Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fantastic Invention No. 15 - The Lawnmower

It turns out that Weird Bloke was not actually dead which was lucky for him. He had to go to hospital with a traumatic head injury and would most likely never be the same again which was also lucky. Peter the Viking turned out to be the Museum child handler and not a Viking at all. He went out of his tree about the centurion wig mix up and threatened us from ever going back to his museum again. We all cheered. So, things were not a total failure AND we did not have to finish the worksheets.

To soothe myself I am showing you one of the greatest unknown inventors, Edwin Beard Budding and his fantastic invention, the lawnmower. Be amazed.

Edwin Beard Budding (1745 – 1846) lived in Stroud in Gloucestershire. He was an engineer and got the idea for a lawnmower from seeing a cloth trimming machine in the local mill. Maybe he had a terrible grass cutting trauma when he was a child; perhaps he was forced into grass-cutting labour at a very young age. Whatever the reason he looked at some blades set in a cylinder in a factory and it made him somehow ponder about their grass-cutting possibilities and then the lawnmower was born. He said, "country gentlemen may find in using my machine themselves an amusing, useful and healthy exercise." Dad does not find the lawnmower amusing at all and actually has alot of arguments with it. I tell him he does not appreciate what it was like before.

In 1830, Edwin Beard Budding invented the lawnmower. It is almost impossible to understand how long it took to cut the grass before that date. If you had a big house, you had an army of gardeners with scythes to keep your lawns trim; that or you brought in a flock of hungry sheep to do the job. The sheep could be a problem if you wanted to sunbath or go out for a romantic stroll or play a game of lawn tennis – they and their poo just got in the way. If you lived in a small house then you might not even bother with grass; being outside for fun was only for the people in big houses. If you did not want to starve, you would probably fill your garden with vegetables because grass was not going to fill you up.

Lawnmower world will tell you all you want to know about other sorts of lawnmowers. In the meantime here is a picture of a man with a beard using an actual Budding lawnmower. Look how happy he is. We are going on holiday to Stroud very soon and Grandpa Jack will be left in charge of the house and the stick insects. Hmmm.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Who Has Been Interfering With The Roman Centurion?

Saint Benedict was the saint of nettle rash. Not the sort of saint I want to be.

We are in the blue bit of The Museum and this is the Vikings. Weird Bloke is rushing which is weird because we cannot fill out our delightful worksheets properly. So, for example, one of the questions is:

If you were a Viking what name would you call yourself?
Draw a picture of you as a Viking plus your house and a diary for the past 5 ye
ars (include your favourite food and pastimes!)

Miranda is all set to spend the rest of the day on thinking about her name alone. When Weird Bloke shouts at her, she comes up with, Jade. Dexter and Me call ourselves, 'Peter' and Isambard puts down Sven because that is his brother's name.
'Excellent!' screeches WB and tangles up his legs as he scrabbles to his feet.
We LOOK at each other.
'I'll just put this worksheet in the bin...' says Isambard and he sidles over to a Viking cauldron.
'Yes! Yes! Very good!' says WB and now he is getting his big hanky out and mopping actually underneath his wig. 'Bit hot in here.'
Then Dexter spots something interesting. 'Battle axes! Clubs! Look at this!' He touches the pointy end of a sword which is completely forbidden by law and WB screams.
'My head!' he cries. 'It's on fire!'
It is defintely scarlet and it is now covered in bumps.
'Poison ivy,' says Isambard.
'Course not!' says Miranda. 'That is not a native species!' Her Dad is a world famous insect man and she thinks she is an expert on anything to do with nature and everything else in the world.
'Could be nettles,' I say. 'You need to spit on some dandelion leaves and rub it over you.'
'Get it off me!' he cries.
He is wrestling with the shoelace round his head. The wig is now half round his face like a mad beard. He runs and wrestles his way through the red bit which is the victorians. This is a shame because of all the fantastic inventions but now we are absolutely flying through history.

By the time we run into the Romans (yellow), Mr Trundle's head is scarlet all over.
'I love the Romans!' says Miranda. She smooths out her worksheet.
'HELP!' squeaks WB.
This calls for action. I grab at a Roman centurion, find the short dagger and charge at WB's shoelace. 'Hold him down!'
'You've got a gladius,' says Miranda, lying across WB's legs and ticking a little box on the worksheet. The others then jump on top of Mr Trundle and I saw through the shoelace and rip off the wig. The underneath is plastered with nettles. '
'Just as I thought - see!' I thrust the wig at Miranda.
'Humph!' She throws it away. It lands on the centurion' s helmet. 'A galea,' she murmurs. Tick.
'He's not moving,' says Dexter, climbing off his head. 'He's not breathing much either.'
'Just sleeping, I expect,' I say. 'He has been quite busy.'
'Could be dead,' suggests Isambard. He prods him quite hard with a nearby roman sandal. ('Caligae.' Tick.) 'He is dead.'
'Get his wig back on, then no-one will know anything,' says Dexter in a mysterious kind of way. He jumps up and pulls at the centurion's helmet. The helmet comes off together with WB's wig and another blonde wig belonging to the centurion. Dexter places the blonde wig on WB's head. 'There, much better.'
'You killed him,' says Miranda, pointing at me. 'I'm telling.'
'Then we'll have to kill you as well!' I jump up, dagger at the ready.
She glances at the information board next to the centurion. 'I'll just take that scutum and your pilum!' she says, grabbing a shield and a spear.
Dexter and Isambard crouch down. 'Wilf! Wilf! Wilf!' they yell.
Mirnanda and me circle the dead body of Mr Trundle. I snarl. Then Peter the viking appears.
'Oops,' I say.
'Wasn't me,' says Miranda.
Dexter has legged it. Isambard is studying the insides of a roman kitchen.
Peter strides over to WB stretched out on the roman pavement. He bends down and stares at him. 'Who?' he roars. 'Who has been interfering with the Roman Centurion??!!'
And he plucks the wig from WB's dead head.

Miranda has no chance against ME (see pic)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Greetings Time Travellers!

So, we are late getting to The Museum because Mr Trundle made the coach stop while he hunted down his wig. When he put it back on his head EVERYONE stared because it looked as though the top of his head had exploded. Mr Trundle just carried on. By the time the coach breaks down half a mile from where we should stop, Mr Trundle has used his shoelace to strap his wig down. He is a mad genius.

Inside the museum, a tall man called Peter dressed in Viking uniform, says,
'Greetings, time travellers! You're late. We need to catch up with our schedule, so gather ye round!'
He makes a list of instructions which mostly involve not touching anything and not eating near the exhibits or eating the exhibits and not straying from our group leaders.
'Here are your worksheets. Enjoy!' he says to finish.
I look at Dexter and he sticks a finger in his mouth and gags. Unfortunately, Mr Trundle hears him.
'You're not going to be sick as well are you?!?' he asks in a voice which races towards the end of the sentence. 'Sick? Sick? I'll open a window!' I think he is traumatised.
'NO!' shouts Dexter. He rolls his eyes at me. 'I hope we don't get him as our group leader.'
'He is our group leader already,' I tell Dexter. 'That is why he started talking about fishing to you.'
Dexter's eyes go big with horror. 'Now I AM going to be sick.'

Isambard, Dexter, Miranda and Me trundle round after Mr Trundle. He has colour coded our way round the Romans, Vikings and Victorians but in the wrong order. I cannot hardly think about what happened next because it is not nice. I will write it down for next week. I can tell you that Roman centurians and bad wigs do not mix. In the meantime here is a bit about a possible way of time travelling using black holes. I do not think Peter will have done this.

Time Travelling with Black Holes can be Dodgy

When stars are so absolutely massive they run out of puff and collapse. This implosion creates black holes. They have really strong gravitational fields. It is so strong that nothing can escape. Not even Mr Trundle's wig. Around the black hole is an event horizon. If you even touch it you will be sucked in never to escape. Aghhhhhhhhhhhh!

Here is an ice-cream cone. The top bit is the top of the black hole and the cone goes down to a singularity. Here, everything goes mad. If you travel down this ice cream cone, bad luck, you will be crushed beyond recognition. He-he-he. BUT if you get sucked into a rotating black hole, you can start shouting for joy because you might just come out of the other side in a different time and space. This is what a scientist called, Kerr said. Some people do not believe him but I do. It is fantastic.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Weird Bloke

The nightmare that is the school trip is here. I sit on the back seat next to Dexter, Miranda and a new boy called Isambard. I like Isambard, mainly because he has a worse name than me but also because he is quite keen on Buzz Aldrin and wants to be an astronaut.

Here are the good bit about the bus. Weird Bloke is a helper.
Mrs Trundle, headteacher and part-time assassin is on a course about being nice to children so Weird Bloke is with us instead. He is short and has no lips (quite weird). He speaks in a high pitched rush, like he is trying to get all his words in before being crushed by a giant foot (really weird) and he is married to Mrs Trundle (SHIVER). He is always trying to make you interested in boring stuff like fishing and poems about daffodils. Anyway, he is not often seen outside, because of his head. The fact is, his head is not really attached to his hair nowadays. He thinks that nobody knows this fact but he is wrong.

We are on the motorway. Weird Bloke has turned round to us. He is opening his mouth to talk about fishing to Dexter. Dexter is going all shifty eyes. If he was not sitting on a coach he would be running away. Isambard and Miranda stare out of the windows at the interesting motorway metal barriers. Only I can help. There is one chance.

'I feel sick, Mr Trundle,' I say.
'Sick?' he says, 'sick? Sick?'
I nod. 'Too hot,' I bend over. 'Ugh. Need air.'
'Air?' says Mr Trundle, 'air? Air?' He looks round, maybe for some air.
'Up there, the window in the roof!' I say.
'The roof, of course, the roof, the roof!' He reaches up and pushes at the glass.

It opens in a rush. His wig flies upwards and is sucked outside. It dances about outside the window for a bit and then escapes into the woods.

The Austrian-born wigmaker established the House of Louis Feder, Inc., in 1914, created his famous "Tashay" (he did not like the word, "toupee") and advertised it as "a hurricane-resisting hairpiece that can be combed and brushed, kept on in high winds and when swimming, and worn for weeks without removal."