Tuesday, July 8, 1980

Tuesday July 8th

Today was similar to other days, the only real difference being that Group B had their U. I. talk first instead of vice-versa. The lecturer was a bloke (Mark Snyder) from Keating Engineering which has factories in Farnshaw, Doncaster and Halifax.

These talks on industry are, in my opinion, profitless in that they defeat the object of their being held. They are intended to de-mystify industry and associated things, yet the inefficient “high-powered” industrialists (who don’t really seem to know what they are talking about) only make the topic seem dull and complex (which I bet it is!).

At 1115 we went back to the common room where we had a wait till dinner at 1200 and then, at 1.30, we had to congregate outside the 6th-form block because we were going on a trip to Pennine Audio in Farnshaw.

We were taken to the firm in a City bus with Mr McIntyre, Mr Elson and an ex-lab’ technician looking after us. The experience of visiting a production line factory proved a real eye-opener for me.

The company makes speakers which are supposedly pretty good, although to look at the production methods you wouldn’t think so.

The main factory was a big building – an enormous single room which was cluttered with rows of tables, piles of components, materials, checklists etc. At the tables worked the employees. Most of them were women (about 35-40) and the tasks they had to do were so repetitive, so soul-destroying that I was struck by the sheer waste of employing such an incredibly talented piece of biological evolution to do a task which could be done quicker and better by a robot. Most of the jobs involved things like glueing speakers’ parts together, coiling wire and so forth, and I would feel utterly suicidal if my life consisted of that. Our guide (typical rags to riches managerial type) insisted on explaining every assembly stage in minute detail so Lee Hoy and I talked between ourselves.

He really does have me in stitches; the comments he makes about peoples physical appearance are really funny and a lot of the time I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

After this we were taken round the carpentry department. The noise there was incredible. I’m sure the operators of those wood cutting machines must be deaf because the volume of the noise was brain-jarring. The atmosphere was full of sawdust – dusty and dry – and quite warm. It was like a living hell. One comment made to us by a labourer in that dept. made me smile. He came up to us and asked us which remand home were we from – it was obvious how he regarded his job.

Next we were taken to a plush management/reception block where all the office staff and managers work (nice, quiet, comfortable – twice as much brass) to listen to Pennine Audio’s range of speakers. We sat there for 15 minutes listening to Blondie etc., blasting out over different banks of speakers.

The weather was pathetic when we got out. It was throwing it down and the sky was that pessimistic, unbroken grey which heralds a whole evening and night of rain.

I quite enjoyed the visit. It was certainly informative and made me loathe to ever work in a factory. The unrewarding jobs involved – doing the same things over and over again every day, yet never seeing the beginnings or the end of the process. A cog in a vast, profit-making machine is all the average worker there is.

In the evening Mum and Dad gave me five pounds apiece and Mum also gave me £5 from Nanna P., because tomorrow is my birthday, and my immediate thoughts as to what to spend it on are say, “Moonflower” (Santana’s double LP) and a book.

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