Peter Rhodes: A new invention?
Water weights, a wartime legend and the mystery of why ghosts wear clothes.
A TEAM at Nottingham Trent University has invented a replacement for those huge, stabilising chunks of concrete inside washing machines. Their brainchild is a plastic container which is empty during delivery - allegedly saving huge amounts of diesel - and then filled with water to create the necessary weight. One student asks, why has no-one thought of this before? Ah, but someone has. Look under any pub-garden umbrella and you'll find the pole fits into a water-ballasted plastic container. As the saying goes, there is nothing new under the sun.
THE reason why water-filled weights have not found their way into washing machines is possibly that, while concrete will cope with years of vibration, a plastic water container will shake to pieces and flood your kitchen in no time.
BY pure chance, on the day it was announced that a 1940s Mosquito bomber may be built from long-lost plans, I happened to be reading an essay about Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels going off in a huff after a Mosquito raid on Berlin. It was March 13, 1945 and a Mozzie had swept low over the city and lobbed a bomb straight into Goebbels' cherished propaganda ministry. "The whole lovely building" had been destroyed, he lamented, adding: "What trouble we have taken to reconstruct the theatre hall, the throne-room and the Blue Gallery in the old style!"
THERE is something deeply obscene about Goebbels, the architect of the Holocaust and a man with the blood of millions on his hands, getting all sentimental about frescos and furniture being wrecked by those beastly RAF chaps. I'm not sure how important it is to get a Mosquito flying again but we must certainly preserve snippets of history like this, if only to be reminded of the reality of pure evil.
IF you're interested, the charity behind rebuilding the wartime legend is The People's Mosquito www.peoplesmosquito.org.uk
I SUGGESTED a few days ago that the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower inferno would become hopelessly complicated and drawn-out as more and more people become defined as victims. Sure enough, the latest estimate of victim numbers by mental-health experts in the area runs into thousands, including in their words: "the families in the tower, families that lost people in the tower, families who witnessed what happened, people driving past . . . who see the tower and might have to explain to their children why it looks the way it does," and so on. Somebody's got to get a grip. We donated money to the Grenfell Tower appeals to help those who had survived the inferno or lost relatives, not for people who occasionally drive by and get a bit weepy.
A READER was struck by the report of a tourist just back from Rome whose holiday snaps include what looks like the ghost of a girl in a white smock in the Vatican. Why, he asks, are ghosts always fully dressed? Even if one believes that the human form can somehow survive death, by what possible mechanism can clothes come back after their owner has died? Or as he puts it: "Do my shirt and jeans have a soul?" This column does not dodge the big questions.