Thursday, 19 April 2012

A tale of machine tools, salmon fishing and er … Ewan MacGregor!

What do 5-axis machining centres, salmon fishermen and a certain Scottish actor have in common? I’ll explain. In July of last year I travelled to Tyneside (Team Valley Business Park to be precise) to interview the managing director of a company called Responsive Group for an article on behalf of one of my clients. Responsive are a big user of their machine tools.

I was met by the MD, Peter Bernard, and the chairman of Responsive, Paul Torday. Both, very patiently, led me through the history of Responsive, the company’s approach to manufacturing and their use of some very big and powerful machine tools. As an aside, anyone who thinks British manufacturing is dead in the water needs to get out more and visit companies like Responsive.

Afterwards, while Peter was giving me a tour of the production facilities he casually observed, “Paul’s an interesting chap, he just decided on the spur of the moment to write a book a few years ago, it’s been published too!” When I returned to the office I looked the book up on Amazon and added it to my ‘wish list’. However, as the weeks wore on and my bedtime reading suffered due to the sheer exhaustion of having two young children, I never actually bought it.

A few days ago a bus crossed my path on the Hagley Road in Birmingham with an advert on the side for a new film called ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, starring Ewan MacGregor and Emily Blunt. Where had I heard that title before? And then it occurred to me. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a film based on the book written by Paul Torday, chairman of the Responsive Group. It is, apparently, a romantic contemporary fable about an attempt to introduce salmon into the Yemeni wadis.

Yesterday, I was fortunate to bump into Peter again at MACH 2012, the machine tool expo which is a mecca for anyone turned on by metal cutting. He had hot-footed it down to the NEC straight from the world premiere on Tuesday night. His verdict on the new film? “It’s very good.”


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