Saturday, 8th February 2014

by Joshua Gaskell

A young Russian engineer who’d escaped a Gulag camp and the Gestapo secret police, arrived in Britain, penniless, in 1940. He first got a job as a projectionist at a newly opened Oscar Deutsch Odeon, but was soon working for the government. He worked on the development of radar detection, sonar navigation, and on the Pluto pipelines, which were laid in 1944 to carry petrol supplies from Britain to Allied forces in France.

A few years after the war he married a Wren recently discharged from the navy, and they had two sons. They were a happy family and watched Doctor Who together every Saturday. (The boys particularly liked the Tardis flying through space and anything involving a radiation-emitting laser.) He ended his career in one of the first non-governmental quangos, looking into whether British police should be equipped with electric tasers to deal with strikers.

One of his sons became a professional, naff-as-fuck yuppie who made a killing through Nasdaq securities and the Footsie exchange, retired to the country, and bought a new gas oven made by the same company that makes the Aga. (He then spent the next fifty years being a backyard nimby and fiddling with the scart at the back of his telly.) The other son went off the rails and became a delinquent ned: at forty-five years of age he received an Asbo for anti-social behaviour at a cinema.