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

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Hardly worth celebrating

My five-hundredth post. No big thing given that inter alia Plutarch recently passed three thousand. And the equivalent Roman numeral (see inset) makes it an even damper squib. But has 500 any BB significance?

I once owned a Triumph Speed Twin motorbike with a nominal engine capacity of 500 cc. Pretty tenuous. Took a good-looking woman rock-climbing in the Lake District and she shouted she’d gone faster on another guy’s scooter. Two miles down the road she shouted for quite a different reason.

At what Zach used to call the Holiday House in St Jean de la Blaquière I used to swim fifty 10 m lengths = 500 m = half a kilometre. This year’s visit, our fifth, was the last since the owners are selling. I remember the pool’s gritty edge blocks which made my teeth cringe.

A hot day in Biarritz. Takista had been moored and my two brothers and I had a big thirst. I ordered three grandes pressions (draught beer in 500 ml glasses) and got into an inexplicable argument about this with the waitress. Never resolved.

The figure 500 has metric relevance. Slide the decimal point three to the left and you have half of unity. Such a relief after those tedious arithmetic lessons on vulgar fractions where I puzzled over 13/16 multiplied by 17/43.

Always the numerical foot-dragger, the USA, still bogged down in Imperialism (now there’s an irony), used to flag the imminence of thruway, expressway and interstate picnic areas in feet. First glance 500 feet looks a lot. But it’s hardly time to jam on the brakes.

Far too late in life I’m trying to perfect my French vowel sounds. Saying cinq cents is salutary; many Brits hardly differentiate (“song song”). Get the nasality going with the “in”.