It was in my first year at college (read Uni these days) that I realised that many people hate to admit that they don’t understand something, or that they are unfamiliar with something or someone. My school, perhaps unusually, had drummed it into us that it was our duty as students to ask questions when we did not understand, so that we could learn and thereby cease to be ignorant. That was what education was about: if you don’t ‘get it’ – ask!
But the majority of my colleagues at City were, apparently, highly embarrassed by not knowing instantly what the lecturer was on about; they wouldn’t say a dickie-bird, merely shuffle uncomfortably in their seats until I, or one other unfazed lad, would ask and receive clarification. Whereupon there would be a collective sigh of relief from the rest of the hall, and sometimes a relieved whisper – “thank goodness you asked that”.
After graduating, I quickly learnt the parallel discipline of never bullshitting. Not that it was one of my particular weaknesses (I had many others), but in a company that was full of experts, I regularly saw the sad outcome of recent graduates attempting to claim knowledge that they didn’t actually have; frequently one of the older people in the meeting or work group would turn out to either be the inventor of whatever it was, or to be someone who had worked under the inventor, back in WWII.
There were many clever cookies back then, both in industry and in government research organisations. In those days when electronics were just getting off the ground and funding was of little consequence if the result might help the war effort, the innovation shown by British engineers was incredible. You may have heard of Turing, but believe me, there were many others of equal calibre, or even better - Alan Blumlein for example. I mention him only because my first boss in industry – who taught me more about circuit design in six months than a four year degree course had – had known him and his work before his unfortunate demise. If you haven’t worked in one of his fields, you’ve probably never heard of him, but his work was fundamental to many advances that we now take for granted.
So I was delighted to see several Charioteers mention that they hadn’t heard of Turing. Why should they? But they did their research, and now they know. Good for them!
How many of you are familiar with the work of Robin Glasscock?