Bigot’s over the top

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At the age of 86, I am usually no longer concerned by what others may think of me, but I thought DH Sanon’s inference I am a bigot to be a wee bit over the top.

Bigot is a strong term, often mis-applied by someone describing another who merely has a point of view differing from his own.

As to that Tetra meeting, in retrospect I realise my mistake was to fail to convince that my experiences were, in the Bognor Regis context, unique enough to perhaps warrant a little leeway in using them to convince listeners they had little to concern them by Tetra.

There are not many who have had the responsibility for the safety of aircraft armament on the flight decks of the two 54,000-ton ships, Ark Royal and Eagle.

Study of the profiles of those two ships would reveal they bristle with aerials – even the funnel being used as an aerial.

The drum-shaped radar on the top of Eagle’s island was the most powerful of its type in the world and, as it rotated, its scatter signal could be heard as an irritating bleep in the headsets of the flight-deck communications system.

All that radiation was concentrated in an area about 800ft by 80ft crammed with aeroplanes full of fuel, oxygen and explosives.

In Ark Royal, in spite of all precautions, we had half a dozen or so explosive devices set off by radiation, fortunately without casualties.

By the time I took up the same appointment in Eagle, the hazard had been reduced, although not eliminated.

I was perhaps naive enough to think such experience would be sufficient to permit me to speak with some authority, but I failed to realise laymen with no concept of complexities of operating an aircraft carrier would not countenance such, in which I could have stated that some 22,000 hours of exposure to radiation of all types had left me unscathed.

However, I would not have again raised the subject had I not been disturbed by the letters in these columns reporting the shameful attempts to twist the arms of electoral candidates.

As for the Tetra problem, it is true that if one stands within a few feet of one of its aerials, one might be affected. But as the aerials are usually sited on masts, and, because Tetra is intended for local use and therefore comparatively low powered, there is no danger. If there was, the surgeries of GPs up and down the land would be full of demented patients.

There will doubtless be some who read this who will assert all that radiation has indeed sent the old fool round the bend.

I am bigot enough to steadfastly maintain that such is not the case.

M Ayling

Elizabeth Avenue,

Rose Green