Only last week, me and a few friends were wondering what they were going to do with Britain's iconic aircraft-carrier, HMS Ark Royal now that it has been taken out of service by the MOD. We envisaged it being sailed down to India, run aground on a large beach, then painstakingly dismantled by a lot of locals climbing over bamboo scaffold whilst they wielded cutting-torches, wearing nothing but loin-cloths, t-shirts and sandals.
But no - it seems as though it is, as I write, being re-fitted as a prison ship which will be moored just off the coast of Portland and within site of the mainland prison which can also be seen in the previous post.
The Ark Royal is so famous, that it had it's own long-running TV documentary some years ago, the theme tune of which (a bloody awful ditty by that tight-arsed crooner, Rod Stewart) made it to the British top ten. I suppose that since we cannot afford our own fighter jets these days and the Harrier has also been de-commissioned, we don't need naval carriers anymore either. The ongoing strikes on Libya started from a Norfolk air-base - a round trip of about 2500 miles per strike - but now we are saving on fuel costs by using Crete as a base.
'Prison Hulks' were first used during the Napoleonic wars, I believe, but now seem to be making a come-back. At least the inmates will be able to say on their C.V. - once they get ashore - that they served on the Ark Royal without lying!
Here is some of the stone I bought the day before yesterday. It is known as 'Portland Roach' - 'roach' being another word for 'brash' or any other sort of unusable stone. When Sir Christopher Wren sold thousands of tons of Portland stone to the City of London in the 17th century, he used only the finest quality, almost shell-free, creamy stuff like that used to build St. Paul's Cathedral, and this holey variety was used only for sea-defences, etc, so could be bought for peanuts up until about 10 years ago. It is now widely used for cladding etc. so I now pay something of a premium for it, which is a little irritating for me - especially since I recognised it's unique decorative qualities long before any of those bloody architects.
It is the British equivalent of Italian Travatino, and believe it or not - it is very difficult to buy Travatine 'marble' here in the UK which has not had all the holes filled in with beige resin by the same people who quarry it in Italy. The whole point of this stuff is the openness of the material, so filling it in before export is stupid beyond belief.
I once made a large, circular table in extremely good quality Portland Roach, and put it into a friend's shop for sale to the public. A potential customer asked if it could be filled with resin, and I answered that it could - but not by me. They then asked me what they should do with all the bread crumbs etc. that were bound to fall into the holes made by the sea-creatures bodies 195 million years ago. I suggested that, if they did not own one already, they should go out and buy a modern device called a vacuum-cleaner. They are very useful things, and can also be quite effective when getting rid of household dust and dirt.