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Being fairy-stories told to the author as a young engineer
© Ray Cooper, 2005 (2nd revised edition, Jan 2006)

Retreat of the Daleks

This incident has no direct connection with Sutton, save that the protagonist, R_, was later a senior member of Sutton staff. On the other hand, it's much too good an anecdote to miss. Those who met R_ in later years would see an amiable, avuncular character radiating goodwill to all. It was hard to believe that, as a young lad, he had a scarring encounter with a Dalek..

It was shortly after the Last Open Day Ever, at Tacolneston (near Norwich) where R_ was a junior engineer at the time. Tacolneston had also had its own open day, and whereas Sutton had netted Percy Thrower as a draw, Tacolneston had the prime attraction - a Dalek, fresh from its latest triumphant season in Doctor Who, but now 'resting'. Some reports suggest that there were in fact two of the creatures, but in the event, one proved more than enough .

After the open day, this Dalek had not been immediately removed, but pushed out of the way into the transmitter hall, and left reposing at the end of some equipment bays, awaiting collection.

The evening shift at Tac in those days was a small one - two: a shift engineer and a junior accomplice - R_ in this case. It had been noticed that for the previous week R_ had been casting covetous eyes at the Dalek, and was occasionally to be seen fondling it.

In the end, the SE gave in. "All right, R_, I can see you won't rest till you've got it out of your system..". In a moment, the lid of the Dalek was off, and R_ inside. With the lid replaced, he then spent a happy quarter-hour or so trundling up and down the transmitter hall, pushing the sink plunger in and out, and croaking "Ex..ter..mi..nate" in the approved manner.

At this point, the front door bell rang. Now Tacolneston is fairly isolated, and in the evening a ring on the bell was most unusual. "You just stay in there and lie doggo, R_. I'll go and see who it is and get rid of him."

When the door was opened, two imposing figures were standing there. "Good evening," the gentleman began, "I am Mr. _____, the Head of Department of ______," (naming a BBC department having London headquarters) "and this is my lady wife. We are on holiday in the area, and just happened to be passing. My wife remarked that she had never seen the inside of a transmitting station, and I was wondering if you would be good enough to give us a quick tour."

Well, I am sure that the SE's immediate reaction was to say, "Go away" and slam the door. but that wasn't really an option under the circumstances. So with as good grace as he could muster, they were ushered in and the tour began.

".and over there are the Combining Units.". The SE was desperately trying to keep them away from that alien object in the corner. But it was no use - the thing was like a magnet, and before long the HoD was standing before it.

"So this is a Dalek! I've heard all about these from my grandchildren. Fun, aren't they?" - and without ceremony began to waggle the ray gun about. Eventually he pushed in the sink-plunger, and there was a distinct "ooff" noise from within. "Did you hear that?." and he did it again, with the same result. Bending down and peering into the grille at the top, he remarked "There are a pair of eyes in there, staring at me..".

"Okay R_, it's all up. You'd better get out." Which R_ did, and slunk off crimson-faced to make the tea.

At the end of the visit, the HoD buttonholed R_ and posed a somewhat two-edged question.

"Tell me, young man, do you enjoy working for the BBC?"

There Seem to be a Lot of Parts Left Over. >

mb21 by Mike Brown
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