Contributed by Ralph Hooper. Can any readers add to this
compilation? The only thing he ever said to me, when I was a
trainee at a drawing board with Charlie Cray was: "What are
you doing?", followed by "Hmmmm" when I had explained. I'm
sure some of you can do better. Ed.
1. "Those at the back cried forward and those at the front
cried back." A comment on indecision, usually by Ministries,
and a quotation from Horatius on the bridge over the
2. "There's only one way to do a job and that's as quickly
as you can!" Urging the troops to hasten.
3. "The race is to the swift." A quotation, I believe;
purpose as (2).
4. "They can't see our arses for dust." Reference to our
5. "I am never wrong except when persuaded against my better
judgement!" Boasting; sometimes with an element of humour.
6. "It looks like mother done it!" An unfavourable comment on
a component or a whole aeroplane.
7. "It looks like mother done it - all pots and pans." A
very unfavourable comment on a component or whole
8. "We could design bombers but they couldn't design
fighters!" A reference to any of our competitors.
9. "I'm only interested in designing fighters, there's no
finesse in anything else." An opinion.
10. "I don't suffer fools gladly - and heaven save me from
the share pushers and costicians of this world!" A reference
to the commercial and accountancy functions.
11. "When you have designed aeroplanes as long as I have you
can see the airflow." Boasting again.
12. "All my aeroplanes are pilots' aeroplanes, but then all
my pilots are designer's pilots." Wish it was that
13. "There's no such thing as a good aircraft engine."
Opening gambit to keep 'powerplanters' in their
14. "Complication is ruination!" Other things being equal,
few would disagree.
15. "Yesterday I told you to do that; today I'm telling you
to do this; and tomorrow I'll tell you to do something
else!!" Assertion of the Chief Designer's absolute right to
change his mind.
16. "I hope you're working with a proper sense of guilt and
shame!" Widely used internally or externally at times when
the industry was under criticism by the Government and/or the
17. "Just another bloody Drawing Office aeroplane." Great
encouragement for the staff faced with a new prototype about
to fly! (If it turned out all right then such remarks would
soon be forgotten.)
18. "Every mod. begets a mod." General comment on the
tendency for hastily introduced modifications to introduce
problems of their own.
19. "You've got to have an 'eye for a line'." An aeroplane
should look good.
20. "We've got to 'strike a line'!" Sometimes similar to
(19) but also meaning "we've got to find a way ahead' -
usually in unclear circumstances.
21. "The evil Air Marshalls...!" Any members of the Air
Board who were failing to favour his products.
22. "He's only a journeyman draughtsman!" Don't expect too
much from him.
23. "He's only an old sweat!" Don't expect anything from
24. "The Navy always treats us as though we were gentlemen!"
Occasional approval of the Dark Blues.
25. "Life is real and life is earnest!" A general admonition
to greater effort.
26. "Every day's an 'oliday 'ere!" They are still not
working hard enough!
27. "We've tried efficiency - and that doesn't work!" A lack
of respect for his fellow directors' latest enthusiasm.