Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday 5 June 2009

Anorak time

I like to think I'm grown-up and matter-of-fact when it comes to machinery, especially the small stuff, gadgets and the like: it comes from strange bits and pieces my father used to bring home, like the thing that rolled cigarettes, a sort of miniature reverse-churn device for mixing butter and milk to make cream, and the heavy-duty spike and blade on a handle that clamped on to a table so you could peel apples and potatoes without having to hold them (provided of course they were perfectly smooth and regular in shape).

My mother, on the other hand, swore by (and not too often at) the pressure cooker that looked like a weapon of war, and her heavy old sewing machine; so perhaps it's not so odd that big machines still inspire a certain awe. Which is why it's still a bit of a thrill to be stopped on Tower Bridge while the road swings up to let a ship pass through. It's happened twice this week. The first time I didn't have my camera with me, so I can't show you how tenaciously the abandoned newspapers clung to the railings as the road swung towards the vertical, and the wind made a tissue scramble up. By Thursday, someone had swept the road; but you can see the mad dash of pedestrians who can't wait three or four minutes:

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