Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Brits in space
I was marking out some cuts to a large lump of marble last week when I realised that the lines were in the wrong place. So to avoid making a £1000+ mistake, I asked my glamorous assistant for a piece of fine abrasive to get rid of them, and he came back with a rubber eraser. This was when I understood that he was not entirely familiar with the techniques of marble work.
These days, the material is almost the prime focus of classical, Greek or Roman figurative sculpture, but did you know that almost all of them were originally painted? They were sitting on mountains of the stuff, and pure white, statuary marble was the perfect carving material, having no grain and being just the right hardness for fine detail and subtle changes of direction and texture.
Pretty much everything was painted that was not gold, even here in Britain and even up to pre-Victorian times. The Victorians took a note from the Reformation book and went round stripping the medieval paint from all the garishly decorated churches. That's why the Doom Board in Dauntsey is such a rarity - it was hidden from the vandals for hundreds of years.
Everything is divided these days - Science from Art, Mathematics from Religion, Colour from Form.
So there is a Brit on board the International Space Station right now. He blasted-off from Kazakhstan yesterday morning, and I thought, 'That's nothing. I blasted-off myself the same morning without leaving the house'.
My fellow workers were discussing how amazing it was that he was ready to begin the docking manoeuvres seven minutes after lift-off, when it would have taken us ten hours to get to the launch site. I pointed out that he was only 200 miles up and traveling at about 30,000 MPH. Then I remembered how I spoiled a few children's Christmas last year.
A newspaper had told children that Santa's sleigh would be going over Southern England that night at exactly 6.02 pm, when they knew that the bright star of the Space Station would pass overhead.
I went out to look at it and when it came into view, I was so excited that I turned to some children who were watching it with their parents, and blurted out, "Look! That's the International Space Station!"
The parents looked at me in disgust, and quietly said, "We know."