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       ToClark / Humor
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A novel by
Toby Clark


This book is dedicated to:
Ken Evans The TDI got him
Mel Irving and Philip Hill who also died in the remorseless pursuit of making polyether foam
And Tim Howell who outlasted them all
Many of the incidents recorded in this book really happened and most of the characters are real people, still living or (mercifully in a few cases) dead. I don’t suppose any of them care any longer that I have written this, and I don’t really care if they do!
Toby Clark January 2013

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Toby Clark
Copyright 2010 by Toby Clark

Dramatis Personae
Dave. This is me. I never quite learned the rules of the game
Mr Folklore The boss. He never quite succeeded in teaching me the rules of the game
Grey Folklore's deputy. Played the game but with a big handicap
Mr Happy Production Physicist. For whom even the Good Times were bad.
Howell Electronics engineer. A chess player, he was forced to play the game without any pieces
Mike Another technician like me
Pat Played the game according to his own interpretation of the rules
Little Dave Dave’s assistant
Smith Development (chief) Physicist. Didn't leave his reflection in mirrors
Millar Aeropreen's Technical Director. He made up the rules
Sage Aeropreen's Chief Development Engineer. He wrote his own job description in defiance of the rules
Alf Sage's deputy.
Pike Production manager
Peddle Production chemist
Dik Senior chemist. Could have had a job with DuPont any time he wanted
George Production supervisor or production Superintendant depending on the whims of the management
Pete George's assistant
Dan, Dan the Catalyst Man A Worker
Bobski Pilot plant operator. Completely insane, as are all Poles!
Ernie His oppo.


TDI stands for Toluene Di-isocyanate. (We used a tanker load every second day). It is a clear to yellowish watery liquid having a characteristic chemical smell. The control limit (formerly called Threshold Limit Value - TLV) is 0.02 ppm., equivalent to less than a teaspoonful in a large room!

"In sufficiently high concentrations, TDI has a primary irritant effect on the respiratory tract, causing dry throat and coughing. Asthmatic attacks may result and may occur immediately on exposure or some hours later. Some workers may become sensitised and exhibit asthmatic symptons well below the control limit. There is evidence that susceptible persons who are repeatedly exposed to isocyanates may suffer impairment of ventilatory function even in the absence of complaint and may even develop interstitial pulmonary fibrosis. In severe cases of overexposure, delayed pulmonary oedema can develop which in rare instances may prove fatal. Isocyanate splashed in the eyes may cause severe chemical conjunctivitis. Isocyanates are usually mild skin irritants and may cause dermatitis. Sensitisation of the skin may occur, but this is rare."
H.S.E. Guidance note EH 16

There were also some other pretty unpleasant chemicals – most notably those that cause bladder cancer. To this day, I always look rather carefully at what I am peeing.


"I offer a toast to Rufus H. Gripperknicker, of whom it has been said that his only claim to fame was that he once cured a pregnant duck of the piles"
R.G.H. 1968
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