Monday, 5 December 2016

Carry on bell-ringing

You might have to work a bit at that one.... Try saying it with a French accent. :-)

But they're not (carrying on). The knell has been rung (!) for Whitechapel Foundry, which cast both Big Ben and the Liberty Bell.
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, based in London's Whitechapel, has long been the international centre for bespoke bells but the family run business has announced it is now set to close due to the "changing realities" of running a niche business. 
said the Daily Telegraph on Saturday not unbreathlessly. (What's wrong with a comma after the but? Apart from making the whole horrid sentence more readable it would make the absence of a hyphen from family-run less likely to derail the reader.)

The number of significant bells they have cast...
I expect (yep) foundry is related to font (as in typeface) – the  format           
 gives it away. The word font is yet another  example of  metaphor surviving long after the technology they're based on is obsolete. (I keep finding examples: here is a list (by no means exhaustive) that just deals with the technology of warfare.) In the days of hot-metal typesetting, a font actually involved molten metal. Microsoft and Apple's use of font is as metaphorical as their use of window.

* The dental stops in English are /t/ and /d/. They are both articulated with the tip of the tongue in the same place. The chief other difference (not the only one) is in the voicing.
... suggests that bell-foundries  aren't thick on the ground.  And this suggests that the Jenga tower of bell foundries is starting to wobble. So maybe a post-Brexit UK can say goodbye to church bells and start importing carillons....(?)

Will We Ever Learn?

The other day the lady at the Post Office offered me one of the new fivers, and said defensively "Are you OK with that?" The problem was animal fat.
This took me back to an O-level history  class that dealt with the Sepoy Mutiny: Mr Crosby told his class ...
(it was a history class and we were boys, but you can forget The History Boys: he dictated and we wrote.
... that the mutiny was caused by the use of tallow in the manufacture of a new rifle cartridge. More recent scholarship suggests that this was never proved, but anyway the rumour was enough to prevent your average Hindu soldier from tearing off the top of the cartridge with his teeth.
More than a century later, the makers of the new fiver have made the same mistake, introducing new technology and not thinking about the implications of using animal fat in its manufacture. I wonder how much this will cost to put right; one of the main new features of this note was its long life in comparison with the old ones – a feature that won't be of any value if the bulk of the new notes have to be recalled and destroyed.

Updated: 2016.12.06.14:45 – Added digression in red.

Updated: 2016.12.20.16:25 – Typo fix in bold. I've no idea why examples became exams; it's a while since I thought of exams. Apologies to anyone who feared for my sanity. :-)

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