Recently it has occurred to me, once again, that not all people on earth are Engineers. I don’t use the term Engineer to reference some educational standard but rather the way of thinking. I know some of you will dismiss this, but I assure you that it’s true, there are genuinely actual people out there who don’t see the world like we do, crazy eh? There are people who don’t get a hidden internal grin when they see a problem, that don’t have that unshakeable confidence that any problem can be beaten.
When the car doesn’t start some people’s first thoughts are how they will complete their journey or who they will call. Of course we all know the correct thing to do is to think through the starter circuit to ascertain where the fault lies. Now it has been said that my mindset may explain why I am single and occasionally have to be physically dragged out of tool stores, maybe it’s true. Perhaps an affinity with the physical world is the corollary of having no such affinity with people, if this is true then it’s by no means a bad deal. Think about it, how many times will the rest of you give up in the face of an mcb that won’t hold, a leak that can’t be seen or a bolt that just won’t undo? I would suggest that physical problems happen way more than emotional success so you have your thing and I will stick with mine.
Next up we have some seaside humour, I guess it’s not unique to the coast but that is where I saw it. First we have the romantic young couple strolling along the promenade. Well we’re heading into winter and the young lady had tired of walking so she playfully clung to her partners neck, doubtless asking to be carried. Our young beau was certainly up for the opportunity to demonstrate his physical prowess but made a poor choice in technique, clearly not an Engineer. Turning his young lady so that she was facing him he bent to his knee and proceeded to throw her over his shoulder, now two words are key here ‘throw’ and ‘over’. The young lady dived perfectly, head first into the pavement I would have given her an eight for style if I had a scorecard and wasn’t more than a little concerned for her wellbeing!
The lad was a legend, first his shoulders raised as his mind told him that he had hidden strength hence couldn’t feel his burden. Then reality slowly dawned on him, accelerated doubtless by the scream of pain, and I swear I watched his plan for a ‘physical’ evening drain through the features of his face. It would look odd if I randomly videoed people outside of my apartment but at times like this I think it would be worth it!
The second story is one of dog walking, a lady and her small dog on the beach in fact. The lady had one of those seemingly obligatory ball on a stick arrangements and the dog seemed reasonably happy to retrieve the ball for her. The problem was that the woman’s aim was far from Olympic standard and inevitably the ball made it into the sea. The dog tracked the ball as far as the water and then clearly concluded that a £1 ball was not worth a dunk in the North Sea in November and left it there. Sadly his companion was not so bright, she ploughed in to retrieve the ball soaking herself in the process. I watched her retrieve the ball from the ocean a further three times with the dog obligingly retrieving the throws that made the beach. It took all of my self-restraint not to head to the beach, take the throwing stick thing and give it to the dog since she seemed to be enjoying retrieving the bloody ball so much. I can just imagine the dog getting home and talking to the cat “I tired her right out fetching that ball, she will sleep well tonight”
A lot is made of the word ‘inanimate’ but I think that it is over played. If all of our domestic appliances and equipment is so inanimate how do you explain the timing of its failures? As you know I am really enjoying baking bread at the moment, I love that when I take a loaf out of the oven I can see what I need to do differently next time, every loaf is an improvement. I have a very old oven and it occurred to me a while ago that the temperature regulation may not be accurate, cue purchase of a temperature gauge for said oven.
Friday’s bake confirmed the accuracy of the oven temperature regulation as it sat at a stable 220. I turned the oven down on a perfect loaf at 15 minutes and as I turned to leave the kitchen I spotted a blue flash in the oven, probably the contactor right? Over the next 5 minutes I watched my new temperature gauge rotate anti clockwise from 220, past 180 it kept going. At 100 I gave up and finished my loaf in the combi-oven. The perfect loaf to date didn’t achieve its greatness due to oven failure. The heating element literally exploded, I accept that this could just be a random failure but it strikes me as spite. I added the temperature gauge because I didn’t trust the oven and it didn’t appreciate the challenge. Because I live in a rental nothing is ever easy and I had no luck finding an element, apparently the manufacturer’s name written all over the oven is not in fact a manufacturer. I had several phone calls along the lines of “oh they make cooker hoods” before giving up and posting the defective part at the estate agent.
Saturday was spent fitting a new sink to my kitchen, a simple job if ever there was one. The old sink was removed as shrapnel, it being a brittle old plastic affair, and then the fun started. The new sink is stainless steel and handling it is more dangerous than juggling razor blades! Within an hour my kitchen was smothered in claret, and various parts of my body were swathed in tissue, if you picture a 10-year-old gorilla deciding to shave for the first time you will not be far wrong. Of course I couldn’t wash the wounds because the water was turned off so instead I mixed blood with fetid plumbing waste. When the new sink was installed it was clear that the waste did not align, in the same way that North Korea and South Korea don’t align. One of the irritations of not being able to jump in the car and go grab some bits is that you have to think up a shopping list before grabbing a lift to the hardware store (thank you Andrew). Conveniently the plumbing was arranged in that good old metperial system bearing a passing resemblance to both metric and imperial values but matching none. Of course a large volume of Chardonnay consumed the night before meant that in my keenness I made a couple of the traditional slapstick errors:
- Carefully removing the old trap and balancing it so as not to lose any foul water before launching it into the sink that it had been removed from whereupon it poured freely through the hole
- Installing the tap, leaving it open and turning the water back on. Yes you guessed it, there was still no waste installed.
My simple job was finally completed at 7 pm, I had started at lunchtime and you’re still convinced that these devious things are inanimate? I think not. One thing that I did realise was that I am too old/crippled to crawl into kitchen units. The odd movements and transitions that this requires are compounded by my newfound lack of mobility and as a task it is leaps ahead of the physioterrorist for pushing limbs. I awoke this morning almost seized up, I had to soak my wrists in warm water before crunching them back into some form of movement and I have been in pain all day. Some may say this is old age and that one should grow old gracefully but as a man and an engineer I think not. To paraphrase “in the battle of man v Ms Nature, this battle goes to man”
I have developed ninja style skills with the Dyson, my weapon of choice. I stalk my flat silently and with deathly stealth. My prey remain unaware of their impending demise until they are vacuumed into their prison. The prey that I stalk? Flies, a seasonal distraction for those that live so close to the sea.
I have now honed my skills to the point that I can watch the fly as it’s wings are drawn towards the cleaner. Balancing the gap just right allows the victim to cling on until the pulling air annoys it too much. When they release their grip on the surface they realise too late the power of the air stream. The decision over direction of flight is not theirs to make, it’s mine. In a blink they are transported to the enclosed environment of the dust bin.
As you can tell flies are an emotive subject in my flat, often driving me to distraction. But flies are part of a bigger tableaux of nature and it would seem wise not to forget that. On Sunday morning I was busy sorting domestic chores and wandering around the flat. As I left the living room I stopped and did a double take, something had caught my eye. There, standing on my sofa, was a sea gull.
I reversed slowly into the room wondering what the etiquette for such a situation is. I dismissed the Dyson as an inadequate defence to a full grown bird and started to ponder alternatives. The thought of scaring the thing was equally quickly dismissed, make no mistake I have seen the fire power of these beasts. I am certainly no Dr Dolittle but I am pretty sure that we shared a similar chain of thought. I looked at the bird and wondered why it was there and I think the bird was trying to answer the same question.
After what seemed a few minutes, but was probably only tens of seconds, the bird realised it’s error and departed. As a house ‘guest’ it was not impolite, leaving just a couple of feathers behind. Was this some angry big brother of the flying world? Had it come to warn me that my campaign against its smaller cousin had not gone unnoticed? Perhaps but I doubt it, after all birds and the like are in Mother Nature’s domain not the spiteful Ms Nature.