Wright's Aerials

Working for Cowboys

Years ago I managed to get some work installing aerials for a firm that sold private mobile radio equipment – two-way radios for lorry drivers and taxi firms, in other words. I soon found out that I’d made a mistake getting involved with this firm, because they were a set of total tossers. Actually they were a total nightmare. As often as not I was instructed to replace the existing aerial, but to re-use the cable to keep costs down. And guess what, that had been connected to the downlead by someone who didn't like fitting N plugs. So the lazy bugger had chopped the plug off the aerial and twisted the cable ends together! Two big fat cables just twisted together and wrapped with tape. The manager (who was a fat ugly stupid twat if ever I met one) couldn't see what I was moaning about. "Just do it the same."

Once the salesman had done his job it was up us to do the install. The basic idea, usually, was that there would be a series of locations, each of which needed a UHF yagi aligned on a relay station, which talked to the vehicles. On one job these locations were quarry offices, one of which was in the bottom of the quarry. The bearing for the relay was straight into a solid stone cliff 70ft high and 25ft away. The aerial mast was 10ft high. The location was near the edge of the feasible coverage area, and it was blindingly obvious that the installation could never work. I rung Mr Sweaty Fat Twat and suggested that I should put the aerial at the top of the cliff and drop the cable down.

"How much cable will it use?"

"Quite a lot."

"Fuck it then. Just stick it on the cabin like normal. Let our guys sort it out when they bring the radios."

"OK boss."

They also used to use me to clear up the mess perpetrated by their own riggers. One time they sent me to the private house of a taxi driver, who had a base station in his kitchen. Their guys had run the fat black coax through the living room about a foot below ceiling level, clipped every now and then to the wall. The taxi man’s wife was very unhappy about having this cable draped across her living room wall.

Another time they sent me, unsuspecting, to a 'loose aerial'. "The customer is a bit pissed off. Do what you can." It turned out that the customer (another taxi driver) had refused to pay because the coverage was crap. He lived in a little terraced house on a busy road. To effect a solution to the coverage deficit the company had put the VHF colinear on a 20ft scaffold tube and fixed it to the top few courses of bricks of the chimney using a 13" cradle bracket with one lashing wire. A month later there was a slightly windy day. I arrived to find the colinear, scaffold tube, most of the chimney stack and a significant portion of the front guttering on the road and on the bonnet of a car.

The council had turned up as had the police and the representatives of both of these bodies turned on me and criticised the quality of 'my' work in highly disparaging and disrespectful terms. The owner of the car joined in with some vehemence, and went on to threaten to knock my block off, which the police seemed to think would constitute natural justice. The taxi driver bewailed the loss of business, because with the aerial on the pavement opposite his house coverage was even worse than it had been originally.

Needless to say I soon parted company with that firm. They went bust about a year later, and about two years after that the fat manager rung me at midnight because he needed someone to tell him how to set his Sky box so the remote eye would work in his bedroom. Like a fool I told him.

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