Editorial 20th January 2003
Hi there! And welcome to 2003.
CAPnews hopes that you have all had a goodly Christmas and the New Year has at least started as you would like it to continue - resolutions excepted! CAPnews has made only one, and that is to try and improve on last years paltry offerings by way of it's editorial contributions. Regular visitors will doubtless have observed a distinct decline over the past few months, in the standard and regularity of updates to the site, for which CAPnews has previously been justly recognised. No excuses can be offered, indeed only pitiful apologies from it's Editor, who has been nothing short of slothful - unlike the wonderful Web Master, who despite the lack of support has soldiered on manfully, blah, blah, blah!
Right having got the flannel out of the way, now on to the really gripping stuff! So where has the last year gone? They really do go quicker these days, you know. Some scientific chaps have proved it - not by a lot mind you, but then that's because they are probably all still very young and impressionable - once they get to the venerable age of (most of) us lot they'll soon find a way to up the rate!
The one thing that a new year always brings is reflection on how the past twelve months has gone - good, bad, happy or sad - there's usually a fair amount, and for CAPnews there are no exceptions.
Indeed this year will be remembered by many ex-CAPers particularly, for the sad and sudden death of Jim White, who many will know worked as the company's Financial Controller for many years. Having joined CAP as far back as 1965, Jim can truly be said to have been one of it's early pioneers! It was he who steered the financial waters, so ably charted by David Sheahan, who many ex-CAPers will also remember was so sadly lost in the Fastnet sailing race around the early '70s. He was a very dear and fond friend to many. Although Jim left CAP (Sema as it was by then) a good few years ago - another casualty of the then new regime! - he never lost his love for the 'real CAP' as he called it, and right up to his death had continued to keep in regular contact with the many friends that he had made while he was there. Indeed he was instrumental in all of the recent CAP reunions, and part of his legacy will be for many, the good times and memories that they gave to many ex-CAPers The picture of a happy, smiling and very healthy looking Jim at the last one (CAP40 in May last year) will hopefully, be a lasting memory for the170 odd who were there. He will be very greatly missed.
While we're on reunions, CAP40 inevitably brought up the question of when the next one is going to be. Well there is nothing planned as yet - certainly not for this year - but given all of our advancing years, it doesn't seem too sensible to leave it too long before someone at least starts to think of the next one. Many people have suggested that even if we don't have a 'big one' for a while - and most people agree that they can be overdone - then why not have more frequent smaller bashes? Well it is an idea and one that CAPnews suspects may well gather strength, so watch 'this space'!
As for the old company, how's the 'grandson' doing these days, some might ask. Well as far as CAPnews can glean from it's informed 'reliable sources', it seems that at least it appears to be making a better fist of it than did the Froggy lot! Well at least the IT part of the Schlumberger empire appears to be hacking it (if that is not a too inappropriate description!) even if the rest of the group may be suffering a tad. Our information suggests that it is almost a case of 'what goes around, comes around' - such that our American (surely with a name like that, there's some Germanic influence in there somewhere!) 'grandson' is apparently introducing some of the principles and values, that were all part of the early CAP ethos, which can't be bad. Staff Management, career development, job satisfaction and commitment to staff training, and all that stuff, seem to be making a come back. Well what do you know! It's a funny old world! Maybe there's life in the old dog yet.
As for the rest of the world, it seems to be trying very hard to make us all depressants! What with George 'Double Yer' and President Tony rattling everything against 'Sad Man', the government looking more and more like the Tories every day, and nearly half a million people marching on Downing St. in support of doing goodness knows what ungodly things to the foxes, you'd think that the world was going completely mad. Actually most of the foxes have emigrated to the towns anyway, so maybe the march was just a good excuse to get out of doing the harvesting! Who knows! CAPnews, being totally 'apolitical' - as it should be! - couldn't possibly comment on such things, but if you would like to buy the Web Master a pint or two, he'd have a lot to say on the latter topic any day! (or visit this site: - Webmaster)
We suppose in their way all these crises help to detract from the gathering gloom of the economic melt down, which if the pundits (and the 'footsie') are to be believed is verging on the brink of financial Armageddon! From all accounts, those that have soon won't, and those that don't are never likely to! Well some do say that 'life's a b*#@!' and then you die, so what the heck! Twenty years from now it probably won't matter anyway. Thank goodness we still have the footie and the cricket - not that many of you could possibly give a snidge for either, but at least some reality can be restored as once more our gallant fighting men venture out into the world of sporting endeavour, to inevitably return vanquished but proud!
At least those rugger chaps have sent the Aussie Roo hopping, to bring some light relief to many a red blooded Englishmen! (apologies to all you Scots, Welsh, Irish etc. and even those of you from 'down under', but you always have the right to reply - we promise to 'publish' all letters/emails etc. of decent or otherwise! Indeed the more the merrier.)
Anyway that brings me seamlessly to our final message. Some of the reason for CAPnews' somewhat limited footage over the past year - apart, that is, from the Editor's tardiness! - is that we are still not getting a lot of 'stuff' from our readers. We appreciate that time is at a premium, and what with all that traveling around for some and earning a crust still for others, sitting down to enlighten CAPnews and all your erstwhile colleagues, just how life is treating you, isn't easy, but we and they would really, really, like to hear from you. Just how it is out there at whatever frontiers you personally are challenging - be it (still) technological, or the outback - could just make ever such good reading for the rest of us, who lead much more sedentary lives watching Countdown, or the Gardening Program - or writing purile tosh for web site visitors!!
Actually one feature that we thought might be interesting, is a register of 'who's doing what now'! It seems that we hear of so many different things that many ex-CAPers are now doing in their reborn (some might say released) lives that such a record could prove very useful. We know that some now run their own guest houses and hotels, and we have a number of farmers, and dozens of painters (many even do it on canvas, instead of walls!) and decorators, and did you know for instance that we have one ex-CAPer who now makes his own wine - no not the demijohn bubbling away in the airing cupboard stuff, but your real production, and bottled for selling down the supermarket variety - while another couple grow exotic orchids. Then there's the enterprising chappie who has opened his own golf course, while another is now a very busy gardener and 'cut your grass for you guv.' merchant - but only to the gentry, who have oodles of cash, we understand! Maybe we should put the last two in touch with each other, the lawn man would be at it forever! At present it's still only an idea, because as with all these things where names go down on public lists, we have to get permission. So, if you think it's worth doing, let's hear from you - we'll only start the register, if we get enough people volunteering.
Anyway we really would like to know how life is treating you. Even if it's just telling us what unusual presents Santa might have brought you! Always remember that the joy is not in the receiving but the giving! Your editor got a 'Lateral thinking Puzzle' from one of his children, who thought Dad doesn't have much of a life, so it will keep him occupied. You have to remove a metal ring from a block of wood, with string and a ball in it. Sounds easy enough, although on the box it is rated as 'difficult' - in the event, something of an understatement as it is completely impossible! Actually on closer inspection, the box does say 'to prevent complete insanity' clues on resolution can be obtained from a web site, so some cheating might be called for!!
It's not that we haven't had some good stuff over the past year - why not take a look at the People and 'Where are they now' pages to see some really good old mug shots - but we can always do with more. Many thanks of course to all those that have contributed, truly your efforts are greatly appreciated.
So that's it for now. CAPnews trusts that the next year is a happy and healthy one for all of you and that perchance, at least some of us might be able to get together a time or two.
Cheers for now, and a good, healthy, living to everyone.
News 20th January 2003
End of an Era
They've all moved to New Century Place on Queen's Road.
The remnants of Reading's Trafalgar House
(As Acting Branch Manager of CAP Reading in 1979, I oversaw the move from Reading town centre into this state of the art wonderful new office building so obviously I am a little tearful at this news ..... just kidding - Webmaster)
Yes with only 9 people remaining at RTH, on the ground floor, the decision has been made to close off the remainder of the building.
Memo to Remaining Reading Staff. With effect from this evening the 1st and 2nd floors will be closed off and the intruder alarm set 24 hours. Washroom facilities to be used are those on the 1st floor.
All the hot/cold large vending machines (one on each floor), snack machine, coke machine and the water machines (1st and 2nd floors) will be removed from site shortly but in the meantime they will be switched off.
A new refreshment/rest area has been set up on the ground floor just past the Customer Training Room on your left. There are the normal supplies of tea, coffee etc.
A photocopier/printer has also been moved to the ground floor. These are in the new Facilities Area just opposite the stationery cupboards.
Desktop Services are now in the Facilities Office.
The First Aid box and Accident Book can be found on the wall in the new Facilities Area.
Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.
(CAPnews cannot reveal the source of this internal memo, however it must be one of only nine poor souls now constrained to the ground floor, and setting off the alarm every time they have to go upstairs for a pee!!)
Norman Spink becomes a grandad!
Norman & Diana Spink are delighted to announce the birth of their first grandchild, Niamh Kathleen McGrath, to Moira and Martin McGrath, at noon on 7th January 2003, 7 weeks earlier than expected.
Niamh McGrath (an Irish name pronounced like "Neeve McGraa") weighed 1.43 kilos (3 lbs 2 oz) at birth by emergency Caesarean section. She is in special baby care unit in Princess Alexandria Hospital, Harlow, where
Niamh will have to stay until about her original due time 25 February..
CAPnews understands baby and mum are doing well. We have no information on Norman's condition!
Do you have any CAP news story for us? If so contact CAPnews and give us the low down.
Do you have any CAP news story for us?
Letters 20th January 2003
From Mike West
I have just received from Barney Gibbens the following email, announcing the very sad news of Alex's death.
Alex died yesterday, 26 March. He'd been poorly for some time, and had only recently come back home from hospital. All his family were with him when he died.
His death will be posted in the Times and the Telegraph - I don't know exactly when. Nor do I know anything about a service, other than that it will be a service of thanksgiving, not a memorial.
Could you use your mighty database of CAP chaps to tell everybody ? I'll keep you in touch with any arrangements as soon as I know about them.
I can hardly believe it.
For many of us I'm sure, Alex epitomised what CAP was all about - it was his ideal and he has left a legacy that while it may have seen a few changes, will always live on.
Alex was a very special person and a friend that will be sadly missed.
If you watch the CAP web site (www.capnews.org), we will be posting details of the thankgiving service as and when we get them.
Our deepest condolences go out to Marion, his wife, and all his family.
From Rex Wearn
I recently got a letter from Barney and Tina telling me about the CAP website which up until then I was unaware of.
Anyway here I am, still alive and fit.
For those who dont remember me I was CAP from 1970 to 1989 working in London and then moved to Reading in '88. Towards the end of my stinit I was Deputy to Tony Woodgate in London Commercial and then BG Manager for commercial in Reading.
I am now out of IT and working as a training centre manager for West Berks organising training faclities for course run by various parts of the council.
I took up golf some years ago and play badly off 23.
Mary is still with me coming 25 years this May and my eldest Sarah gets married September.
I can be contacted on this address at work or firstname.lastname@example.org Tel W 01635 43351 H 01635 868583.
Looking forward to hearing from anybody
From: Tim Cosgrove
I found your site by chance when looking for some notes on Knowledge based systems, thence Alex D'Agapayeff and thence the CAPnews site. Excellent Site!
I worked at CAP Northern at Alderley Edge from 1978 - 1981, 3 of us myself, Tom Mather & Paul Dorrington shared a flat and about 5 parties a year for 3 happy years.
I met the axe in the Northern recession and have worked for other companies including Cap Gemini Sogetti (CGS in UK). If any "CAPer" wishes to meet I will be on the Cider bar at Peterborough Beer Festival (the week before August Bank Holiday) or ask most Stewards on London & other Beer festivals and they probably know me.
Tim Cosgrove (Technical Consultant LogicaCMG)
From: Hilary Jones [email@example.com]
I remember you, Mike! I would love to get in touch with June Baker (it was always her 38th birthday - I can't guess how old she is now, but long retired I would think!). Lots of names mentioned on this site I remember, in particular Don Hunter. I also have fond memories of Graham Samuel and his lovely family. I remember lots of others but am hazy about the names.
I was Hilary Brook then, now Jones, married with three sons (17, 15, 13) and living in Chiswick. I have a 32 place children's day nursery which keeps me pretty busy.
Hope you are well!
From: Wendy Marshall [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Many thanks for passing on details of the CAPnews website, which makes very interesting reading!
Looking at the CAPnews website's comments on friendsreunited, I think the CAP Whyteleafe South workplace may be a reference to a project CAP were involved in at Commercial Union's offices in Whyteleafe South, Surrey, during the mid-1970s. I spent a couple of weeks there in early 1976, checking system test results, along with a number of other London Branch trainee programmers. We would assemble at East Croydon station and travel the half dozen or so stops on the Caterham branch line (I think) to Whyteleafe South. There was an advertisement hoarding alongside the railway line which read "Whyteleafe Exhausts", which was thought by some to be pretty close to the mark!
Wendy Marshall (nee Brown)
From Debbie Morton
The web site is a wonderful idea and I had no idea it existed! The information about the pension scheme was very handy - I'm one of the people with money in there and I've been trying to get it back for some time - so far without success.
By the way, I think one of the people in the back row of the golfing photo is Mike Coulson.
I realise you won't remember me but I worked for Mike for about 5 years before I moved to the USA.
I was in England for a family emergency and the day your email arrived, had been reminiscing with another former "CAP-chap" so it was quite a coincidence.
(formerly Caversham Bridge and Orion Court!)
From Peter Milham
Good to exchange emails with you. Hope you are well and not washed away by the weather that Brighton is getting according to the newspaper reports.
I'm now in my 30th year at "Schlumberger Sema". I think any memory of CAP is now fully erased now there have effectively been two major company takeovers (although I'm sure some of the QA documents still have text from old CAP QA documents). Interestingly though I still run into a number of "old lags" (or young whipper snappers to you I guess) with significant years in CAP including Martin Jacobs, Mike Wooldridge, Simon Beech, Mike Murphy, Andy Dunn, Isobel Hart, Ray Shaw, etc, etc.
One of these days I think I'll do a trawl on the UK telephone directory using staff ids to see who is still in the company (any idea how high the staff ids had got before the Sema Group merger?). If you want a copy of such a list let me know.
Seems to me there are a number of old lags either just retired (last year John McGrother and Peter Russell to my knowledge) and a few that must be getting close to considering it.
From Mike Willcox
Excellent site, which I knew nothing about and found quite by chance.
I worked for YARD, CAP, Sema, BAeSema from 1985 to 1992.
I heard Alex Dorrian being interviewed on the Today program this morning and put him through a search engine to try to find the Thales site, found yours instead!
I see there's a links page; any chance you could put a link to my home page on it.
Best of luck with CAPnews.
All the best,
Jim White R.I.P
We are sad to announce that Jim White passed away in hospital on Tuesday 8th October, having suffered a massive stroke as a result of a brain haemorrhage
He had only had the first symptoms about a week ago whilst on holiday with Pat in France, and had gone to the doctor once he had returned home, because of severe headaches. Initially the doctor thought that it may have been because of sinuses, which Jim did occasionally suffer from, but after a couple of more days the doctor had decided that he had best go into hospital for observation - even though ironically at the time Jim had begun to feel slightly better.
The funeral was held on Thursday the 17th. Oct. at 12.00 hrs.at St. Johns (village) church in Littleleighs, Nr. Chelmsford, Essex. The weather thankfully stayed bright, and the little village church, where the thanksgiving service was held, was completely full - not an empty pew anywhere!
Altogether there must have been around 120 people, fifteen of which were old friends from Jim's CAP days, which said a lot for the warmth and affection in which Jim was held by so many and would I hope, be some small comfort to Pat and the children at this very sad time.
Instead of a memorial to Jim's death the service was more a celebration of his life, and I'm sure that the priest mentioning that he was a life long Spurs fan brought a smile to everyone's face - not least of all, Jim's!
The name of Jim;s charity to which donations may be sent, and the address is:
The Chelmsford & District Stroke Club,
1 - 2 MALDON ROAD,,
ESSEX. Tel. No. 01245 471157
John Weeks R.I.P
We are sad to announce that John Weeks died at 1:00pm on August 2nd at the Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, with all his family around him.
John had been suffering from cancer for a little over a year, and despite extensive treatment, the tumour failed to respond. John was as optimistic as ever while fighting the disease and brave to the last
Our thoughts are with Marie-Christine and his children at this difficult time.
A Requiem Mass was held for John at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church Caversham, near Reading on Thursday August 8th. A large contingent of his CAP colleagues were in the congregation to celebrate his life and to say prayers for his family.
If there is anyone out there who either does not have access to the Web, or doesn't know about the site, will you please pass this information on.
Yesterday In CAP (Sema) 20th January 2003
Can you remember?
Instead of providing you CAP surfers with a bit of history we thought it was time to exercise your grey matter! So here's a little twenty questions to tweek those happy memories of your days in CAP.
Oh by the way, if you really are stuck, answers are below
1. Ada once said that "19xx/19yy was a year to forget", a year when profits dropped for the first time in CAP's history and there were big problems with pay rises (remember experienced grades). When was that?
2. CAP was a major graduate recruiter in the 70s, trawling the universities, that is following the "milk round" as it was known. As a consequence it developed a fully fledged Training Department. But what was the name of the moustachioed Training Manager.
3. As CAP broadened its project expertise beyond working for Barclays Bank into other areas of industry and commerce, reference material (and materiel!) needed to be acquired and made available. Yes you've guessed it, the CAP Library. The name of CAP's Librarian please - a clue diminutive, spectacles and a full beard.
4. In 1976/77 CAP recruited how many graduate trainees? Was it 25, 50, 75, 100, 125 or 150?
5. CAP London Branch was launched in what year? Was it 1975, 1976, 1977 or1978
6. In what year did David Sheahan, CAP Group Financial Director perish in the Fastnet Race?
7. In 1975 CAP operated in four buildings based on Great James Street. Can you name the other three?
8. In what year did the number of CAP shareholders reach 130. Was it 1974, 1975, 1976 or 1977?
9. What was the name of CAP's ubiquitous auditors?
10. What were the names of the first two external minority shareholding companies in CAP?
11. In 1977 how many employees were there in CAP. Was it 299, 399, 499, 599 or 699?
12. In order to form a defence arm of CAP (CAP Scientific) four key staff (Messrs Ockendon, Chisholm, Ferraro and Thomas) were "poached" - from which competitor software company?
13. What is the connection between the CAP annual Eastbourne Conference, the IRA and the Conservative party?
14. Bill Gates "standardised" on software independent hardware and became a billionaire. 20 years earlier Ada "standardised" on hardware independent software and wasn't quite as succesful. But what was it called?
15. CAP-CPP collaborated with Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Newcastle University, supported by Tyne and Wear County Council in something called MARI. What does MARI stand for?
16. What was the name of CAP's engineer-orientated microprocessor development software - now long forgotten!!?
17. Barclays is (was!) one of CAP's oldest and most valued clients. In 1977 CAP was working on a number of projects at their IT centre. But in what year did CAP first work for Barclays?
18. And what was the name of the Hall where CAP worked on these projects in 1977?
19. Do you remember CSS. 50 staff in 1979 with 30 clients. But what did CSS stand for?
20. In 1983 CAP's own Travel Department was born to handle the ever growing needs of overseas sales and projects. Who was CAP's very own Travel Agent?
NO WE DIDN'T SAY THEY WERE ALL EASY!!
Answers sourced mostly from CAP Report & Accounts 1975 to 1979.
2. Mike Parrish
3. Dick Selwood
5. 1st January 1977
7. Lambs Conduit St. (two buildings) and Guildford St.
9. Hays Allan
10. Charterhouse Development Capital & the National Enterprise Board.
13. The Grand Hotel
15. Microelectronics Applications Research Institute.
17. 1965 (see R & A 1977 if you don't believe it!!)
18. Radbroke Hall, Cheshire
19. Client Support Services
20. Pat Constable.
Where are they? 20th January 2003
Looking for old colleagues
I'm Frances Brewin (Nee Johnson): Northern (1978 - 1981) South Africa (July 81 - December 81) Reading (Jan 82 - July 83)
I'd love to get in touch with some of my joining group
Tim Cosgrove (I saw a message from him on the site)
I'm already in touch with the other two - Martin King and Olwen Davies
Also be fun to locate people I worked with in Stone, Staffordshire (some pharmaceutical company, can't remember the name now - old age is rapidly catching up!), like Dave Gray (he went off to travel round the world, I remember - did he settle in Australia?)
I am in contact with Olwen Davies and Martin King (both joined in October 1978), Pat(Gately)and Tony Roberts, married in 1982, Ken Burton (married with children), and Ronnie Lloyd, all from CAP Northern in the early 80s.
Isn't it funny how as middle age sets in, you seem to want to get in touch with people who remember you when you were still young!!!
Actually, I don't suppose CAP South Africa would consider itself part of of this group? I'd really love to find Craig Soper, Roger Pittaway, Geoff Fabron (I think he came back to the UK), Sidney (whose surname I can't remember because we always called him Sydney Harbour Bridge!).... Great fun finding the site - I had no idea it existed, and found it quite by accident, I was filling in time waiting for my work to arrive (it comes by email) and put "Computer Analysts and Programmers" into the search engine. Feeling very nostalgic now! Fran
Articles 20th January 2003
Quotes taken from Federal Government employee performance evaluations or are they from some PDP write ups by perverse Staff Managers working for you know who?.
1. "Since my last report, this employee has reached rock-bottom and has started to dig.
2. "I would not allow this employee to breed."
3. "This employee is really not so much of a has-been, but more of definite won't be."
4. "Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."
5. "When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet."
6. "He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle."
7. "This young lady has delusions of adequacy."
8. "He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."
9. "This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.
10. "This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts, the better."
11. "Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together.
12. "A gross ignoramus--144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus."
13. "He doesn't have ulcers, but he's a carrier."
14. "I would like to go hunting with him sometime."
15. "He's been working with glue too much."
16. "He would argue with a signpost."
17. "He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room."
18. "When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell."
19. "If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he's the other one."
20. "A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on."
21. "A prime candidate for natural de-selection."
22. "Donated his brain to science before he was done using it." 23. "Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming."
24. "He's got two brains, one is lost and the other is out looking for it."
25. "If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week"
26. "If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change."
27. "If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean."
28. "It's hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm.
29. "One neuron short of a synapse."
30. "Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled."
31. "Takes him 2 hours to watch '60-minutes'.
32. "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead."
Quote from Westie's editorial ".......is apparently introducing some of the principles and values, that were all part of the early CAP ethos, which can't be bad. Staff Management, career development, job satisfaction and commitment to staff training, and all that stuff",
("Really", Webmaster was heard to remark!))