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

Friday, 27 March 2009

But the coffin they carry you off in

THE COUGH A captain in the Royal Artillery explains:

“A pre-loaded mortar, placed deep in the ventral cavity below the umbilicus, is triggered by a random-number-generating oscillator with an unpredictable output. The charge is deliberately under-prescribed and the projectile leaves the barrel comparatively slowly.

“Initially the diaphragm twitches to the passage of the projectile but as speed increases the twitches become powerful spasms. Sensing these spasms the thoracic muscles contract defensively. The lungs are aware but have no real protection. Impact is at maximum velocity and lung volume reduces to zero at sonic speed.

“Air, also at sonic speed, evacuates the bronchia. Sympathetic laryngeal reaction creates a venturi, raising the speed yet again. Emerging into the spherical mouth cavity the compressed air expands and escapes at a velocity capable of imposing a reed effect on the lips and the tongue. The resultant noise, identified by the subject as “Just clearing my throat” and by concert-hall neighbours as “That bastard should be put down”, has been rated as high as 69 dBA.”

I said I wouldn’t refer to it again but by a journalist’s prerogative I lied. I am told that the performance of War Requiem which starred Ian Bostridge and which I forewent (Is that a word?) was superb.


Occasional Speeder said...

Only known cure for this is large doses of Janneau.. not recommended if you are the designanted driver.
Forwent - past tense of forego. You must be ill to question that.

Lucy said...

You are a noble soul thus to spare others in the auditorium, and were probably best tucked up at home in the warm anyway. Get well soon.

Re the picture; I am not being precious about it, I would happily send it to you, and would accept something for it because a) you seem to want to give me something b) dosh is always handy c) I cannot resist the fillip to my vanity in being able to claim to have sold a picture!

But please, keep it modest.

If you'd like to e-mail me, I'll write back with the details - size, materials, and I'll check the lightfastness of the colour pencils too, as it's not much use if it's going to fade within a couple of months! My e-mail address is lucy(dot)kmptn(at)gmail(dot)com

The Crow said...

I love the explanation of the cough! It is so much more satisfying than anything I learned in Hospital Corps School in the Navy all those years ago. Thank you for that delightful podt!

The Crow said...

Sorry...I coughed while typing...that should have been "post," not "podt."


Sir Hugh said...

On my long walk last summer I met two elderly gents in Cornwall. They enquired about my route ahead. I indicated the steep hill on the other side of the valley. One of them said "Oi eet's a roit coff up there".

Barrett Bonden said...

The cough, which by past experience I can expect to retain for a couple more months, is such an overwhelming event that I felt I had to get the better of it in some way.

OS: Even Janneau is powerless. Crapulous coughing is no more pleasurable than doing it in sobriety.

Lucy: Nobility had nothing to do with it. The burghers of Birmingham (Symphony Hall) might well have stoned me to death.

The Crow: I was rather proud of what is not quite an extended metaphor. Took advice from the Consultant Physician (ie, Mrs B) on one point with the result that "hyoid" became the more euphonious "laryngeal".

Sir Hugh: Measuring one's life in expectorations rather than coffee spoons.

Julia said...

Does the captain explain sneezes too? I can see a series here.

Barrett Bonden said...

Gonna sound like Hypochondriac's Korner.