Wright's Aerials
The first cowboy aerial rigger

What actually happened was, this Italian bloke rung up – well he had an Italian name but he sounded Irish on the phone and as me xenophobia was quite bad at the time I wouldn't have gone out to him if I hadn’t been a bit short of work – anyway he said he'd got a scheme for sending Morse code across to America without using the telegraph cable. I said “What yer gonna do, write the dots and dashes down and post them?” which I thought was quite witty but he didn’t laugh. Dead snooty some people. Anyway I thought oh bloody 'ell another nutter, never mind, as long as he pays.

It turned out to be quite a good job actually. He was down in Cornwall so I was able to rip him off for about 500 miles of travel costs at tuppence farthing a mile. Outrageous really, innit, but if they’re daft enough to pay it I’m smart enough to take it. I also told him the horse had dropped dead at Watford Gap due to me rushing to get his job done quick so he gave me half a crown towards the new one. Quite a gent, really. 'Course, the horse hadn't really dropped dead, the same one as I set off with got me all the way to Cornwall. The traffic was a bit bad down there though. I must have seen at least six other carts between Bristol and Cornwall. It’s all the bleedin’ holidaymakers, they should keep ‘em off the roads when there’s people trying to earn an honest living.

Anyway I got on like an house on fire with this Italian geezer. We were on first name terms right from the start. He was called Googellio or something. Towards the end of the job he even called me Fakin Eejit most of the time, which I guess is Italian for ‘Good worker’ or something. Funny thing was, when his gear wasn’t doing what he wanted it to do he would swear at it and then he sounded really Irish. Can’t work that one out. Mind you, they’re all Catholics, the Irish and the Italians, maybe that’s it. Maybe they all swear the same, I dunno.

He had a load of telegraph poles planted on the top of the cliffs and all he wanted from me was about a mile of wire stringing between them, in a sort of rat’s nest. Dead simple really. I told him the wire was made from oxygen free copper so it was very pricey, and he swallowed it. Dunno where I got that idea from – I’m very inventive when I’m chatting the customers up though.

He’d got this big shed full of gear so when I’d finished I played safe and said “Here’s the end of the wire, you do what you like with it guv” and scarpered before he got it plugged in. I didn’t want to get involved trying to set up some fancy bloody thing he’d probably got from Harrods when all I was there for was to fix the aerial. You can never follow the instructions, can you? They’re always in German for that sort of gear. Bloody Lowe I expect. So I never found out if he could send his morse code to America. I think he probably did though, because radio was invented a few years later, so I expect he had a Beta version of that.

The Italian bloke (or was he Irish, I could never work it out) was OK, but the next one was a right twat. This one sounded Scottish, and sure enough he was, and you know how they say the Scots are mean, well this guy set out to prove it single handed. He was in a place called Hastings, which is near London, so straight away I put five bob on the price to cover the stabling and the hassle. Do you know if you leave the horse and cart outside the job down there they put a yellow ball and chain on the horse? The 5/- made him squirm, but like everyone down there he knew he had no choice. Now this guy was a real fruitcake. He reckoned he could send pictures over the radio. I mean they’d only just figured out how to send talking and music, so it was just ridiculous. Still, why should I care, as long as I get paid?

Now what this bloke wanted was just pathetic. All it amounted to was two wire aerials about a mile apart. I tried the oxygen-free copper routine with him, but he wasn’t having it. Mean git!

I said “Look, I had this bloke a few years back sending morse code to America, so I don’t know what you’re trying to prove sending stuff a mile” but he just gave me a look. The job was done in a couple of hours, so to justify the bill I spend the afternoon in the local boozer.

Next day he connected everything up and then dashed from one aerial to the other. He had all these huge wheels whizzing round and a little window to look through. I looked and all I could see was a smeary face wobbling about. It was only in shades of green, no proper colour, so I can’t see that catching on. And the wheels looked like they could chop your head off if you weren’t careful. He seemed well pleased with it all though, which was just as well ‘cos that’s when I hit him with the bill. He said “Och you’ll be my ruination” but he reached into his sporran and paid up all right. I didn’t get on with him at all though. I tried taking the piss out of his Scottish accent – you know, in a friendly way, like you do with stuck up customers – but he didn’t see the joke. He was mardy about me dropping fag ash all over his office floor as well – I mean, how can yer help that? Actually I think he was some sort of a perv. His best friend was a ventriloquist’s dummy, and that was only the head.

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