J K A Bleasdale

By J K A Bleasdale

NVRS 1955 -

Right through my student, post-graduate and RAF days my Father paid for my sub to Nature. So, as a Flying Officer Fighter Controller at RAF Ismailia in Egypt, I read of a job at NVRS to study irrigation. I could see irrigation was rather vital in Egypt but drainage struck me as the major problem in the UK. Nevertheless I applied.

I had never applied for a job before and one didn't have a CV on standby in the computer. It took me ages to set up referees etc. In due course I got a letter saying the job I had applied for had gone ( I later found Peter Salter had been appointed) but they had another job coming up and would be pleased if I would apply. This was to work on competition between crop plants and weeds under Harold Roberts.

I think I must have been interviewed after I got discharged in November 1954. Interview or no I got the job and was to start on 1st January 1955. I recall very clearly that at some time in early December I visited the Library at Manchester University and was convinced that I could never read all the journals to fill the gap created by my RAF service. I drove to Wellesbourne to tell Dr Philp this but he was kind and assured me I would cope.

I reported for work on 2nd January as no good Northerner worked on New Year's day and I was sure that no Scotsman would. I remember very clearly that I was docked a days pay.

I joined Harold Roberts in one of the old wooden army huts. I knew nothing about doing field experiments and had never written a research paper. Harold knew all these skills and generously and patiently schooled me.We had little or no equipment so you had to be inventive which I think made life more interesting.

There were a few older staff about but we were mostly young men keen to learn and we had a good time. There is nothing more satisfying than doing sound research which helps others to make progress.

J K A Bleasdale