Doodles in the margin from an artist living and working in the Scottish Borders.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I Am That Pale Man

Language, as has been noted elsewhere, is often an expression of power. I tend to experience this most often in garages, for example the time when a mechanic showed me my [I forget what] which was rusted into some clump that wasn't recognisably a part of any car. I went 'tch!' nonetheless.

This morning, I was in a bicycle shop and looking for the bit of tube that goes on the back of the bike and through which the cable to the rear derailleur runs. I'd settled on 'cable housing' as I'd read it and it sounded appropriately technical. To raise the ante a little the bloke at the counter before me was a tractor repair man who had previously repaired tractors for the British Antarctic Survey and mine clearing machines in Afghanistan, so they were practically sweeping testosterone-based competence out of the shop with brooms.

So, I told the Man I was looking for rear derailleur cable housing. I even pointed to one. "Just like that," I said.

He said, "index gears?"


I said: " The warriors are cutting timber with brash chainsaws; they are trimming hardwood pit-props and loading them;/Is that an order? they hoot at the peremptory lorry driver, who laughs; he is also a warrior. / They are driving long-nosed tractors, slashing pasture in the dinnertime sun; / they are are fitting tappets and valves, the warriors, or giving finish to a surfboard. / Addressed on the beach by a pale man, they watch waves break and are reserved, refusing pleasantry; / they joke only with fellow warriors, chaffing about try-ons and the police, not slighting women. / Making Timber a word of power, Con-rod a word of power, Sense a word of power, the Regs. a word of power."

He said, "That'll be one fifty."

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