Thursday, May 31, 2012

Carrying a torch

I have spent recent night shifts grumbling and stumbling around in the dark after losing my trusty old silver Maglight LED torch. Finally coming to terms with the grim fact that I'm unlikely to get it back because paramedics are like magpies when it comes to finding useful pieces of kit, the shinier the better, I concluded that I needed a replacement.

The type of torch that is currently der riggur for front line emergency personnel is called a tactical flashlight. I've no idea why they're tactical, because they're pretty titchy. In my books, a tactical flashlight would be four feet long with built in crossbow and grenade functions. I also don't know why they are called flashlights instead of torches. Maybe two syllables sounds like you're getting more for your money. In that case they should give them an even longer name like Photon Throwing Devices or Visible Spectrum Electromagnetic Radiation Emission Implements.


Dutifully, I researched current torch trends and was amazed at how much you can spend on the damn things. Hundreds of Great British quids in some cases! If I spent two hundred pounds on a torch I would expect not only light but a stream of Bollinger and caviar vol-au-vents as well.

In the end, I settled for a compromise. One that was not too expensive (although still the priciest torch I've ever bought) yet still had a good reputation. In fact I noted a lot of my colleagues already had the same sort. I placed my order and, a few days later, received my new Lenser P7 Photon Throwing Device through the post.

It's aesthetically pleasing, small enough to fit into the hand and feels quite rugged.There's a sort of air of competence about it, but I couldn't really get away from the fact that the bit at the front, the bit the light comes out of, seemed quite . . . well . . . small.

And then I switched it on.


It has something called a Cree LED in it, which is similar to the traditional torch LED but instead of a light emitting diode the manufacturers appear to have opened up a small wormhole into the fiery heart of the sun.

Honestly, you press the on button at the base and, after the briefest roar, photons spill out of the end like a funnelled nuclear explosion.

It is so bright that, even at twelve noon on the hottest day of the year, light levels across the country went up three hundred percent.

Moles, four feet underground, moved deeper.

Clouds shifted in turmoil, like Jupiter's bands after a comet strike when I pointed it at the sky.

The ambulance broke down, but rather than wait for the tow truck I simply shone the torch out of the window, pointing it backwards, and the sheer power of it's beam thrust us forward, occasionally reaching speeds of two hundred miles per hour.

It is a Jedi light club.

It’s like that red-eyed feller off of X-Men who shines red beams of red light out of his red eyes when he takes his red sunglasses off, only brighter. And less red.

It’s like staring into the back end of a Delta V Heavy Lift Rocket as it takes off..

I’m worried about crossing the beams with another one.

Now, I am one hundred and ten percent against exaggeration, and incredibly amazingly against hyperbole but I want to give you an idea of just what this torch is capable of.  For this reason I took some before, during and after shots of me turning the torch on and shining it at my works Zafira: 

My office

A quick flash

The unadulterated result

It’s quite bright, is what I’m getting at.

Illuminating, isn’t it?


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cradle Snatcher to Grave

I was in our local town a couple of days ago, eating a sausage roll in the graveyard (not a euphemism) and noticed an interesting gravestone.

Actually, re-reading that, it sounds a bit wrong. I should say that I was actually eating a sausage roll in a graveyard.

Nope, can't get away from it. I was just eating a sausage roll in a graveyard. There's no way of making that look like anything other than what it was. I had a sausage roll, and I was in a graveyard. Eating it.

The point is that while there I was idly perusing the data inscribed upon the stones because my 3G signal was low, when I saw the following grave:

Stop pushing, there's room for everyone.

It's the final resting place of a chap called Samuel Aldridge, who shuffled off his mortal bucket in 1800 aged 81, and his wife Sarah who died 28 years later, aged 48.

Now, apart from their being something potentially disrespectful and possibly unholy about eating a Gregg's pork cylinder on a grave (Dancing? Yes. Frolicking? Fine. Turning widdershins whilst chanting excerpts from the Necronomicon? Not a problem. Eating a Greggs? Ooh, you've crossed a line there, pervert), there was something about those dates that intrigued me.

If Sam died in 1800 aged 81, that means he was born in 1719. His wife, dying in 1828 aged 48 was therefore born in 1780. That's a sixty-one year age gap.

Now, I am a modern liberal and in no way judgemental about the choices of life partner another person makes, as long as they are happy and both get something out of it. In this case, however, considering it was before the advent of many medications used to treat the afflictions of old age (and indeed Viagra), one thought did occur to me.

Way to go Sammy boy!

I’m just surprised he lasted till 1800.

I had other things to do in town apart from desecrate crypts with take-away snacks and so, after brushing my crumbs off on a cherub (also not a euphemism), I continued my sojourn, making a mental note to post that picture on the Gravel Farm for your perusal, for it brings to mind questions of mortality, history, spirituality, love and boffing the elderly to death.

I needed some rabbit treats for our elderly but still voracious bunny, Bert, who might be blind in one eye and unable to clean his nether regions but he can still get it on with your foot if you're wearing fluffy socks. For this reason I made my way into our local pet shop.

The regular reader might recall that this is the shop where I was once very excited to be offered the chance to purchase a squeaky rubber winking lady with a cat's head dressed in bondage gear.* In the end I declined to buy it because I'm not really that into bondage. Or bestiality. Or dog chew toys.

Although the winking lady with a cat's head dressed in bondage gear did apparently sell, the shop owner started to think she'd been catering to too specific a target market and was probably getting fed up with men in stained brown trench coats turning up at night asking if she'd got any new stock in. Upon my visit this time, she'd moved on to providing more mainstream figurines which will appeal to everyone.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you . . . Chicktoria Peckham:

"Does my parson's nose look big in this?"
I still didn't buy her though. I prefer a bit of meat on my birds.

After spending twenty minutes trying to come up with a pun involving the word "plucking", I had Chicktoria prized from my hands and was asked to leave.

Making my way to a budget shop which provides a select range of anything, I encountered the absolute pièce de résistance when it comes to today's theme of death and target markets.

          "I'll cook your heart!"
Leaving aside the fact that the model is actually rather pasty and looks like he'd be happy to serve you a sausage roll to eat on a gravestone, the wording makes it quite clear that this wig is intended only for a very select few.

I thought about buying it, but I don't know any sinister black children.

*Now there's a link that's hard to resist.