Compliance with The Official Secrets Act meant that we’ve always had to obscure the name of our society’s Honorary Technical Adviser – Keith S**** was as much as we’ve ever been allowed to divulge and we could only ever show his photograph in sillhouette form. Until now that is.
Thanks to the thirty year rule various documents have recently been declassified so that we can, finally, reveal a bit more about the rank-holder H.T.A.T.P.A.S.
For starters, it turns out we’ve been using his real name all along – Keith S**** is actually what he’s called. Though I’m not quite sure how he pronounces it.
That same set of documents has uncovered the photo below from the mid 70s of a dashing, debonair Keith S**** inspecting a batch of fresh poles from Finland (pinus sylvestris) – ‘open stacked’ for seasoning.
The photo was taken at Blyth Pole Depot, Northumberland and for his role as pole inspector, Keith had to undertake an intensive language course to learn “Pitmatic” – the Geordie language of the coal mines. Many of the yard-workers, who provided assistance to Keith were ex-miners and their gutteral dialect was entirely unintelligble to to the rest of mankind – as well as to themselves.
In Pitmatic ‘cuddies and bogies’ were horse and carts, spuggies were sparrows, and aeroplanes were said to be ‘up a depth’. Apparently there is even a Geordie translation of the King James Bible which tells of the parting of the waters so the people of Israel could cross the sea in their ‘cuddies and bogies’.
Keith S**** learned Pitmatic like a native and still speaks it to this day in his native Rochdale – much to the confusion of his neighbours.