Friday, 11 September 2020

Advice To A Young Man ...

... From An Old Man!
This item was added to yesterdays blog at about 1130

New Managing Director for First Bus
10 Sep 2020

Giles Fearnley, First Bus Managing Director, has decided to retire after a long and successful career in public transport. He will be succeeded by Janette Bell who joins the Group in October.

Giles has been Managing Director of First Bus since February 2011. Since then, he has led a transformation of our customer offering including greater digitisation as well as investment in fleets and systems. In 2018, we became the first major operator to offer contactless payment on all our buses nationwide. Under Giles’s leadership the business also developed a strong approach to partnerships in the communities we serve, by working closely with local authorities and all our stakeholders to deliver thriving bus services that are vital to local prosperity and sustainable growth, through reducing congestion on the roads, improving air quality and helping to lower carbon emissions. In July this year, we announced our commitment to operate a zero-emission fleet by 2035 and do not plan to purchase any diesel buses after December 2022.
Janette was previously Chief Executive Officer of P&O Ferries. Having joined them in 2012 as Commercial Director, she was a key part of the executive team that devised and led a significant transformation of the business, including resetting the commercial agenda and delivering a profitable e-commerce strategy. She became CEO in 2018, and under her leadership the company delivered a significant change programme, establishing a new on-board proposition for customers, driving greater efficiencies and placing its first order for new ferries in over a decade. Most recently Janette led P&O Ferries through extensive preparations for the UK leaving the EU and its response to the coronavirus pandemic.


This week No 2 grandson has started his post-16 education by attending Boom Satsuma at Bristol.
It certainly opens up a huge range of questions which would not occur to the reader if the establishment were called, for example, Temple Meads Further Education College! The exploding fruit gives its address as :-

boomsatsuma HQ
Engine Shed
Station Approach
Temple Meads

The cognoscenti will know that there never was an engine shed on the approach road to Temple Meads Station in Bristol, but at the foot of the ramp is a door which claims that historically inaccurate title.
The door is one of the many entrances to what was Isambard Kingdom Brunel's grand terminus building for the London and Bristol Railway which later became the Great Western.
Faced with the serendipitous juxtaposition of grandson extending his learning about Computer Technology and Design in a building created by one of the country's leading engineers, fbb's poetic muse was aroused.

[Pause for load groans from many blog readers!]

The annotated results are herewith:-

According to a big fat rumour
You’ve started “work” at Boom Satsuma.
Commuting fast, clean as a whistle
By train to Temple Meads at Bristle.

As you ride, with viaduct and Tunel
Remember builder Isambard Brunel.
Indeed your further education
Takes place in what was Brunel’s station!

His skills and flare were good and proper
Pictured oft in big black topper.
His big ideas got big and bigar
Just like his large unhealthy cigar!
Standing mightily in front of chains,
His genius shone on more than trains.

Maidenhead Bridge they thought would fall
But that at Clifton was best of all. (note 1)

At building ships he couldn’t stop -
(Great Eastern was a bit of a flop!)

He wanted Broad Gauge for his trackwork
But Government saw it as a slack work;
So it wasn't a huge success,
It left Great Western in a mess.

His wide train idea was sadly stranded
In favour of the national standard.

Another wheeze was problematic,
Driving trains by power pneumatic. (note 2)

But despite some fruitless crazes
All of Brunel’s work amazes.

So as you toil to Bristol wearily
Remember Brunel, daily, cheerily.
He broke the mould and took the lead …
So Go Satsuma, Boom indeed.
Brunel’s life was work, was striving
Never was he known for skiving.
Smartly dressed and almost handsome
The little man; a genius and some! 
We cannot all attain his greatness,
But can shun laziness and lateness.


Enjoy your work, keep at it, busy,
And seek to aim as high as Izzy!

note 1 : technically Brunel did not design the Clifton Suspension Bridge; that creativity was in the hands of William Barlow and John Hawkshaw. But they based their work on earlier designs submitted by Brunel.
The appropriately named William Bridges submitted a very different design, seen here electronically "reconstructed".
note 2 : Brunel's "Atmospheric" railway involved a piston propelled by a partial vacuum in a gurt big pipe. The piston was bracketed on to carriages.
Sadly it didn't work, as maintaining an airtight seal around the moving bracket proved unsustainable. The pumping station at Starcross near Exeter remains as a monument to its failure.

Incidentally, a version of fbb's (very) Odd Ode was sent to the lad in question. His reaction is not recorded.

 Next Saturday Variety blog : Saturday 12th September 


  1. Just had a look at the boomsatsuma website and I'm none the wiser!

  2. Bob Godfrey's cartoon "Great" is a thoroughly enjoyable biopic (biocart?) of IKB. Worth seeking out.