Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 24 October 2016
If it ain't broke, break it
It's a real 'back to school' Monday, even though it is half-term. I've given up trying to get anyone to respond positively to emails on the estate, so today I will drive there to discuss the way forward in person, and this will take an hour or two.
The trouble is that they have to have a full meeting about the smallest of decisions, and every manager has to be there and take notes.
I will stop off and trim a bit of wood from one component of the BROWSER (you know what I am talking about) using a tool which would produce too much dust in our compact but adorable city apartment. After this, it will fold to the best of its ability - which is not much. I have seldom seen a more badly designed practical object. This is probably the way their father and his father's father have been making the things for 100 years, so the design is now fixed.
It is almost pointless to have it collapsable, since it never fully collapses and the disadvantages probably outweigh the advantages of having it as a rigid structure. I now have a very good insight as to how it became so comprehensively damaged. I think the destruction was brought about by frustration rather than obesity - or possibly both. "Who is the fattest person in the room? Right. It is your job to sit on the browser. Take a run-up"
Most bits of bad design get handed down from generation to generation, and this is where the innovators step in. The trouble is that most innovators want to leave their mark, and they are usually very ugly marks.
The modern world of stone conservation is an extremely conservative one which - although only dating back 30 years or so - is steeped in the history and practices of over 2000 years. If you want to know more, search for Professor Baker and Wells Cathedral.
Lime mortars have been made to extremely exacting standards which follow ancient recipes to the letter, with page upon page of reports written as follow-up to the jobs, usually by someone who qualified as an Art Historian.
One day, someone was browsing through a 250 year-old recipe when they noticed a rather odd ingredient - an ingredient which had been dutifully added to dozens of mortar mixes on some very important jobs. It turned out that this stuff (I forget what it was now) became written in to the recipe by accident, possibly when the composer's mind wandered when he was thinking of that night's shopping list.
Some people I know were extremely anxious to replicate a particular lime-mortar for a building which dated back to almost 400 years, so they sent a sample of the original to a laboratory for analysis.
After a few weeks, the results came back.
This old lump of good mortar contained the usual stuff - lime, sharp sand, ash, but there was one ingredient which took a bit of identifying under the microscope.
It turned out to be yard-sweepings. Whoever made it - probably a lowly lad - became fed up with both sweeping the yard and collecting ingredients for the mortar, so saved time and effort by combining the two.
It cost quite a lot of money for the scientists to return this information.