shouting the same and swallowing another gulp. Karl Heinz went on to explain to someone that people would just pretend to drink by raising the Bull horn to their lips. Yeah right, like the Scots contingent would do that! Those that forgot and took a drink by themselves and didn't follow the set pattern by not shouting "Zum wohler allerzeit!" toast, had to either sing a song or kiss a virgin!

    As the night wore on we had to change a few of the arrangements and rules. First to go was "Zum wohler allerzeit!" It soon became "Bill Boller outta sight!" (Our Boss.) The next rule requiring modification, due to the fact we were the only folks in the cellar, the kissing of virgins had to quickly change to kissing ex virgins! Otherwise there would have been no kissing and the few ladies in our group were already in relationships! By now everyone, except Karl was well oiled. He was still practicing just lifting the bull horn to his lips without drinking. Then someone unearthed this strangest of mechanical contraptions, a machine that represented an old Bavarian gentleman, it was passed around everyone to have a shot, it produced snuff on the back of your hand to be sniffed up each nostril. John Keogh almost choked on it and was cursing away about it choking his nose!

    With the dinner and drinking now over, it was time to make our way back to the Bad Teinach Spa Hotel. The upside, it was downhill, so it would make it easier with us all being a bit tipsy. The downside, it was pitch black outside. Not to worry, Karl Heinz had all contingencies covered, he appeared with an armful of huge candles on a stick for everyone to light their path! So off we all set to stagger down the hillside with flaming torches in hand.

    We almost lost a couple of the guys on the way down. John Keogh bumped into John Thomson and they both disappeared off the path into the darkness as their torches went out when they fell to the ground. After a little fracas we managed to get them back onto the path, candles reignited and into the group, which was now spread out over about 500 yards from front to back. Karl Heinz Hartmann was getting more and more agitated that we'd lose someone in the forest and have to call out a search party. However, we finally managed to help the real tipsy ones like John Keogh and John Thomson down to the bottom. John Keogh looked somewhat different as he glistened in the light from being covered from head to foot in candle wax!

    We made it back to the hotel and straight into the bar! We all needed a drink after that journey, any excuse for some beer. We weren't at the bar two minutes when we noticed a couple of guys from England having a beer, at that point Jim Rooney shouts out, "That was never a goal!" The English guys knew exactly that Jim Rooney was talking about the 1966 World Cup! We ended up with the English guys joining us for a few more beers before we all went off to bed.

    62. Eating can be Fun...

    Shenzhen on mainland China was an odd place even in the best of times. It is where taxi drivers are encased inside a wire mesh cabin in case someone tried to beat them up and rob them. I quickly learned that it's not a good idea to sit directly behind the driver in case of an emergency stop, which seemed all too common with the hundreds of bicycles that had to be negotiated. There were no seat belts in the beat up taxis. Even squatters were different, all over the streets you could see these makeshift dwellings built illegally on the roofs of the building, a good wind would bring them toppling down on top of the people in the streets below, but there were always plenty more to replace them!

    It was on one of those trips to China that I had a very unusual dinner. The General Manager of the Volex Pencon Chinese facility took us all out to dinner. The restaurant was not one that the ordinary person on the street would visit. It was a bit up-market by Chinese standards, but nowhere near the standard of western Chinese restaurants. The Chinese Volex Pencon General Manager, summoned over the head of the restaurant, and said something to him in Cantonese. A few minutes later the restaurant manager appeared at the side of our host with a large white polythene bag, which was moving! In all my travels in the Far East, I had learned, 'Don't ask!' Enquire later once it has been cooked and eaten. I looked at Derek Kozer, who had looked at me also in wonderment. So we all tucked into a beautiful tasty meal, everything tastes like chicken. So I could now ask, "What was that we just ate that was in the polythene bag?" "Did you like it?" came the reply, to which I had to respond with a "Yes, it was very tasty." I was then informed we had just been eating a Bat...! It's true, the Chinese will eat anything, as long as its back faces the sun! Mind you, one of the courses on the table was a plate of fish heads. What on earth is there to eat in a plate of fish heads? But then the Chinese women eat chicken feet, and there has got to be even less to eat on them!

    At another business dinner the Chinese host had ordered this huge fish, which was placed down in front of me, with its head facing me. As the chief guest I was given the privilege of eating the fish eyes first! I sort of passed on that, having that fishes sharp teeth pointing towards me and those staring white eyes, it just looked like it was daring me to eat them at my peril.

    Jim Rooney and I both attended an IPO meeting in Singapore. Jim was attending the IT Systems Meeting, which had been added onto the World Wide IPO Managers meeting to give inputs and get agreement on the way forward. That evening a dinner, a karaoke and dance trip had been organized aboard a Junk boat. The star performer that evening was to turn out to be none other than our Kenji Mutaguchi from the Japanese IPO. Kenji was a wild guy at the best of times as we had found out. In Japan they have different eating habits from us folks in the West. On the menu that evening was 'Drunken prawns.' A huge glass bowl of live king prawns arrived on our table, some spirit poured onto them, and they all start jumping about in the bowl, hence the name 'Drunken prawns. In the restaurants where the westerners eat, they would then take them away and cook them.

    But before they took the prawns away to be cooked, quick as a flash, Kenji Mutaguchi, takes one out of the bowl, rips the head and legs of the live prawn, dumps the head and legs on a side plate and proceeds to open the prawn shell body to eat the uncooked prawn, sushi style! Meanwhile the remaining part of the prawn, bodyless head and legs of the upper prawn torso have now crawled off his plate and onto the table. With cries from the westerners sitting nearby shouting, "Kenji!!" To which he replies, "Oooppss!, I forgot who I was dining with!" Kenji made up for it later as he was quite tipsy by the time we all got back onto the bus to take us back to our hotel, with Kenji entertaining us all the way singing all the songs in his repartee.

    Singapore is a culinary delight, you can find all sorts of different tastes in food, many of which are in the most inexpensive areas. A favourite has to be the Hawker Stalls which are dotted around all over the place, the better ones being found in small groups, but all have strict hygiene controls, so it's quite safe to eat there. Westerners maybe be a bit more discerning in what they choose. The sea food is to die for, huge prawns, crabs and lobster, I thought I was in heaven. The system was you visited each of the stalls and pick out what you fancy and go sit and eat it all on nearby benches.

    South Shore restaurant area, a favourite spot of mine, is where Lionel Alexander and his Irish wife Lynn would take me. It was a bit like Hawker stalls, but featured outdoor restaurants where they served your tables. These are renowned for the Chili and Pepper Crabs, they have to be tasted to be believed, but you have to drink copious amounts of draft beer, to stop your mouth going on fire. Every time I left the table my mouth was numb. The downside is the beer, alcohol is a sin, and as such attracts a large tax. But the food is inexpensive, so there are never any complaints.

    On another visit to Singapore, we were visiting the IJBU facility, I had Frances Horne, GKN Key Accounts Manager, and her manager in tow. We were that evening to meet our hosts in an area between Changi Airport and South Shore. Because we said we liked sea food they had picked out this special fish restaurant. We all met at the restaurant entrance and we were led towards our table, passing huge glass fish tanks full of fish swimming around.

    Once at the table we were told that you point out to the staff which fish you would like for dinner! At that point Frances said to me, "I can't do that, John pick a fish for me!" I wandered over to the tank and picked out a couple of fish for us. When I got back to the table Frances asked how could I do that. I said it was easy, I just looked for the ones that were not smiling at me!

    On a visit to Singapore with the Bergamo team, again we were in a fish restaurant and discussing the menu. Mara Ongaro, when it was pointed out that they had sea Cucumber on the menu, let out a yuck!! followed by her saying "Stronzo Di Mare!" We had to press her for a translation of those Italian words, to which she quietly replied, "(Expletive) of the sea!" I have to agree it is one of the worst things I have ever tasted and I am in no hurry to ever taste it again.

    In Singapore there are just some of the most fabulous eating areas around the Singapore River. Clark Quay was always a favourite of mine, it also had Hawker stalls on the side streets, but the ambiance of eating on an old Chinese junk tied to the pier is something else, especially on a hot tropical night. One of the Junks specialised in hot stones. You would order surf and turf, and a large steak and lobster would arrive placed upon a very hot stone sizzling and still cooking away in front of you, along with a baked potato, all to be swallowed down with more draught beer.

    Another favourite eating area was Bugis, which at one time was known for its transvestites, though I've yet to ever see one there! All around you are market stalls, so if you want a copy watch as well as silk items and other stuff, this is the place to be. Once again you just sit down at a table and folks just come across and thrust menus at you, you pick what you want and another comes over to ask if you want beer, the food is always great. As you eat there always seems to be some show or other going on around the tables. On one occasion Jim Rooney and I were eating and this old wizened man with bony fingers appeared next to us, then he started to break his way into a coconut husk by just using his fingers, how he never broke a finger I'll never know.

    It was in Singapore where I had my first Birds Nest Soup and Sharks Fin soup at a very upmarket club, Raffles Golf Club to be precise. One should also go to Raffles Hotel for a Singapore sling in the Long Bar, it's the only place in Singapore where you can make a mess! By dumping the shells once you have taken the peanuts out of them. You also have to try what they call the King of fruits, Durian. It stinks to high heaven, so much so you are banned from eating them on public transport or taking them into hotel rooms. It's an acquired taste which I quite like, looked a bit like yellow custard. If I had the choice between the king of fruits and the Queen of fruits, Mangosteen, I'd plump for the Queen.

    Eating in Japan was interesting, our head host had invited us to a very special dinner, it was housed in a small Japanese village, the building was made of wood and paper. As we tapped on the door, a Geisha met us on her knees, we had to remove our shoes and entered on our knees, sliding another panel by she led us into a small room with one low slung dining table, no chairs. You sat on the floor with your legs crossed. Fortunately for useless westerners like myself, I was given a sort of chair with no legs, but it had a back that supported me. If there had been a fire, I'd have told everyone to save themselves, it took me about half an hour to straighten myself up after sitting in that position.

    Kyung Sook Lee and Shinichi Yamashita were with me, one on either side of me, with the head host directly opposite me and his henchmen on either side of him. Kyung Sook felt uncomfortable all through the wonderful dinner we were to experience. Kyung Sook wore a mini skirt on and there was no place for her to hide her legs, when sitting with legs folded at such a low table, poor girl she did as best as she could by using her napkin, but at times her embarrassment would show, not that the Japanese gentleman sitting opposite would complain!

    The menu itself was printed on hand made rice paper and we had twenty three courses, I've that menu mounted in a frame at home. This restaurant was licensed for more than just alcohol, they could prepare Blow Fish! So we had Blow Fish! I lived to tell the tale, so the chef knew his stuff. We also had Kobe beef and all sorts of other stuff. It was all served by the Geisha complete in her kimono and always on her knees. A meal I shall never forget.

    When in Tokyo, Shinichi took us to a Noodle bar for lunch, those noodles were great, cooked in what tasted like a beef consumme. On another day we went to a Teriaki Bar and another Sushi Bar, I've loved that food ever since. The least appetizing was the Bullet Train to Kyoto. They don't sell food on the train, you buy a box from the vendor on the platform. The good news is, you're not on the fast train for long, so you won't starve.

    In Korea though, I felt the food was an oriental version of what you get in Germany. They seemed to like their cabbage, served up under the exotic name of Kimchi! But the noodles were okay.

    Not all good meals are to be had in Asia, we had a few good times in Europe. I will always remember that when I got home from any overseas trip, my daughter Faye would always ask me what I had to eat. On my return from a trip to Italy with Pierre Lavissiere, who liked good food, being a Frenchman and one from the coast, his first choice, like mine, was always seafood. On this occasion he heard about a nice restaurant north of Venice and not far from a supplier we had to visit. It was a seafood nouvelle cuisine type restaurant.

    I remember telling my daughter, she was very small at the time, that they served this large round plate and all around the outside of the plate were clams, prawns, mussels, cockles, squid and oysters. Smack in the middle of the plate was a baby octopus. I told her I ate my way around the outside of the plate and left the octopus till the very end. Then I stuck my folk into the octopus to pick it up, but it refused to budge, it held onto the plate with all its tentacles and suckers, there was no way I could get it off the plate and into my mouth. Faye sat there intently and asked, "What did you do?" I went on to tell her, that with my left hand I picked up a spoon and made to smack the octopus on the head. At which point the octopus raised its tentacles to cover and protect its head. Then, as it was no longer holding onto the plate, I was able to quickly stick my fork into the octopus and get it into my mouth to eat! Her face was a picture of disbelief and horror.

    When staying in Sindelfingen in Germany we had a favourite German Pub/Restaurant called Funzel's. It was all wood inside, like something out of Hansel and Gretel, full of character and good beer and good food. My favourite was Rost Schweinshaxe, roast pig leg, which was covered in hard crackling. They had other good food, always meat of course, but I couldn't see past this roast pig leg and for starters Maultaschensuppe, which was a beef consumme soup with a huge ravioli right in the middle of it. Our German friends would also eat spetzle, some sort of noodle type thing that I could not get the taste for at all. They also spread on their bread, schmalz, which was literally pig fat, and they would add salt to it. That stuff would go straight for your arteries, I'm amazed they didn't fall over with a heart attack after eating that stuff!

    Being renowned for their sausage in Germany, I never really found one that I liked. But that didn't stop Juergen Gerecke and John Thomson from having a sausage eating contest, just as well they had lots of beer to wash it down with! During that competition, Derek Buglass was more interested in getting into the schnapps, yuck. I could never get the taste for Schnapps, there was peach schnapps, I thought, that'll be like Archers we have at home, no way, it all tasted the same, ghastly! I can recall when we were at the Hanover Messe a large trade fair, Wilhelm Boechler kept urging us to have a schnapps, we don't like it so you should have it! It was also at the Hanover Messe we ordered Gin and Tonic, but they didn't put any Gin in it. When pressed why there was no Gin in it, the reply was that tourists don't usually notice it!!!

    Ireland is another country where you come across some excellent eating establishments. On the way to Galway near Shannon is a place called Durty Nellies, next door to Bunratty Castle. It's a bar type restaurant, the food is not fancy, but tastes superb. Not far from Galway on the way to Limerick is a place called Morins on the Weir. It's a little bit off the beaten track down narrow Irish roads, a bit more narrow than normal, and you come across this little pub and restaurant, that sells sea food to die for! You can have, and I did, a huge plateful of mussels and oysters which you can wash down with a nice pint of Guinness, one of the best lunches I have ever eaten. In fact, if I had had my way I'd have stayed there all afternoon!

    Just outside Cork right on the sea is a beautiful village called Kinsale, it's a diners delight. You could spend a few weeks there enjoying all the wonderful restaurants that supply everything from steak to seafood, and Chinese if you want. I had a good few evenings tasting the delights, especially the oysters, mussels and lobster. There was a little restaurant up on the hill, that was so cozy to walk into on a night where the rain was horizontal and chilly. Drinking the stout, in this case as we're so close to Cork, it has to be Murphy's, sitting beside the log fire burning away, then to go and sit down and let my taste buds run riot over the sea food platter placed in front of me. I need to go back there again!

    On a trip to Dublin, John Thomson and I both took our wives. That evening we were invited out to dinner by two of the Directors of Computerfab, Brian Kearney and Keiron O'Farrell and their wives, Geraldine and Mary. They had just been awarded the Raven Computer Housing Module to manufacture for DMK. They wanted to go out and celebrate, that we did!!! We all met up at a restaurant called Brubecks, I guess named after Dave Brubeck the Jazz musician. A very modern eating house, in fact an ultra-modern eating house, bright lights and chrome everywhere and décor that resembled a piano. Back then this was the "in place" in Dublin. The food was good, but it didn't make a burning impression on my brain, unlike some of the other places in Ireland. What did leave a lifelong impression on my mind, was the amount of Irish Coffee's we all had to drink. First time in my life I can ever say I had a skin full and it was all down to coffee!!! The company that evening was great, we all just laughed and laughed. It turned out that Keirons' wife had been a Nun, the stories she told had us in tears with laughter all night long, I'm sure the Irish accent just made the stories even more funny, either that or all the Irish coffee!

    It's funny, although I have had many good meals in the USA, there is not one that leaps out at me and says, "I'll remember the taste of that forever." Though I did develop a liking for Prime Rib and the gravy that came with it. But then I also liked Colonel Saunders Kentucky Fried Chicken and the gravy that came with that. I had a liking for the A&W beef burger and the gravy that came with that, gravy being a common denominator here!!! I always recall being with Bill Burdick, he was a real greasy burger guy. We were to catch a flight from Seattle to Spokane, on Horizon Air. Before we got on the flight, Bill needed his greasy burger shot, so we headed off to a burger joint in the airport. I settled for a chicken toastie and a gin and tonic, Bill said have a burger they are great here. I stuck with the chicken. This monster of a greasy beef burger arrived, complemented with a monster amount of French fries, to which Bill dutifully added copious amounts of tomato ketchup. Bill ate the lot!!

    We headed off for the flight, I could smell the greasy burger oozing out from Bill. We boarded the plane to be met by the best air hostesses I've ever seen, they were wearing hot pants! They led us to the front of this small plane and asked if we would like a drink. At that point I said, "He's the one reeking of greasy burger, not me, and I'll have a G&T." Bill had a root beer! My accent took the trick, they kept coming with the G&T's, and wanting to hear me speak in my cute accent.

    63. Traveling can be Fun...

    It was on one of my trips to Shenzhen China we came across the regimented Chinese pedantic bureaucracy upon entering the country. On this trip with Volex Pencon, they asked if it would be alright if DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) procurement folks joined us? Not a problem to me, but it turned out to be a nightmare for them. My wife and I had dinner with them the night before, they were an okay couple of Scots guys from the DEC facility in Irvine. We dined on Shabu Shabu beef in a Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong, and delicious it was too. The DEC team had visited Shenzhen the day before my arrival, but they wanted to go back for another day to finalise some things. They should have checked their paperwork first.

    There are two ways to enter Mainland China at Shenzhen, by rail and by car from Hong Kong, today we were going by car. We arrived at the immigration point. You have to go through one by one, and it can take a while. Derek Kozer said, "John, you go first, one of my guys is on the other side and I'll follow through last." The immigration official, takes my passport, looks at me and my picture on my passport, takes note of the passport details and mumbles "Visa," I point back to the passport and he starts rummaging through the pages until he finds the visa stamp. Takes down more details from it, nods and gives it back to me, I'm now free to enter China.

    I'm now stood outside the Immigration office with the Volex Pencon Chinese representative and we've been standing there for thirty minutes, "What's going on?" I said, "It didn't take me as long as this." Then the Volex Guy goes into the building and fifteen minutes later brings out Derek Kozer, Derek says to me, "The DEC guys have been arrested!" Turns out the idiots didn't check their visa dates. Their visa expired the day before, and they were under arrest for illegally trying to enter China! So both Volex guys went back inside to negotiate, another half hour passes and they all finally come out. The DEC guys had steam coming out of their ears. They were issued with new visas for that day only, at five times the original cost and it had to be in cash!! Needless to say they were not happy campers at having to fork out the extra cost in cash! It ate into their Duty Free spending money!

    The DEC guys' problems reminded me of my first trip to Shenzhen, so I was well aware of the immigration and on how pedantic they could be. On my first visit I was with one of the CIPO, (Chinese International Procurement Operation) engineers, he was taking me to visit HPC, (Hewlett Packard China). We traveled there by train. That was quite an enlightening way to enter China. All the folks on the train carried all sorts of weird and wonderful items of baggage which included huge polythene bags all filled and bulging with stuff. They are not allowed to live in Hong Kong, so they travel there to buy stuff to take home to Shenzhen. This included livestock on the train, all sorts of chicken and pigeons as well as a few reptiles! When we arrived at the station, there were literally hundreds and hundreds of Chinese everywhere, queuing up to get through immigration. I thought to myself this is going to take a while, but it didn't since I was channeled via another exit route away from the masses. Once all the documentation was checked we carried on into the railway station, there were stalls everywhere selling all sorts of counterfeit and copy goods. Next stop was to pick up a taxi.

    Rows of state taxis awaited us; I jump in behind the driver. Obviously no thought is given to passenger safety, the taxi driver is surrounded by a steel mesh cage, it is there to protect him from being robbed by his passengers!! I know who the robber was, he took us in a roundabout way to the HP facility, negotiating his way round thousands of cyclists. When we got to HP, my CIPO colleague starts to argue with the driver in Cantonese, my IPO colleague threatens to get the police as the taxi driver was trying to rip us off, they both finally settled for a certain amount to cover the journey. I'm glad the CIPO guy was there. Being a dumb westerner I'd have just paid him and been none the wiser!

    In Singapore I came across an unusual situation. Myself and a couple of folks from Corvallis were in a taxi heading off to have dinner in a restaurant. Our taxi driver gets cut off by a guy in a sports car. Immediately an argument starts up between both drivers, our driver gets out of the taxi and both men are shouting at each other. Our taxi driver sticks his head in the cab, apologises and asks if we saw what happened, which we told him we did. He then goes back to argue with the other driver. A few minutes later, he gets back in the cab, apologises again, then tells us he and the other driver are going to the police station.

    We all sat in the police station for half an hour, then out comes our driver and says, "Okay, I take you to restaurant now!" Before dropping us off, he gives us a card and tells us, "Thank you very much, this my brother's restaurant, you go there give him card, you get free dinner." I wonder why back home we don't solve out car rage incidents like that!!!

    Because most travel is by air, there are always situations arising that you never forget. I did experience one particularly scary flight one January, I was headed off to Stuttgart. I caught the shuttle flight from Edinburgh to Heathrow London, normally just over an hour, but this time it took over three hours!!! We flew smack bang into the January gales that hit southern England, it was the worst storm on records, Seven Oaks in England after the wind blew through, should have been renamed Three Oaks. The plane was being buffeted about like a cork on the sea. The air hostesses, as they were handing out sick bags were themselves filling them, not exactly the sort of thing squeamish passengers wanted to see! The plane was really bouncing around, the people around me were either praying, sweating, crying and moaning. It did make me feel a bit uneasy, I just closed my eyes and ignored all going on around me.

    Eventually we landed, with a bump! Everyone was applauding, the Captain said that the airport was now closed. We were the last plane they would allow to land, hours after it was meant to! I disembarked and made my way to the frequent flyer lounge to await my flight on to Stuttgart. After an hour they opened the airport again and we departed another couple of hours later, but by then I had quite a few gin & tonics, so I was ready for the flight. The new aircrew said there would have been no way they would have got on a flight right after getting off that previous one!!!

    I was on an Eastern Airways internal flight in the USA, when we landed at San Francisco I made my way to the baggage reclaim, only to see my case arrive, with a lock burst open. Off I went to the baggage office to complain. They wanted my ticket and boarding card and baggage tag. I gave them my ticket and pointed to the baggage tag on the case as I had left my boarding card on the plane with the other half of the baggage tag stuck to it. They refused point blank to accept responsibility and they would not allow me to re-board the plane to get my boarding card. Then the (expletive) said, "Tough, next time don't leave your boarding card on the plane." After I used a few expletives towards him, I told him I hope he and the bloody airline go bust. Three months later that's exactly what happened, the airline went bust and everyone lost their jobs. As the saying goes, "Whae daur meddle wie me!" Hearing the news of the airlines sudden departure from the skies, brought a happy contented smile to my face!

    On another flight a blond good looking air hostess opened the overhead compartment, a camera case fell out and hit me on the shoulder. She was so apologetic, I said it was okay no harm done, the way she smiled at me, I'd have forgiven her anything! As I was getting off the plane, she stepped in front of me blocking my exit, again said sorry and handed me a bottle of champagne! Now that is how to look after your customers.

    A similar situation happened on a flight from London to Edinburgh, I was tired and on my way home. I climbed into my seat, pulled the pillow away as I sat down. I felt something hard that I had just sat on. It was someone's wallet, opened it and there was a passport and money. I pushed the attendant button, and an irate air hostess comes up saying, "Sir, can you wait till everyone has boarded?" I said "Sure." She did come back once we were airborne, this time with a smile and asked, what can I do for you? I showed her the wallet and passport and she was full of thanks and disappeared towards the back of the plane. She came back and said the gentleman was very thankful for receiving his possessions, he hadn't noticed they were missing!! The air hostess offered me a drink, which I declined, I told her I was tired and about to drive home. As I was about to disembark, she handed me a large brown bag full to the top with miniatures, saying that I could have one when I got home! Another nice touch I thought, and from British Airways at that.

    I was on a trip with Derek Buglass (Bugs) around the world, on the flight out to Sidney. The air hostess took a shine to Bugs, we had been upgraded to business class, but on opposite sides of the plane, no great problems to me. Bugs afterwards told me that the Air hostess gave him the special touch, by tucking him in. I still don't know whether to believe him or not! On that same journey around the world, Bugs lost a bottle of rum, he was moaning to the air hostess that he left it on the previous flight. I whispered to the air hostess, wind him up, give him a miniature bottle of rum. Which she duly did and said she hoped it help him cope with his loss!!!

    During the time when the USA bombed Libya, the F-111's flew out of the UK. I was in Germany with John Thomson and we turned up at the airport in Stuttgart to catch our flight home. As we drove in towards the Terminal building with our German friends, we started to notice it was not as normal, there were soldiers and tanks barring our entrance. Eventually at the road block we were asked to produce our travel documents and they let us through. To check in we had to go up an escalator, its ingress being blocked by a heavily armed commando and the fiercest looking German wolfhound I have ever seen, they were guarding the British Airways check in. He looked at our tickets, and let us proceed to check in, but would not allow our German friends up the escalator.

    Once we checked in, we duly started to make our way back down the escalator to spend some time with our friends before we flew out. Again we were met by yet another armed-to-the-teeth commando with an equally big and fierce looking hound. He said you can't go back down. He obviously doesn't know the Scots! We said we're going down, we have to say farewell to our friends and there is nothing up here to keep us occupied for the next hour or so. After a few grunts and groans he let us go back down, to enjoy a German beer in the bar with our German friends. In hindsight, it was very reassuring that they were taking no chances in protecting us just in case some terrorist planned a revenge attack on the British for allowing the USA planes to fly out of bases in the UK.

    Derek Buglass and I were in Indianapolis and were heading to catch a flight to Green Bay. With us was an engineering guy from Corvallis named Cary Bybee. Cary is a quiet bible basher, with whom we got on with very well, and it turned out that he was a black belt judo expert. As we were making our way along the travelator towards our departure gate, this American guy comes running through pushing people out of his way, he pushes me to one side and I shouted at him for his behaviour. He stopped, turned around and comes back to threaten me. He says he hopes he's sitting next to me on the flight. At which point Cary grabs him and says if my colleague is sitting next to him, then Cary will swap seats. Cary was going to thump him there and then but Derek Buglass and I stopped him. We said his sort is not worth worrying about. Cary was raging, he still wanted to go after him. He was annoyed that visitors to his country would be threatened like that and wanted the guy sorted out. A beer helped bring the matter under control with Cary apologising for his countryman's behaviour!!

    Malcolm Newlands and I were on a visit to Bergamo in Italy. It was time to head for home, and we had to get to Malpensa Airport at Milan. It was going to be tight, but Malkie knew the way and we made it in time. Turned out we didn't have to rush after all. We all boarded the plane and the Captain started to take off, then he stopped, over the speaker system he said, "I've just spotted a hole in the runway, we need to go back to the terminal till they fix the hole!" Two hours later, they patched up the hole and we got to leave. We made it just in time to catch the last shuttle to Edinburgh, and we only caught that because it was a Friday night, and nothing leaves Heathrow on time on a Friday night!!

    We had many a fun time driving as I've already mentioned. Pierre Lavissiere was always a great fun guy to be with in a car on long drives. We would always comment on things we would see as we drove along. On a visit to Italy we were driving from Venice towards Milan on a road that has to be the busiest Superstrada in Italy. But that today somehow seemed worse than normal. I happened to comment to Pierre that there was an awful lot of Italian military vehicles on the other side of the road, heading away from the direction we were heading. I commented to Pierre about it and said do you think we are heading into a war zone as all those Italian military vehicles are going in the opposite direction? At which point Pierre laughed dropped his cigarette on his lap almost setting fire to himself and almost veered into a truck in the inside lane. Next time I need to make sure of what's going on before I make a joke.

    Pierre once set up a short holiday break for Sheila and I in Paris, he knew the layout, so did a great job in finding us this little hotel near the Eiffel Tower. I'm glad Sheila was there, her French came in handy as all my French is swear words!! The next time I was in Grenoble meeting with Pierre I thanked him for picking such a great hotel and location, and followed up with, "You know Pierre, there were a lot of Germans in Paris and none of them were carrying a gun" At which point he spilt his coffee on his lap!

    John Thomson was on a supplier visit to Germany with Juergen Gerecke. As Juergen turned around a corner, there in front of them was a huge Dam. John recognised the Dam as the Mohne Dam from the Dambusters movie and said to Juergen, "They've fixed it." "Fixed what?" was Juergen's reply, "The Dam." John said, "We blew that up during the war." "Never." Juergen said. He had to eat those words later when at the supplier, the supplier pointed out the water mark that remains there to this day where the flood water from the destroyed Dam flooded the plain.

    Jeff Kaye, Juergen Gerecke, Karl Daumueller and I were doing a EIPO promotion to the divisions in Colorado. After that was done we were going to split into two groups and visit our current customers. We flew into Denver to pick up two cars, and were then going to head south to Colorado Springs staying at the Double Tree hotel. Unfortunately we were beset by a couple of mishaps, first of all my luggage got lost, but they knew it was on the plane. Outside it was snowing a blizzard, and it so happened that in Colorado Springs, there were two Double Tree Hotels and I was the only person with the correct directions. As I was screwing around trying to find my case, Karl and Jeff went ahead to get the rental cars.

    Eventually my case turned up and I headed off to find the guys. They were nowhere to be seen! I got the rental courtesy bus to the car rental lot, to be told they had headed back to the terminal. Back on the courtesy bus I go to the terminal and find Juergen, who was wondering where the hell I had been, funny I thought the same of them. We found Karl who said, "Jeff has taken off for Colorado Springs, he'll meet us at the hotel." I said, "Oh, that's good, I hope he knows where to go as there are two hotels." Karl intimated that Jeff was aware which one it was. Fine, let him get on with it, the guy is a dork, there's a blizzard blowing and he will be in the car on his own.

    The drive down was a nightmare, cars were abandoned all over the freeway because of the deep snow. We made it fine to the hotel, got checked in and enquired if Jeff Kaye had arrived. The answer was no, yet he had left at least half an hour before we left Denver Stapleton Airport. We would wait in the bar for Jeff to arrive. We were in the bar for almost two hours when the hotel lobby door opened and in comes Jeff, not a happy chappie. He grunted, said he was going to bed and would see us at breakfast. I said to Juergen and Karl, "$10 he went to the wrong hotel!"

    Next morning at breakfast, Jeff told us he went to the other hotel. Then his car got stuck in the snow at the hotel and had to be dug and towed out. He could see the correct hotel on the other side of the freeway but couldn't find a way to reach it. He eventually went north, back up the freeway towards Denver, took a turn off and came back south again, eventually getting into the hotel. No handy parking places were left, so he had to struggle through to the hotel entrance. This explained his not too happy demeanor on his arrival. Serves the stupid smart arse right, next time he'll listen and wait to travel in convoy with everybody else.

    Sheila and I were in the USA, where I was to attend a World Wide Materials Managers Meeting in Monterey. Before that we were on holiday in Nevada, I checked my voice-mail to find a message telling me to phone home. Our son had been in a serious motorcycle accident and was in the intensive care unit. We dashed across the Sierra Mountains through Yosemite National Park to San Francisco. We just missed the flight out, there was however an early morning flight that could get us home early.

    It was at this point Northwest Airlines topped my popularity chart. Sheila was traveling on a non-transferable air miles ticket. When NWA became aware of the seriousness of our situation, the ticket restrictions were waived and they booked us into a hotel at the airport and gave us seats on the next morning flight.

    We rushed off to the airport early morning, dropped off the rental car and caught the flights home. Only to realise when we were at home, our cameras were left under the seat of the rental car.

    Fortunately, I contacted our Corporate IPO secretary Jean in Palo Alto, who phoned up the rental car company, only to be told, no cameras were left in any cars. At that point Jean took off for the rental company at the airport, created a merry old song and dance about it. Again they said nothing was left, at which point she said, I'll call the police. Almost immediately, the rental car person said, "I've not asked so and so." Then disappeared, and as if by magic returned with our two cameras! Good lass, she stuck to her guns and we got our SLR's back again.

    Not everyone operates in an untrustworthy manner. On the trip that Derek Buglass and I made to Australia, after a long journey we were tired and grabbed a taxi at the airport terminal. The cabbie took us straight to our hotel and hoped we'd have a nice stay. About half an hour later I realised I had left the duty free cigarettes in the taxi. Stupid me I thought, I'll have to buy Sheila more. Then the phone rang in my hotel room. The taxi driver had found them and brought them back to the hotel for me. He left before I could thank him. The cigarettes were not that expensive, but at least I'd have liked to have thanked him and bought him a beer.

    I never traveled much by train in a foreign land, but when I did, I always had an expert on hand, like Brian McKandie when on the SNCF TGV high speed train in France, and Shinichi Yamashita when on the Bullet Train in Japan, or Karl Heinz Hartmann when using the trains in Germany. Unlike John Thomson who got put on the train by Juergen Gerecke in Stuttgart heading towards Grenoble, where Brian McKandie would meet him. Unfortunately, John was supposed to get off half way and change trains, but no one told him that. "Muss mann umsteigen?" Is the question he should have asked! The train John should have been on, arrived in Grenoble exactly on time, as they always do, unlike the UK. Brian McKandie was patiently waiting, for John who didn't arrive.

    So whilst Brian set off towards the railway station bar to wait for the next train, John had to get another train back to where he had to change trains. Eventually some three or so trains and as many hours later pulls into Grenoble, and John finds Brian still waiting on him. Trouble was, he waited in the bar, and by now somewhat worse for wear with all the beer he had been drinking whilst waiting. Brian being what Brian is like, asked John if he fancied a beer before they set off in Brian's car for his home!!!

    There is also relaxed fun type traveling to do, especially in the USA. A great place to do all the things you want to do and not pay an exorbitant price to do it. I experienced two unusual methods of transport when in the USA, on holiday of course.

    The first was Hot Air Ballooning in Napa Valley. I had to get up early in the morning, before even the sun was up! The air at that time is very still, but what an experience, there were about six others that climbed into the woven basket, once the balloon had been inflated. It was still darkish but the sun was about to rise. As we floated higher, the sight of the sunrise over the California countryside and wineries was spectacular. What I didn't expect was the hot head I was getting every time the pilot ignited the burners, next time I'll wear a hat. As we drifted along a pick up car would follow us to be on hand when we landed. Landing was an experience, as we were coming down we clipped the top of the trees, which in the process disturbed an eagle roosting at the top of a tree. It let us loudly know, in no uncertain terms, it was not happy about us disturbing its early morning nap.

    We landed with a bump, then lifted again followed by another bump, I felt like a pebble bouncing across a lake. We came to a sudden stop as the guy from the pickup grabbed the rope. Which then tipped the basket over, fortunately the lady who landed on top of me didn't spend her life eating at all the fast food joints! Then we all got into the back of the pickup truck to drive to the highway for a bus to take us all back to the parking lot and our safe on-the-ground cars.

    The next experience also took place in California, I had planned a vacation with Sheila, Faye, Sam and Ginnie Scott. We had planned on traveling all over Northern California and Oregon. The drive around Crater Lake was incredible, as was the Jet Boat ride up the Rogue River. The highlight of that trip was the White-Water rafting we did on the South Fork of the American River which ran into Folsom Lake. At certain times they opened the gates at Folsom Dam to make sure plenty of water flowed into the lake and to generate electricity. This was to be one of the better days they let the water run loose.

    Sam, it has to be said was not too keen on the idea of shooting the rapids in a rubber raft. I wondered if he knew something we didn't! It seemed fine at the time, where we were, the river was flowing calmly as all five of us climbed into the rubber raft with our guide and helmsman taking up the back position on the raft. Sam and I looked at our guide, I'm sure thinking exactly the same thing... Gosh he looks kind of young for this? Our guide did assure us that although he was a student, he had done this hundreds of times, so we believed him, no option really!

    The young guide, who Faye liked of course, set Sam and I at the very front of the raft, Sheila and Ginnie were at the back and Faye in the middle. As we paddled off downstream, our guide said, if it gets bumpy, slide into the centre of the raft, if you fall over board, the life jackets will keep you the right way up, just carry on downstream feet first! How reassuring he was.

    The first rapids were fun, hoots of laughter all round with the guide shouting, "Paddle like you mean it!" Then he tells us as we near the end of our ride, the last rapid is the worst, "The Devils Hole." As we were just about to hit it, both Sam and I said, "Awww (expletive), look at it!" The first bump and the ladies behind us disappeared into the raft and Sam and I just screamed as we paddled like crazy to keep the raft in line. We have the pictures taken that shows our expressions at that point. When we all finally got off the raft and made our way to the School bus, minus windows to take us back up the hill, Sam said, "That's it I will never do that again!" It was clear if we wanted to go White Water-Rafting again, it would be without Sam! But boy what an exhilarating time we all had and we still talk about it.

    64. Far East Trips...

    At one stage not long after Dick Locke had left HP to set up his own Procurement Business, our European IPO's found ourselves with a new Manager, Michelle Long. Michelle was the best looking boss I have ever had, she was also a lot of fun to work with and was keen for the European IPO's to be more successful. Michelle, could hold her own with any of the guys when it came to a drinking session. In fact on many an occasion, she out drank them, so much so I named her "Hollow Legs" a nickname she loved. She always had a problem saying Edinburgh, it always came out as Edinboro! After much coaching on my part she eventually cracked it and got the saying word perfect. The penny eventually dropped and she said, "It's like saying, "Bread and butter." In an American accent of course! Which funnily enough is correct! Michelle's logical way of working it out, I used on many occasions again. One of those being with Tony Alonso, who after months of living in Spain and traveling throughout Europe, just couldn't say Edinburgh, without it coming out as Edinboro. The minute I said, "Say it as you would say bread and butter." The problem was solved. I even heard him telling other people how to say Edinburgh the same way.

    Karl Heinz Hartmann and I had been discussing the need to become more visible in the Far East, Michelle latched on immediately. "Great idea, let's do it." she said. Michelle got the agreement of the others in Corporate and set up our trips to visit the Asian IPOs we had not visited before, as well as some of the HP divisions also along the way in Singapore, Penang Malaysia, Taiwan, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul in South Korea. I think some of the IPOs were not too keen as they saw this as the Europeans playing in their backyards, but Singapore and China had by now got used to seeing me in their area of operations.

    When we were in Singapore, it was a quick drop in to visit the SIPO office as both Karl Heinz and I had our own customers to visit as well as the other divisions there, who were not our customers, but we wanted to make them aware of our presence in Europe and what we had to offer. It was a good trip to Singapore for me, gave me the chance to spend some time with APDO, Asian Pacific Distribution Operation, who were a strong supporter and sung our praises. This did not go un-noticed by Michelle, it was likewise from the IJBU, Ink Jet Business Unit. The APDO folks wanted to push the boat out and make an impression of their gratitude for the IPO support. Bok Swee Tay was the Materials Manager and he took us all to the up market Raffles Golf Course Club for lunch, which was excellent. It was there I had my first taste of Shark Fin Soup and on a later visit Bird Nest Soup. To finish that day off, we ate on Clark Quay on the Singapore river, aboard an old wooden junk where they served steak and lobster served on hot stones. It cooked before your eyes, but it's always hot and sticky in Singapore, so the heat from the stones didn't help us to cool down much, Michelle fixed that with ordering a couple of jugs of beer.

    From Singapore we moved up the coast to Penang in Malaysia. Our IPO was already supplying one of the divisions with the little microswitch that was being assembled into every Computer Mouse they made. Karl Heinz was also supplying a component for the LED Division. The plant tours were something else, especially where they were making the LED's Light Emitting Diodes. It looked so low tech, but it did the job.

    We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in Penang, it was somewhat different in hotel styles, because Penang is so hot and steamy, the building was of an open airy structure, designed to maximize air flow. Though it was quite a luxurious hotel, we had to use taxis to get everywhere as it was not in the main part of the city. That was not too much of a problem though as there were ample taxis and they were cheap. We were going to move to another hotel the next day which was right on the beach, the Shangrila on Ferringi Beach.

    That night we stayed in the Intercontinental, we had a meeting in my room to go over the events of the past couple of days in Singapore. My room was high up around the eighteenth floor and from my balcony had a great view over the swimming pool area and the palm tree gardens below. It was pitch black at night and we were all standing outside on the balcony having a drink and looking down at the lit pool area and the buildings surrounding about a mile away. I got out my laser pointer and you could see the red dot on the far off buildings.

    At that point, down below around the pool area two women and a small boy appeared, and sat down to have a drink, while the little boy was running around the poolside. I shone my laser pointer into the swimming pool and the little boy saw the red dot. I was moving the red dot around the bottom of the pool. The little boy shouted, "Mum, Mum, come and see this!" As soon as Mum appeared I switched the laser pointer off. The boy was pointing to where it was, but Mum could see nothing. The moment she went back to her seat and her drink, I switched the laser pointer back on again and moved the red dot around the bottom of the pool. "Mum, Mum" the little boy shouted, Once more Mum comes over to the pool, too late I had switched off the laser pointer again. Mum moans at the boy for getting her up from her relaxing seat. Mum had no sooner sat down and the little boy was shouting at her again as the laser red dot was moving about the swimming pool. This time Mum comes stamping across to the pool side, but no red dot was to be seen, I had switched it off again. At that point, Mum gave the little boy a smack on the ear for wasting her time and strode off back to her seat and drink.

    As the little boy was rubbing his ear, I played the laser red dot on the pool bottom, this time there was no cry to his Mum to come and see the little red dot, he was silent. That was until I moved the red dot out of the swimming pool and it made headway towards the little boy, who took off like a bat out of hell screaming to his Mum that he was being chased by the red dot! They left the pool side not long after! Karl Heinz said, "John, you're terrible." Michelle and I just laughed. I'm sure that little boy is still traumatized to this day!

    Editor's Note: John, you sometimes show signs of just being a mean jerk!
    Author Response: Mark it down to British sense of humour...

    Next evening we were staying in the Shangrila Hotel right on the beach. Wow, here was a place to have a holiday. The grounds were tropical and the waves lapped the shore. As it was the weekend that approached, we were going to stay there and do some sightseeing. We paid a visit to the Snake Temple, where we all had our photographs taken covered in so called poisonous snakes, yuck! We visited Kok Si Temple, which was very beautiful with its high towers all gleaming white.

    One of the evenings we are in a beach side restaurant where, as you entered you passed a row of tanks full of fish. From which you could pick whichever one you want. As we passed, they were moving some fish from one tank to another and one leapt out slithering toward Michelle, "That's got your name on it I cried," Some women who were following us in, let out some screams and made for the exit. The restaurant was open air, right on the beach, but it had a roof over it, it was like the Intercontinental hotel, designed to maximize the air flow. From our table we could see along the beach to where natives were standing on the shore casting nets to catch fish. Somewhat dangerous I thought as there are lots of sea snakes around there and they are really poisonous. I did hear later they do lose the odd fisherman from time to time!

    Next day we lazed around the pool. I was lying on a lounger soaking up the sun's rays and I heard a clump, I thought it was the gardener watering the plants and he had dropped his hose. As I opened my eyes to see, I realized it wasn't, a snake had just fallen out of a nearby tree and was slithering away. I moved to another lounger where there were no trees! Michelle meanwhile, was off down the beach to get a foot massage and we'd meet her there for lunch at one of the beach eating hawker stalls, whereas always the food is excellent to eat and cheap to buy.

    On the way back from lunch we were walking along the beach and there was a Malay trying to get people to go paragliding behind his speedboat. He was not getting any takers. He started to talk with us in the hopes of persuading us to go up, but he was having no luck. I suggested that as he had no takers he should negotiate with me, a special knock-down price. My selling point was that once people saw someone up on the parachute it would encourage others to try it. The Malay had a big smile on his face and said, "You Scots are all the same!" Then he went on to say, "Okay, I give you a very special rate for a very special trip!" From those words I knew something was going to happen, but I couldn't back out after negotiating a better low cost rate.

    He fastened me into the parachute, then spoke with the boat driver. You lift right off from the sandy beach. As soon as the speedboat moved off the parachute filled up and I was off the ground. The special trip was, as I was about to find out, my Malay friend had told the speed boat driver to dump me in the Straits of Malacca and lift me right back up again, meanwhile they were all laughing on the beach. The sights to be seen from being way up in the sky tethered to a speed boat by parachute, were super. The water was clear azure and the fish below and to also look out over the top of the Malayan jungle that surrounded the beach area. It was well worth being dunked in the sea. My Malay friend thought I was a good sport and wanted to offer me a special deal on a holiday apartment for when I came back.

    Fun at the Penang Snake Temple. The things we do when on the road.

    Although for some reason I just didn't feel comfortable in the Penang capitol Georgetown, all the other areas I visited on the island then and later were excellent. Well, with an exception that is, around the Shangrila Hotel at around 5am when the local Imam called the Muslims to prayer through a loudspeaker that woke everyone in the radius of about two miles!

    Every one of my team who went on to visit Penang, loved it. I recall Jim Rooney and I staying at the Shangrila Hotel and we were sitting around its swimming pool area, in our swimsuits, having lunch and a beer. As we wrote up our meeting notes in our lap-tops, Jim noted, "We have had so much exotic travel I begin to associate palm trees with work!"

    Next stop was Taiwan. We arrived at the airport to fly to Taipei, but the airline were not going to let me board, as I didn't have a visa. But I didn't need a visa, two weeks before they had relaxed the rules for those with a British passport and who had an air ticket, and were not staying longer than fifteen days. I told them, "I don't need a visa." "Yes you do." said the airline staff. "No I don't, go and check it out, the visa rules were changed two weeks ago." I replied. Fifteen minutes later, someone came back said something to the airline staff, who quickly printed me a boarding card. I said, "Where's my apology?" "No one told us." came the reply. "That's an apology?" I slung back at them as I stormed off to go to the lounge.

    Chiou-Ming Chen was the Chinese IPO manager, and he made an effort to meet us in Taiwan at the hotel we were staying at, He was based in Hong Kong so it was excellent of him to go out of his way. He was a nice guy that I got on well with in the years to come. When we arrived, we were met off the plane by a chauffeur who led us to a big limousine, it was an hour's drive to the hotel in downtown Taipei. The Limo was furnished with refreshments and a TV! I only did see half the movie, I thought I'd see the rest on our return, but I didn't since they had changed the film!

    On my Taiwan visit, out for dinner. Chiou Ming Chen, TIPO Manager, Michele Long,
    HPP Corporate EIPO Manager, Karl Hinez, Hartmann Manager.

    Taiwan was a big supplier country to HP, so we spent most of the time in the TIPO office in meetings. That was good as it came through that we all shared the same issues with suppliers and other IPOs. We were well looked after, but I'm not sure it is a place I'd like to spend my summer holidays. It is a totally different culture. We actually visited General Chang Kai Chek's Museum which contained all the ancient artifacts brought there from mainland China during the Cultural Revolution, these were very impressive and very, very old.

    I recall us walking down through some sort of small park which became the main road. There were monkey's running around loose everywhere. I just kept my eye on them, they have a habit when you're not looking of nipping in and stealing something from you.

    The hardest thing to come to terms with was our walk down snake alley. I didn't find it very appetizing to see them cut the heads of a snake and squeeze the blood into a glass to be quickly drunk. It promotes a long healthy and virile life I was told. Well, maybe, but not for me. Cooked snake I could handle, it just tastes like chicken, but not the drinking of the snake blood.

    One of the other things that stuck in my mind was the traffic. You would pull up at the traffic light and almost immediately in front of you would appear about one hundred cyclists, scooter and moped cyclists, loaded up with goods and the women sitting sidesaddle. Off they would go as soon as the lights changed, I was surprised we never saw someone get creamed in the traffic.

    KIPO, Korean IPO awaited us. We were met by Kyung Sook Lee, whom I had already met on a previous trip to Tokyo with Shinichi Yamashita. Kyung Sook was keen to take on the hospitality role when she heard I was coming. She remembered the fun our group had when we were all together in Tokyo. South Korea was like Taiwan, a big HP supplier base country, the largest being Samsung and LG. Most of all the large companies are part of the one massive company. There was a HP manufacturing division in Seoul. It was part of the Microwave and Communication Group, building the same product as my host division in South Queensferry, so I had much in common with the facility.

    KIPO was managed by Deuk Soon Lim. He was a strange character, extremely serious with no room for humour of any sort, unlike his staff who complained to me about his style and wondered why I couldn't be the KIPO Manager! We had lunch with all the KIPO staff at a local restaurant, it is always good to mix with all the IPO employees, you can learn so much as we share the same issues. At the lunch I said to Kyung Sook, "My little butterfly can you pass me that food dish." "Why did you call me that?" she asked. I explained that when we were in Japan, you had a little shiny butterfly on the ankles of your stockings. From first impressions or seeing something for the first time, you can make something up that will remind you of the person. In particular, this imaging helps remember names, not a trivial function with Asian-style names.

    This tickled all their fancies and I had to find something that fitted each and every one of them around the table. There was laughter all around as I picked names for them, probably because Deuk Soon Lim had not arrived yet. Before he did I was asked what about their boss, what's the first thing that comes to mind. I said, "Duck Soup." That turned out to be a bad idea on my part, although they all had a titter about it, someone told Deuk Soon Lim who never saw the humour in it.

    That evening Kyung Sook had organized a Korean Pageantry evening which took place in a huge restaurant where you had your meal then moved into their theatre for the show. It was full of colour and warlike plays from the past. I enjoyed it, though was not too keen on the food, which didn't improve the longer we stayed in South Korea. Next day we were taken to the Palace. It was bitterly cold, but very impressive as we walked through the gardens. The Palace looked like Temples with all the carvings. We stopped off for some typical staple Korean food Kimchi, cabbage, although I could never get a taste for it.

    Everyone in Seoul wants to go shopping, so we all went to the Itewan shopping area. It was a confusing arrangement of streets and alleyways, but on different levels, prices were a bargain, but it was so damn cold you didn't want to hang around and haggle.

    Japan is another country of different culture, always best to visit with a chaperone. On arrival at Narita airport, you catch a taxi into the city centre, the drive usually gives you a good look at the Emperor's Palace surrounded by water as you drive by. The taxis themselves are an experience. The driver never gets out of the cab, he pushed a button to open the trunk lid for you to put your baggage in, then he has a lever he uses to open the rear door to give you access. The interior of the cab has what looks like little lacy doilies across the backs of the cab seats, and the driver wears white gloves! Probably why he doesn't carry your luggage, he might get them dirty!

    Most of the travel around Tokyo is by train. Shinjuku Railway Station is massive, but what caught my attention was all the down and outs. You'll see them in every country, but in Japan they all live inside the long railway passages inside cardboard boxes, which are all neatly arranged with no litter anywhere and when they doss down for the night, they place their shoes on the outside, looking as if someone would come along to take them away and clean them to be returned for the next morning! In the morning all the cardboard is stored tidily away to be brought out in the evening.

    JIPO under the Management of Michi Enji was the oldest of all the IPO's, it was first started and set up by Dick Locke. However we were not going to be there very long, so it was basically presentations to the HP Materials Managers and their staffs. On this occasion I had spent some time learning a bit of Japanese and started my presentation in Japanese, much to their pleasure and they applauded it. I also had a little Scottish gift for each of those who attended the presentation, a miniature of Scots Malt whisky, which no one refused and accepted with a great smile.

    We would finish this trip in Hong Kong and spend some time with Choiu-Ming Chen in the IPO office, which was housed in the Times Building. It's an impressive piece of real estate, in a very classy business part of the city. The trip, although tiring was one that helped us set out our stall in the Asian market, which proved beneficial in the years to come.

    65. Puerto Rico...

    Puerto Rico, our HP island in the sun, if you don't think about Penang that is! The HP plant in Puerto Rico is on the far side of the island from San Juan, where everyone has to fly into, from there you have two choices, catch a puddle jumper and fly into Mayaguez, or take a hired car and take your life in your hands. It's only recently they opened up a tolled freeway, which makes the choice that much easier. Having flown in and out of Mayaguez during a tropical storm, and being delayed for three hours, which we spent sitting in the airport lounge watching the steam rising from the runway, it soon became obvious the car was the better option, especially with the new freeway, you could do it in a couple of hours.

    Before the new freeway, it was whacky races time. It was like driving in Naples but worse when it got dark or rainy as there were no lights. People just drove where they liked. Derek Buglass said to me he was glad I was driving and not him! On one occasion driving back to the hotel after dinner, ahead we could see the traffic lights and slowed down as they were at red. That didn't matter to the ramshackle truck with it's wavering load that just came storming through the red light towards us, then swerving at the last minute to avoid us, bumping over the opposite side grass verge, losing part of his furniture load and carrying on as if nothing had happened, driver probably full of rum, or lungs full off cannabis!

    On one visit to Puerto Rico, we met up with Karen Kuchar and her boyfriend Wayne Pawelek. We all decided to have a drive through the tropical jungle and then on to the beach. Everyone piled into my car, as I drove along, we could see the road we needed to be on, but we were stuck on this one way system that was taking us further and further away from the road we wanted. At that point I said to everyone, okay, enough of this, I'm going to drive like a Puerto Rican, so keep your eyes opened. I immediately turned up the wrong way of a one way street and floored the accelerator, we quickly got on the road we wanted to be on, much to Karen's screams and shouts to watch where I was going. Karen had a good laugh afterwards about it, with Wayne saying, "Well if John hadn't done that, God knows how we would have got onto the road we wanted."

    On another weekend, Derek Buglass and I headed off for dinner and a drive around the coast, we saw this little restaurant right on the beach, so we stopped for dinner and a couple of beers. It was lovely and peaceful there just listening to the breakers crashing onto the shore. There were about three other couples also sitting and enjoying the ambiance. Suddenly this car pulled up into the parking area and two women got out, looked like mother and daughter. They headed straight for the couple sitting just down a bit from us. Then all hell broke loose, the daughter suddenly grabbed the woman at the table by the hair pulled her onto the ground and whacked her one. Then she set about the man the woman was with and let him have a hard punch to the face.

    The restaurant staff came running across to try and get control of what was going on. They told us that the woman who arrived with her mother was the guy's wife and had just found out about his love affair with this other woman and had come to the restaurant to put a stop to it, Latin style! Still we got a free beer out of it as the restaurant manager apologised for what happened, noting that that doesn't happen very often. Which implied it had happened before! Great entertainment, and a free beer, not much to complain about there!

    This is the IJBU Procurement Team, Puerto Rico, CVD, SDD.

    The HP folks we worked with in Puerto Rico were always a nice bunch, they were always women. They also played a good supportive role by attending the supplier meetings in Europe. Karen Kuchar was the Commodity Manager, so she managed to keep them in control, once Ireland came on board, the Puerto Ricans struggled a bit to keep the Irish in control.

    On Derek Buglass's first trip to Puerto Rico, he became somewhat distracted. There had been an organizational change of staff which we were not aware of, but they had organised lunch at a nearby restaurant. We were told some other folks were going to join us. Then this really good looking woman appeared in short mini skirt and stockings and high heels, Bugs couldn't keep his eyes from wandering. She turned out to be the new Materials Manager. She was on the fast track, not too far in the future she became the Divisional Manager!

    There was always ongoing changes in staffing, which proved difficult at times to remember who was who.

    66. Ireland...

    Our business with Ireland grew quite steadily, it was helpful to have the IDA (Irish Development Agency) take such an active role. In fact on one occasion, Tom Kennedy had us organised to go and meet with their Government Minister for Labour at the Dail Parliament. This lasted all of five minutes, just so the Minister could get his photo shoot to help boost his chances at the next election. Personally I thought, "If there's ever a guy I wouldn't vote for, it was him!" Tom Kennedy was a great support and would try and meet up with me whenever I was in town. On one occasion he and his wife Kay, who was the Irish Prime Minister's personal advisor, (so she earned more money than Tom), took Sheila and I to dinner, The next day Tom's wife Kay and Sheila met up to go off and have lunch together. Tom would refer to his wife Kay as his early retirement plan!

    When in Dublin, we tended to stay in the Burlington Hotel. This hotel was great for the business contacts, it was always packed with people from all over. It was within walking distance of most places, so we could dump the car and walk to which ever pub or restaurant we wanted to visit. I recall one evening John Thomson and I were sitting in their bar. I looked across to the bar, and there was Tom Kennedy standing with a bunch of people from Japan. I wandered over towards Tom, who didn't see me coming. As soon as I got within earshot I said, "You can't get near this bar for (expletiving) Irishmen." Tom knew immediately it was me behind him, "John what are you doing here?" "Keeping your crappy Irish suppliers in line." I replied, He laughed and asked if I wanted a glass of Guinness, then introduced me to his Japanese visitors. They were obviously wondering who this strange guy was that their chaperone had suddenly begun having a craik (friendly conversation) with.

    I said to Tom, "Why don't you take your visitors round to the IDA building? They'd like that I'm sure!" Tom knew exactly what I was getting on about. The last time we went back to his office, it was late and we couldn't get in to the back door of the building without first moving the hookers aside that were plying their trade there. I jibed Tom about those working ladies, he replied with, "Well it's a bit warmer here under the building and we do like to try and look after all our workers!"

    Just around the corner from the Burlington Hotel are two really nice restaurants, one French, the other Italian. There was excellent food in both, and smack between them is a great bar. During one of Bill Boller's trips over, he wanted to go to Ireland to have a look. As usual we stayed in the Burlington. Bill liked the bar atmosphere. We dined in the French restaurant, again he approved of the food, but Bill had heard about the Irish pubs and wanted to go and see one. We went to the one across the street. Having frequented that establishment on many occasion, I knew it would be noisy and typically Irish, with plenty craik going on. The weekend before, Scotland had played Ireland at Rugby, and beat Ireland on its home turf. I walked up to the bar and shouted "Two Pints of Guinness please." The barman looked at me and said," What the expletive are you still here for, trying to rub in our defeat?" After that every Irishman and woman in the bar started talking to this Scotsman and American. Bill soon got the hang of the craik and the pints of Guinness, which showed as we tottered unsteadily back to the hotel.

    The bars in Ireland are real social gathering areas, many of which have live music being played. One of the most well-known of these is O'Donahue's, Sheila and I paid it a visit one Saturday afternoon. It was packed and there were a number of musicians sitting in the corner playing away and getting free pints for their efforts. We hadn't noticed the time, but it was well past pub closing time and all the doors had been locked shut, but the beer still flowed and the music still played. We got up to leave and the bar tender said, "The doors locked come this way." He led us out through a courtyard to a back entrance. He was looking through a small crack and said, "The Garda's there I know he is." "Okay quick out you go before the Garda comes back." We couldn't get out the door for others dashing to get inside. What a fun experience that was.

    It is well known that Ireland is famous for its bars and social life. There's an area called Templebar, very appropriate name, it has bars every few yards, with one actually called Temple Bar. Sheila and I with some of my team were to have a fun time in there. Sheila and I visited the Temple Bar one lunchtime for a quick bite to eat, and a Guinness of course. In the corner was a young girl plucking away at her Banjo, I said, "Can you play the Mason's Apron?" She smiled and immediately started to play the tune, much to our pleasure. That evening a couple of my guys were arriving in Dublin, so we all set of for the Temple Bar. There in the corner was the same little girl plucking away at her Banjo, and as soon as she saw us enter the pub, she changed her tune to the Mason's Apron and gave us a nice smile.

    That evening in the Temple Bar was a fun filled one. They brought on Irish Step Dancers, which looked like something straight out of Michael Flattley's Lord of the Dance! But it got better as people in the bar also got up to do a folk dance. There was a couple there from the American deep south and they got up to entertain the crowd with their local French Cajun step dance. As the evening wore on it got rowdier and rowdier, it was good to step outside and get some cool air.

    We had two top level managers from Roseville come over, Terry Pierce, Manufacturing Manager and his Financial Controller Dennis Balmer. They were a really nice couple of guys, both mad keen on golfing. Of course we would be taking them past some of Ireland's best golf courses. Though here were two senior managers, they appeared as if they were let out to play! First stop though was to visit their suppliers of choice in the Cork Area. That was fine by me as it gave us a good excuse to go and have dinner in Kinsale.

    Both Terry and Dennis wanted to see some of the sights on their trip, and as we were in Cork, Blarney Castle was a must, as was kissing the Blarney Stone. This turns out to be no mean feat even for a teenager! First you have to climb your way to the top of the ruined castle battlements. There are iron rails to help prevent you falling over. The Blarney Stone however seems to be located on the far side of what may have been a chimney of sorts. Not only is it not easy to reach, the process is you have to do it lying on your back with a large part of your upper torso, hanging over the edge, bent backwards and downwards to reach the stone for you to kiss. There is an attendant there to help you and hold onto you and there is an optional fifty pence charge. Dennis, being a Financial Controller was for (expletiving) on paying the fifty pence charge, those were his words. Funnily enough, once Dennis saw how I had to kiss the Blarney stone, I made sure I paid the attendant up front before I went through the process. He soon coughed up his fifty pence, rather than run the risk of the attendant not holding onto him.

    The attendant told us that in all the years, he had never lost a patron, though a few sets of false teeth did manage to plummet earthwards onto the rocks below. Both our American friends assured me that they did have their own teeth, so that would not be a problem. However, most of us had a sore back for the rest of the day.

    One morning I was down to breakfast first before both Terry and Dennis arrived. I was tucking into my usual Full Monty, Irish style when I saw them hovering around the self service area. They came to my table muttering to themselves, said Good Morning, then no sooner had they sat down, they were up again and off to the self service area. Then back they came again. Minutes later they were up and off again, then back to our table. I asked, "What's up with you pair this morning?" Dennis replied, "Have you not seen the woman on the other side this morning?" "No I hadn't." I replied. At that point Terry said, "Well you should go and see, she's got the lowest top on, they are almost popping out!" I just shook my head and said, "You guys ought to get out more often."

    When we were loading up to leave, Dennis was too busy watching that same woman get into her car, he put a big scratch along our car with his luggage!

    67. Trip Funnies...

    During the trips funny happenings would occur out of the blue that were just not related to work. But they made many a business trip a special point of laughter to recall.

    There was the time Irene' Shirridan and I were in Boston. It was a Saturday afternoon and we were wandering around doing some sightseeing. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were sitting eating ice cream on a bench at Faneuil Square in downtown Boston, beside the Market area. I happened to comment to Irene, asking if she noticed something odd? She said, "Yeah, there's a lot of Irish people around." I said, "Not that, that's because there's a football match on with the Irish National Football team. Look around at all the same sex couples that are mingling and hanging around." Irene hadn't noticed, until I pointed it out to her.

    We didn't know at that point what was up but we soon found out. At 2.00 pm on the dot, those couples all formed up, it was the Annual Gay Parade through Boston. Once they were all lined up, they set off on a march around central Boston, chanting at the tops of their voices, "We're here, we're Gay, we're fabulous, get used to it!" They kept on chanting those words again and again. All of a sudden, from the pub across the Square, the doors suddenly burst open, and all those Irish football supporters covered in green had come out to see what all the commotion was. After a few grunts and groans they all disappeared back inside the pub to drink their beer.

    A short while after, those same pub doors burst open again, the Irish were off to watch the football match. Being typical Irish supporters, they lined themselves up and marched off, but they also had a chant of their own. They started to shout. "We're here, we're white, we're expletiving dynamite!" You've just got to love that Gaelic sense of humour, I almost dropped my ice cream laughing at them.

    I was in Spokane, staying at the Red Lion Inn, as were a couple of engineers from South Queensferry. I was having breakfast with John Cochrane and Vinod Malkani when Vinod said it was his birthday. So we all agreed to meet up after work and take Vinod out on the town to celebrate his birthday. It was a Friday so we could have a good night as we didn't have work next morning.

    We met up later and set off for downtown. We were going to have a beer in the Irish pub then go to Clinkerdagger, Bickerstaff & Petts, a good steakhouse restaurant that overlooked the Falls on the Spokane River. It was one of those restaurants that specialises in birthday fun. All the waitress's wear miniskirts and low cut tops, just the place to take Vinod to celebrate. John Cochrane had pre-warned the staff it was Vinod's birthday and to make it special for him. He was constantly being surrounded by buxom ladies. They brought him a birthday cake and a present inside a round tin, as well as singing happy birthday to him. The theme of the round tin on birthdays was, whatever was in it you had to wear it. Vinod's tin contained skimp bra and panties, which he gamefully donned on top of his clothes. We made him wear them all evening.

    When we left the restaurant to go back to the Red Lion, we looked for a place we could have a good drink. Butwe found ourselves stuck in a huge traffic jam. It was Friday night and the time when all the kids cruise up and down the main street, shouting and whistling to each other, much to the disdain of the local police who were constantly telling them to drive faster. The teenagers saw Vinod with his gear on, so it wasn't long before they were shouting at us. As soon as they heard the accents, they wanted to join us in our car. One of the girls shouted to Vinod, "It's your birthday, how do you expletive in Scotland on your birthday?" Vinod wanted to let her in our car, we said, "No, that's jail bait!" Eventually we got back to the Red lion and made our way to the bar.

    John Cochrane went straight up to the Rock Band that was playing and told them it was Vinod's birthday. He announced that he wanted to dance with every girl in the bar!! The drinks were soon flowing and a few of the girls in the bar got Vinod up to dance. We were all getting well and truly oiled. Vinod was a nice guy but could be easily led. This huge female, not pretty, massive, came across and asked Vinod to dance. So we egged him on and up he got and she wouldn't let him leave the dance floor. Eventually he got back to his seat. John and I told him that as she spent a good bit of her time dancing with him, he had to buy her a drink. John and I knew exactly what we were trying to get him to do. Vinod was reluctant, but gave in and called the bar maid over, telling her to buy that girl over there a drink of whatever she was drinking.

    John and I knew the 'large lady' would see this as a come on, and we were right. No sooner had the drink been placed in front of her and she was told who had bought her the drink, she came straight over with drink in hand. She grabbed my seat, which had castors on, and she gave it a push which sent me flying two tables up and in she went to sit right beside Vinod. John and I bought another couple of rounds, then when Vinod was up dancing with the lady, we both slipped off to our rooms, leaving Vinod to enjoy the rest of his birthday with his new found friend!!

    Next morning Vinod had a few choice words to say to us. He couldn't get rid of this large girl, she wanted to go back to his room with him. John and I just laughed about everything that happened the night before, with Vinod saying, "Don't tell anyone back home about this!" Like we would do that!

    Whenever I visited Boeblingen, Germany, it was always great to relax after work in the swimming pool area. All the hotels we would stay in had fairly good spa facilities, the Germans love their sauna's. I must admit to having two quite pleasant spells in their saunas. The first was in the Holiday Inn in Singelfingen. I arrived fairly late one evening after a hassle flight from the UK. I checked in, went up to the room and dropped off my stuff and made my way up to the spa area. The place was deserted, I had it all to myself, peace to chill out. I got stripped off and towel around my waist stepped into the sauna, splashed some water on to the hot coals, closed my eyes, lay back and relaxed.

    Not for long, about five minutes later my peace was noisily disturbed, the door opened and in came five loudly chatting women. "Hello Sir." they all said. It's not often one finds oneself sitting amongst five good looking naked women. Bang went my peace and quiet, they all wanted to talk about their day, and my day! It turned out, two blondes were German and the other three were air hostesses and American. It was quite good fun just blethering about nothing in general.

    I was getting too hot so made my goodbyes and left to shower and go for a beer in the bar. Quarter of an hour later I heard this voice, "Hi John, I don't recognise you with all your clothes on!" Thankfully they were off out for dinner somewhere but said they'd see me when they got back! I had an early start, so was off to bed long before they got back. It might have been interesting though, had I stayed up!!

    On another visit to Boeblingen, this time I was staying at the Ramada in Sindelfingen. It was almost a copy of what happened in the Holiday Inn, but this time I was lying relaxing in the sauna when the door burst open and in comes about fifteen German guys. Now I had to sit up as it was a squeeze to get those fifteen naked Germans onto the three levels of wooden benches! Sauna's are never very big places at the best of times, so it was a tight squeeze. Then it got even tighter, another one of their colleagues entered, this time it was a woman! They all squeezed up to let her in, the only access to the space they had made was for her to squeeze past me into the space above me. Not a problem, until she slipped as she was trying to step over me and ended up with her legs straddling my right shoulder and her crown jewel up against my ear. There was laughter all around and she said to me, "I hope you are alright?" After a few minutes I left to go shower and go for a beer. I wondered later how many women in the UK would go into a sauna naked with fifteen of their male work colleagues! Not all that many I would guess.

    There were always things going on in the hotels. On one occasion I was with Karl Heinz Hartmann and Pierre Lavissiere while we were staying in the Red Lion Hotel in Boise Idaho. We were pretty much beat by the time we got there and had dinner, so we all set off to crash in our rooms. Next morning I got up, showered and set off to meet the guys for breakfast. I stepped out of the room and thought, "That's funny all the doors in the hallway were shut and there were buckets of water lying around. I got to the restaurant, but the other guys had beat me there, and were sitting eating, halfway through their breakfasts. "Where were you last night?" They asked. "What do you mean, I was in my bed?" "Didn't you hear the fire alarm telling everyone to assemble in the parking lot?" Obviously I didn't. My buddies didn't even inform anyone that I was not there!!! I said, "Thanks a lot guys, I may have been cremated in my bed!" All in all though, I think I won the day, they didn't get back to their beds for a couple of hours, so were shattered. It was getting near time for breakfast, before we had to leave for our meeting, so they stayed up. I was the only one as fresh as a daisy!

    A similar situation happened in a hotel we were staying in close to Nottingham, but this time it didn't really affect us. We had just returned to the hotel from a business dinner, to find the hotel grounds full of people, many still wrapped in towels. Apparently the fire alarm had gone off and they were told to immediately vacate the building because there was a fire. Something happened in the kitchen, the firemen wouldn't allow anyone back into their rooms until they were sure there were no other fires that might have been missed. Our timing was perfect, as soon as we got out of the car, we were let back in, which meant we were first to the bar.

    Every few months we would organise a get together of the key engineers and business folks in both our EIPO teams. These were always good bonding sessions where we would all stay off site and have meetings during the days. We would have relaxing sessions on the days when meetings were not held. In Germany we would go Go-Kart Racing, which was highly competitive, but great fun, I think all the Germans saw themselves as Michael Schumacher and all the Scots saw themselves as Jackie Stewart. So it was pretty cut and thrust stuff, we were lucky there were no serious crashes.

    On one occasion in Scotland, I organised all my team to appear, without the German team knowing, to meet in the bar well before the meeting time for all. We would be in full Scottish Highland dress, power dressing, to catch them off guard. It worked too, when the German team came down to the bar at the appropriate time, all at exactly the same time, as one would expect from our German friends. They all walked into the bar, stopped at the far end and ordered drinks, not one of them recognised us in our highland dress, kilts and all. It was when we shouted at them and asked if they were going to stand at that end of the bar all night, that they realised it was us. Round one to the Scots team I think. That evening I had arranged a Burns Dinner. and I had the Haggis (Haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep's pluck; minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, traditionally encased in the animal's stomach though now often in an artificial casing instead.) piped in by a local piper and quoted 'To a Haggis.' But I had it translated into German, they all thought that was great. Next day we had a Clay Pigeon shoot organised, we out shot them that day also.

    We always had people traveling back and forth to and from Germany. On one visit that Karl Heinz Hartmann was making to Scotland, John Thomson asked him if he could bring with him 200 cigarettes and a bottle of Gin? That was in the days when we could get a Duty Free allowance during travel between the UK and EU countries. Karl Heinz had said no problem to John. When KHH arrived at our office, John asked him where his Duty Free was. "Expletive" was the reply, KHH had left it on the plane!!! To which John replied with, "Well, no goods, no money!" "Fair enough!" KHH said. So he was out of pocket on that trip to Scotland.

    Mike Morris of ISL created an embarrassing moment for himself. Mike liked his red wine and he joined us in Bergamo to visit the HP plant there. That evening we were to have dinner in the old part of the town, a beautiful place with very narrow streets. Mike had had a few glasses of red wine before we set off and he parked his car right up against the restaurant wall. That was fine, till later after we had eaten and drunk a few more bottles of red wine, by which time he was quite well oiled. His car was parked right against the wall, so it was somewhat difficult for him to negotiate, so he left some of his paintwork on the wall. We were all laughing at him of course.

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