I learnt a lot about steam engines from Fred -the little ways of doing things, possibly handed down by word of mouth through the age but never written in books. In fact, they would make a wonderful book! He was like an ancient alchemist who could turn steam into gold and use its powers in all kinds of ingenious ways, especially in his wondrous back garden workshop in Bolton.
Fred was an odd mixture, being the down-to-earth, hands-on engineer but also a sensitive academic in his own whimsical sort of way. He had a delicate side to him bordering on the genteel with his sensitive drawings, his highly creative mind and the deft use of his very artistic fingers. Sometimes, it was as if he was repairing a violin rather than a steam boiler.
I remember shooting a television commercial featuring Fred drinking a pint of bitter. He seemed to hold the glass in an effeminate way with his little finger popping up as he downed it, like a refined lady drinking tea. It certainly didn’t look right for the image of this hard man from the north. We kept on saying: "You hold the glass like a big girl, Fred, keep that little finger down!
After about a dozen takes, with Fred getting more and more inebriated, we finally solved the problem - by taping his little finger down!
Roger's Reminiscences - Bordering on the genteel
Copyright © 2011 Roger Murray