Friday, August 19, 2011

Mr Knight's Geared Facile Blog

Today there was an auction of the Deceased Estate of a Mr Watson, according to the Motueka and Golden Bay News, so I went along to see what a deceased estate of a (presumably) living man might be. The Motueka and Golden Bay News is a weekly source of enjoyable solecisms, most famous among which has been the advertisement concerning the Pasta of the Church of Christ.

Mr Watson, it seemed, was a car restorer: his Deceased Estate largely comprised tools and I had the feeling there would be a large turnout of large people, there often being a correlation between car enthusiasm and girth. Just as I was arriving a 4WD swung out from a driveway opposite forcing me off the otherwise empty road - the driver hadn't spotted my fluorescent jersey - turned left and immediately parked, a journey of a good three hundred metres, and as I dismounted two vast people were struggling their way out of the seats to join the gathered throng. There were fifty-six bidders and twice that number of spectators. The bidders fully met my hopes. A taxonomist would have got all excited and written down a) skinny; b) massive; c) young; d) moribund and immediately drawn a Venn diagram.

One lot was 'an old engineers lathe' and another was 'old push bikes'. On inspection the lathe was a worn-out Chinese affair with a flimsy cross-slide and a knobbly dead centre welded to the tailstock chuck. The two push bikes were of 1970s vintage, one of them the puzzlingly ubiquitous Raleigh Twenty. Nobody has ever satisfactorily explained why so many Raleigh Twenties exist in the Colonies nor why they fetch high prices, but since every one I lay my hands on is addressed with a hacksaw I am doing my best to increase their rarity value.

I returned home to my emails and found a photograph taken of the corner of Mr Knight's drawing-room. Mr Knight like Mr Watson has a shed but there isn't quite enough space for his twenty-eight-plus bicycles, so some have strayed indoors. Should there ever be an auction of the Deceased Estate of Mr Knight it too will feature old push bikes, but I doubt if it will feature any Raleigh Twenties.

When Mr Knight is at work these bicycles double as clothes-drying racks like my astronomical refractor does when my wife's sister comes to visit. You and I of course would never do such an evil thing, for a quick glance tells us that - from the front - we are looking at

a 54" 1883 Bayliss, Thomas & Co. DEHF (Duplex Excelsior Hollow Fork); a 55" c1885/6 racing model of unknowen make; and a pair of c1920. 28 x 1 3/8 (ETRTO 37-642) wooden rimmed wheels on BSA hubs.

I did not spot Mr Knight among the bidders for Mr Watson's workshop effects, but I do know he is building himself quite a useful Geared Facile, and since not many other people are I have spoken firmly to him about recording the matter for posterity. You and I know what a Geared Facile is, of course, but everyone else will have to go to his new blog and keep track of events as they unfold.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Trike basket

Just come back from stealing apple logs and I find my wife watching Magic Roundabout on Youtube. I don't know if any children did but in the Olden Days all the students used to watch Magic Roundabout after lectures. It numbed their brains. Damn, there's an opportunity missed - we had the new medical students round - one was shaven-headed and competent and the other was an idiot whose teeth stuck out like a fantail - a small but representative sample - and I forgot to ask them what they did to numb their brains. - Blimey, now she's watching Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men (1953, so it even predates me). - Now John's watching it. He'll start feeling sorry for us in a minute, and then he'll move on to realising why we don't have a TV. - Good gracious me now she's onto Andy Pandy. *uck. Watch Andy Pandy and you'll know why suicide was invented. Five minutes of a swinging puppet along with some of the least scintillating commentary ever heard on television, occasionally breaking into song. *uuuuuuuuuck. Hang on - I'll just check she hasn't gone and killed herself.

Right, I'm back at my computer and she's just made some remarks to me to tidy my desk and whole area. I nearly tidied my workshop but got distracted by my new trike basket which is so fantastick and so wonderful and so brilliant that I have to keep going back into the workshop to admire it.

In the market there was a man selling scythes - no there was - I would'v'e bought one too except I have three scythes, though the truth is when you have three nobody notices a fourth appearing - and another man selling baskets. Baskets I can get away with: we like baskets. Real ones that is. Plastic ones break and end up choking turtles in the Pacific Gyre. I immediately bought one and commissioned another.

'If I bring you my trike, can you make one for that?'

'Trike? What is trike?'

The basketmaker was a Foreigner, from Abroad. Trike had him baffled. But I made him tell me where he lived and called later with the trike in question and beams of sunshine fell on his face. And not long afterwards I had a phone call:

'Oh Ree-chard, I haff made. You a bas. Ket.'

And he had. And here it is. And I'm dead pleased. Because cardboard boxes, however exquisitely formed, aren't - sort of - well anyway, baskets are. On trikes, that is. A cardboard box is Loughborough. A basket is Stamford.

A basket on a trike is unf. not terribly good for the collection of compost. Sarah said that her daughter Alex says we can have her horseshit for free if we gather it up but if she, Alex, has to gather it up she, Sarah, will sell it to 'lots of other people who want it' and when you do the sums you can see why. Because horses aren't cheap.

For compost two 75 litre plastic dustbins are employed and I hope they last longer than washing baskets and don't end up in the gullets of dead albatross chicks. With containers of Known Volume and visits of Known Frequency one discovers that 350 litres of horse compost are generated in 7 horse-days, which = 50 litres of compost per horse per day. In the olden days stage coaches required a horse per mile: a proprietor of one coaching firm owned (I have just read) 68 coaches, 2,000 horses, and 2,000 employees to manage the hundred thousand daily litres of compost. Though as a coach travelled at 10mph, I calculate the roads received 833 cubic centimetres per mile. Plus wagon-horse compost, of course, and that of the local squire and all the other horsemen. Of which there wouldn't have been all that many, because Amber was being shod and the farrier told me that shoeing a horse is $100 and takes place every 8 weeks starting from when the horse is 4 years old. So if a horse lasts 20 years it will cost $10,400 in tyres, so to speak. Sarah recoups $2 a bag for compost but my researches have not extended to buying such a bag and weighing it. My researches extend to building trailers for my two 75-litre bins. - I can't pull more than that. I'm down to 5mph as it is.

Nevertheless I strongly commend compost collection on a bike as a means of personal weight control but you mustn't trust me because I'm an evangelical on the subject of bicycle haulage. In fact I'm a Bicyclist's Witness. I put on a smart suit and carry a small leather-bound copy of Bicycling Science Third Edition and knock on doors and ask people if they've been Saved.

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