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Two Griffins holding a 74th shield. The Spirit of the 74th.

Aircraft Design Can Be Fun (2).

The Water Tap Story.

There was more going on in the Leeds Design Office than the serious work of Buccaneer design. For although the design was progressing well we still had a lot of fun, especially us juniors. But even the senior members of the team were always ready for a joke and a good laugh.

I became involved with the 17th prototype (I believe) Buccaneer that was carrying out deck landing and catapult take off trials for the Royal Navy. A Query arrived at my desk saying that unfortunately, the catapult hook was damaged beyond repair at each take off. Here are details of the problem please solve it. To help me was a folder containing suggestions from the aeronautical engineers at Brough (our main office) and Royal Navy people carrying out the trials.

A Walk in the Park.

The wonderful thing about our design office was that we were all given every chance to think up ideas however silly or unusual to solve problems - even us juniors. Hence after a few fruitless sketches and layout design drawings of catapults and hooks and backends of Buccaneers I was sat at my layout table looking for inspiration. "Take a little walk around in the park" I thought Jim the Chief Design Engineer was joking and I smiled and sighed. " No I mean it" he added, "It'll clear your head and hopefully you'll come back with some fresh ideas".

Photo: Joke tap made of plastic.

Enter the Water Tap.

Enough said and I didn't need telling twice. The small park was just across the road from the office which was also just a short distance from Leeds Market. So my logical mind told me that there was just as much chance of me getting a brainstorm in the market as in the park.
So I went to the market and the man let me have this chrome plated plastic joke tap for half price because it was the last one. I don't remember what price that was but I saw it's potential, being a joke and amateur magic sort of lad. It must have been a good bargain as I still have the same tap today and here is the photographic proof.
You will see that there is a small rubber plunger on the back of the tap which adheres to any smooth surface. Just push on and it's stuck. No licking required.

Garth the Security Guard is Watching You.

He must have had a better name than that but we all called him Garth. I don't know if he was employed by Blackburn or a private security firm but he was quite tall, very smart, very aloof and never indulged in casual conversation with anyone in the office. Nor did we know what he was guarding. Was he paid to watch us in case we were spies? Did he have to count the pencils after we had gone home to see if we had pinched any? Whatever the reason for his existence he was a natural victim for a joke.
He spend most of his time in a tiny office at the front entrance to the office receiving visitors and checking us in and out. Several times during the day he would walk around the office in his Security Guard mode; tall smart and aloof and not a word. But his shifty eyes were everywhere.

The Scene is Set.

Sketch: Man looking quizically at fire extinguisher with tap attached.

"He's coming upstairs now" Ken warned and prompted me to get the tap ready for action. Garth entered the design office and strolled around as usual with hands behind his back and just as aloof as ever. As he was passing a square pillar in the room he inevitably looked at the large cylindrical fire extinguisher attached there. It was as if he was trying to read the instructions but without reading them and so he idled past to finish his first circuit. He always did at least two circuits. All eyes in the office were on Garth and all lips sealed. Faces showing grins of anticipation.

As soon as Garth's back was turned I slipped forward and with a well practised lunge stuck the joke tap onto the side of the extinguisher. Then we all sat back and waited.

Garth's second circuit was very much a repeat of the first - very aloof and shifty eyes not missing a thing. Then he passed the tap stuck on the extinguisher on the pillar. As if unaware that owt wer amiss (as they say in Yorkshire) he took a few steps forward. Then he froze in his steps. Puzzled look on his face. Eyes darted about the room. Then Garth turned and strolled casually back to the fire extinguisher where he turned to look at the tap.

Sketch: Man looking quizically close up at the tap.

Remaining aloof, Garth leaned forward a little for a closer look, hands still behind his back. Then a little closer until his nose was almost touching the tap. But it is a very good joke tap and indistinguishable from the real thing, even at close quarters with shifty eyes.

Then a hand moved from behind his back and half way to the tap changed it's mind. Garth stood tall again, looked around the room again at everyone in turn but without a hint of what he was thinking. Then he marched out through the office door and clumped down the noisy stairs to his little security office.

There was uncontrollable laughter. Lads rolling about their desks, if not on the floor. Garth must have surely heard this but we will never know. So I quickly removed the tap with a twist and a pull and put it back in my draw and locked it to hide the evidence. We had a discussion about whether he would reappear but we never saw him again all afternoon. At five o'clock we left the office, trying not to snigger as we passed the security office, trying to imagine what Garth would do next. But, next day he acted as if nothing had happened but he made sure never to look at the fire extinguisher again.
The joke water tap has remained a source of amusement for over forty years now and was well worth every penny of half price.

Joe Bosher (74th).


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