Wednesday, 29 September 2010

In days of old ...

... when knights were bold
and women hadn't been invented
knights drilled holes
in telegraph poles
and had to be contented.

I was reminded of that ditty when I had to make a hole in a telegraph pole today. Not for any improper purpose, I hasten to add - that would have been impractical anyway given the hole was about 4 metres above ground. No, it was to install something I learnt the Portuguese word for today as well: roldanha - one of these:-

This reminds me of the round on Ask the Family where they had to identify a familiar household object photographed from an unusual angle. For non-British readers, AtF was a long running 70s BBC quiz, each show being a contest between two families of mum, dad and two teenage children who were usually spotty, precocious and highly unattractive - a bit like a Labour leadership election really.

AtF was hosted by Robert "Wrapover" Robinson who holds a record for having hosted three game shows all of which lasted for longer than 15 years. The other two were Call My Bluff and Brain of Britain. The latter, a radio show known as "the perennial general knowledge quiz", is still running and I was very sorry to hear in August that RR had announced he will not be returning to host it. At least the new host, Russell Davies, maintains the RR tradition, unlike Peter Snow, of addressing the contestants by their surnames ("Mr King"). We need more of that sort of thing nowadays, not less, especially since Wimbledon gave it up ("Game, set and match Miss King").

I can vividly recall listening to BoB while beating up Loch Dunvegan (Skye) in a yacht after a testing passage across the Minch from Harris (as in tweed) in inclement weather in the early 80s when RR introduced it by saying "Hello! Hello! And welcome to the sunnied uplands of the cerebellum ..." Timing of going about (you have to be a nautical cove to know what that means) was dictated by the gaps between rounds rather than the usual meteorological or navigational considerations.

I went off on one there - where was I?

Oh yes, roldanhas, and what are they? Well the difference from Ask the Family is at least they knew the word for the familiar household object photographed from an unusual angle once they'd identified it, e.g.  potato peeler or tin opener or mum's vibr ... but with my thing in the photo I didn't even know the English word for it, never mind the Portuguese.

What it is, is a pulley at one end of our clothes line. All clothes lines on Flores are on pulleys so that, once you've hung the clothes up, you can haul them out to an appropriately sunny and draughty elevated spot of the garden to dry. It's remarkable how many British people have remarked to us what a good idea this is and how they're going to install one when they get home. And all such pulleys make a croaking sound such that, when I first lived here, I thought it was the call of some exotic wildfowl - a cross between a corncrake and a barnacle goose, perhaps.

Anyway, the far end of our clothes line is a pulley screwed in to a telegraph pole high up and it was obviously broken because it was making a sound more like an extra in Jurassic Park and Carol was getting a sore shoulder pulling it. The problem was how do I describe the object in question - which I don't even know the English word for - to senhor in Movipesca, the best hardware store in the WORLD which just happens to be in Santa Cruz das Flores?

I hit on the idea of taking a photo of it so I could show it to Sr. MP on the back of my camera: the conversation went like this:-

NK (brandishing camera) - Queria um - oh shit, I've accidentally cleared the camera
Sr. MP - ?
NK - OK, Ta bem, queria uma coisa, cuja nao sei a palavra portuguesa certa - nao sei a palavra inglesa, ha hah! - mas e uma roda com um parafuso para colocar num ... arvore telefonica (???) ... para pendar uma corda de roupa     
Well the penny must have dropped with Sr. MP (Marisa knows who I mean - he always means business when he's got his shorts on) because he said Nao diga mais (say no more) and within seconds he was back with a roldanha

And to add to my delight, the item in question was a mere 2,06€ - that's my kind of roldanha. Here it is installed (top) next to its predecessor in office just below and an even earlier one about a foot (30cm) further below:-

I wonder what, millenia from now, archaeologists will make of this hierarchy? That roldanhas had to be mounted progressively higher up arvores telefonicas as the waters rose due to climate change? I wonder if they'll guess the simple truth: "Nelly, go and put it a bit higher up so it's in the sun for longer ..."


Marisa said...

ehehhehe, that's roldana, not "nha". I have one of those in Fajã-Grande, it used to be attached to the Espírito Santo Flag post,in Casa de Cima, but it was not nice, then we place it in a tube just for the purpose.

Marisa said...

Roldana: Sheave, roller, pulley, trolley wheel.....
Choose one of them.

Kathie said...

Marisa, I'd say roldana = "pulley" in English.

I like to think of a clothesline as a solar dryer :-)

Dan Maskell said...

Oh I say, Miss Moffat or Mrs King please.

Kathie said...

Coincidentally, National Public Radio had a story this morning about the impending demise of the residential White Pages (being replaced increasing by Internet listings), going the way of rotary-dial phones and telephone booths. In relevant part:
= = = = = = = = = =

"The White Pages, Where Anybody Could Be Somebody":

...Take, for instance, Steve Martin's character in the 1979 film "The Jerk." For him, getting listed in the White Pages promised a rise to fortune and fame.

In one famous scene, Martin's character interrupts his work at a gas station to yell with excitement, "The new phone book's here! The new phone book's here!"

His boss at the gas station, played by Jackie Mason, is dubious. "I wish I could get that excited about nothing," he says.

"Nothing?! Are you kidding?" Martin yells as he flips through the pages of listings. "Page 73. Johnson, Navin R. I'm somebody now!"

...After all, as Steve Martin's character says: "Millions of people look at this book every day. This is the kind of spontaneous publicity -- your name in print -- that makes people!"

Kathie said...

Are you battening down the hatches as Hurricane Otto approaches? Isn't it pretty rare for a storm to head NE from the Caribbean this way?