I received this email a couple of days ago. Very excited by this:
“I have just stumbled across the P.Wyndham Little area of your web site.
About 6 years ago, I moved into a house in a small village just south of Nottingham. That was in July 1999. Approximately three months later I received a letter through the post addressed to ‘The Occupier’ and the first half of the postcode. This letter had been posted in Edinburgh. It contained copies of seven letters, all written to The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths MP and all from a P.Wyndham Little.
The arrival of the letters was totally unexpected – I have never had any connections with anyone in Edinburgh. The person who owned the house before me was Scottish but this is probably just a coincidence.
The first letter starts with the words ‘ The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”? It is identical to the final letter contained on your web site (but it has an additional footnote referring to “…the fine movie Heavens Above”)
However the other letters, all in a similar eccentric vein, are different to the ones on your web site.
Like you, for no real reason, I decided to hang onto the letters, perhaps hoping that one day the mystery of their contents may become clear. This eventually led me to execute a Google search on the internet”
The letters were attached as word documents, and were indeed in the exact style of the ones I had myself received. They follow below.
The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths MP P. Wyndham Little
Saturday 11 January 1997
Dear Nigel Griffiths,
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”?
Until very recently, if your state had no coal you had no electric power. Where there is no electricity, every article produced has to be worked by hand. The result is poverty and unrest leading to peoples republics.
I wanted to see film of the nuclear tests. These pictures still amaze me. I wondered if “they” could make electricity with it….make what? How? I was familiar with the insides of a torch battery and imagined that if carbon rods were introduced, they could be used to slow it down so that The Bomb could be used to boil water. What nonsense!..?
Nevertheless, some time later I was asked what name One would call Her new nuclear power station. What would One call Her hall? And so it was called Her hall: Calder Hall (Caulder/colder). I cannot now remember if the name of the local river brought the inspiration or if the river was named later. I imagined One switching it on and a giant indicator showing the power fed to The National Grid.
I wondered if submarines could use nuclear fuel instead of diesel. I believed that they might be able to stay submerged for weeks at a time, enabling them to cross under the North Pole. Hence the name Polaris. Ice Station Zebra, the Alastair Maclean chiller movie, came during The Cold War to support Polaris and decisions made about The Mission* to The Moon.
*so called after the fine movie Heavens Above.
The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths MP P.Wyndham Little
Thursday 19 June 1997
Dear Nigel Griffiths,
“It will see me out.”
When I lived at Merchiston Crescent, I would often come home from work to find a note from a neighbour and always I would exclaim …“Oh Lord no! or worse. As we all saw, a combination of factors led to the neglect of the tenements. Many in Glasgow had to he demolished.
So it is as well in the nation. We learn the procedures, the codes, and our place from birth. Any attempt to depart from these, runs the risk of being shunned.* Some may take pride in their skill in these. Most leave their lives in the hands of “the experts’. While this all seems to bring order and prosperity, every government starts to run up a list of problems. I suppose that parliament with its party system was introduced to ensure that government always has the support of the people. That has always been the case in this united kingdom?
There is no policy for a return to full employment. While you say that the number of people out of work is falling, I think you will find that the long-term unemployed believe that what you say is untrue. Perhaps unemployment will see you out before the end of term. Who will the electors vote for then to waste their time? Perhaps there will be no election.
Do the electors now understand that you cannot govern the unemployment situation because it is a job for experts who you cannot know$ until it is generally known$?
P .Wyndham Little.
*from the movie Witness
$from the TV series Yes Minister
The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths MP P.Wyndham Little
31 Minto Street
Tuesday 13 April 1999
Dear Nigel Griffiths,
A Day At The Races#?
I was shocked to learn that cancer was killing people in thousands. What was more shockinq was that those I called The Patients were left to die untreated.
I understood that X-rays had to be used sparingly as they destroyed the human body. I wondered if the X-ray machines could be used to destroy what I called Tumours. (You have to chew gristle more.) I was horrified by the pictures of the results of the first trials. However I was encouraged by the news that the X-rays had indeed destroyed cancer tissue. The patients had very extensive radiation burns.
I thought that the radiation would have to be made into a narrow beam and the patient rocked back and forth to concentrate the treatment more on the tumour. But where exactly were the tumours? I came up with the notion that something radioactive would have to be found which would concentrate in the tumours and kill the cancer cells. Why could the patient not be placed behind a fluorescent screen which would show cancer cells up as bright spots? I suggested a name for this treatment: Key Mo Therapy and I was quite correct.
I do not need to know very much before I have an idea for something. As you can see for yourself, I did not need to be trained as a doctor. I do have to have the means to learn about the problem itself and I do need to be left to get on with it unmolested.
#The title I suggested for that fine mov…Dr Hack & Pus.
The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths MP P. Wyndham Little
Sunday 21 June 1998
Dear Nigel Griffiths,
So-sighety. Thoughts of Mao or just Ma Guffie?
My father’s Austin 16 was so small that on wet days we used to picnic in the shelter of Waverley Station. I used to dash from platform to platform to watch the arrivals and departures. I could see it all there…. 1st Class, 2nd Class, 3rd Class and the stoker busting his ass to keep it all running.
The railway, WWII and The Wild West became the sets for many classic movies which are now of historic importance. The 39 Steps, North By Northwest, Mrs Minever, Brief Encounter, Double Indemnity, Von Ryan’s Express, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, Murder on The Orient Express, The Bridge On The River Kwai, The Bridge At Remagen, Schindler’s List, The Lady Vanishes, Witness, The Railway Children….
Any who have seen that fine movie The 39 Steps will recall that “Mr Memory” was used to convey secret details of a new engine. I thought it would he grand if I invented a new engine, and I did. I invented two new engines: The Deltic Engine and The Jet Engine (W.Littles engine). It was the start of what Scilly Willy called “The White Heat*of this technological revolution.”
I was shocked to learn that both the French and the Russian people had murdered their aristocracy to achieve their revolution. What I thought was far worse and much more dangerous to mankind was that those nations which had chosen communism now turned their backs on the rest of the world. How uncivilized! I suppose that this was the inspiration for The United Nations, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and the British Colony I first thought to call King Kong (Hong Kong)
I thought that two new leaders should appear in the USA to capture the imagination of the American People and to express some of my sentiments. Both were shot dead.
I thought that The 39 Steps should be remade for the American audience. I suggested new scenes and the title North By Northwest. Clews were inserted as reminders of its origin …“Eve Kendal”’s “drawing room E car 3901” on the train, “The 20th Century” and the place chosen for the stop looked like the approaches to The Forth Bridge. Just as Alastair Maclean introduced us all to RADAR in The Guns of Navarone and Ian Flemming introduced us to Nuclear Power in Dr No, so too did the “extra” I called Hitchcock in North By Northwest introduce
us to The United Nations and the concept of the Cold War. Nations on this side of The Iron Curtain were thereafter referred to as The West. The Soviets later nicknamed her The Iron Lady.
“All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”$
if you have seen the Without Prejudice episode of Steptoe & Son you will have seen that occupations prevented equality in the 1950’s and 1960’s. There were no pithead baths and work clothes for the miners. How could the labourer sit next to the director in the train? How would the communists survive? Would they be murdered?…..Romania.
A people will only be civilized if a reason can he seen for it… Western Technology … Wyndham’s Way#. “The Nazis will give you a medal for this Von Ryan”? What kind of way is this to treat a “Hero of The Soviet Union”? All these In-dust-try-
all, bored room jobs sacrificed …. for nothing? As Gregory Peck put it in The Guns Of Navarone, “You are all in it now, and you had better think of something or by thunder …
^ just as Livingstone became Livingston, so too did Memory become Membury. Membury Services, M4 Motorway near Swindon Rail Works.
* a reference to the fine movie White Heat
$ from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
# a dual carriageway is so named near Weston
The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths HP P.Wyndham Little
Friday 25 October 1996
Dear Nigel Griffiths,
Baa Baa Black Sheep?
Many who have read mathematics will tell you that usually mathematical techniques evolved in answer to needs for simplification of calculation for some often repeated task. I wonder if many students ask as I did: “What did the 18th century Charles Boule need his algebra for?” The only thing I can think of that it has any application is for simplification of requirements for logic gates. To what else do these rules of algebra refer? Nothing else! There was no electricity in the 18th century.
I sometimes visited the grand hall of The Edinburgh Savings Bank on Hanover Street*. I wondered why my mother had to draw money to pay bills. Why could she not pay with a note telling the bank to give the bearer the money? I suggested a name for this note: The Cheque. Much later I suggested another means of cashless payment: The Credit Card. Both of these devices brought a massive expansion in banking employment.
When I learned that transistors could he used to turn lamps on and off, I wondered if “they” could make an adding machine with transistors. While I could not see how it could be done, I realised that the semiconductor industries would sell billions more transistors. Since we can calculate using 1 to 9 (Base 10), why could not the transistors produce off and on to represent 0 and 1 (Base 2)? 1 thought that the banks would pay for these Electronic machines for which I suggested the name: Computer
Much later I was shown the resu]ts. The engineers were able to control the type of task the computer would undertake…but it was quite clear to me that no one in the banks or anywhere else would be able to. I suggested that the computer operator would use a typewriter keyboard with teletype and that the instructions he typed in (compiled) using a language just as you would speak French to a french man. I pictured the operator as if playing the piano at this keyboard and my first thought name for this language was Forte again, but later settled on Fortran and Cobal.
Some years after this “a friend” was showing me how transistors were arranged to provide functions. It occurred to me that engineers could easily become muddled by the quantity of Gates.
As there seemed to be rules involved I thought that the mathematicians should be given the task of creating a new algebra to reduce complicated requirements down to reliable simple solutions. I thought that a new Barnes Wallace of mathematics should be created who I called Charles Boule as in boulevard. (Anyway it would seem like a load of balls to most people.) I used this new algebra on the HNC course I took at Napier College and thought at that time that it worked like magic! I understand that now computers solve these problems as what is referred to as Computer Aided Engineering CAE.
From what I write here, perhaps some of the long-term unemployed would say that the last thing needed now is an army of inventors. I again remind you that my ideas have created millions of new jobs across many spheres of endeavour and that those ideas for what I called Electronics have helped to bring affordable computers which provide tedium reduction, and competence to manv dull tasks. These same techniques used to make computers are now applied in conjunction with more of my ideas for inventions to provide Television, RADAR, Satellite Communications, Nuclear Electricity Generation and much more. These have created new wealth for nations and millions of new good quality jobs just on their own. Safety, security, quality, economy and reliability which the thermionic valve never delivered.
Babbage was just another of my inventions. Perhaps that giant brass calculating engine does work, unlike Logie Baird’s Televisor which I believe never could. I suggested that those pictures of Colossus be of radio broadcasting equipment racks.
* the location for that scene in the fine movie The Man Who Never Was.
P.Wyndham Littl2 The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths MP
The Rt Hon Nigel Griffiths MP
Sunday 24 January 1999
Dear Nigel Griffiths
Bye-bye to “The Hello Girls”
As a child, I was shocked to learn that all telephone calls were connected by hand by an operator at the exchange. What was more shocking was that there was a waiting list some years long to have the phone “put in”.
I was fascinated by the house bell indicator panel at. home. I knew that electromagnets made the stars wag. I had a notion that what I called a Dial could be used to switch an electro~ magnet off and on, at the exchange, which would in turn drive a rotary switch, which would connect the calls. (perhaps the inspiration for that song I suggested, about WWII factory work…”which drives the thingammybob”). Soon after that idea we had a new telephone and Morningside and Fountainbridge had new exchanges. I played with the dial. It was the inspiration for that fine Hitchcock movie Dial M for Murder. A London district was named Maida Vale after the exchange name in the movie to remind all.
I think that I had already suggested the name Transistor for the new radio valve, but it was not until after I had the idea that Transistors could be used (in the first Computers) instead of the teeth in adding machines did telephone calls start to become electronically switched. Just as I thought that RADAR helped our WWII pilots to see in the dark, I thought that what I called Computers would have helped military intelligence to break Hitler’s codes at a place I called Bletchley Park. Considering the state and availability of wireless at that time it seems unlikely that there was much need for code.
From what I write here you can see that it is not, sufficient to just invent a new technology. Stories have to be invented about it, to introduce it and to make it all Big Medicine. Just as a new technology builds on an existing technology, so too do the stories it seems. That Channel 4 TV series: Station X has bits that I made up in it. So what is the rest of it? Lure twaddle~
As each new technology appears, boring old jobs which called for endurance rather than ability, disappear much to the relief of all. If you have read even some of my letters you will appreciate that I have invented much to keep you all busy. Considering that full employment is the foundation of any civilization surely efforts should he now made to replicate my “art” rather than to use Nurse Ratchet to keep me out of your way, “This country needs every grain of corn it can get!” “This is important work!” “Isn’t it .. er Wilson?”.. “Jones knows how it works.”*
* from The Harvesters episode of Dad’s Army
Sunday 26 April 1998
“Je ne puis pas jouer avec toi, dit le renard. Je ne suis pas apprivoise….. Les hommes, dit le renard, ils ont des fusils et ils chassent. C’est bien genant! Ils elevent aussi des poules. C’est leur seul interet. Tu cherches des poules?”*
Just as with the ideas for the fine movie Casablanca, I stumbled into the story of those who continue to found The United States of America, with the ideas for the movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, I stumbled into the story of parliament and of civilization. Perhaps some would also say that it is the story of the United Kingdom parliament and of The Clearances. I just thought it was a grand tale for the actors I called John Wayne and James Stewart to act out.
It is so long ago that I cannot now remember what SaintExupery’s book was for. However the book seems partly to expose the view that every position of authority in any civilisation is based on a pack of lies and confidence tricks. (I should know. I make many of them up for you all.) As any church will not tell you, there is no truth like a pack of lies. Where would we all be without those I called The Rt Honourable. Would our civilization exist without them?
Those who read Saint-Exupery’s book will see many occupations as administering the administrative affairs, specializing in specialist affairs. These cameos were repeated in the role of the scientist in the fine movie The Man Who Never Was. As I said then, unless we all know what to ask these experts for what we want, they will spend their time on what may seem relevant to their own lives instead of the needs of civilization. The universities turn out more and more every year. The government now pretends that they pay for their own education by tuition fees. Taxation still pays tor further education.
My ideas have helped to create new university jobs: Physics (what makes my inventions fizz), Psychology (what makes us all sigh), Electronics, Computing, Boulean Algebra (a load of balls to most people) . What I say now is that we all need to take an interest. We all need to mind the shop, so that the ideas of the many and not just the learned will re-invent civilization.
While there is mass unemployment, the employers can pay next-to-nothing wages, favour any without any thought of fairness, sack any at a moment’s notice because the long-term unemployed do not mind being called scab. New businesses only bring more competition to further force down wages. Only new industries will mop up the unemployed. The ideas for The Jet Engine, The Deltic Engine, The Television, The Transistor, The Computer, The Silicon Chip, The Motorway, Nuclear Power Generation, RADAR, LASER, The Giro, …..helped to found whole new industries. Just my ideas. What would it be like if government gathered the ideas of the many? Scope for what I called DIY.
I understand that The Thin Blue Line is stretched by a crime wave and that Her Prisons are full to bursting. I can only remind you all that a people will only be civilized if a good reason can he seen for it. We need an economic system which is based on ideas just as much as knowledge.
“Nothing is too good for the man who shot Liberty Valence.”$?
* from the Saint-Exupery story Le Petit Prince
$ from the fine movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence