Off-topic request for opinion from all you literary types

minnow at minnow at
Wed Jan 12 11:26:17 EST 2005

Otter wrote in reply to:

>> Thanks Kathleen! I can't recall ever seeing that before and your
>> description is vivid. It makes me want to experiment.  Also, thanks
>> for further information provided by Roger et al. Where do you get a
>> lump of potassium?
>I hope he was kidding about the potassium.  That's more excitement than
>you want.

He may have been -- *I* wasn't!  The answer is I don't get a lump of
potassium, because I have more sense, but I had a friend who apart from
being a minor god (no, seriously, and not even slightly a joke) and a Fon
(as in Bafut) and a Mad Scientist (he'd have to have been) had for reasons
I never fully established taken a large lump of potassium to Oxford with
him, discovered that the person it was intended for didn't want it, and
returned towards his home via the A34 on a Sunday morning.  On the way he
pulled off at (probably) the village of East Ilsley (or perhaps some other
innocent and hapless hamlet: he seemed a little unclear, but that's where
we worked out it probably was) for a break and a pee, saw the duckpond, and
on impulse decided to test what would happen if....[1]

I can't tell it the way he did, but his account was roughly that the
procedure is to chuck the potassium, including the oil in which it is
stored. at the pond from a distance with a good strong overarm swing, and
back away sharpish.  Then you wait for about a second wondering whether
anything is going to happen, after which everything happens at once.  The
potassium hovers for a short moment, burns its way through the cushion of
gas it is resting on and hits the water.  There is a loud bang, all the
ducks are agitated, the potassium breaks into two bits, and almost at once
there are two loud bangs, the ducks leave the pond en masse, the potassium
bits hover briefly, there are several loud bangs, and the first local
arrives cautiously looking for the army that is evidently engaged in some
sort of outbreak of hostilities near the pond.  Shortly thereafter the Mad
Scientist is politely and firmly requested to leave and never come back,
the threat of law is invoked, and he departs in his car accompanied by the
sound of more bangs than is reasonable: though they are progressively less
loud, there are more of them all the time.

ObDWJ, she was living West Ilsley at the time, just up the road, and says
she never heard about this, but since the East Ilsleyites are all mad
anyway nobody would have paid any attention or given any credit to a story
like that if they *had* told anyone.  On the other hand Don may have been
covering his tracks and hoping whichever village it had been would never
find out who he was.

>To get the water effect, you only need a frying pan.  Let it heat up on
>a burner.  To find out if it's hot enough, just flick a few drops of water
>into it.

Do not do this using the omelette pan: water should never be allowed in an
omelette pan.

[1] It was inevitable, really, given Don, a duckpond and a lump of
potassium.  His method for lighting a twenty-foot tall celebratory bonfire
involved climbing a ladder and dousing it in several gallons of petrol from
the top, laying a long and winding petrol fuse, clearing women, children
and those of a nervous disposition to a safe distance (unspecified) and
then lighting the end of the fuse and running away.  He claimed that the
fuse *sang* along the ground as it ignited, and that when the flame reached
the stack of wood and other combustible materiel, it went up in one
glorious *whoooompf*, and there were then a large number of small bonfires
all over the compound.

You don't want to think about his methods for felling trees.  He was
undoubtedly a Great Man, but he did like things to go *BANG* occasionally.
Well, as often as possible, really.

Dangerous Maniac was an exaggeration, though.  Only his children generally
called him that.


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