Oral history of British science
Brooker, Tony (Part 3 of 14). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee's home, Thorpe-le-Soken
Brooker, Ralph Anthony, 1925- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 3: Further remarks on conscientious objector cousin: later studied philosophy at university, worked with Professor Ayer, later lived near Richmond Park, his moral objections to war, left wing politics. Comments on TB's politics: left wing, influenced to join Communist Party in 1947 by friend Sidney Michaelson [SM] at Imperial; impressed by the Red Army's efforts in the war; suspecting he was on an MI5 list; leaving Communist Party due to his dislike of the view, espoused in the 'Daily Worker,' that the Soviet Union could do no wrong; being attracted to communism due to a belief in social justice. [06:00] [mic noise] Further comments on politics: father's old fashioned liberalism; TB now being a liberal, but disagreeing over proportional representation; not voting for Tony Blair after being advised against him by Professor [Ian] Proudman [IP]; unfairness of Poll Tax and Margaret Thatcher. [08:28] Comments on religion: not a big part of his parent's lives; TB's atheism; youngest son's marriage to a Catholic solicitor with an Irish builder father; disagreeing with the Pope's support of Franco and Catholic Church's policies on birth control [mic noise]. Remarks on becoming an atheist as a child and story about taking the Lords name in vain at Emanuel School. [12:52] Remarks on school: not playing team sports much, being in Wellington House, joining cross country running team when evacuated, not having much fun as a child, only discovering himself at university where he joined the mountaineering club. Further remarks on climbing Scafell, Rannoch Wall and the Alps before taking up sailing after moving to Essex. [18:14] Remarks on: having a 'miserable' life as a child, reading, cycling, low traffic of 1940s, visiting grandmother in Banbury, hitch-hiking. Short story about travelling to Wales in 1946. Remarks on: never meeting the feral youth gangs media claimed to be in London, bomb damage in Putney. [21:55] Story about taking part in an identity parade at Putney police station which demonstrated to him that Britain was a liberal country. Remarks on court case after a minor car accident in Manchester, finding it fair, making a solemn oath in spite of being atheist. [mic noise] [28:51] Remarks on: social justice, political outlook, campaigning for the Commonwealth Party in Putney. Short story about hustings, with candidates from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal, Communist and Commonwealth Party. Remarks on views of communism in the 1940s and being a member from 1947 to 1949, leaving communist party and then voting Labour, Liberal, or Green Party. Remarks on voting systems. [35:22] Comments on becoming disillusioned with the Soviet Union in the late 1940s, 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich' and the 'The Gulag Archipelago.' [37:05] Remarks on: radio news in the war, postwar developments of radio and television, gramophone in the home, being musically uneducated, wartime pop songs. Remarks on: The Proms at Albert Hall after graduation, his musical tastes, 'Lara Theme' from 'Doctor Zhivago' and 'Greensleeves'. [43:14] Remarks on: following the war closely and the Battle of El Alamein [mic noise]; Winston Churchill's speeches and loss of 1945 election; coalition government, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath's union troubles; Harold Wilson's stance on Vietnam compared with present government's acquiescence to the USA. [46:50] Further remarks on 1945 election, sorry to see Churchill go but glad Labour won, Clement Atlee, 1951 general election, hopes for Atlee government, nationalisation. Remarks on wife Vera Brooker's [VB] background in a Durham mining village, father on strike, first in her family to go to university, where TB met her.[50:07] Remarks on primary school punishment of boy caught swearing and a science experiment. Remarks on Emanuel School: streaming of pupils, learning French, not applying himself until after matriculation, subjects studied. Remarks on being moved by Chamberlain's declaration of war. [56:15] Remarks on sixth form concentration on physics, pure maths, applied maths, Chemistry, quality of teaching, chemistry teacher with a PhD and who discovered an amino-acid. [mic noise] Comments on teaching at university: taught by William Penney [WP], father of the British atom bomb; [1:02:45] friend Ken Tocher's [KT] anecdote about WP's importance. [mic noise] Short story about visiting Professor George Finch [GF], who was on the 1922 Everest Expedition and worked for the Ministry of Supply, with SM to join chemistry laboratory at Imperial. Remarks on: talking about the atom bomb with GF after Hiroshima, GF's role in planning the fire-storm bombing of Hamburg; TB's opinions on bombing of Germany, concentration camps and the Soviet Union. [1:09:25] Remarks on war and on recent news story regarding abuse of Iraqi's by British troops under Colonel Mendonca. Mentions eldest son, Steven, being in the OTC at Imperial College.
Life story interview with computer scientist Tony Brooker