Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Thermodynamics, it's the law!

Today's story isn't about me... It's about my dear old Dad - If anything, I like to think it goes to prove that whatever I have wrong with me, I probably got from him.

He's a young 84 year old - He's done a huge number of jobs in his long and happy life, from being in the RAF to working as an electrician on the railways and is blessed with a permanently sunny disposition (apart from the times when he's opinionated, rude and kranky)

This particular tale takes place in the (I think) 1960's and shows the healthy disregard for Health and Safety that made this country great.


It was summer, and hot. Hot enought that you could forget the whole frying eggs on the pavement scenario, and jump straight to the 'nylon trousers melting to your body and your conkers exploding' kind of deal.

At the time, my dear old Dad worked for British Oxygen (BOC), a company that makes and bottles all sorts of interesting gasses for industrial and medical uses. As the company name suggests, one of their biggest sellers was oxygen, liquid oxygen. This was stored in large, white tanks, you might have seen one - They're characterised by the fact that the pipes around their base tend to have a thick layer of frost on them.

One lunchtime, he and his cronies decided to go out into the yard to eat their 'snap' as was the colloquial word for a packed lunch at the time. Finding the sun to be a little warm and direct for their tender, British hides, they found respite in the shade of the big liquid oxygen tank. Halfway through their lunch, one of his friends spotted a pigeon, who had obviously landed on one of the pipes and had frozen, quite solid.

My father, who still has a love of physical humour, went and found some welding gloves and broke the bird free (unfortunately leaving its feet behind) and proceeded to marvel at this wonder of accidental science, it's perfect preservation, how peaceful it looked etc. One of his gang thought that a game of football would be the order of the day until it was pointed out that this might be, in some way, disrespectful.

At that very moment, a young and pretty secretary came around the corner and started to walk across the yard. Thinking on his feet, he grabbed the bird from the aspiring Bobby Moore and cradled it in his hands.

'Awww,' He said, 'Did the little birdie fly into the big nasty tank?'

As he said this, three things happened; He stroked the bird gently, as if it were the most precious thing in the world, his friends looked at him as if he had just had a debilitating brain aneurysm, and the secretary's interest was piqued. She started to walk over, all high heels, miniskirt and bouffanted hair and said,

'What's that?'

'It's a pigeon, we think he flew into the tank and knocked himself out... Didn't you little man?'

'Awwww.' Said the girl, leaning closer.

'In fact, we've been looking after him for a while, he's about ready to be released.'

'Really? can I watch?'

'Of course, Off you go little chap, be safe!'

With that, my Dad pitched the frozed pigeon up into the air, whereupon it arced about fifteen feet then crashed down onto the concrete yard and shattered into a million shards.

It's said, that on warm nights, if you're walking past the old BOC works in Derby... You can still hear her screaming.

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