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» Narrow Escapes

Nearly Shafted Down A Gold Mine
As a young fresh faced lad just out of school with a thirst for a bit of adventure and a year off before going to university, my old man packed me off to Zimbabwe to work on a few Gold Mines & Cattle Ranches (yeah none of that trustifarian interailing bollocks for me). Anyway I was enlisted into the Underground Surveying & Safety team, which involves running around with a clipboard, theodolite, measuring tape, crowbar and hard hat!

Going down a working mine is hard & dangerous work, digging out the gold ore is done with lots of jack hammers, explosives, high pressure water (that will cut your arm off if it bursts) and did I say litterally millions of tonnes of rock ready to fall on your head at no warning. This particular one was very proud of its 365 day record of zero fatalities Its 100% humidity and +30C and at a mile or so underground you'll find the toughest guys who work hard, but do it with the best and blackest of humour.

As part of the safety team our first job after a blasting, was to make sure that the working areas where clear of loose and hanging rock. Normally clearing up after a blast was a simple business of checking that the blast was successful and tapping the odd loose bit of rock off the walls and roof, But this particular cavern we where working was pretty big, imagine a space about the size of a DIY Warehouse store on tilted on its end to around 70degrees, because it had a particularly dangerous slope you got a lot of rock hanging over head and if it was loose there was nothing to stop it falling a few hundred feet and squashing anything that came in its path.

Anyway on this day a bit of hanging rock about the size of a bus stuck to the roof and probably weighing in at 50 tonnes, which needed to be cleared, but we weren't going to be able to do it with a crowbar, no what we needed was dynamite!

Kids! Safety warning these are not fireworks, this is some serious shit high explosive, when dad says stand back he means stand back. Anyway I digress, back to the hanging rock story.

The best way to get the rock down is to pop a couple of sticks of dyna-gell under it and the detonation will act as a bit of a clap to loosen the rock off and hopefully gravity will take its course. So off I go with a couple of sticks in my pocket and a trail of blasting cord, I position the sticks in a appropriate position insert the detonation cord and retreat back to the safe position, following all the whistles and making sure everyone is clear we lit the fuse and waited.

Bang! And then nothing.... bugger that didn't shift it, we wait a few minutes to let the dust clear and let the fumes subside and go and check on our handywork, and the bitching rock is still stuck firmly to the roof. Albeit with a nice crack in it now, so we insert a few more sticks of dyna-gel and another for good measure and repeat the process.

Bigger Bang!!! And then nothing... pissflaps this is a stubborn bitch of a rock, we return to the scene and our efforts have not even dented it so this time its all the dyna-gel and blasting cord we can get our hands on positioned in every nook and cranny, this rock is toast! We get ready to set the fuses and retreat to the safety area when, there is a sudden rumble......

Yup you know the score I'd been laying explosives under 50 tonnes of rock for 15 minutes and it falls down by itself, in true close shave moments I scrambled away just in time to see the whole shitting bastard lot wallop down the cavern & smash a few hundred feet bellow.

Anyway the next day we changed the safety sign to 366 days of accident free days.
(Sat 21st Aug 2010, 16:11, More)

» Dad stories

The birds & the bees
Back in the late 70's & early 80's when I was around 10 / 11 my Dad & I got a hobby for long distance walks & back-packing around the countryside of England. During the term time at boarding school I'd plan out the route (I think these walks where partly educational) and read up beforehand on all the places on the trail, things to see and all the supplies bits of kit etc and turn it into my own boys own adventure.

Off we'd go with our tent, sleeping bags, de-hydrated ration packs, compass and ordinance survey map. We'd walked the Ridgeway (from High Wycombe to Avebury & Stone Henge). But this particular year the plan was to walk the Dorset coastal path from Bournemouth to Lyme Regis. Mum dropped us at the railway station and arrange to pick us up in a few weeks time.

After a rattly railway journey, we tramped our way to the Chain ferry at Poole harbour, for the start of our big adventure. It was a scorchingly hot summers day (the kind you remember from your childhood), families where overheating in the back of Morris Marinas waiting in the traffic queue for the ferry, but being foot passengers we wandered to the front and where soon across at Studland Sands. Perhaps we got the odd look from people, somewhat contemptuous of our boots and back-packs, or just the sight of a middle aged man & young lad walking slap bang through BRITAIN'S BIGGEST NUDEST BEACH!

Now in my research of the route this particular piece of information must have been redacted from the encyclopaedias available from the Library, so it was a bit of an eye opener, but for my Dad it must have been worse as his stride obviously quickened as we walked down the beach with happy naked people popping out from behind the dunes like some episode of meerkat manor and the odd couple heavy petting (and then some).

Dad imagining that he was going to be arrested at any second for corruption of a minor (or worse), thought that it was time to fast track some information to his son (& being the practical person he was) took it on himself to explain the birds & the bees to me. Perhaps the impromptu demonstration and examples where a little more than you'd get at school, but I learned something that day.
(Sun 28th Nov 2010, 13:23, More)

» Lego

Super Massive Lego Video
As you might know I made a stop motion video for my musical alter ego the Rodeo Terrorists, a few thousand pictures and some sore fingers later and Super Massive Robot Dancer was done
(Thu 24th Oct 2013, 20:47, More)

» Shit Claims to Fame II

Ginger Loan
Whilst at college in the 1990's I was refused entry to a fine Edinburgh establishment (the Basement Bar, Broughton Street) for looking to young (despite being in my mid 20's). Taking enormous umbrage at this slight to my personal ego (and not the fact that I was English and probably further off my face than Spud boy) I faxed a letter to the DJ darling of Radio 1 Chris Evans, requesting a 'Ginger Loan' of 74 pence to purchace a false beard to guarantee entry to this particular watering hole at a later date.

Predictably, it was a slow news day on the Radio 1 breakfast Show and my letter was read out and a cheque for the aforementioned sum was dispatched to me. Unfortunately I was sleeping off a hangover (a tradition I have sporadically continued to this day) so missed my 15 seconds of radio celebrity.
(Fri 21st Sep 2012, 11:20, More)

» Redundant technology

Oh shite - she aint going to be happy!
Ok so whilst I was blatthering on about the love of Casio VL-tones and old 386 pc's, my B&O 3400 quadraphonic deck it looking at me with daggers! And fuck me does she have a point, there is nothing like the audio resolution of a well cut vinyl record... iTunes has nothing
(Sat 6th Nov 2010, 23:13, More)
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