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Monkey Business

One of RADARS successes in 2004 was in achieving its agreed aim of encouraging new blood into the club and Richard Leitch M0EIQ became, in effect, our Examinations Officer Without Portfolio. Shortly before Christmas, we arranged an examination session in the clubhouse and of the four candidates who took the examination, we are pleased to announce that all of them passed and we welcome them to RADARS. We hope to build on this success in the coming year and encourage more newcomers to the hobby. 

One of those who took his examination with the club in December was Pete Hinchliffe who, at the time of writing, is awaiting his call sign. He wrote the following amusing tale of his close encounter of an unusual kind whilst in pursuit of his hobby:-

“A couple of weeks before sitting my foundation exam in December 2004, I decided to take a few days away with my wife and we headed out to Andalucia. I took with me my newly acquired Yaesu VX-7R and mini mag-mount in order to scan the VHF/UHF bands and see what was happening locally.

Most of the English tourists had left the region by that time of the year although I heard a couple of English-speaking stations in or around the Malaga area exchanging signal reports, for the most part, the rest of the bands were fairly quiet. It was with some enthusiasm that he headed off to Gibraltar one day midweek, intent on doing some sightseeing and, - perhaps more importantly, some serious SWL from the upper reaches of the Rock.

After loading up the car in Safeway with the maximum duty-free allowance of booze and fags, we headed for Europa Point from where the North African coast is clearly visible. There is, as might be expected, plenty of traffic to be seen and heard as mighty container ships and tankers squeeze through the narrow straits or turn northwards into the oil-terminal at Algeciraz. After the obligatory stop for photos, we got back into the car and headed on up the narrow, twisting road along which mules and men in times gone by had sweated as they hauled the heavy guns up to the numerous artillery positions that are dotted all around Gibraltar.

Several hundred feet up the limestone fortress, we pulled off into a lay-by, intent on tuning into some new and interesting stations. It was then that I realised that we had company, in the form of a family of the Rock’s famous Barbary apes that proceeded to swarm all over the car and inspect us in fine detail.

One thing of particular interest to one of the alpha-males of the group was the mini mag-mount and he settled himself calmly onto the car roof and began to chew the tip with gritty determination! 
 
Indignantly, I got out of the car in order to give the precocious primate a good talking-to when I realised that I had been the victim of a diversionary tactic. Seeing the empty driving seat, the spouse of the antenna-nibbler quickly darted into the car, much to my wife’s horror and snatched a bar of Whole Nut from the back seat, leaving behind the unmistakable smell of urine as she hurled herself back out through the open window clutching her trophy!

And so it was that we surveyed the damage; a badly chewed, barely usable antenna and our afternoon snack now being greedily consumed by a chattering extended family of hairy primates in the middle of the road. 

One day, I will return to Gibraltar but next time I will remove my roof-mounted antenna and keep my windows firmly closed when I enter ape-held territory, determined, as I am that nobody’s going to make a monkey out of me… again!”

Pete Hinchliffe (Awaiting call sign)