Wednesday 6 September 2023

I know why the caged bulb shines

Light bulbs are a miracle but we sure treat them peculiar. We spend money to buy them (and more money to run them) but then decide that they are toooo bright and need to be dulled down with some sort of covering. It's like having pink polka-dotted knickers under your grey office trousers. Years ago, in one of my gap years, I made a number of cubical Mondrian lamp-shades by gluing A3 paper to 5x5mm balsa wood battens and collaging on primary-colour paper rectangles and lines of black cartridge paper. They cost me nothing but time and were effective at muting the incandescent light within. Not many people would do that because they believe that their time is money and they'd rather have their lampshades assembled by an unfortunate $2-a-day grunt in Bangladesh. And believe me, that shade will cost more than $2 - think Nike trainers.

Did I mention that I was in England last week assembling flat-pack furniture? I did. You can usually expect sparkies to put up the lamp-shade if a) it is available b) they are installing a new light fitting. The lamp between the stairs and the front door [see L] had limited space above the door and so the ch√Ętelaine ordered a classy bamboo open-work shade on line. The Sparkie opened the box in good faith and dumped a clatter of 36 bamboo micro-battens on the floor.  The electrics were duly installed but clearly making a 3-D wooden jigsaw was a bridge too far and/or infringed the bailliwick of the United Brotherhood of Puzzlers - the relevant trade union.

It therefore fell to Bob the Blackleg to out-sweatshop the Bengalis by emptying the packing box [again], ponder the wordless instructions a while and then set-to connecting two wooden discs with the 36 bendy bamboo struts. It was a nice example of a Javi Problem: a daunting task that yields in surprisingly short order if you just make a start. Full disclosure: there was another, similar, puzzle-shade to be assembled and installed at the top of the stairs. The second task was much easier because I was in the zone.

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