It could have been True Story No22


You think I'm joking!

Meeting at Whitehall a few years ago with Chiefs of Naval Staffs and boffins.

Chairman: "Let's discuss our nuclear deterrent, lads.

I want to be really sure we get to use it if things don't go too well.

Hands up if anyone knows where our subs are?

"Please sir, at the bottom of the sea sir (from head boffin)".

"That's right Commander Blenkinsop, waiting at the bottom of the sea; and how do we tell them if they have to fire their big pyrotechnic devices if they're at the bottom of the sea?

Does their radio work down there?"

"No sir".

"No! Well jolly well find out how we can talk to them and let me know!"

Later… (at the next meeting); "very low frequencies you say".

"Oh really; very, very low frequencies, even.. extremely low frequencies.

Well, we'd better build a transmitter and make some ELF receivers and equip the subs hadn't we.

Then they can hear us tell them to fire their things".

Later (at another meeting), "Everything's working well now sir, we can talk to the subs and we can let them know when to launch their bits and pieces."

"Hang on, not so fast!

What if the enemy finds out about our ELF transmitter and knocks it out before we can get round to putting the subs in the picture?

Anyone got any ideas?

What's that Commander Blenkinsop?…

That sounds a good idea.

If the subs DON'T hear from us they can do their own thing.

All we have to do is keep talking to them and if we stop because the enemy has knocked out the ELF transmitter, they should just go ahead regardless.

You ops wallas, let me have a plan and I'll sort something out".

Later (at another meeting at Northwood), "OK, every hour on the hour we'll talk to the subs.

That way if we miss a slot they can fire their things.

That sounds foolproof.

I'll organise a chap to talk to the subs on the hour every hour, rain or shine.

What do you propose we talk to them about?"

"Well sir if the subs are at the bottom of the sea we can send them their mail."

"That'll do for starters but it'll only take a few minutes; what else can we do?"

"Have someone type out the contents of the Sun sir?"

"That'll keep them busy.

They can read the Sun, courtesy of the Admiralty."

"Hang on….what if a fuse blows or something really innocuous?

Will the subs launch their things?"

"No sir we'll switch over to a reserve transmitter."

"Sounds good to me; you'd never get two fuses blowing!"

"Sir, what if the chap gets fed up sending bits out of the Sun, or even worse gets bored out of his mind reading the Sun every day, and decides to tell the subs to go-ahead anyway?"

"Oh I don't know.

Tell you what, we'll have another chap with a Tommy gun stand behind the first one so he doesn't do anything rash."

"Rightho that's agreed …you ops fellas arrange that then".

Meeting closes.

Next, at another meeting (at Whitehall) to discuss staff cuts...

"What did you say he does?…

Just sits there all day typing out bits from the Sun?

We'll definitely get rid of him and anyway as far as the other fellow's concerned, guns are really dangerous…

We can sack him as well.

While we're at it why don't we computerise the whole thing?

We certainly won't need a man to send the Sun and we won't need a man with a Tommy gun either.

Great idea!

That's saved us a packet.

We can't afford much though with all these cuts.

We'll rig up a PC and have it do the job for us.

You technical chaps sort something out; use something really well proven and reliable, and for goodness sake don't bother putting it out to tender we can't afford it!

Do it yourselves….something based on Windows 98………

Later that year, at precisely 9:55am, back at Northwood, the brand new SCMS ASS (Automatic Sun Scanner) had just frozen.

The 10:00am Cost Cuts (Navy) meeting is about to start, a bit late, in the third sub-basement of MoD Main Building...

"Pass another chocolate biscuit Blenkinsop before those Cabinet Office chappies get here and scoff them, and for goodness sake tell that irk knocking at the door to go away will you!"

and from outside .. up at street level….BOOM!

The nuclear exchange, which commenced at 10:01am is already 4 minutes old.


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