Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Colloquial Metaphor

You learn words and phrases, forget where you learned them from, and then sometimes when you use them they turn out to be wrong. My mum deliberately taught me a nursery rhyme wrongly because her version is funnier: "See a penny, pick it up, then all day you'll have a penny". I used to know a woman whos (hippyish) parents had used an inappropriately adult word for her private parts and she got into trouble at school for swearing when she was trying to discuss something intimate.

The English language contains loads of idioms that we all blindly use as though they still make sense: "Flash in the pan", "Keep your powder dry", "Go off half-cocked", "Hoist by your own petard"... I discovered last week, to my surprise, that the phrase "Beaten like a red-headed stepchild" is neither in common use nor suitable for work.

Richard "it's OK they’ve got no soul" B

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Your Mother Cooks Socks in Hell

My friend's hoover has been possessed by the spirit of an angry goose.


Richard "Sauce for the goose is sauce for the hoover" B

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Garage Door Opener

The garage door at my mum's house is a couple of years older than I am and I don't know which of us is in better shape. It's huge and enormously sturdy, it was made by Westland Engineers Ltd (that's right, military helicopters and garage doors) and it seems to be designed to withstand an armed siege. I don't know what it weighs but it's all two men can do to lift it and move it a few paces. I drilled a pair of 8mm holes through one of the stringers and it took 10 minutes and left me with a large bruise on my shoulder from where I was pushing the drill. The swarf comes off in tiny hard sharp hot flakes and the drill bit is now blunt.

In the late 70s and early 80s the door was much taller than me so the procedure to open it was to unlock it and pull the handle and the bottom edge while a friend stood on the bathroom stool and thumped the top left hand corner – where it would usually bind.

The first golden age of garage door opening was from about '85 to '95 when I was tall and strong enough to operate it by myself and the mechanism was in a reasonable state of repair.

In the late 90s my father and I hired a yacht-rigging supplier who manufactured replacements for the wire ropes, thimbles and pulleys that joined the heavy door to the 8 springs that support its weight. It was an excellent refurbishment, but the original springs were irreplaceable and starting to weaken.

By 2012 more than one of the original springs was rusted through and the door was inoperable. With the help of a carpenter I re-hung the door on more traditional support gear with horizontal rails, lever arms and a pair of enormously stiff springs.

My mother is now in her 80s and the door has got too heavy for her so this weekend I fitted a large electrical opener to it. The procedure for opening the door is now to find the car-keys and push the button on the fob. So begins the second golden age of garage door opening.

Richard "433MHz" B

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

See It. Say It. Sort It.

There's a ginger and grey creature living on my face. Since I injured my finger I haven't been able to shave so I have grown an unimpressive and patchy beard. Until this weekend I haven't been too self-conscious about it. On Saturday I spent nearly four hours on public transport travelling from Farnham to The ExCeL and back. Every ten minutes there was an announcement saying "If something doesn't look right tell a member of staff or text the British Transport Police and we will sort it – See it. Say it. Sort it." Every ten minutes the guy I was travelling with would make a joke about my beard not looking right, threaten to tell the driver about my beard, make a joke about the elite B.T.P razor squad, or at least look quizzically at my face.

Richard "whiskers" B

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Gypsy jazz guitar bridge repair

This weekend I did some moderately accurate woodwork while wearing a thick glove (to protect my finger injury)

This is what I was brought. One bridge is worn and damaged and made of inferior timber. The other is of good quality, the right length, width and radius, but far too low.

Cutting a plank of stock from the damaged bridge:

Stock: I love this picture, the newspaper, the marking gauge, the plane and the curly wood shavings make it look like my bench is clean, I know what I'm doing, and that I can sharpen and set up a plane really accurately. None of those is quite true.


This is what I made: Notice also the salt and pepper mills and the wine glass and bottle - it was extremely sociable woodwork.

This is where you can stick it:

Richard "Luthier" B

Monday, 5 February 2018

Broken Down Ninja

I'm paranoid about privacy on the internet and I'm not that interested in using computers in my free time so my only presence in social media is this blog. I'm not on Twitter, Facebook (except perhaps a parody account my friends used to run to annoy me), Instagram, Whatsapp, or whatever people use to communicate these days.

It was a surprise therefor to receive a Facebook friend request at the weekend. I don't know how friend requests work if you're signed up to Facebook, but mine was a polite phonecall - from a chap I've met once in my entire life and whose surname I don't even know.

Earlier that day I had stopped to help a stricken motorcyclist. He was both lost and having engine trouble. He was an ex RAF gunner who was friendly and in surprisingly good spirits considering the day he was having. He had just bought the bike and was on his way from Plymouth to Oxford! It was a well-worn Kawasaki Ninja, it would start and run and rev freely, but it was absolutely gutless and wouldn't go above about 40mph. I've owned two motorcycles in the Kawasaki "Z" series so I thought I might be able to fix any obvious faults. I took him and the bike home, fiddled about with it and sent them out for a test run. An hour later I got a text that said that he had just stopped on his journey and the bike was running well. A few hours after that I got a very grateful phone call from the chap. Apparently the weather was "Fucking Baltic" once he had left Devon but he had got some safely.

So what was wrong with the bike? I still don't really know. There seemed to be something fishy about the fuel tap when I took the tank off, but perhaps that was my lack of familiarity with it (I was expecting it to be a vacuum operated auto, but it didn't seem to be.) There was a breather hose missing between the carbs and the airbox, but I can't believe that that had such a dramatic effect on performance. The fuel filter was absolutely filthy (I rinsed it out and put it back). After all my fiddling about the tickover had changed considerably and we had to wind up the idle speed.

I actually forgot that bikes of that age had a manual choke and my best theory is that the choke was getting stuck on and that I accidentally freed it off when I was looking at the airbox.

Richard "AA" B