Energy For Waste
End Of Season
Energy For Waste (6 October 2015)
Every year the charity Open House London
organises* open days at a variety of architecturally interesting
buildings. It is held over one weekend in September or October, so you
have to decide which are your favourites and work out an itinerary that
squeezes them in over the two days. This year we decided to visit the
waste incineration plant in South Bermondsey in south east London. SELCHP* stands for South East London Combined Heat and Power and the
plant burns household waste to produce electricity and heat. We have
often passed it on the train, a very large nondescript white building
with a tall chimney, but giving no clue as to what is contained within,
other than its name and purpose written on the side. I have never given
it more than a passing thought - all of the few seconds it takes for my
train to whizz by - but the chance to see inside seemed to create a
little more interest, and of course I am always on the lookout for
photos of unusual buildings, both inside and out.
* "organ(ise)s" The short form does not show the first S, so this circle
only represents the last S
* Pronounced "sell chip"
SELCHP Energy Recovery Facility
We turned up on the day and entered the
perimeter gate where an employee was counting us in. We were first
ushered into a small marquee where a group of us watched the safety
video. After that we joined the queue of visitors to get our safety
equipment of high vis vest, helmet, safety glasses, and a goody bag
containing literature and some souvenirs. We made our way round to the
back of the building and were guided towards the beginning of the* route
through the facility. It was not* a guided tour as such, but a walk
round the installation following all the signs and arrows. I am not
going to pretend I knew what I was looking at, other than to say that it
was a veritable forest of pipe-work and ducts - small medium large and
enormous - and metal walkways.
* Omission phrase "towards the (be)gin(ning) of the". Where possible,
the Gn for "beginning" should be intersected, e.g. "at the beginning"
* "was not" Full strokes, do not use halving and N hook, as that would
Some of the lines are thick and
some are thin
The interior is fairly noisy in places,
as well as echoing, and that combined with the narrow walkways made it
obvious why guided groups are not* really possible. After a while we
ended up in the control room, with its rows of screens and control
panels showing the status of every part of the plant, such as current
performance, electrical output, steam pressure* and weather conditions.
There was a large internal window with two seats before it, where the
operators sit and drive the big crane grab that transfers the piles of
rubbish from the bunker below into the hoppers that feed the boiler
grate, where it is burned at the rate of 29 tonnes per hour.
* "are not" uses full outlines in the phrase to keep it clearly
different from "will not" which can use N hook and halving
* "pressure" can be shortened in a few common phrases, using only the
"sure" stroke, as long as the context makes it clear what is meant
On we went on our journey through the
building and came to a more open area where there was a large screen
with a rolling video showing how the plant works, with all the usual
graphics and interior cutaway views of the processes. In short, the
waste is incinerated, the heat is used to make steam which drives the
steam turbine generators to produce electricity. Staff were stationed at
various points, eager and willing to answer questions*, smiling widely,
no doubt bemused that ordinary members of the public might be
interested, and clearly glad to have the chance to share their knowledge
with us. The company also offers tours for school groups, so perhaps
they were relieved that we were less boisterous than the schoolchildren.
* "questions" Optional contraction
We then went down a stairway next to the boiler and I could feel the
warmth coming at me from one side. Once at the bottom, we were in
another open area. People were gathered around little openings that were
glowing with a yellow light. We lifted the metal hatch which revealed a
small glass window. Inside we could see the brilliant yellow interior
with the fierce and roaring flames shooting upwards from the waste on
its slowly moving grate. Only hot air and waste is used in the process,
no other fuel is needed. The process begins with drying, then ignition
and combustion of volatile gases, burning of the fixed carbon, burn out
and finally ash cooling.
Shorthand exams are fiercely hot if you haven't practised and prepared
The gases produced by the boilers
undergo* a cleaning process, using dilute ammonia, lime milk and
activated carbon. The dust is removed from the gas by bag filters and
this residue is sent for disposal at a licensed hazardous waste site. We
saw the jogging conveyors that carry the ash away. Metals are removed
from the ash (approximately 3%* by weight) by a magnetic coil in a
rotating drum. Last of all we peered down into the giant ash pits, which
are under cover but outside the main building, with a roadway alongside.
It is loaded into trucks and taken away for use in construction and road
* "undergo" uses the short form "under" but stroke and vowel for "go".
* "3%" If you write the numeral then you can write stroke P for %.
As we came out of the ash pit area, the
first thing I saw was a large green tree growing by the boundary fence,
with a backdrop of blue sky and white clouds. We turned the corner and
there were even more trees with a fresh breeze lifting the branches.
Visitors were sitting around at an outdoor refreshment area. We handed
back our equipment and left the site. On the return journey along the
dusty traffic filled road towards the train station, all I really
noticed was the sky, the sunshine, and the fresh green weeds* and long
grass of the verges. I am sure those engineers really love their* jobs,
but I think for me one visit was enough. (909 words)
* "weeds" Insert the vowel, as "woods"
would also make sense
* "love their" Doubling to represent "their"
SELCHP Energy Recovery Facility
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End Of Season (19 October 2015)
About this time last year I was writing about being taken by surprise
that the summer was almost over. Although this summer has been a good
one, during September the weather suddenly turned and we had two weeks*
of very heavy rain and leaden skies. I had to accept that possibly the
summer season had now been washed out. September is never predictable in
my part of the* UK, some years the agreeable weather continues,
seemingly without end, other years it can turn wet, misty and chilly
without warning. I realised that I may have missed my chance of visiting
some of the parks on my list and that once again* I had become a little
* Omission phrases "two wee(k)s" "in my part (of) the" "wu(n)s again"
The F/V hook is not added to "part" to signify "of" because that looks
too much like "number of"
Fortunately the rainy days came to an end and the weather reverted to
being* sunny* and warm. This welcome reprieve made me more determined to
get all the gardening jobs done as soon as possible*. Pruning an
overgrown* shrub (that was trying to be a tree) in the far bottom corner
turned into complete removal, including the stubborn stump of hard yew
wood. Yews are very dark green and this gloomy corner needed something
with bright green or yellow foliage. Hiding under the yew branches was a
collection of bits of paving, bricks and some left over roof tiles. With
that area now opened up and looking very much brighter and larger, the
decision was made to remove the two composting bins and use the
Council’s garden waste collection service. This was turning into a major
operation, and definitely needed a further month of good weather!
* "to being" based on the short form phrase "to be" through the line
* “sunny” Always insert the vowels in "sun/snow, sunny/snowy"
* Omission phrase "as soon as poss(ible)" Here the large circle
represents the two S sounds, a convenient departure from the normal rule
of SW at beginning and Ses at end
* "overgrown" and "evergreen” Insert the last vowel in these,
as they are similar in outline and
E-X-T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-E Had enough of the Daleks
Once the yew bush was out, it was clear that the fences needed some
attention. They needed cleaning, repairing and painting. Some of the
posts were less than* firm and we had to put in extra posts parallel to
them and join the two together with brackets, as well as installing the
steel rods of the “Post Buddy” system, which restored their stability.
We took the opportunity of using up the old bricks when concreting the
posts in and I was delighted not to have to find a way of disposing of
them. Soil had built up along the base of the fence and so that had to
be cleared away, to prevent any further rot. The small area of paving
was sloping and so we laid the spare paving blocks over the top and
increased its size, so that it can be used for a seat and some
* “less than” Downward L in order to make a good join
Post Buddies - utterly
Each mild day has been an incentive to get on with the
next task, as it could change at any moment. Once it gets cold, I will
not want to be attempting to dig planting holes in sodden soil, emptying
plant pots, planting daffodils in gooey clay and walking mud up and down
the garden. After several weeks* of all this work, I am glad to say that
the* weather stayed pleasant and fine and I think one more day of effort
should put the whole job to bed. The planting is almost done and, like
many things, I am wondering why we did not do this a long time ago, to
turn a corner that accumulates rubbish into a bright and pleasant
* Omission phrases "several wee(k)s" "I am glad (to) s(ay) that the"
* "sitting" Ensure the dot is small, and for "seating"
exaggerate the size of the dot, as context would be unlikely to
differentiate these if the vowel signs were absent or unclear
When the frost, ice and snow come, I know that all the work is done and
the new bulbs are silently creating* and spreading their roots and
shoots, ready for the show next spring. The only thing that won’t be
cleared away too meticulously are the fallen leaves, as I like the birds
to have something to dig around in for worms and insects, especially if
the ground is frozen*. It is not unusual to see a pile of muddy leaf
litter spread out on the path where the blackbird has found a promising
and productive patch of soil. The robin has already moved into the
garden, having seen all the digging and removal going on, and hopefully
he will stay around throughout the winter and maybe use the open fronted nestbox* next spring. (674 words)
* "creating" Insert the diphone, so it does not look like "growing"
which would also make sense here
* “frozen” and “freezing” Always insert the vowels
* "nes(t)box" omits the lightly sounded T
I'll be here in all seasons
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Daylight Saving (24 October 2015)
Tonight is the night that the clocks go back. In earlier years it had
never occurred to me that there might be a history behind it. I just
assumed that “they” decided it would be a good idea if we children had
lighter mornings on our journey to school. At that young age I would not
have* minded dark mornings at all, and would have much preferred to come
home earlier with the thought that more minutes of it were left for
playing. I did not like the thought that school hours were using up all
the best of the daylight available.
* "I would not have" The have is not joined into the phrase, because
that would look too similar to "I will never" If you have already
written it, then insert the vowel in "not"
The Shepherd clock at Greenwich Royal Observatory - No BST here
The Daylight Saving Time scheme was first suggested by New Zealander
George Hudson and his proposal was eventually trialled by his government
in 1927. However, the person responsible for bringing about the
permanent adoption of this idea in Britain was William Willett. He was
born in 1858 and for most of his life was a resident of Chislehurst in
Kent. He entered his father’s building business, Willett Building
Services, which built quality homes in London.
Willett liked to go out horse riding at an early hour and although it
was full daylight he noticed that the houses mostly had their curtains
and blinds drawn. It occurred to him that they were wasting the daylight
hours and therefore spending money and resources on artificial lighting
at the end of the day, a good proportion of which could be avoided. In
1909 he began and personally funded a campaign to have daylight saving
measures adopted by the Government and published* his own leaflet called
“The Waste of Daylight”. He proposed that the changes should occur in
20-minute increments over four Sundays in April, and likewise reversed
* “published” Optional short dash struck through last consonant of a contraction
to signify past tense. This contraction also stands for "public" which
has a similar meaning, so it is essential to differentiate these when
the former is being used as an adjective e.g. "a published book" vs "a
There was much opposition, mainly from farmers*, but with the advent of
the First World War it became a priority to save on coal and fuel costs.
Daylight Saving Time (also known as British Summer Time) became law on
17 May 1916 but unfortunately* Willett died of influenza in 1915 so he
did not live to see this happen. As we know, the change was not in
increments but just one whole hour forward in March and one hour back in
October. This idea subsequently spread to many other parts of the
* "farmers" See
for "farmer, framer, former, form-er"
* "unfortunately" Optional
* Omission phrase "to many oth(er) parts (of the) world"
William Willett is honoured by a
granite obelisk sundial in Petts Wood woodland (owned by the National
Trust) marking British Summer Time. Many sundials have the Latin
inscription “I only count the bright hours”* but Willett’s sundial reads
“I only count the summer hours”** referring to the Roman numerals on
which the gnomon shadow falls, with the central lower numeral being a
one instead of a twelve. In Petts Wood village centre is a pub called
The Daylight Inn, and nearby is Willett Recreation Ground and a road
called Willett Way.
* “Horas non numero nisi serenas”
** “Horas non numero nisi aestivas”
Daylight Inn - Willett Memorial
As a former* resident of Greenwich, I always felt an understandable
fondness for Greenwich Mean Time, as shown on the clock outside the
Royal Observatory in Greenwich Park. Whenever I visited it, I would
stand and ponder on the work that went into time measurement and the
creation of the magnificent timepieces on display in the museum, all
those centuries back when life was so different and knowledge more hard
won. Consequently I would always spend half of every year (or at least
the first several weeks* after changing the clock in the spring) trying
to remember what the “real” time was, and with a sigh of relief when the
clocks went back to the “correct” time. This did not take into account*
the fact that* I had changed my location by walking home about a mile
away, and so the time at my house was slightly ahead of the clock in the
park, as I lived a few streets east of the Meridian line.
* “former” See
note on paragraph 4
* Omission phrases "several wee(k)s" "take (into) account". The phrase
for "taken (into) account" joins the two outlines.
* Omission phrase "fac(t) that"
Greenwich Royal Observatory clock workshop
In winter I feel I am wasting daylight if there is any of it coming
through the curtains when I wake up. Even if I start my day at dawn, the
day will be short and the evening dark. If the weather is sunny, it has
to be made the most of, because gloomier days are coming. On the grey
days, the main source of light is the white glow from my computer*
screen, illuminating my desk and surroundings. Maybe that itself is a
saver of energy, as it is more comfortable to use when all the other
room lights are off. However, unlike the sun going down, the screen will
never go off on its own and so I have to resist the temptation to carry
on past a sensible bed time. After all, if I stay up late, then I am
likely to wake up late and see sunlight streaming in from behind the
curtain and that would not do at all, especially living so close to Mr
Willett’s home ground. (811 words)
* “if there is” Note that “if” can be doubled for “there,their”,
and also halved for "it", but
“for” is not doubled or halved for such phrases, in order to differentiate
* "computer" is doubled because the diphthong can join. In the plural it
cannot join, so two strokes are used: P + Trs
Royal Museums Greenwich booklet download:
Standing at the beginning
and end of time (Meridian Line on the lower pathway at Greenwich
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Fraser's Phrases (27 October 2015)
Hello readers, my name is Fraser and I have been asked to tell you all
about my journey from ignorance to excellence in my work life. After a
particularly frustrating week in the office, stuffing envelopes and
making tea, I felt that this was more than just a bad hair day and I
decided my career needed a shot in the arm. The acid test would be
whether I would stick with it or whether all my efforts would go down
the tubes. It had to be something that would not cost an arm and a leg,
and not be a flash in the pan. It was clear that an all-singing
all-dancing commercial course would really be a sledgehammer to crack a
nut. Having read their literature, I realised I would be barking up the
wrong tree and it was back to the drawing board once again*.
* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"
I was about to throw out the leaflet when I noticed something on the
back, a brief* introductory course in shorthand. They made it sound as
easy as pie, as long as you get down to brass tacks with the homework.
At last* it was not all doom and gloom, and I would be able to get my
foot in the door for a new career. I set about reading the syllabus for
a heads up on what is required, made my application and was accepted
straight away. Once I started the course, I wanted to share the good
news with my friends at work but somehow I was between a rock and a hard
place - in other words, a Catch 22 situation. I thought I was the bee’s
knees but my friends might think I had lost my marbles or had bats in
the belfry. They might tell me to hold my horses, keep my hair on and
just keep to the middle of the road. My boss might think I was a loose
cannon and that my new ambitions were pie in the sky. He might even go
on the warpath, have a hissy fit and say good riddance to bad rubbish.
* “brief” Always insert the vowel, to differentiate it from "number of"
* “at last” and “at least” Always insert the vowel
I was determined to keep my chin up and go the whole hog. I was as happy
as a clam as I continued with my studies. My teacher really knew her
onions and had zero tolerance for time wasters. Although we students
were all raw beginners starting on a level playing field, we were all
gung-ho about it and had jumped on the bandwagon of self-improvement.
This was no pipe dream and when I got down to the nitty-gritty of
learning, I realised I could not* pass the buck when I made mistakes.
Sometimes my shorthand went haywire, with wild and woolly outlines, and
I was up a gum tree with the transcription. I always made a bee-line for
the dictionary which kept the ball rolling. Even when I was hit with a
double whammy of difficult words and big gaps, I always faced the music
and avoided getting the heebie-jeebies.
* "could" Note that “could” is not joined in phrases, as it might be
misread as “can”, but “could not” can be phrased
safely, as that is entirely different from “cannot”
Blackheath, South London
At last* I sat my 100 words a minute* exam. As it started at 9 am, I had
to rise and shine really early. This was make or break and I could not*
pull the wool over the eyes of any examiner, or resort to smoke and
mirrors with my transcription. Off the record* I can say it really
turned out to be a piece of cake. I did not peg out and eventually I
received my pass slip. This was really a red letter day for me.
Shorthand had gone from being a blast from the past to being* flavour of
the month. I was no longer limited to a run of the mill job, and so I
started looking around. I was now a big fish in a small pond and with my
improved* skills I knew I could knock all the other applicants into a
cocked hat. With a new career I could paddle my own canoe and paint the
town red. I could blaze a trail for shorthand writers and get a top
* “at last” and “at least” Always insert the vowel
* Omission phrase "words (a) minute"
* "could not " see note in previous paragraph
* “off the record” Essential to insert the vowel in “off”, to
differentiate it from "for the record" - opposite meanings with dire
consequences if misread!
* "to being" Through the line, based on "to be"
* “improved” Optional short dash through the last consonant of a contraction to
signify past tense
Trinity House cocked hat in National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
I took to dressing smart casual as befitted my new-found confidence. I
felt like the new kid on the block rather than a back seat driver. I was
not well heeled or becoming a fashion victim, but I did not want to look
like a fuddy-duddy. I was not aiming to get Brownie points or be thought
of as fancy pants, but, to coin a phrase, what you see is what you get.
I knew that with my new skills any employer would be getting a bigger
bang for their buck and I wanted more than just my fifteen minutes of
One day, whilst stuffing the envelopes as usual, I received a crisp
white envelope marked confidential. Was this the end of my service here?
As I opened it, I felt I was going through cold turkey. Would there be a
feeding frenzy for my job when I was gone? The letter was from head
office, offering me the chance to apply for a job as assistant to the
managing director, undertaking confidential work and taking minutes of
meetings. I duly applied, enclosing a copy of my shorthand certificate.
I played the interview by ear and this was certainly not jobs for the
boys. They warned me that customers can fly off the handle, get your
goat and often have an axe to grind, but I would have to remember the
customer is always right - in other words, if you can’t stand the heat,
get out of the kitchen. Well, eventually I was accepted and I have to
say I was on cloud nine.
Not piranha but my friendly goldfish
With the job in the bag, I decided to bury the hatchet with my boss, who
would often get my dander up and behaved like a real Hooray Henry at
times. But before I could say anything, he jumped the gun and wished* me
good luck and break a leg. He said he had persuaded them to consider*
me in the first place* when the job came up for grabs. He was retiring to a
cottage out in the sticks, where he could enjoy an Indian summer of
retirement years while he still had good health. He knew I would never
spill the beans with confidential information, especially as I had seen
a lot of it whilst stuffing envelopes. This really was a turn-up for the
books and I thought it really took the biscuit - in the nicest possible
way. Well, that’s my story in a nutshell and I hope you will persevere
with your own shorthand studies - what’s not to like? Yours sincerely,
* "wished" With the mention of "gun" before, this might be misread as
"shoot/shot" so to clarify you could insert a semicircle W in 3rd place,
or even write it in full W + halved Ish.
* Omission phrases "to (con)sider" "first p(l)ace" "Yours (sin)cerely"
I think the resourceful Fraser learned how to write so colourfully from
this very useful and informative website
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