Errant fireman's hose 

Well, y'know Saturday's post? - On Sunday my wife went to a Top Team event, which is where some keen work colleague pressurizes everyone to enter a carnival and hop about in four-in-a-sack-race and carry-water-in-your-welly-boots-while-wearing-them games.

About halfway through a fire hose blew a nozzle thingy out of the end and the hose started lashing about like a wild thing, knocking over a pushchair, a nurse, and slicing my wife's foot open to the tendons. She needed seven stitches. The gash was two and a half inches long. It bled through the pressure bandage afterwards and she had to have it dressed again. My finger didn't hurt nearly as much when I saw the wound. She fondly imagines she won't be playing tennis until Thursday. When she cancelled tomorrow's lesson her coach sent her a text:

Sorry to hear that. You never know when you're going to be hit by a fireman's hose.

I consulted a former fireman who chances to be a mathematics graduate. I learnt that fire hoses operate at 130 psi and a 25 metre hose weighs 25 kg. The mathematician calculated that when a hose nozzle thingy breaks and whacks your foot open, the force delivered = Enormous.

Meanwhile my son has found the following two advertisements in the school magazine, whose juxtaposition is not entirely irrelevant in the circumstances.

Monday, November 7, 2011 7:57:00 AM Categories: advertising injury


Actually, I had quite a nice time last weekend. I wasn't going to. But luckily the damsel on the radio, as she does, concluded her programme with
'Enjoy the rest of your weekend!'
and being so commanded I was obliged to feel perky and happy. I expect all Christchurch obediently did too, shovelling silt out of their drives -
'Why, alright, Radio! I'll have a delightful weekend! Pushing pink glassfibre batts back into place.'

Everyone's infected. Cyclists ask me how I am as we pass each other at a converging speed of forty miles per hour:
'How are y..?'
How am I? I lose the last word in the wind. Kind of him to enquire at speed - I turn and at 200 yards - 300 yards - 400 -

It has to have its origins in the world of advertising. The egocentric conceit of some pompous Harvard MBA who imagines he has some great insight to bestow on the marketing world. I bet he tells his salesmen to engage their Customer Base and enhance the paradigmatic shift in the structuring principle of society from production to consumption, or something. They honestly think it works? A perfectly satisfactory visit to the greengrocers until the boy with curly hair hands me my purchases -
For *uck's sake. I hate being said Enjoy to. It's a bag of carrots and a cucumber. Enjoy. It isn't even a sentence. I drive my knee briskly into Curly's gonads and as he collapses writhing with unsought agony, I smile with a mouth full of teeth and muted hatred,

That horrid little wizened man at the filling station did it too, the one who told me I couldn't have 4c-a-litre-off because the coupon was out of date, and so was the next one and the one after that. He looked like he was a bit-part from Lord of the Rings. He was short and skinny and white-haired and wrinkly and I hated him for all of these things, but actually I only hated him because he wanted to know how my Friday had been so far.
'D'you take these coupons?'
'We certainly do. But not that one. It's out of date. You have to use them within a month. No that's out of date too. And that one. How's your Friday been so far?'
'Well it was *ucking great until some ghastly little Hobbit told me all my coupons were invalid.'

And yesterday I was fixing a Brooks Saddle. Never fix Brooks saddles. It requires more patience than an impatient person has got and I haven't even got as much patience as that. I'd bought three B73s when they were about to go extinct, and it was a bad lot. The springs have successively snapped - obv. untempered - , rivets have sprung loose, lock nuts have come adrift scattering shards of saddlebag loop over the Motueka bridge never to be seen again. Yesterday a rear frame fractured at the bolt-hole and the leather needed unriveting and unbolting and all the paint scraping off and a reinforcing bit of steel beating to shape and Mig-welding in place and wire brushing and undercoating and overcoating and re-riveting and finally bolting back onto the springs to be ignored I daresay by my wife on whose bike it is. (Deep breath.) To fix a B73 you need five co-ordinated hands with specially curved pliers and helically curved spanners, and you need an eyeball on an extensible stalk to go to the other side of the saddle while you try to locate the nut using the pliers and apply a spanner to tighten it, while simultaneously holding a multitude of washers, spacers and springs with other hands and other pliers. No human can do this. And it is a task that requires a whole new vocabulary of swearwords. Can you imagine my mood?

In the middle of the job one of the medical students dropped in for some bedding. - Don't ask. - He said
'What sort of a day are you having?'
What? I thought it was only shop assistants. Are they training medical students in unwanted-conversation techniques? Bizarre thought. If you're having a good day you're not going to be needing to see a medical student. - Idiot. - I killed him.

At the greengrocers late this afternoon, Curly spots me. *uck. I'm here for a retail vegetable experience, not an existentialist discussion or a health enquiry. Hah! - attack, the best form of defence. I shall ask him what sort of a day he's had. I'll wrong-foot him. But Curly's a skilled player. Just as I pay he says brightly:

'Any plans for the rest of the evening?'

Saturday, September 24, 2011 8:32:00 AM Categories: advertising

Rob English 

Now here are the final Rob English snippets before my wife throws all the envelopes in the bin along with several cheques and a Zeiss monocular. (The cheques is a true story. The lost Zeiss isn't, but first port of call is to blame wives.)

1. Mango is upright, sort of. I expect everyone else knew that. But I didn't. The ground crew carefully fold Mr English in half and place him gently inside with his *** rubbing the tarmac and his arms groping for the handlebar (I think that's what he said), Miles having calculated that a smaller wetted area made up for a larger frontal area. (Mango, if this paragraph has thus far been meaningless, is the famous Youtube streamlined bicycle crash. Miles is - well everyone knows who Miles is. He's just fantastically clever according to Mr English but we all knew that years ago.)

2. Mr English currently favours hard frame twentyniners. For us fogeys, these are 700c rims with Schwalbe Racing Ralph 2.4 inch tyres on built as gentlemen's mountain bicycles, and the large wheels bound over irregularities like a lithe mountain goat and the only suspension is fat tyres run at 20 psi and the whole doesn't weigh very much.

3. Mr English and Mr Knight concur in that gentlemen's mountain bicycle races are won going up hills rather than down them. A 5% saving in time due to low weight going slowly up a hill is better than a 5% saving in time due to good suspension coming down the hill. Mr English is a graduate engineer and Mr Knight is a graduate mathematician so it's the sort of thing that they would calculate.

4. Nevertheless Mr English's tactic on a time trial is to pedal as hard as he can up all of the hills and as hard as he can down all of the hills and as hard as he can on all of the flat bits. It lacks sophistication but wins races.

5. Mr English suggests that I could tension the synch chain of my tandem by cutting the bottom tube, making a very strong tube clamp, and standing on the frame and bending it down slightly. This is how the Bike Friday tandem is tensioned. I discreetly removed my hacksaw from the workshop after this part of the conversation.

6. While setting up new bikes he bungs all the little bits of new chain in a tub for when civilization collapses. I think we all do this. I think we're all thinking 'what can't you make in your back shed?' and the answers always come back the same - chains and tyres.

7. No bicycle seat is comfortable. You just have to get used to them.

8. High racers have Issues. I'm not sure if this is a Mr English remark because the only reference on the envelope is Nisbett Fleming Chartered Accountants & Business Advisors, and though I'm reasonably certain our accountant isn't in the habit of proffering recumbent design guidelines, it might be an outdated note I've nicked off Ye Olde Internette. Anyway the note goes on to say 'uneven weight distribution of front and back wheels; & eyeball jiggles from no suspension.' The former would echo my experience with the first low racer I built and rode furiously round the right-angles in Baxter Gate in Loughborough in the hope of impressing all the dopey bystanders. 60% of my weight lay over the front wheel and when cornering hard, the back wheel lost traction and would skip sideways across the tarmac.

Too little weight on the back wheel, which would skip sideways when cornering hard 
9. My recumbent bike is wonky. I got him to have a go, and noticed it wasn't just the seat which is what I knew was wonky. The wheels are a good inch out of true with one another.
I don't care, however. Wonkiness can't be felt on a 57 inch wheelbase until the speeds get far higher than I can manage.
Sunday, January 24, 2010 1:12:18 AM Categories: advertising seats and saddles


We need further Rob English remarks while I can still find the envelopes where I made notes. (You don't make notes after conversations? Whyever not?)
Misha: 'Would you like some yoghurt, Honey?'
Rob English: 'No, I'm full.'
This exchange requires so much discussion I can only deal with it in note form.

1. Fancy anyone calling Rob English 'Honey'. Amazing.
2. Actually that sentence is easily reversible.
'Would you like some honey, Yoghurt?'
I shall try it next time he calls. What d'you suppose are the chances he'll ever drop in again if he suspects I'm about to call him Yoghurt? Lucky he doesn't read this blog.
3. 'Vegan' versus 'yoghurt'. It was soy or coconut milk yoghurt - I didn't check - didn't have time to check - the appetite of Rob English is famously voracious.
4. Rob English + food = petrol for ordinary people, or something. The man eats like he propels people along the road on the back of his tandem at 25 mph.
5. Rob English full?  It happened (for the record) on Wednesday 6th January 2010 at 8.17 a.m. Innocent children will be compelled to learn the date in history classes yet to come.
6. He looked longingly at our Toblerone. We all had to check the box to see if it was suitable for vegans. (It wasn't.) Did you know that Toblerone has a Careline? If perplexed by prismatic chocolate you can Freephone 0808 1000757. Thoughtful, aren't they?
7. Terry's Chocolate Orange has a Careline too; it's 0808 1000878.
8. They're both owned by Kraft these days so I expect when the 757 lady puts down the phone she picks up the 878 one. I shall try it to see. I shall first ask her why her huge chocolate bars are triangular, and when she has satisfied me in that regard I shall promptly dial the 878 one and ask why her huge chocolate bars are spherical and we'll see how dextrously she deals with the discrepancy.
9. They both have GDAs. This stands for Guideline Daily Amounts. The Toblerone one says 'GDAs are average values. Individual requirements may vary.' You bet they may. Blimey. Ever seen Dr Dayah get into his Ferrari? Like squeezing a jelly into a condom. His daily requirements must be planetary. Unless he's recently burst.
10. The Terry's Chocolate Orange only gives the GDA for Adults (UK). Maybe the Careline's for Adults (foreign) and they have a list as to what Bulgarians and Spaniards require. And in case you don't think people really are that obsessive, my brother's wife fixed a card to her handlebars with all the different gear ratios of her new Dawes Galaxy written on it, and she used to crash into milk floats trying to work out whether she was in third (rear) and second (front) and whether she was therefore supposed to fiddle with the left or the right lever. It was wonderful riding with her. She'd read Richard Ballantine too (I gave her a copy) and religiously held to his command to keep to low gears, so her legs were like bees' wings when she pedalled. I loved going for a ride with her. Pedestrians would stop what they were doing and watch as she went past, knees fairly humming and her big thick spectacles fixed on the gear levers at a furious five miles an hour.
Right, I sh'll'av't' see if I can find all the other envelopes with things that Rob English said, apart that is from 'We're doomed' which I learnt by heart and didn't need to write down, though actually it's what everyone I know is saying at the moment. Must see if that book Overshoot by William Catton is all it's said to be.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 9:54:42 AM Categories: advertising
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