The swingers club? Not so sordid as it might sound, and yet black magic and heresy in a consecrated church were involved. This swingers club was less about getting an acceptable trade-in value for unwanted wives and more about Foucault’s Pendulum. Pendulums. Pendulii. Pendulummies. Pendulumnth.
A gentleman by the name of Mr Andrew Bate has, with the blessing of the St. Peter’s Church Authorities, Waverton, Cheshire, been setting up and taking readings from a Foucault Pendulum for many years, aforesaid device swinging in the conveniently tall space afforded by the church bell-tower.
Literally a pendulum, a weight suspended on a bit of hairy string (or in this case, anything from piano wire to carbon-fibre strands), the purpose of the exercise is to demonstrate the rotation of the planet. As the weight swings back and forth so the planet – we are led to believe – rotates underneath it, leading to manifold changes and patterns in the swing. The Waverton device employs a laser and a video feed recorded for later analysis of the measurement of those changes. Mr Foucault, the original swinger protagonist, was a little early for lasers (and video feeds), and so used a pointer dragging in sand to trace the movements of his pendulum.
If you remember that the experiment is using the (actually incredibly relatively weak) force of gravity to compare the movements of a small pendulum bob with the movements of an entire planet you may rightly conclude that the opportunities for experimental and measurement errors is not insignificant. Draughts, vibrations, large structures, chaps buried with their swords under church floors – everything affects the readings, and we haven’t even begun to remark on the actual build and structure of the pendulum itself yet, how the wire is suspended, how the bob is set in motion, that sort of thing.
The empirical results of all such pendulums, no matter how well constructed, exhibit puzzling anomalies. Foucault, for example, once returned to his pendulum after leaving it overnight to discover that the pointer in the sand had drawn two unfeasibly large penises and an impressively stout pair of lady-breasts. Foucault looked upon his results and, temporarily, he despaired.
Modern analysis suggests that Foucault’s early anomalous results may have had more to do with his young laboratory-assistant, Kilroy, than with the rotation of the planet. It is a law of nature that any flat plane being free from constant authoritative observation will acquire the outlines of at least two unfeasibly large penises and any number of breasts. The only exception to this law of nature is where the flat surface has, during manufacture, already acquired pithy slogans of a social commentary nature.
If you are familiar with the “toy” Spirograph and the patterns that it can produce, that is what the pendulum more often scribes – a petal-like pattern, the full “flower” once in twenty-four hours (almost).
I am not in the habit of visiting either churches or Foucault pendulii, but the Bro is (of visiting the pendulumsies, not churches), and he was invited to cast his ten-ton brain over this one. If left unchecked yonder Bro is in the habit of publishing papers and articles in scientific journals, this visit stemming from a paper published by the IEEE in re his own build of a Foucault Pendulum and the refinement thereof. I tagged along to carry the coats and to make sure that none of the scientists wandered off or experimented with the emptiness of atoms and theories about walking right through the local road traffic.
Twas a most enjoyable visit indeed, although the jury is still out on whether the planet actually does rotate or not. My own theory is that the planet does not rotate but merely jiggles up and down a bit sometimes, when the music of the spheres has a decent beat.
The Middlewich Breach? Well, the Cardinal and I, after our 110 miles 96 lock diversion around the alternative route, are just about back where we began – and within perembulatory distance of the repair site. It all looks very neat indeed, if a little “stark” and “concrete”. Details of the original breach here.
The landscape below the raised level of the canal, whereupon it was that the canal and embankment did cascade and swamp the River Wheelock below. It still looks a bit miffed by the whole experience, as you might expect. Oddly, it was not the aqueduct that failed, but the edge of the canal just to one side, the embankment being washed away.
The Cardinal and I ought to be chugging across the repair site early next week. We can but hope that modern engineering works, founded as they are upon the new “socio-science”, where diversity-inclusivity statistics reign supreme and feelz trump facts, prove to be as robust as did those of the original canal builders.
It has taken some £3,200,000 and nine months of work by various sub-contractors to bung up the hole and separate river from canal once more. What the CaRT has joined together let no further lack of maintenance tear asunder.
The early-morning cry for help? Well, that was a good one. I was awoken from my innocent, angelic slumbers at 03:30 of the o’crikey by a loud and persistent call of ‘Help! Please help!’…
Shiver my timbers and pass the Paracetamol if some poor nocturnal creature hasn’t fallen into the canal, methought.
However, as intimated in earlier posts, I wasn’t born yesterday, and so rather than rush out into the (relative) darkness in my boxer shorts and hefting a boat-hook overhead like some sort of life-saving javelin, I checked a few things first. Lights off I raised the blinds and took a 360° gander. Mother never sent in her troops without first checking out the lie of the land, and I do much the same.
Turns out that the cries were from a gentleman not up to his neck in the canal, but staggering along the (main, very main) road on the other side of the boat. Tis only a theory (much like the mooted rotation of the planet) but I suspect that alcohol may have been a factor. While his cries tugged at my empathy-gland and indeed took me right back to myself and my own antics a couple of decades and more ago, I decided that he was best left to it.
A couple of HGVs hooted as they avoided him, and his constant shouts of ‘Help! Please help!’ faded into the less traffic-scarred nearby housing estate, where I can but assume that he eventually found home and safe harbour, or at least a hedgerow to fall into and sleep it off. Rotten of me, I know, but I didn’t get where I am today by running out into the night to help inebriates, by intervening in other folks’ fights or by wearing tights, a silk cape and righting wrongs.
My favoured sleeping-it-off spots were shop doorways and telephone kiosks.
As Father often used to say when checking out lost property at railway stations, or stolen and recovered items at Police stations; No, Officer, that’s not my circus, not my monkeys.
‘Not my circus, not my monkeys’ has served as a favourite mantra of mine for many, many years. The world may do as it likes, I limit my involvement to simply making sure that the world does not do me first.
So, that was the week that was. I tell you, it all happens on England’s canals.
Or if not actually on them then close alongside.
I think that perhaps I am living in interesting times.
Chin-chin for the mo, Muskies.
Ian H and Cardinal W.