There used to be a time when everything seem to shut for the first two weeks in August.

When I was in RTE we had a holiday allocation for each year [20 days?  30 days?  Can’t remember now].  We were free to take those days whenever we liked during the year provided that included at least five consecutive days.  It was nice and flexible but it meant going cap in hand and groveling to the boss for permission to take a day or two off.  I really fucking hated that.

Prior to RTE, I worked in Pye, back in the early 70s.  Who the fuck is Pye, you ask?  Well, they were manufacturers of radios and televisions with the odd refrigerator thrown in for luck.  They used to have a factory in Dundrum which has long since gone but it used to stand where they built that hideous cathedral of The Church of Consumerism – Dundrum Town Centre.

In Pye, holidays were fixed.  You got a day or two at Christmas and Easter and the place shut down for the first two weeks in August.  No flexibility  No alternatives.  If you took a day off outside those fixed days you simply didn't get paid.

Working in that factory was tough  It was a vast factory floor filled with steel roller belts for transporting the goods around the factory.  As a result there was a constant background roar as stuff got shifted around.  Add to that the large number of hydraulic rams, presses and pneumatic screwdrivers which squealed and thumped their way through the day.  Add to that a large yoke in the middle of the factory floor that contained a large fountain of molten solder and a bath of liquid flux, pumping heat and fumes into the air.  Then there was the radio that blared over the Tannoy all day that no one could listen to because of the rattling, banging, squealing and thumping going on.  All this was in a factory that had never heard of insulation so we froze in Winter and boiled alive in Summer.

It was a dangerous place to work.  There was none of that fancy namby pamby Elf and Safety shit there.  We worked on open chassis with exposed circuits that carried anything between 6 and 20,000 Volts, and if we accidentally touched one of those circuits… well, there was always someone to take our place while [if] we recovered.  It was commonplace to hear a loud shriek as someone touched something.  There would be a pretty blue flash and whatever tool they had been using would fly gracefully through the air, usually to strike someone on the production lines.  Someone would poke the victim [having made sure the power was off] and if they were still breathing then the work carried on.

It was a great place to work.  I loved it.  It was noisy, dirty and dangerous but the craic was mighty.  Everyone shouted cheerfully over the noise and moaners were few and far between.  It was a predominantly female place, so the jokes were filthy and the men constantly ran the gauntlet of being slagged.  We gave as good as we got though.  The pay was reasonable [£23 a week, or less if you stuck your card into the time-clock one second too late].

For some reason, my thoughts tend to travel back to those times in the first two weeks in August.  Happy days.

If you happen to have a monochrome, dual standard [VHF and UHF] television at home made by Pye, take a look inside and see if there is a card label tied to the chassis.

If there is a number 67 written on it, that was one of mine.

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Summer holidays — 10 Comments

  1. Heh! I remember Pye stuff. They were a big name in the sixties. I even remember the Pye logo! Kind of centred round the 'Y'.

    I've worked in factories (albeit briefly) back when Hellf 'n' Spasticity didn't exist. Apart from that clocking in business, I quite enjoyed it. Perhaps because my few spells were brief enough not to pall.

    But mostly I've spent my life either working for myself or in some sort of sub-contract situation, so I've never enjoyed the luxury of paid holidays. Of course, the other side of the coin is that I can pretty much please myself when, and for how long I will take a break.

    If I can afford to, that is! 🙂

    • I didn't mind the clocking in bit.  Possibly the cash made up for it as it was the first real pay I'd had [the previous job paid £10 a week].  Mind you, if you'd told me then that later in life, a weeks wage would just about have got me two packs of baccy or four pints of stout!!

      When it comes to freedom though, it's hard to beat retirement. 

  2. [email protected] on said:

    The first stereo our family had was a Pye Black Box. Great value for its price, never failed, just got superceded by Japanese technology.

    • Welcome Fred!  Radios were manufactured at Pye when I worked there.  They were in  little back room and were considered inferior!  We were the elite working on televisions.  Modern wrist watch and credit card sized radios don't quite have the same gravitas as the old valve sets somehow.

  3. I remember the advertisements for Pye, and think the company may have had a sponsored programme on Radio Eireann, although before the launch of transistor radios our home Wireless was a Bush. In my childhood we respected the big wireless as an important piece of sitting room furniture. Pubs had a wireless so the old and young men of the town could listen to horse racing on Saturday afternoons. The routine was for working men to study the sports pages of the daily papers (Irish Independent, Irish Press and Daily Express) then pick their potential winning horses before toddling down to the bookmaker's office to lay their bets. They spent the afternoon listening to live commentary on the races while quaffing pints with friends. Nowadays I still listen to the radio, as it is called, but miss the Big Thing with the names of exotic faraway radio stations written on the dial screen.

    • The wireless certainly took a place of pride.  I think ours was a Philips – took ages to warm up and then had to be fine tuned with a "magic eye".  Athlone, Luxembourg, Hilversum, Paris?  Exotic names indeed [apart from Athlone!].

  4. Greetings Grandad !

    Once upon a time I worked for Cossors (in ‘arlow, Essex, innit…) and various radio ham colleagues had Pye Bantams nailed into the back of whatever car they owned. One had a Fiat 500 with a mag mount whip antenna on top – looked like a radio controlled toy car as it trundled through the gate and down the yard.
    Happy days 🙂

    • Greetings Gareth and welcome!  The brother used to be one of them – EI6AL [if I remember correctly].  Maybe he still is?  He used to string cables all around the garden and up on the roof.  I suppose it kept him out of trouble.   CQ20? CQ20?

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