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Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:33 pm
by BrigitDoon
I'm dyin' of thirst in dis blistrin' heat... :(

BrigitDoon wrote:The sun never sets on the Brigit YardArm. :P

Hellooooo Friday! :D

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:32 pm
by BrigitDoon
BrigitDoon wrote:Some time next year, I need to get home from Brighton. I have to go there for an operation and I'm likely to be in considerable discomfort afterwards, so I need a ride home that is smooth.

I've ruled out flying because of the cramped conditions; I hate airports and a hard landing is going to make the eyes water. Also, pressurised cabins make my sinusitis much worse.

I think it's likely I'll catch a train to Victoria, then Euston to Glasgow Central, but there's still the hassle of getting across London.

Fucking marvellous. I spoke to the surgeon's secretary and she's forbidden me to travel by train and insist I fly instead. I rode on one of those Pendolinos recently and it was a magic carpet ride. I really don't want to fly because any turbulence or a hard landing and it's going to hurt like fuck. That's ruined my day. Now what am I going to do? :cry:

I think I'll just go and wire a few neds into the street-lighting system... :roll:

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 1:54 pm
by BrigitDoon
I'm going to rattle on for a bit...

There are many influences that inform the lunacy that Auntie Brigit drags around with her.

One of these is the late Derek Mcintosh "Blaster" Bates. Dad had two LPs of his after-dinner speaking and I grew up with these with the old boy's mischievous grin as an accompaniment.

Dad never told me the finer points of chemistry, although he did buy me a chemistry set when I was quite young and showed me how to make a mess and upset mum in the process. I forget the name of the manufacturer of said chemistry set, but it was very popular in the seventies.

Dad had little time for growing crystals of copper sulphate. Making hydrogen, hydrogen sulphide and ammonium chloride smoke screens were more in keeping with his impish humour.

The humble chemistry set was supplemented with various substances available to a builder who also had the head of Avon Schools as a close friend. I remember there being a large tub of strong hydrochloric acid in the top shed, acquired, supposedly, for the purpose of cleaning algae from the swimming pool. I don't remember any family members going missing at this time, but I do recall some fun being had and all manner of things meeting a fizzy demise.

Dad had a delightful chemistry book, borrowed from his school library and never returned. It was published in 1897 and I wish I still had it. It was a real beauty. I was relieved of it by the chemistry teaching staff at Millfield when we were engaged in experiments that would most probably see us arrested should they ever come to light. I knew every word in the book which is probably why I didn't notice it's disappearance for a while.

It had the recipe for mercuric fulminate. This was a Victorian recipe book, let us remember, and they were generous with their portions...

It's a wonder we didn't blow Somerset to smithereens, but then there's no stopping a chemistry teacher once his fuse is lit. I'm sure we've all been there. Nitrogen triiodide, phosphine smoke rings, what's next? Be it Clifton College or Millfield, the chemistry staff where as naughty as the kids that they taught and a blind eye was turned to the various borrowings that used to find their way from lab to student den. Not a word was said when mine blew asunder as my lead azide manufacturing plant ripped the place apart. Bristol had its very own Flixborough that afternoon.

Dad contrived a lime kiln one day and loaded it with Mendip limestone. Later, we marvelled at the heat that calcium oxide will generate when a rainfall passes by.

There was a large tin of weedkiller in the top shed and it knew (in the biblical sense) a quantity of flowers of sulphur with dramatic results, much to the delight of my wee brother, a recent convert to the cause.

We had ammonium perchlorate, magnesium powder, nitrating mixtures and knowledge that would turn the IRA as green as their isle. Should the Somerset Freedom Fighters ever sound the clarion call...

(Talking of the IRA and the Mendip Hills, the latter is populated with quarries which naturally attracted the interest of the former. Our local plod nicked two of them as they were walking out of Westbury Quarry, a third made a run for it, but the terrain is not easy going and the local lads soon made their local knowledge count.)

Back in Clifton, a gentleman from ICI Explosives Division was called in to deliver a talk to a small lecture theatre packed with fifteen year old lads. (You read correctly - who could be so stupid as to give chapter and verse to the very people most likely to blow the school to buggery?) It was a show with a practical slant. The fellow had brought some samples with him and borrowed liberally from the school's chemical store. That told us what was in there (and an SAS-unit-in-prospect made a successful reconnaissance during the wee small hours...)

During this delightful discourse, our man lit two Bunsen burners and left two ten-foot metal bars warming in them while he explained their purpose.

At either end of the lecture room were two small stacks of engineering bricks, each with a tuppenny piece on top. Over these were laid a small sheet of aluminium which in turn was coated with crystallised ammonium perchlorate. He had a small dropper bottle containing carbon disulphide in which was dissolved phosphorus.

He put two drops on each of the aluminium plates and let the carbon disulphide evaporate to leave a fine coating of phosphorus on the fine coating of ammonium perchlorate. While the evaporation was taking place, he decided to tell us about the greatest explosion in recorded history: Krakatoa. He gave a most enlightening discourse and we understood that the sea floor caved in and a full cubic kilometre of water was vaporised in a matter of seconds.

By now, his irons were ready. He donned his gauntlets and brought the first iron to bear on the aluminium plate by the window. It went with an almighty explosion and a mushroom cloud billowed forth and filled the room. We'd had our hand over our ears on his advice, and distracted by his Krakatoan history lesson, we forgot about the other.

He duly dropped it on the other plate with similar result. Everyone's ears were still ringing on the Sunday.

He passed the aluminium sheets around afterwards and both had a perfect imprint of the Queen's head from the tuppenny piece.

Some days later, an "SAS unit" relieved a laboratory of a quantity of ammonium perchlorate, carbon disulphide and phosphorus.

I was the school's star chemistry pupil and I'm a fool for reading maths at university instead. During my A-level practical, the mystery substance in the brown envelope presented itself as orange crystals of a very distinctive shape. Assessing ammonium dichromate by sight alone, I brought the attention of my fellow students by way of a coughing fit. Half of the sample was sacrificed to the "volcano experiment" and everyone proceeded with the formalities of qualitative analysis.

Shortly before this, my chemistry teacher (a perfect likeness of Captain Pugwash and now a councillor at Wandsworth) wanted to know why I was unable to produce my homework.

"Couldn't be buggered, sir"

I had a fair clout upside the earhole.

Later I delivered a perfect dissertation on the mechanism of steam distillation, just to prove a point.

Later still, visiting the school for a reunion, I met Pugwash in the pub across the road.

"Reenie, you cow, did no work for two years and got an 'A'"

...referring to my A-level result, of course. To be fair, I'd done the work years before.

That's because I'm a chemistry geek.

I'll finish this rambling discourse with the obituary of the man without whose inspiration I would have enjoyed a life less troubled by neighbours, family, medical professionals...

The Independent >>

Blaster Bates

12th September 2006

Derek Mcintosh Bates, demolition engineer: born Crewe, Cheshire 5 February 1923: married 1946 Maud Lightfoot (one son, three daughters); died Crewe 1 September 2006.

Blaster Bates never expected to become a celebrity: he was a demolition expert whose stories amused his friends and then in the Sixties and Seventies came to the attention of a wider public. He could fill theatres, particularly in the North-West, with his one-man shows, but, through it all, he kept his demolition business going and in so doing gathered even more adventures for his records and stage shows.

He was born Derek Bates in Cheshire in 1923. His apprenticeship with Rolls-Royce in Crewe was interrupted by Second World War service. He flew bombers for the RAF and became a specialist in bomb disposal. He was intrigued by this work and planned to use his knowledge in peacetime.

In 1946, he started his own demolition business in Elworth; his van had the word of warning "Blasting" on the back and the company's slogan was "I'll blast anything". He changed the local landscape by demolishing over 500 tall chimney-stacks. In 1963, Bates blasted through rock to help build the M6. When he worked on the Oulton Park racing circuit, he had to contend with a courting couple in the grass and from this came his action-packed anecdote "The Naming of Knicker Brook". Everyone had great faith in what he was doing: he once blew up the underground vaults of a bank whilst business continued at ground level.

Even though Bates might walk around with explosives in his pockets, he was never seriously injured. He once hung by his fingertips at the top of a quarry whilst the fuses burned below, but was rescued in the nick of time. On another occasion, he had just laid explosives in a lake when the outboard motor on his boat stalled. He recalled that he "rowed away with a determination that would have won the Boat Race".

As a robust six-footer, Bates looked the part and he became well known as a raconteur at rotary clubs, where his regional accent and colourful language added to the amusement. Soon he was talking about the likes of Big Mick from Connemara on television chat shows including Parkinson. Asked how he might land a particular chimney-stack neatly into a confined space, he replied, "I've got a touch like a midwife." He had the repartee of a Northern comedian:

I've brought some of the gelignite with me. You'll notice it is like marzipan. Just the job for the mother-in-law's birthday cake. You get her to light the candle and you piddle off out quick.

His tale about the time he was hired to clear out a farm's septic tank contained some vivid descriptions:

Twelve seconds later, four and a half thousand tons of effluent leapt into the air. It climbed into the sky and, at 300 feet, it mushroomed out, and a shaft of sunlight hit it. You could see all the colours of the starling's wing, the greens and the golds and the browns, light and dark, and a lot of bottle-green in it.

Bates made a series of live albums about "The Explosive Exploits of Blaster Bates". The first volume, Laughter With a Bang (1967), recorded at the Congleton Round Table, was a huge seller and 1001 Gelignites (1968), TNT for Two (1969), Watch Out for the Bits (1971), Lift-Off (1973), Gelly Baby (1975), Blastermind (1980) and Hunting and Shooting (1984) followed. Although his albums and shows contained warnings about language, it was rarely worse than "bugger" or "bullshit".

Bates won trophies for shooting and rallying and would participate in Wall of Death stunts. To improve his chances on a hill climb, he would put home-made rockets on the side of his motorcycle. He undertook charity work and served as a special constable with Cheshire Police from 1968 to 1980. "He was an hilarious character and he enjoyed being what is called a community constable today," recalls Joe Roper, a former policeman who worked with him:

He used to take a stick of gelignite to his talks and he would light the fuse when he began. He would be telling his anecdotes and the fuse would be

getting shorter and shorter. When there was only a very small amount left, he would put it out. No one, of course, would be allowed to do that today.

In a sense, Bates set the path for the exploits of Fred Dibnah, but Bates's humour was coarser. In 2001, he had a stroke, but was able to continue with speaking engagements. He enjoyed his work, and he enjoyed talking about it, and said he was always sorry that he never got the call for the big one - Nelson's Column.

Blaster Bates at YouTube >>

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:36 pm
by Doorstop
BrigitDoon wrote:I forget the name of the manufacturer of said chemistry set, but it was very popular in the seventies.

Thomas Salter ... I had many of them as a kid. I used them mainly to make probably horrendously poisonous stinkbombs. *nods*

One set actually had a phial of potassium nitrate as well as a phial of sulphur, which as any Boys Own Annual reader knew when mixed with carbon (or burnt matches in my case) makes a very effective gunpowder.

The pet animals round my way gave me a wide berth.

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:08 pm
by BrigitDoon
Potassium nitrate. Wow! :shock:

We didn't get any of that, but we did have dad's weedkiller: sodium chlorate.

(Now I think of it, mine was a Merit chemistry set.)

We were taking our O-levels at about this time and we had been taught how to calculate masses for complete reaction. My study-mate had a set of small scales liberated from the dispensary and we sat down and worked out how much sulphur we'd need for complete combustion. We both arrived at the same figures and so we measured out our ingredients and pulverised them with a pestle and mortar (separately, I might add; you'll lose more than your eyebrows if you do them together.)

We sifted them together and loaded them into a Pyrex ignition tube and inserted a fuse - a length of "quickmatch" taken from a dismantled firework. We stopped up the end and stuck our little bomb to the wall outside our study window, lit the fuse, shut the window and waited. It took and age and we'd thought it had gone out when all of a sudden there was almighty explosion and the window rattled its applause.

Thirty feet away, a group of lads were having a crafty smoke and they were showered with hot shards of glass. Needless to say, we'd done a runner by the time they'd figured who was responsible.

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:23 pm
by br-cmr
BrigitDoon wrote:Some time next year, I need to get home from Brighton. I have to go there for an operation and I'm likely to be in considerable discomfort afterwards, so I need a ride home that is smooth.
Does anyone know who would do this sort of thing and how much it would cost?

Just over a year ago, a colleague of mine, who lives and works near Oxford, was in Glasgow on a business trip. He took ill, ended up in the Victoria Infirmary for a week. When discharged, he was told not to fly, and due to the nature of his injury, rail travel wasn't practical.

One of the reasons they had been in Glasgow was to look at potential venues for a conference, and the Glasgow conventions bureau (the business arm of the tourist information) had arranged for them to get shuttled between the airport, hotels and conference venues by the "Glasgow Taxi" - the "Mr Happy" one. Kevin, the driver, does a lot of this sort of PR work for the tourist board.

Kevin got hold of a more appropriate vehicle, and drove my colleague from Glasgow to his home near Oxford. I believe it was a white merc - looked like a wedding car! Can't remember what it cost, but it was not unreasonable.

I've probably got contact details...


Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:47 pm
by BrigitDoon
Thanks Bruce. Just the sort of thing I have in mind.

pm sent.

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 11:04 am
by BrigitDoon
Great. Yesterday my shower blew up and today my tardis money box exploded sending shrapnel in all directions. :roll:

I suppose it's poetic justice really.

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:22 pm
by BrigitDoon
Unlikely hazards...



Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:55 pm
by BrigitDoon
Farmer Brigit just bought a thousand acres of untamed webspace.

Just sent the boys out with the combine to tidy up...


Gerroffamylaaaaaaaand! :D

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:21 pm
by Dave
Nothing to do with your goodself BrigitDoon but was anyone else a bit edgy regarding this evenings Channel4 program - Jamie Saves Our Bacon.

Not that the wee fanny has failed in everything apart from annoying us but he sunk as low as Rebecca Lewes (sp*) by wanking off a pig. Other fiery momens included the visit to a market where he stated "this is the Mecha of pork", then followed this with a full size pig image on the side of the parliament buildings. Did he miss the minor conflict between the muslim world and the west.

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2009 11:42 pm
by BrigitDoon
My back turns for five minutes while I tear a strip off a dresser-upper in Essex for being a nasty whore when she's really a boy and look what happens... 1000 acres and Pilton Pop moves in. This iddn't Glas'nbry s'no; Get Off My land! Bloody hippies! They're my magic 'shrooms. Bugger off and grow yer'own. I'll give'ee the recipe, proper West Wiltshire too, my grannie was mad from day one, loved her tea, couldn't get enough. We couldn't stop laughing. "Tea bags? I don't flush 'em down the sink, I poke 'em down the toilet." :D

Then she sprogged my dad. :?

Then he sprogged me :cry:

Shit happens. I live.

Somehow :roll:

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 3:04 pm
by BrigitDoon
Aha! What have we here...

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:18 pm
by BrigitDoon

I've got a new motor for my wheelbarrow. Wheeeeeeee! :D

Re: BrigitDoon's Bomb Shelter

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 12:29 pm
by BrigitDoon
We like our pubs, don't we? There's enough lauded on this forum...

Before I joined up here, I was running a forum and website for embattled landlords and landladies. Many pubs throughout the land have been closing with an often devastating effect on the communities of which they are the centre. Rural areas have been particularly hard hit.

My forum served its purpose and brought together a good number of publicans who then gathered around Inez Ward who runs a pub in Newquay, Cornwall. I spoke to her a few times on the phone and a more determined spirit I've never met.

She has a Facebook group together and I'll offer it up to those of you who wish to add your voices to her campaign. She has 61,000 members so far and it's gaining momentum.

Save the Great British Pub >>