During the frolic entitle “Firenze Fashion” I made mention of a small group from the “Hartford” and our local, pub that is; It normally consisted of just four of us. Bob Moss, the claims manager, the ex-RAAF pilot, Keith; right at this moment Keith’s surname is escaping me. It was thinking about Keith and the last time we met that started me on this my merry way; when it comes to me I’ll let you all know what it was. It’s more than 35 years since I last met him, by accident, at a pub in Dee Why, he told me then that he had cancer, I think that he is no longer with us!
An ex NSW policeman who gave up the force when his request for going unarmed was denied and moved south to Melbourne where the police were unarmed.
Besides me, the youngest member of the group and at 21 and second most senior, there was George Stanley Shaw; (Stan Shaw). Stan wasn’t part of the claims department, he was a one out; he was the Marine Department, New Business & Sales Manager,Underwriter & Claims Manager; he did the lot. It wasn’t a very big business for the “Hartford” but a highly profitable one if you knew what you were doing and Stan did!
Stan was what Melburnians called a King’s Cross Yank. Apparently around King’s Cross Sydney back in the 50’s the local spivs and wise boys put on a Yankee accent; Stan wasn’t a spiv, he was a pretty smart operator in the Marine Insurance business. I never had any interest in that side of the Insurance world, which is a bit stupid really as it was that very insurance that kicked off the business in Lloyds Coffee House in London way back in the dim dark days of the late 17th century.
Stan was two or three years older than I, and we were pretty good chums at the time.
Being seniors we took our lunch break between 1 and 2 pm and Bob being the boss the 2 pm was kind of flexible. Bob being ex-RAAF would have us in fits with some of his wartime exploits, don’t forget this was 1956 – 57 the war had been over a bit more than a decade and things were still fresh in our minds, mine too although my memories were set in London.
I suppose Bob must have been late 30’s pushing 40, (I don’t really have a clue I didn’t understand such things then) and one story he told has stuck with me. He was flying I forget where, somewhere over the Pacific and returning to base when a squadron of P 38’s appeared flying above them and called him up on the radio, and the conversation went something like this:
” Hey you Spitty boys down there! Where are we and which way to …” somewhere or other apparently the only aircraft the Yanks knew the British forces had were Spitfires so every airman from an Empire country ( yes we were still the Empire then) was a Spitty Boy! And they were lost. It seems that the Yanks weren’t up to much in terms of navigation and made a habit of getting lost and calling for directions from any Spitty boy in the sky.
The amazing thing was that they never seemed worried or perturbed about being lost over the Pacific.
Besides Bobs stories Stan had the biggest swag of jokes; usually blue some I didn’t get but we’d all laugh, relax and enjoy our break.
I’ve been a bit like those Yankee airmen, I’m way off course and lost the plot all this has got nothing to do with the cuppa tea except that Stan Shaw was involved in that invitation.
Perhaps it will be better to close this blog off before it gets any bigger and more confusing and do a “Part 2” of an invitation to a cup of tea.