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, 5 February 2010

Wheels come off wingéd chariot

Some venerable sayings avoid being clichés because of their bitterness. One such is French: Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait (If youth knew (how to), if old age were able (to)). The likely reference is copulative but not exclusively so. The sentiment plays on all regrets about age. In an up-to-date variant a young man wants an open sports car but can’t afford it, now older, he can afford it but can’t bear the risk of being rained on.

My personal variant is banal but the bitter echo rings loud, hideously out of tune. When we first bought a house we were poor and I was forced to do much (incompetent) DIY. This included drilling into brick walls for which carbon-tipped masonry bits were necessary. Because I was not only poor but lazy I continued using these bits after they’d become blunt. Which meant holes took longer to drill and the bits got even blunter.

Once, I just kept on drilling. The bit became red hot and the carbon tip, which fits like toast into a single-slice toast rack at the end of the bit, dropped out. A shocking condemnation of one who now pontificates about understanding and claiming to sympathise with aspects of technology.

Now glance at my drill-related accessories. All the masonry bits I’ll ever need with lots more besides. Even those circular saw devices for cutting large holes, which I’ve often yearned for. But there’s one thing wrong. Look again. They’re all virginal. A complete collection for work I no longer do. The French had me typed all those years ago.

Novel progress 6/2/10. Ch. 14: 1267 words. Chs. 1 - 13: 58,239 words. Comments: Into the mouth of the unknown for Clare.


Plutarch said...

The French are rather good at those reflections on youth and age. "When I was young I could not afford bread. Now that I am old I can afford bread but lack the teeth to chew it". Yes, for bread substitute sports car. An old man in a sports car, like a bald man with a pony tail, is sad sight.

The Crow said...

Beautiful tools! Would love a set like that myself.

Hmmm...if a chariot has wings, what use wheels?

WV is roxing - sounds mechanical, or technical, somewhat. Something to ponder as I wait for the 20-24 inches of snow forecast for my area this afternoon.

Hattie said...

Some German pop star wrote a book called "Old but not a Bit Wiser." That's me!

marja-leena said...

The mind is willing but the body.... and all that! On the other hand, can one afford to hire somebody to use those tools when one is retired on a small pension?

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: I'd forgotten the sad ponytail: a pathetic form of youth assertion. Just up the road in Malvern is the factory that makes Morgan's primitive and ridiculously expensive sports cars. These are always driven by men, sixty or more, with gin-red faces and wearing tweed trilbies. You're good on hats - can tweed trilbies be deconstructed?

The Crow: The reference to flying vehicles is from Marvell's "To his coy mistress":

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near

Marvell's excellent on sexual mores, less so, it seems, on matters of transportation. For me chariots have wheels; perhaps wings can be spec'd as an extra. Is WV something to do with Wheeling West Virginia?

Hattie: Your most recent post seems to undermine this claim.

M-L: Glad we sorted the crocodile question mark. I gladly pay others to do work, but that doesn't mean to say I'm unaware of time's winged chariot (see above).

Lucy said...

If youth but would and age but could...

But that can't be about sex because youth would all the time.

The 'forets' - a word which has always enchanted me as I can't see any connection between drill bits and forests - ranged in their black case do have a very satisfying typological aesthetic though, don't they?

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: You're ahead of me on this one mais ca va sans dire. For me it's always been a perceuse. In fact DIY isn't as nuanced in France as it is in the UK and B&Q can beat Monsieur Bricolage hands-down. Can't resist recycling an experience I posted over a year ago. Having trawled the Pontchateau DIY store for a set-square I took a deep breath and illustrated my needs by describing its function. The assistant listened, entranced, and virtually clapped his hands at the end of my performance. "What a very good idea, monsieur" was his enigmatic response.

Lucy said...

A perceuse is the drill, forets are the bits - but I'm not sure all of them are.

It may be that the French haven't yet discovered set-squares. Many of their tools are, I believe, still based on their Roman equivalents.

Avus said...

I bow to your local knowledge, BB, as you are closer to Malvern. But my impression was that Morgan owners always wore black and yellow chequered flat caps and sported string-backed driving gloves.
As to the cars..they are good to look at, but the suspension! The tale goes that, driving a Morgan, if you run over a coin you can tell whether it is heads or tails.

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: There was a sequel to my set-square saga. The applauding assistant said he didn't have one; another smaller, meaner DIY store 150 m away had one. Suggesting that DIY isn't truly a part of French genes.

Avus: Whereas I might buy myself a Lotus 7 or a Caterham, I would never consider a Morgan. All that love-the-retro crap and waiting seven years - I lived through the fifties but I've no desire to own a car which re-lives those pinchbeck times. I won't swear that all Morganists wear tweed trilbies but they all look damned unpleasant and with a Morgan it's unfortunately self-evident.