Monthly Archives: March 2011

More of that logic

More from the FYO :
‘We’ve got one of those,’ he said, pointing, in a shop. ‘It makes things hot and cold.’
‘It’s called a fan heater.’
‘Yes, and it makes things hot and cold.’
‘I know it makes things hot,’ I said. ‘But how does it make things cold?’
‘It does when you turn it off.’

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When I was younger I went potholing – though in my part of the world it was more commonly called caving. For years I spent most of my weekends underground, which is probably why I still can’t tell one end of a football team from another (that, and the fact that my school didn’t have its own playing field and the council couldn’t always find one for us to borrow, so ‘sport’ was almost unknown to us). What you don’t know about, you don’t miss.

The potholes we have in Scotland are quite different. In the last twelve months motorists have reported 25,000 of them and councils are spending a fortune repairing them. A few miles from where I live about twenty of the things appeared over a few days, a row of small but very effective tank traps. Driving past them I was baffled by the way some drivers swerved to avoid them regardless of whatever else was on the road, as if colliding with something coming the other way or squashing a cyclist was a mere trifle compared with the consequences of bouncing in and out of a small hole (or even a BIG hole).

However, help is at hand. In rush hour the other day (okay, joke. In the bad old days it really was rush hour, 8 to 9 in the morning and 5 to 6 in the afternoon) I passed two elderly roadmen equipped with shovels and a council lorry. They were darting (not that anyone that age can dart, especially when carrying a shovelful of asphalt / blacktop / Tarmac) between passing cars in an attempt to fill the potholes. They were in no danger whatsoever, as the motorists using this stretch of the Queen’s Highway (can I say that in Scotland?) are well-used to avoiding things (see Para 2, above). My personal belief is that they were a strategic reserve, a potholing Dad’s Army, called in by the council to sort things out (think New Tricks).

What I did not know, and as a geologist I am ashamed to admit, is that Scotland has caves/potholes other than those that plague our roads. See this.

[Photo courtesy of AG. That ridiculously large light on my head was powered by gas (acetylene, which gave a brilliant white light) and the outsize reflector got in the way, clanging against rock and hurting my teeth. If you don’t understand, try it.]

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The bogwheel again*

After months (years?) of pottering and painting, my old police Triumph is beginning to look like a motorbike again (though you might not think so). I want to finish restoration by 7th July this year, if only because the bike was first registered on that date fifty years ago. For me, restoration meant just that, dismantling everything and dealing with every part individually, removing rust, treating the steel and sanding and painting with umpteen coats. I suppose I wanted to restore it ‘as new’, though it certainly wasn’t new when I first rode it.

I’m not one of those strange people (I almost said weirdos) that own old police vehicles and like to attend rallies dressed as policemen (why on earth would anyone want to do that? Even the thought of it makes my skin creep). Yes, okay. I should have said weirdos.

Oh, I’ve just remembered. As you can see in the photograph, I haven’t yet started to rebuild the engine. Well, I’ve taken the cylinder head off and peered at the pistons. Both of them are there, as you can see.

I was an engineering geologist for a lot longer than I was a policeman. So why don’t I want to restore a boomer or a petrological microscope? (that’s not me in the photo, honest). Why not indeed?

Now there’s a thought… (the Atlas Copco Boomer, not the microscope). Would it fit in my garage? Not a chance.

*here. The black bike in the photo is another police bike, one I restored earlier (seven years ago). I bought it to ‘do up’ (and to ride occasionally), then discovered it had been a City of London Police bike.

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Anything but the woods!

The FYO baffles me sometimes. ‘We’ve got a new teacher,’ he said. ‘I don’t know her name but she’s got a light blue coat.’ ‘So where is your usual teacher?’ ‘They have gone off to the woods.’ ‘They?’ ‘Both of them. I’ve got two new teachers.‘ ‘So why have they gone to the woods?’ ‘They are making sure it’s safe. They’ll be back in a few months.’

That’s if the teddybears don’t get them first, of course.

I still have no idea. So don’t ask.


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