Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Hurry Up

Yesterday I was at a car show in the rain and one of the things we saw was a demonstration by the fire brigade and ambulance service of rescuing a stricken victim from a crashed car.

I enjoyed watching the hydraulic cutters and spreaders, but overall, considering I watched a car have all its glass removed and its roof cut off, it was surprisingly boring. It was done at a slow pace with what seemed an undue emphasis on containing broken glass. Nothing was loud, dangerous or impressive.

Worse, we happened to see what was done to the car before the demonstration. What we learned is that if you're thinking of needing to be cut out of your vehicle you should make sure that all the doors are unlocked and open freely, that all the trim and rubbers are removed from the roof pillars, and that the seatbelts have been cut. You should then allow at least 20 minutes between crashing the car and needing to be in an ambulance because of blood loss.

I work with a chap who had to be cut out of his car when it was crushed by a bus, his legs were mashed into the wreckage and he was lucky to survive. I always thought he was joking but he told me that he asked the fireman to hand him the angle grinder because, even though he was bleeding to death, he could make a quicker and better job with it.

Richard "smoke alarms save lives" B

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Really Useful Boxes

My sports car has a very small luggage space so I built a luggage rack. On my way to a track day it will normally contain 4 plastic boxes:

  1. Service tools and fluids.
  2. Drinks and snacks.
  3. Clothes and toiletries.
  4. Guest luggage allowance – which is worse than Easyjet.

The rack and the boxes look both comical and functional. Once on a heavily congested motorway a Welshman matched my speed, wound down his window and shouted (in his charming accent) "I love your boot!". Some people however have no respect for other people's property and no sympathy for their misfortune.

On Friday, when I was negotiating a high speed roundabout all 4 boxes came off the rack and spread their contents over the carriageway. "Tools and fluids" actually stayed upright with the lid on and people tended to drive around it. The empty box was destroyed by impatient drivers. My clothes mainly got run over, but miraculously the toothpaste tube was unscathed. The snacks and drinks varied between untouched (8 Belgian waffles) and mashed (crisps).

Apparently there's something funny about the sight of a fully grown man in a state of panic charging around a busy roundabout (2 lanes, 4 exits, 40mph limit) gesticulating wildly, trying not to get run down, attempting to stop people from driving over his stuff and picking up scattered items.

Bastards!

Richard "improperly secured load" B

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Email

My friends berate me for only just having changed from using a purpose built sat-nav to a smartphone app.

My mother is much further behind the times but has methods of coping surprisingly well. About fifteen years ago she refused declined to have a computer and an email address, yet last month she sent a framed picture as a wedding gift to Seattle without shipping it across the Atlantic. The picture is of the local church in the middle of the area where my friends and I grew up. She saw it hanging in the local branch of her bank. She's never heard the phrase ".pdf file" but she accosted the bank manager and demanded that he send a "digital version" to my brother in Texas. He wasn't even very surprised to receive the email from the manager of a bank that he doesn't use in  a country where he doesn't live. He dutifully sent the .pdf file to Walgreens to be printed and framed and set the delivery address to the happy couple's house.

It all worked and they're very happy with it.

Richard "This is the modern world" B

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

During the Civil War

At the weekend I bought a new crash helmet. I would tell you all about how and why I bought it but I am extremely self-conscious that I might witter on too long.

When I still lived with my parents one of my friends came over for coffee and politely said to my mum "I see you've got a new crash helmet". "Yes." she said "During the civil war the Radfords were a very powerful family in Plymouth... banking systems... wealth as gold and jewellery... armies need to be paid... wars are expensive... royalist army… parliamentarians... fighting moved to the Southwest... buried the treasure... family were killed... lost for generations... founding of America... Industrial revolution... First world war... Second world war... baby boom... need for new houses... improvement in archeological techniques... metal detectors... discovered the Radford treasure... acquired by the British museum... London... people of Plymouth... loaned to Plymouth museum...”

After an hour we'd got about 350 years through a story of world history and a museum exhibit that my mum had gone to see. This could have been the starting point for her story about her helmet being stolen. We hadn't got a word in edgeways, our coffee cups were long since empty and cold, and we were sitting in polite shellshocked disbelief.

My friend will still sometimes say "During the civil war" as a code for "This story bores me".

Richard "Skip to the end." B

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Bladder

A few weeks ago I was sailing in a Salcombe yawl with my brothers. We were on the water pretty much all day, we only came ashore to drink a few pints and buy pasties in the middle of the day. By the middle of the afternoon a practical matter of seamanship had become pressingly urgent. How do you pee off a Salcombe yawl? The curvature of the hull means that you can't stand anything like close enough to the side to aim over the gunwhales. The stern decks is too wide and there's a mizzen sail in the way. The boat isn't big enough or stable enough to stand on the side deck. My brother managed to half-stand-half-kneel with one foot inside the boat and one knee on the side deck, it just about worked but it was awkward and ungainly. I was told to go into the bailer and then tip it over the side. Initially this seemed luxurious – I could turn by back on the rest of my family and lean against the mast for support. I discovered soon afterwards that the bailer was about 10% smaller than the capacity of the human bladder. "Two bailer" is now a colloquial term for the highest level of urinary urgency.

Richard "stem the flow" B

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Bleeding Brakes!

It was my birthday last week. With characteristic eccentricity my mother didn't just give me a keepsake to mark the occasion. She wanted me to have something that I would genuinely like and realised that she wouldn't know what to buy. Instead she gave me a cheque and the task of both cashing the cheque and buying my own present.

I work nearly full time and the nearest bank that is open on a Saturday is a 15 mile round trip from my house with difficult parking, I wasn't delighted about the "chore" component of my present.

This is what she eventually gave me.

It's, not a hookah pipe, it's not a bong, and it's not some sort of marital aid. It's a manual pressure bleeder for the brake system in a car. Ordinarily you need either a friend, an airline, or a spare tyre. With this system you half fill the vessel with brake fluid and pump it up to 10psi or so. It screws onto the master cylinder reservoir and then you have the whole system under pressure and the fluid being constantly topped up. You can bleed the brakes perfectly without assistance and changing all the fluid in the system becomes the work of minutes. It's just what I've always wanted – for the last few weeks since my friend lent me one.

Richard "billy-no-mates" B