Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Shape-shifter


Scagliola test number 99 (the original is the bit on the left). Conclusions:  The colour is still wrong, the chips are a micron or two too large and the proportion of black ones is a fraction too great.  This is a real drag, because I have already mixed them with the white, so I will have to make some more white ones.  At least the mix is now polishable, thanks to the addition of Rabbit Size.

"Rabbit's eyes?" asks a horrified vegetarian friend.

"No.  Rabbit glue".

"Rabbit-poo?"

I give up.

The 'silly-season' is almost over, so there is a final flurry of incredible stories in the news to sell a few more papers before we get back to the boring, post-Olympic business of running the country, and the fact-checkers get back to the office after a long holiday.

That Essex lion turned out to be a ginger tabby-cat and, yesterday evening, a massive meteor (the size of a golf-ball) exploded over Wales, waking up a baby and rattling a few of the china ornaments that the Welsh are so fond of dusting on their mantle-pieces.  In other news, New Orleans braces itself for a test of it's levy defences - again - as a hurricane hurtles toward it on the exact 7th anniversary of Katrina.

Can it really be 7 years?  When Katrina hit, we were in Siena, Italy, watching a load of people dressed in medieval clothing, chucking flags into the air and catching them again.  At least if the levies break this time, Obama is not likely to sit on his hands and do nothing for three weeks as hundreds of black people drown, starve and loot in a distant part of his own country.

Some years ago, we watched the progress of a huge hurricane on satellite TV from the safety of the National Hotel, Havana, as it tore up parts of Southern Texas and headed toward us in Cuba.

I say 'us', but in reality, it was 'them', and by 'them' I mean the Cubans down there in the street below our hotel room, walking around in T-shirts as if the rain and wind was not blowing at about 80 miles per hour and the palm trees were not threatening to uproot and take them away.

The hurricane veered away from us at the last moment, so I cannot imagine what it would have been like to receive the full force, especially if you were cowering in a crumbling, old Colonial building, set right on the sea-front.

The specialist shop where I buy most of the ingredients for the Scagliola was built in another dimension from the three that we have become accustomed to here on Earth.  It is a shape-shifter, and exists on the margins of reality, rather like Wand Shop in Diagon Alley.

Rather like the Wand Shop, it's stock chooses the buyer, rather than the other way round as in most shops.  I suppose this is only to be expected of a place which sells all you need to buy for a technique so mysterious and arcane as Scagliola, but setting out with your shopping list can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience.

I have given up trying to find it after driving around a one square-mile area more times than I have actually stepped over it's threshold, and yesterday was yet another time when I turned around and headed back for home.

Considering 'home' is only about 5 miles from the shop, and that my sense of direction was good enough to have never lost a hot-air balloon in about two years of retrieval, you will begin to believe me when I describe the shop as mysterious, to say the least.

I will set out again today, but this time in a more receptive state of mind. I'll get there - one way or another.

14 comments:

  1. Try waving your wand and shouting 'Tabernus Revelio'. (It will only work if you get the inflexion correct.) I think that Scagliola is looking pretty close to the original - you are clearly a perfectionist.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds to me like you need to get into a metaphysical state of mind and set out NOT to find it...

    Either that or take a taxi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found it ok - once out of 5 isn't too bad.

      Delete
  3. I think I know that shop; isn't it in Royston Vasey? In about 1970, I bought several flat slabs of Rabbit Size from a wonderful place in Paris; I still have two of them. My life's supply cost me about 50p.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And if the worst comes to the worst, you can always add it to a cassoulet.

      Delete
  4. I feel for folk like those Cubans living next to you (I hope I got that right), or the ex pat New Orleans', watching the storms roar in on their home country.

    On another note (because we cannot possibly deal with just one issue on a Tom Stephenson post), why not do the hippy thing and ask the scag universe to provide? You know, a positive affirmation that your scag will arrive ... like yesterday.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm doing the 'Volvo air-pump universe' thing from Istanbul at the moment. I don't think the system could cope with another request.

      Next door to me? About 4000 miles next door, maybe.

      Delete
  5. Open mind, open heart...the only way to live Tom...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's open trousers season for me these days.

      Delete
  6. Your fruitless search for that shop reminded me that many years ago I spent a fruitless afternoon searching Bristol for a music shop - I think it was in somewhere called Blackberry Hill. In the end I gaveup and went home - and home wasn't just 5 miles away - more like 300.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We searched for a shoe-shop in Istanbul market once - for three days. We saw it the day before, and then it just disappeared. I'm a bit worried about my air pump now.

      Delete
  7. The temptation to touch up the Scagliola with a bit of Farrow and Ball must be great.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am often tempted to touch things up, but - thankfully - I have so far resisted.

      Delete