Posts Tagged ‘brunel

04
Jan
10

Christmas Special

     Let me regale you with the curious events of Christmas Day A.D. XXIX. Dr. Trousers was in fine form (as usual.) He was showing off his new Christmas trousers, and as such he was enshrouded by a halo of steam. He held court by showing us a most peculiar method of inflating balloons. Let me tell you, gentle reader, that we were all in fear of a single incident of balloon-burstage for the remainder of the evening. I will not relate in which room of the East-Wing this was hosted for reasons of sensibility. At this juncture, Dr. Brunel burst through the French Windows. As usual his timing was less than immaculate. A point of interest for future historians was that he was resplendent in a white suit. On gaining our attention, thus, he explaining in exquisite details how he had just purchased this new fabric, and the said fabric was fresh from the loom. His enthusiastic explanation of the science behind this revolution was slightly marred by the obvious scarring of the aforementioned suit (of the Sauron variety.) It seems that the charcoalesque motif was a tattoo of disaffection embroidered by running into a mob of angry ex-factory workers. Ho hum. He quickly descended upon the drinks cabinet. Stefan IV was in attendance on this occasion. Having not seen his erstwhile son for some years, there was a certain smile of pride on the elder’s visage. As you may recall from earlier missives, Stefan IV is, shall we say, a gentleman of letters. Having travelled far and wide, he has recently returned from an expedition to Madagascar. It seems that he had found a secret city, wherein he had discovered a secret route to the mythical Atlantis. Unfortunately this peculiar story was disturbed by Dr. Brunel falling upon a particularly large red balloon. The party was rapidly dismissed to the Venetian garden. As soon as the havanas were ashen, we were greeted by Mrs. Trousers. The dear lady was resplendent at the focus of the Farting Room, proudly displaying her Christmas Buns. She does this every year, and it is nothing to be worried about, but it still makes me smile. Unfortunately, on this occasion she had taken it into her pretty head to impregnate candles into the centre of her buns. The ignition of her husband’s methane forced her forcibly through the French Windows and (fortunately) into the arms of the deflated Dr. Trousers. As if that were not enough to cope with, this was the exact moment that Professor Huntingdon appeared. Call it an eccentricity, a foible even bloody-mindedness, but he does insist on always driving that damned clowns’ car. With an arrival accompanied with a honking of horns and wheels spinning hither and thither he had made his arrival. With a flurry of activity he rushed a strange contraption into the Smoking Room. With great anticipation he unsheathed his device. What was revealed to our eyes was a Rontgenesque device of baroque design. Huntingdon revealed that had improved the capability of the X-ray Visualiser. Indeed his calibrations made it possible to look into the very soul of the interrogated. Eager to investigate the alleged powers of the device, Stefan III was the first to brave the rays. Curiously his image revealed the largest stovepipe hat that I have ever seen. Before any analysis of the image could be made, Mrs Trousers fell under the influence of the beam. As I stand here today I must confess that I was surprised to cast my eyes upon a Graff Zeppelin. One can but wonder.  Dr. Brunel made the point that the very soul, as a matter of fact, cannot exist. We unanimously concluded that perhaps his didn’t. As for myself, my own experience of the beam revealed a rather risqué image of a very young Betty Boop. Dr. Trousers, for some reason was making copious notes, in a notepad entitled  “The Dummies Guide for the Industrial Spy.” Ho Hum. The rest of the evening was skilfully obscured by custard and curmudgeon. A merry Christmas to you all.

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23
Oct
09

Dreaming of Androids not Sheep

Dear reader, as I was fiddling with my cantankerous wheelie bin this morning I was struck with thoughts of deceit and obfuscation. Twas only the other day that I was discussing the very matter with Dr. Brunel. He is of the opinion that his car is fully automatic. Nay, I cannot agree with this confused opinion. Surely he has his hands to the tiller? A misunderstanding of the term automatic no doubt. I shall set him right in his ways never fear. Though he is a proud one, he is also a confused banana.

Of course we have all been misled a propos the level of robotic technology that we should currently be enjoying. I am surprised that Gordon Brown has not set targets on Robotic Technology.  Science and Innovation Minister,  Professor William Heath Robinson said: “What’s important about Androidhorizons is that we’re inviting anyone and everyone to get involved in the discussions, not only the scientists. We want discussions about science to involve the whole community. Will we all be using Ray-Guns at 80? Or sitting in self-driving cars? Will robots be serving us breakfast? Will our fridges be talking to our shopping trolleys? Will history be a thing of the past?”

The level of robotic technology is frankly a little shabby. Look at this pathetic excuse for an automaton.

The dream of the future was much more along the lines of Robby the Robot. Yes, Jeeves reimagined as a whirring butler, fitted out with replication units, and a baffling internal logic system. The dressmaking skills seemed a little effeminate – but there you go. A dream of sliding doors and hoverboots seemed only around the corner. I still clearly remember our old year 6 teacher, Mrs. Bradbury preparing us for the Age of Leisure. Our every need and whim would be catered for. The main purpose of education then would be to intelligently fill our extensive free time. Still waiting. While I’m still waiting I have 101 chores to do, which I am sure could be fulfilled by Robby. So much for a robotic dystopia, with armies of domestic assistants rising up to overthrow their masters. The only thing the ones we’ve would probably run out of batteries half way through booting up. Ho hum. So much for the G-1-RL Portable Leisure, Exercise and Adventure, Self-Utilizing Responsive Escort (P.L.E.A.S.U.R.E.) robot.

Stuck in an ironing loop again.

Stuck in an ironing loop again.

22
Oct
09

Victorian Steampunk

     I probably should reveal a few things that have hitherto, remained latent. I do have a penchant for the days of yore. Not particularly for sentimental reasons; although inevitably there is a modicum of that. It seems perhaps inevitable that an island such as Old Blighty, not emasculated by her (wink) loss of Empire should have a yearning for the former glory.

Mappa Tuesday

Mappa Tuesday

     However, the zeitgeist of the day is cheap and cheerless – the land of the miserable shopper. Our £1 lands have replaced our Woolworths. Yes cheap tat and proud of it. Brunel would be spinning in his grave.

     But let me take you back to a land that served a purpose with style. You just have to think of the Crossness pumping station.

     Yes indeed, the Victorians even ensured that their turds* travelled in style, albeit to end up washing up on the sandy shores of bathers at Southend-on-Sea. It is true, however, that their wives and children fared well they could not bear for any of their fine erections to be looked down up.

it's a shitehouse

it's a shitehouse

     Wot ho! It was indeed, as old Charlie would say the best of time & the worst of times. In fact it had a hint of the Curate’s Egg about it, albeit encased in a Faberge suit. It was a time when a gentleman would toss his cape into a geographically inconvenient Dr. Foster, and hang the bill the Chinese laundry man would threaten him with. Exactly why the Chinese crossed half the world to stir steaming tubs of shirts, well, that’s another story….

     It was a time when a gentleman would dress for dinner, and after he had retired to the Smoking Room, (as opposed to sitting on the back porch and hoping an Easterly didn’t send wafts of aromatic Arabian tobacco back into the sitting room for fear of the asthmatic cat having another attack,) and gazing out at the gas lit pea-souper. Conversation would fall on affairs of state, the Empire and, of course the latest invention that one was tinkering with. Yes, for dandyness, etiquette and style aside, it was at least a time when one could have a stab at inventing a unique contraption with out possessing several degrees in advanced Squibullery. A time of crystal phials and shining brass. A time of sparks, whirring engines, and – by God – proper noises. A gentleman could travel from King’s Cross to Edinburgh in a proper mode of transport, a Steam-powered train. The sort of vehicle, that one could well imagine, could at any point leave the tracks and end up Le Voyage dans la lune.

     The Victorian Age was the Age of Invention. The zeitgeist of boundless optimism and achievement, where anything is possible. Of course, you had to be rich enough to benefit from it, but then I’m sure the Great Pyramid wasn’t that impressive if you spent all day shoving tons of granite up a slope all day. As the bard has it, “it’s the rich wot gets the pleasure, and the poor wot gets the pain.”

     Please, give me a little indulgence fair reader of a time when at least you knew where you stood, even if that meant with both feet in raw sewage, dying of typhus. Look at use now; gone is the age of Oak, of Iron, the MFI age is our day. Can you imagine the Swedish selling wood to us, for cripes sake.

     Let me end today’s entry with a few places to visit to recapture that certain style.

Hey Ho. It’s time I should be winding my collection of crystal chronometers.

14
Oct
09

Everything’s going down the tubes

     It all started during the course of a rather baffling conversation about the dark art of the lawnmower. Dr. Brunel was, of course, the interlocutor in question. Pork pies aside, he was explaining the invention of the Telectroscope. The subject was as foreign to me as the contents of Lady Jennifer’s handbag. A mysterious and baffling region, inhabited by dragons and badly mangled coathangers. I listened with interest.

Dr. Brunel grandfather, yesterday

Dr. Brunel grandfather, yesterday

“Of course, as you well know,” he continued. I didn’t; the fiend had the edge on me here. “The Telectroscope was opened last year. I’m surprised that you were not on the VIP list.” image003

His was possibly not pregnant, but certainly had been given a good seeing to. It seems that recently disclosed MI5 documents had revealed that a tunnel had been drilled under the Atlantic Ocean, just after World War I. It seems that it was built so that England could use small pockets of New York as an East of Ealing overspill. The papers were originally leaked by one Paul George, who happened upon a packet of dusty papers in a trunk in his grandmother’s attic. On further inspection he discovered that they had been the property of his great-grandfather, an eccentric Victorian engineer, Alexander Stanhope St George. Paul began to read through the papers and discovered a veritable treasure trove: diaries, diagrams, correspondence, scribbled calculations, and even one or two photographs. At first, Paul felt a detached interest in this first hand account of social and cultural history. But as he read on, he became more and more absorbed, until, with a sudden thrill, he realised that these papers could have a greater significance than was at first apparent. The notebooks were full of intricate drawings and passages of writing describing a strange machine. This device looked like an enormous telescope with a strange bee-hive shaped cowl at one end containing a complex configuration of mirrors and lenses.telecdiagramf

 Alexander seemed to be suggesting that this invention, which he called a Telectroscope, would act as a visual amplifier, allowing people to see through a tunnel of immense length… a tunnel, the drawings implied, stretching from one side of the world to the other. The idea, it seems – this was the real breakthrough – was to employ the “suppression of absence.”

     How I missed out on this peculiar technological innovation, I don’t understand. Surely intercontinental travel should cost mere pennys. Someone’s raking in the loot I’ll be bound. Could it be that as we step onto the plane, jetting off to such dream destinations as the airports of our allies, that they’re secretly drugging our G&Ts, and posting us off down the telectroscope? I’ll get to the bottom of this.

06
Oct
09

Job Search…

Renaissance_Man_7e9e3

He doesn't seem overly busy to me

     As you may have noticed, I have been rather inactive on the diary front of late. I would not really make a Pepys, I fear. (Still with the Great Plague and the Fire of London he certainly had more material to get his teeth into, to be fair.) All I have is the imminent destruction of life as we know it (again,) the global collapse of the money lending system, and deciding whether I need to register myself with the Ministry of Nosiness if I open the door to accept a copy of the Daily Mail from the teenage member of Mr. K.W. Patel’s news-emporium (logistics division.) In fact, dear reader, I have been busying myself with assisting a colleague of mine, young Stefan, whom, as you may recall, had just failed to enter the Guinness Book of World Records with his nearly tragic attempt to pass through the digestive tract of a Sperm Whale unassisted. His latest project has a little more merit to it. Indeed, he aims to employ himself in the greatest number of jobs during a 365-and-a-little-bit day period. So far he has stocked his library up with the complete selection of the Dummy Series, printed out WikiPedia, and had a long conversation with Dr. Brunel on the merits of an unpainted window-drip. I have, of course, been facilitating his endeavour to become the new Renaissance man. I am not sure where this particular lifestyle choice is leading him, but surely even Leonardo didn’t do his own shredding.

     So far, he has turned his hand to the following activities of gainful employment. Web-Site Design; Antique Dealer; Chimney Sweep; Chef (I wish that I could embellish, however, there is the unfortunate matter of a court case); Legal Secretary (though technically, this was working for himself, and was more of a quick job to keep the restaurateur in question happy); Structural Architect; Brain-Surgeon; Lollipop Man (although illegally, not having time to fill in the appropriate JM453/23 Lollipop Awareness Declaration Form); Lawyer (see Lollipop Man); Suffragette (I’m not sure this counts really, but hid did gain some unwanted publicity) and today he’s off to try his hand as an X-ray engineer. I did give him a stern lecture about the perils of Röntgen-ray, but to no avail. I think he’s using one of those phonebook pads, with a dialing gadget at the front. He obviously doesn’t use it for said purpose, as he hasn’t got any friends. Indeed if you ever ring him up, after exactly 73 rings of the Graham Bell, he screams “I’ll show you who’s a pretty boy,” and slams down the receiver. This happens every time. Apart from 3.05 a.m. once when he played Old Man River with a collection of unreturned milk bottles.

ulrich_lamsfub_stefan1

I believe transvestite fire-eating is no longer on the itineray

     I do, in a sense, admire him. Obviously this would have to be an extra sense to the normal five that we are all hopefully equipped. If you are disabled (or differently if you like – say it how you want, unless you’re mute,) then, tough break, (oops,) although I must inform you that I have suffer debilitating random memory access to my short to medium term memory. If I think of anything really important, I have to immediately tell someone, whatever they are doing, so that I can ask them later on when I have a pen handy. It’s very annoying. Oh, and my showlaces never seem to stay done up for long. Obviously the Sixth Sense is taken, something to do with seeing ghosts. I am probably using the Seventh Sense. I think that we’re safe there. Bergman had the Seals, but I don’t recall a Sense. Well, getting to the point, if there ever was one. Which makes me think of Jesus turning water into wine. He wouldn’t even get his one cathode-ray show these days. If he’d materialised a HD-Ready widescreen TV with hot dutch action, he’d have got a bit more interest in my book. Wine? You couldn’t move for wine in those days – it was virtually the only thing you could get to cause your brain to malfunction. Anyway, I think it’s a pretty good idea to sample as many jobs as possible; at least you might perchance upon one that you like. Anyway I must go now, I’m reading up on The AntiPope for Dummies.

06
Jul
09

British Success Uncovered

     As we approach the anniversary of Mr. Armstrong & Mr. Aldrin’s well known landing on the Moon. Let me take the gentle reader on a voyage fantastique of which the history books keep a mysterious silence.

     For I can reveal, that the first man to walk on the surface of the Moon was none other than Britain’s very own Captain George Formby. After a glittering career in the military, bringing off such coups as infiltrating a Nazi Spy ring, and delivering a good old knuckle sandwhich to Mr. Hitler (in his very own bunker)- not to mention serving as a crack RAF fighter pilot.serving  obviously George was the man for the job. He was dubious as to whether he could pull off a trip to the lunar surface. He soon changed his mind.

gf2

     After months of  training at the hitherto secret training academy in Skegness, Formby emerged with his sidekicks of Captains Sidney James and Hattie Jacques. At last they were ready to go boldy where no man had been before.

     Eventually, in October 1957  a window of opportunity presented itself, and the trio clambered into the invention of the now infamous Dr. Brunel. The Space-Balloon secretly ascended into the atmosphere above the salty air of Skegness.

Dr. Brunel's designs

Dr. Brunel's designs

     The journey was fraught with danger, accounts of which are still too vague and unsettling to recount here. Albeit to say that after a fortnights flight they eventually descended to the mysterious lunar territory. Almost immediately they were met by the curious inhabitants of our sole satellite. After a series of unlikely adventures the Soup Dragon was slaughtered, and the Clangers were a free people.

The Revolution Begins

The Revolution Begins

     Out intrepid trio stayed for ginger beer and cheese sandwhiches, but had to be back on Earth to report their findings.

     As if this were not enough, Sir George Formby went on to further success in other fields of human endeavour. Of course, his winning the Grand National and the Isle of Man T.T. have been well documented in the popular press. In his 60’s he was elected Member of Parliament for Bristol East, whereupon he famously pushed through the Octopus Protection Bill. Upon retiring to spend more time actively in politics, he became an inventor. Younger readers will probably be more familiar with the George Formby Grill.

George%20Formby%20grill

27
Jun
09

Subterranean Terror in Suburbia

     Dear reader, I hesitate to writetype my account that I bore witness to yesterday. Yet, I must record the events, though it sears my very soul. Yesterday of the a.m. I had taken to tackling the hedge.

     As you would recall, I started this a few days ago, when I was rudely interrupted by Dr. Brunel. Secateurs in hand, I was a-pruning away when on reaching the very fundament of the shrubbery I started pulling out a few moribund weeds from the eternal hedge. A couple of startled hedgehogs made an escape bid, virtually tumbling me upon the turf. I swear one was wearing a monocle, but it was only a fleeting glimpse. It is my firm opinion (& Tristram Shandy agrees with me) that if left alone with suitable-sized attire, all manner of creatures will take to dressing themselves. No animal with a soul will truly wish to walk around naked. I conducted an experiment on said matter with Aubrey my trusty parrot. This was not, to put it mildly, a great success. One for the backburner I feel.

The monocled one

The monocled one

      Upon retaining my vertical stance, I sustained my weed removal. A few tugs here & there revealed…I can barely bring myself to explain. Before my very eyes, I scraped away the undergrowth to reveal a shiny brass disc. Embossed on this plate were the letters “PROPERTY OF DR. N. LESTA CORP” Immediately, I pottered off in the direction of ye olde shed. On returning wielding a crow-bar I took to prising the disc from its home. Once the platter was dragged eased out a deep dark tunnel revealed itself, boring deep into the heart of the Earth. I took a stone and dropped into into the depths. No sound resounded. Lord I waited & waited to gauge its depth. I took a larger boulder, with the same results. An idea struck me, dear reader, that sent me scurrying in the direction of my local hardware store. On returning, after a degree of haggling, I had acquired 300m (Dr Brunel be damned) of finest fishing line. I then assembled a crude pulley system to assist me in dropping the line into the ghastly abyss. I popped Benson & Hedges my erstwhile mice companions onto the end of my contraption. Into the eye of the obfuscation they dropped out of sight, deep into the crust of the Earth. 100 meters, 200 meters.. My adapted alarm clock read. At that point I dragged up my fromage loving friends. Slowly, steadily up I reeled the twine. To my joy my companions were safe & sound. Not a hint of stress or strain. To my surprise neither were they damp; surely such an abyss must have containing some mysterious underwater lake? Plunging them down the deep, dark hole, yet again – this time to the extent of the line. The thwang of the wire had hit the limit. No other sound came up from the fissure. Reeling in the extent of the thread I was chilled to discover Benson & Hedges were all ashes. The cage was intact. I shudder to think what had happened to my erstwhile friends. My rashness at risking their friends lives were, dear reader tugging at my heartstrings. I must leave the writetyper, as I am preparing to enter the abyss myself. If you never hear from me again, please never mention a word of this & never try to find this Ashmolean abyss.

CA01234P




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