Monthly Archives: November 2009

Lest we forget

In Memory of


577913, Royal Air Force

who died
age 18

on 10 August 1941

Son of William Henry and Georgina Honor Powell, of Lowestoft, both of whom were killed in the same incident.

Remembered with honour


Commemorated in perpetuity by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

How NOT to do it

I’ve just come across a diary entry from 2006. Not that I keep a regular diary, you understand, but occasionally I do make some notes.

(At the time I was working in IT for a company in central London.)

So, the company had decided to replace all the leased Xerox multifunction copiers with Canons.

The leasing company was therefore asked to remove one of these machines, and I was asked to show the removal men where it was. Now, bear in mind this was a copier which was working perfectly, but the Canons had a bit more functionality. Also bear in mind the Xerox has a decorative back panel which proudly declaims the brand name.

The removal men duly turned up. For the sake of this narrative I will call them Boris and Igor (they were Eastern European). They arrived in a large white van; I noticed at the time it did not have a tail lift, neither did they have any sort of trolley. I thought this was a bit odd as these machines are quite heavy. I took them up to the 7th floor to show them the location of the device.

Boris said something to Igor which presumably meant “you grab that end and I’ll push from here”. Igor grabbed the output stacker tray and lifted.


“Oh dear,” I thought. I told them to be more careful, and pointed out that they would need to remove the back panel in order to get it through the narrow doorway leading to the lift. Blank looks resulted. Boris pushed mightily from one end and the machine started to move. I leaped out of the way, switching the machine off at the wall and unplugging it in mid-leap. The machine reached the doorway.

Igor said something to Boris, presumably “er, this ain’t going to go through ‘ere.” Boris turned to me and said, “You haf screwdriving?” It turned out they had not brought any tools. I told them I would go and fetch one. Igor came down in the lift with me. Leaving him in the reception area, I went into the IT Department.

I located a screwdriver and returned to reception. Igor was missing. I went up to the 7th floor. Boris was missing. I removed the decorative back panel and after waiting forlornly for a few minutes for the missing removal men, returned to the lobby. As I reached it, Igor came through the door, closely followed by Boris, proudly carrying a brand new set of screwdrivers from a hardware shop nearby. I didn’t have the heart to follow them upstairs.

Now, the entrance to the building has two glass doors on either side of a revolving glass centre door. This revolving centre door can be collapsed in order to allow wide loads through. However, as luck would have it, I was called away from my current position as interested spectator in order to attend to a minor crisis elsewhere.

Ten minutes later I returned to the lobby. The receptionist was staring in horror at the scene. She had told them that the central door was collapsible, they had thanked her, and forced the Xerox through the left-hand narrow doorway. I was very impressed; I was sure it would not have fitted through the gap. Observing the scratches on the front and back of the machine, I returned to the IT Department to make sure that everyone was in agreement that the 7th floor Xerox had been in perfect working order.

At this stage I should also point out that there are two long steps leading from the pavement to the glass entry doors. Going back to the lobby, I saw that the way that Boris and Igor had chosen to solve this problem was simply to push the machine down the steps. (Once they had gone, like a good citizen, I picked up all the little bits of plastic from the pavement.)

Now this is where a truck tail lift would have been useful. Having trundled the now wobbly machine across the pavement, they then realised that the back of the white van was higher than the kerb.

I couldn’t bear to watch so went for a short walk (Company Health & Safety rules dictated I was not allowed to move equipment of this type).

When I returned ten minutes later they had gone.

Two weeks later, the phone rang.

“Hello, administration department here. What was the last meter reading on the Xerox?”
During the conversation which followed, I explained that the Xerox would need to be switched on in order to take the meter reading.

The following day, the phone rang.
“Hello, administration department here. The Xerox won’t switch on, it’s coming up with an error message. We’ve contacted Xerox, but they won’t send an engineer out because the Xerox is not at the contractual registered address.”

One day later, I get a call from the receptionist. “There’s a Xerox in reception which has just been delivered, do you know anything about it?”

Due to lack of space, the only place to put the Xerox was … you’ve guessed it … on the 7th floor. A couple of beefy blokes from the administration department duly trundled the Xerox upstairs, where it was plugged in and switched on. Surprise, surprise, the screen displayed a “hardware failure” message.

A Xerox engineer was requested – he turned up and proceeded to replace some broken bits. This took him two visits. At the end of the second day he reported to me that the Xerox was up and running again.

“Of course,” he said, “I’ve had to replace several parts. One of these was the network controller board. So I’m afraid your meter readings have been reset to zero.”

I’m currently waiting for Boris and Igor to take the machine away again.

(Boris and Igor never returned. When I left the company two years later the Xerox had been moved to an empty office on the 2nd floor.)