Saturday, 28 July 2007

Turtles and Cranes

I am writing this post from the Purple Turtle in Reading. This surprises me in a couple of ways. Not because I wasn't aware that I was in the Purple Turtle in Reading - I walked in consciously and intentionally. It is that last fact that is the first of the surprises. You see, the Purple Turtle is lodged in my mind as an Oxford venue, and old loyalties run in the blood, so as a light blue Cambridge type I would have expected it to be full of bad eggs. Now I'm not saying it isn't full of bad eggs, as it may well be, judging by the conversations being held at the neighbouring table. All illiterate and full of references to unsavoury things that might be done to a chap in an athletics changing room (rather laterally, the name Kriss Akabussi keeps on popping up in their alto vocce account of this story). Let me assure you that the hand gestures and demonstrations that accompany the story are unpleasantly broadcast into the corner of my peripheral vision. Classic Oxford stuff. In fact after posting this I must ensure that none of these drunk-on-snakebite ovi maligni mugs me for my laptop.

Anyway, I can hear you wondering how I ended up in this establishment given my stated loyalties and clear emotions on the subject. Rather conveniently, telling you this will bring me on to the second surprise. The Purple Turtle bribes people to cross its threshold with an offer of free wi-fi access and I left my hotel room with my laptop on me specifically in search of such a nugget of good service (gold nugget, not chicken nugget, for your Major does not eat meat or fish for karmic reasons). So here I am. Blogging. In a pub. At the beginning of a Saturday evening. And that is the second surprise.

This is not without explanation. Mrs. Gripe is safely tucked away in a lecture room learning things about using needles on sick people. She is learning acupuncture (not tattoo art, another legitimate interpretation of my description). So I am awaiting the culimnation of her day's learning, and there is only so much a fella (oops, I mean chap - I hope this location is not contagious) can read about Blue Ocean Strategy and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detection Agency before his brain is full and he must download some thoughts to make room for the next pages of both.

My thought is now ready to be downloaded, but before I do, let me pay tribute to the above-mentioned works of art. Dirk Gently is a work of art on its own and also by virtue of coming from the pen of the emeritus Douglas Adams who for me ranks among the greats of authory. Blue Ocean Strategy, although less amusing, is also a gripping book for anyone who wants to know 'How to Create Uncontested Maret Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant'. That is at the core of the Major's employ nnow that he no longer fights wars against mayors on a daily basis.

Anyway, I promised to download a thought - so if you are still reading this, here it is. In photographic form.

This is the rebuild of the Stock Exchange building, as taken through the glass roof of the Major's new daytime barracks. What you can see through the glass, the vaguely swan-like shape, is a full size digger being crane-lifted onto the roof of the building, some 20 (at a guess) floors up.

I will be the first to admit that I am not a professional builder and am not the best qualified to decide how to build a skyscraper, but I like to thing that I have a grasp of the basic rules of the planet that we inhabit. That grasp of those rules, basic or not, tells me that there is unlikely to be much to dig at a height of 20 storeys. And moreover, how can one reconcile the mandatory Health & Safety risk assessment with the need to put chains around a large digger and lift it 20 storeys above a busy road? Answers please, in the comment field. If any answers are possible.

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