Wednesday 30th November 1983

Train journey to London planning the Group 1983 meetings calendar and deadlines and then to the Intercontinental Hotel for Management Incentives seminar after which I skip the afternoon session, eat sausage and chips in Hyde park watching the water birds and walk along historic Whitehall before returning to the office to hear of Derek’s efforts to put off UEH from retaining their Byte Shop purchase option and clear my in-tray

Up on time today and hasty preparations to catch the 8.06 train to London; having let out the eggless ducks and had Diana prepare a toast breakfast. On the train, planned the group calendar for 1984 with payroll and information deadlines and an entire year’s meeting cycle. By tube to Hyde Park Corner and just in time for coffee at the Intercontinental Hotel before the start of a seminar on “Management Incentives.” I stayed for the morning session, and learned a little but soon realised that there was little new to take account of and that each company structure and culture needs its own incentives. Sufficient subject matter, however, to place our plans in the scheme of things and I am not going to propose any changes. A phone call to the office established that Derek had a hard time with UEH yesterday and that, together with some other items needing review, convinced me to stop the afternoon and lunch.

A walk through St James Park and lunch of sausage and chips at the cafeteria within sight of Horse Guards Parade watching the wide variety of water fowl still in evidence. An ideal place, I thought, to bring youngsters to feed the birds. Through the parade ground to see round the Whitehall area including time out to inspect the Banqueting Hall where Charles I left for his execution. Along past Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross Station to the Kingsway Road, Aldwych, where I noted the agency details of some property that interests me. Up Kingsway to Holborn and back to Kings X by tube and home by train to St Neots.

A useful hour in the office with Derek to hear a merry tale of the stories he had been telling UEH to put them off the Byte Shop Option. I will need an Oscar to play the part when I get to meet their Chairman! Back to my own office to find June left but I work my way through my in-tray and pass all paperwork on. A phone call to John to check on the affairs of the day and no word from our US trippers who should have phoned

Tuesday 29th November 1983

Duckly consternation as I write the Group Review and monitor a range of press stories about us in The Times, The Guardian and Computer Weekly and liaise with Industry contacts as a huge confrontation is planned by the NGA at Warrington but the US and USSR resume talks on nuclear missile limitation

On time to the office after the normal palaver of letting out and feeding the ducks. They are still not laying a single egg and are rapidly becoming a principal point of concern.

At the office the first few hours spent writing the Chairman’s Review of the group accounts which is always a difficult task for want of pitching the comments to please all readers. Also to set motion in train to recoup advance years of contract revenue that had been incompletely transferred from Comart to the Byte Shop group companies. A succession of meetings up to lunch and beyond as well as clearing both morning and afternoon mail. This afternoon to approve change notes, and dictate all manner of correspondence; and brief June on producing agenda and notices of meeting for the group AGM’s. The arrangements for group employee participation in the share scheme are also quite involved. Press interview by phone with Microscope on the BMMG and tariff victories should be printed next time. Peter Large of the Guardian interested in our US New York Metropolitan Railway deal but the Dept of Employment are not at all happy with our Computer Weekly story on the YTS scheme.

News today of preparations for the biggest confrontation yet between the NGA and the Warrington Printing Works. The NGA Union Secretary, Joe Wade, is seeking the backing of the TUC tonight but all national newspapers should be printed tomorrow. The Commonwealth Conference of Heads of State has ended in long and compromised statements on arms reduction and Grenada, although Mrs Thatcher was the most discordant note and blocked a plan for a new world economic summit. The Geneva talks between the United States and USSR have resumed on intercontinental missiles.

The weather today cool but fine and frost just being avoided.

Diana is still poorly but gradually resuming her domestic tasks.

The Chairman of Export IT called today and offered time in a seminar for the UK’s trade attaches and also appreciated my intervention on their behalf and would see us take a much more leading role in the future.

Monday 28th November 1983

Diana much better as I can deal with a range of Comart and Group management issues as the European Space laboratory is launched and Fleet Street talks break down

On time to rise and this morning Diana was able both to prepare breakfast and my daily sandwiches. On time to the office and, having got the mail out of the way, pleased to notice the orders and confirmation in today’s post. Meetings with Colin Newbury, in Ian’s absence, to agree change procedures for new brackets to support the Communicator’s Rodime drive assemblies. Also with John on company product policy and marketing priorities. Derek Weatherby agrees the group’s Annual Accounts with a clean Audit Report and to the renewal with Barclays of our group overdraft facility. With Peter King, the present status of Byte Shop recruitment and vacancies.

News today of a break down in the Fleet Street peace talks. The TUC are discussing whether to support the continued strike tonight whilst talks continue between the NGA and ACAS. People were injured in shooting and bombing incidents in Northern Ireland. At long last, the government have decided to end the optician’s monopoly on the sale of glasses and soon other outlets will be able to supply them. The European space lab was launched today in a US Space Shuttle where 6 men have been launched together for the first time.

The weather today has been dry but cooler and the clear starlight sky this evening suggests a colder night with frost a possibility with fog also forecast

Sunday 27th November 1983

Diana still ill as I make breakfast and lay up The Lady and repair Dan’s computer before taking the family to The Riverside Park for lunch and an evening of paperwork as Fords and the Miners plan national strikes

Late in bed before getting up to fry a good breakfast of eggs bacon and mushrooms before Diana rises to complete the food for the rest of the family. Di is still quite ill and worse today spending most of it in bed. This morning to clean out the ducks, and open up The Lady to allow the air to aerate. Then to repair Daniel’s Vic computer by changing the main fuse and soldering two detached wires and it was good to see it working again after so long. Off to the Riverside Park in St Neots and for lunch in the site restaurant of cottage pie for Diana and steak and kidney pie for myself. Debbie had the sausage beans and chips but Daniel disgraced himself by bad manners and had to spend the meal time in the car without.

After to return home and spend the afternoon laying up The Lady by emptying the toilets, closing the engine inlet and toilet cocks, and emptying the engine and fresh water systems. Then to wash and vacuum the car and lastly to put away the ducks in clean straw in hope that the twice-daily feeds these last few days and clean litter will bring them back to lay. An evening relaxing in paperwork, television and bathing before early bed in preparation for another tough week ahead.

No newspapers today as the print workers strike continues yet. Also today, Ford’s Halewood plant voted today on plan for national strike and Arthur Scargill talks of miners action as well.

The weather today still mild with the rain earlier today clearing up this afternoon but with no sunshine

Saturday 26th November 1983

The day of the famous Brinks Matt Gold robbery spent reading our mentions in the press before skating and swimming with Daniel, Gary and friends and walking Debbie to the swings and having a family lunch as Diana still stays mostly in bed and I read local history books.

A slow start to the day as I lay in reading the Economist. In the latter the Byte Shop are mentioned after the journalist’s brief contact with Peter King. Daniel off as usual to school but today went after with Gary and friends to a birthday afternoon of ice skating, swimming and lunch/tea both at McDonalds. In mid- morning I take Debbie for a walk (‘the muddy way’ at her insistence) to the playing field swings and Diana later brings the car to join us. After to St Neots for grocery provisions from KeyMarkets and to the bank to pay in my £1800-odd pay cheque and withdraw £50 cash. Off together then for our normal Saturday lunch at “The Happy Eater” before returning home for an afternoon’s relaxation in front of the television watching a good variety of sport; motor racing, rugby league, snooker and more.

Today £25million worth of gold bars were stolen from a Brinks-Matt security warehouse at Heathrow Trading Estate. A £2million reward has been offered. An NGA stoppage today meant that no newspapers were published today and tomorrows will not be available either.

The day mild but spitting with rain from time to time until this evening turned into quite a drizzle.

This evening reading C. F. Tebbutt’s “St Neots – History of a Huntingdonshire Town” and Dorothy Summers “The Great Ouse – The History of a River Navigation” and watching a television film (“The Survivor”) about a Pilot surviving alone from an air crash and investigating its crashing. The ducks, though being amply fed and husbanded morning and night have still not resumed laying and I am beginning to fear that they will not. Diana is improving slowly but still spends most of the day in bed