Monday 17 April 2017

My Son the Engineer

I was down in Tramore over Easter with Pat the salt and three subsequent generations.  Only a few years ago, Good Friday was strictly for contemplation and reflection. The church was open so that the faithful could attend to the Stations of the Cross following Jesus up the road to Calvary. Everything else was emphatically closed, so you had a choice: go to church or stop at home.  This year may be the last in which Good Friday is a black day w.r.t. the purchase of alcohol but you buy anything and everything else. And of course, Saturday is fully open for business, in case you don't have enough Easter eggs, or sufficient food for one of the great blow-out feasts of the Irish calendar: dinner on Easter Sunday.
Someone nipped up to Cahill's on the corner of Market and Main for a bit of retail therapy d'amuser les enfants.  I was presented with a flat-pack wooden puzzle of HMS Prince of Wales[L Amazon - Ebay] and told that I could use this vehicle to bond with my 5 y.o. grand-daughter. It consisted of 6 sheets of plywood 37 x 23 cm with 190 pieces ready to punch out and slot together to make a 3D model of the WWII battleship.  I guess not all engineers build dams and bridges; some spend a life time stress-testing lego bricks or designing wooden models. I am not at my best with intricate things requiring attention to detail; especially not when under time-pressure. Whatever is the opposite of A Good Pair of Hands, that is me. What started as a barely audible grumbling as I inserted two key early structural pieces upside down and had to lever them out again, grew in a crescendo of cursing as the pieces wouldn't fit together but were getting rained out of the template for G.dau.  "Not so fast, darling, we don't want to lose any bits" mutter mutter. Eventually the little one's auntie, Dau.I, had to take me aside and tell me that sort of language was wholly inappropriate in front of a five y.o. - who is only trying to help.  Here is a more technically competent youtube father knocking-up his model with 'help' from a similarly aged tot. The model is extra-ordinarily well-engineered but no perfectly and including a 4 x 4 cm square of sandpaper "to smooth the rough edges" really does not answer. I note that Competent Dad in the video has a pair of sharp-nosed clippers in his work-space which are really the only way to make some of the tenons fit their mortice.

I knew I'd never have the patience or interest to complete the model and thought that the best gambit would be to play for time until Gdau.I was taken home by her parents after the holidays: . . . oh look! is that the time, I have an important meeting in the pub . . . I really must wash the car again . . . Pat needs to go for another walk. But, like the cavalry, The Boy aka My-Son-the-Engineer took charge and took apart my last two 'contributions', sharpened one of the kitchen knives and sawed away until the relevant parts sat neatly in the correct place.  Competent Dad says it takes 2 hours to complete. That information is nowhere to be found on the (commendably minimalist) packaging or instructions; because there would be no sales of the product in this modern age. No normal 21stC person is going to have sufficient attention span.

The Beloved and I went to a funeral during Easter week and during a gap between two events in the ritual / protocol we went a short way off site to find a hotel to sit out the wait.  It was evening, the lounge/bar of the hotel had a smattering of customers including two, almost cliché, nuclear families of successful parents and 3 small children. The children, being of the age that's in it, had their faces bathed in the blue glow of their separate 'devices' and the parents looked wrecked. A perky waitron came to take an order for drinks before dinner and, because three childer were present, put three sheets of outline pictures and box of coloured crayons on the table. That was quaintly retro by about 20 years; I don't think that colouring pictures is going to cut much mustard if the young chaps can alternatively steer Lara Croft [R with rack and pistols] through a labyrinth wasting the Black Hats. Pity that the boys will turn out myopic: those computers - all good fun till someone loses an eye.

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