Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Welcome to the fall-off rule

Remember the demo in physics? Bunsen burner standing on its base (stable equilibrium), on its nozzle (unstable equilibrium), on its side (neutral equilibrium). With a motorbike only the latter state is available without assistance and a bike on its side is no use to anyone.

Working for a weekly newspaper I used to call on the town's men of the cloth. Father Michael O’Sullivan noticed my parked bike. “I see yiz ride a bike. I did win I was a young priest. Niver had a cold. But yiz'll fall off once ivery year and a haf.” The transition from a temporary form of (often very) unstable equilibrium into neutral.

Fr. O’Sullivan was right about the fall-off rate. Once my friend and I were riding Indian file on our bikes and a dog darted out. My friend swerved and I did too, but a microsecond too late. My clutch lever (on the left-hand side of the handlebar) caught his raincoat, swung the forks round on full lock and I was tossed on to the tarmac. People at a bus-stop nearby watched with interest but none moved to my aid. They would have lost their place in the queue. The adamantine West Riding.

A subsequent event contributing to my fall-off quota occurred when a car pulled out into a steepish hill down which I was travelling. No escape. The bike hit the car amidships and I somersaulted over the car and landed some yards (we were still Imperial then) down the road. Tucked into my raincoat was a box containing my complete LP collection, perhaps 25 discs. None was harmed.

Young people believe they are immortal. The assumption of a mortgage tells them they are not.

1 comment:

Sir Hugh said...

At my school we sat on chemistry lab benches to hear the chemistry master lecturing to us. The benches were equipped with Bunsen burners and sinks. Our favouritte trick was to remove the rubber tubing from the Bunsem, connect it to the tap on the sink and lead it into the blazer pocket of another pupil and turn on the tap very slightly. All this perhaps accounts for the fact that I once scored 6 out of 100 in a chemistry exam, and so by reading this science based blog I am now catching up on time frittered away in my youth.