I went to the Flea-Market yesterday with the intent of bringing back some fine Georgian glass, and ended up by purchasing this 15 pound lump of iron. Do you know what it is? Would you like me to tell you? Well tough. I'm not going to.
Oh all right then, it's a military tow-hitch for a Land Rover. I have a friend who is a bit of a Land Rover nut, and he recently bought a military trailer to go with it which I quite fancied borrowing, but without one of these attached to the back of the Volvo, I can't. I can't tow a howitzer either.
He already has one, but he does have another Landy without one, so I'm giving it to him.
My friend is the Chief Engineer on board a ship which is normally employed in the oil world, but right now he is laying the foundations for an off-shore wind-farm, somewhere in the North Sea - I think.
To give you an idea of the scale of this operation, the ship is fitted with several cranes, each one of which is capable of lifting 1000 tons. I thought that was quite a lot, but he has worked on boats with 7000 ton cranes.The foundations for the legs of the turbines are individual units which are simply dropped onto the sea bed, and because they weigh 500 tons each, they bury themselves into the mud without the need for excavation.
The cranes are operated from the bridge with the use of a lap-top computer-type thing, and the raising and lowering of them is effected by touching parts of the screen. That's quite an app.
The Chief Engineer does not just do the glory jobs like this, but everything else that involves taking machinery apart or putting it back together again. One minute he will be fitting a new piston into the main engine (he tells me that the pistons are so big in this machine that a man can stand in the pot which contains it, and not be seen from the other side), and the next he will be clearing blocked units in the toilet facilities. I think he delegates this job to a subordinate.
When they find old condoms in the blockage, they try not to ask themselves what they are doing there on an all-male ship. Worse things happen at sea - Britain's first female Naval Commander has just been relieved of her duties for - allegedly - having an affair with another crew member.
He does the usual routine of one month on, one month off, and during the 'off' month, there is nothing he likes better than coming into the pub where this photo was taken, when he is not restoring his old Land Rover. No alcohol is allowed on board, but recently one of the crane drivers - of the 1000 ton cranes - was found paralytically drunk in the cab of his crane, and went home early. I think he had discovered some medical spirit hidden away somewhere.
After one period of leave recently, he went back to his ship to find that another engineer had bent one of the legs of the cranes. These legs are so tough and so big, that you can lower all four onto the sea bed and lift the whole ship out of the water, so nobody could quite understand how it happened.
A little mistake like this costs millions of pounds, so I suppose in the scale of things, me dropping a quarter-ton piece of marble worth £200,000 is roughly proportionate.
It's all academic as far as I am concerned though - if I dropped that marble, it might as well be a 5 million pound mistake. Sheep and lambs.
Just bought this other metal item today - it is getting much interest already, despite/because of the hostility/sympathy toward all Moslems right now.