Thursday, September 27, 2007

English Eccentrics

Lotus, Eater

Couple of snippets from the Daliy Telegraph I picked up on a BA flight.

In 1776, Augustus Montague Toplady wrote a "batty but oddly compelling article for The Gospel Magazine, in which he compared a rocketing National Debt which could never be paid off, to the extent of human sinfulness." The maths invloved goes something like this: "we sin every second of our sublunary duration", he said, and "our dreadful account stands as follows ... At 10 years old, each of us is chargeable with 315 millions and 720 thousand". Blimey, I may have had a less-than-angelic childhood but no way did I ever clock that tally up. Can't have been trying hard enough. Love the phrase "sublunary duration" though. Have to find a use for that one.

Coming much more up to date and far more down to earth, I noted that John Gardiner just died. He was a well know restorer of rare & classic racing cars; he was also the sort of engineer who would never compromise, and was blessed with the skill and intuition to recreate, from scratch, entire engines just by studying what was left over in some unrecogniseable mess of metallic junk. Apparently, he was contracted by Audi to restore and prepare a pre-war Auto Union. To quote from the Telegraph, "When Audi insisted on manufacturing the V16-cylinder engine crankshaft for these cars, it failed Gardiner's rigorous inspection; and when an Audi committee quibbled endlessly over technical details, Gardiner told them: 'Listen, all you've got to do is to sign the cheques and tell us how big you want the swastikas painted'".


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