The guitar and the hole in the ground…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle quotation is from The Musgrave Ritual:
(Watson on Holmes) The rough-and-tumble work in Afghanistan, coming on top of a natural Bohemianism of disposition, has made me rather more lax than benefits a medical man. But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs…
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

A dank afternoon, I was walking through the town centre; as I passed a fenced-off recently dug hole in the road I became aware of a smell issuing from its direction. I was suddenly puzzled; what was that odour? Was it a familiar odour? No, not very familiar, but there was a tantalising hint of it lurking somewhere in my memory…
Perhaps it was just gas? I could see some naked pipes and a clever bulbous plastic junction nestling amongst the brown knobs of disturbed clay and discarded beer cans at the bottom of the pit; yes, it probably was a gaseous emanation, but, there was also a ‘something’ about it which tried to zip me back in time, a long time, perhaps as far as my schooldays or my teenage years. I was pretty sure that I hadn’t smelled that smell for a long time. What could it be?…
Isn’t the sense of smell amazing? How we can detect the faintest whiff of something which triggers and straightaway brings up information and memory in a fraction of a second.
I am currently reading a new science book by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden, Life on the Edge on the relatively new science of Quantum Biology. For me, it is not a particularly easy read, but it’s gripping nevertheless – I do have trouble visualising those bobbing atoms, fussy quivering molecules, and those flighty little electrons buzzing around the place, but I am persevering. The gist of the book is the surprising idea that quantum mechanics, the bizarre rules of tiny tiny things and their crackpot behaviour can have effect in the world of much larger scale things like migrating robins, tadpoles turning into frogs, and people’s noses.
The chapter I’m reading at the moment is dealing with quantum effects going on in the process of sniffing things and getting the info about the thing successfully slotted into the old brain – yes, really! Oh, and by the way, those migrating robins seem to be using quantum physics to detect the earth’s magnetic field as a kind of Sat Nav – and never mind what those tadpoles are getting up to!
I’ll bet by now you are wondering what’s happening about the smelly hole in the ground from my opening paragraph…
Well, as I walked on a few steps, it all came back to me. When I was at school a fellow pupil mentioned that he had an old acoustic guitar that he didn’t need; I didn’t have a guitar, and I desperately wanted one. After a bit of bargaining we decided on some kind of swap; there was nothing of mine that he fancied having, except for the ‘saw’ off a sawfish that an old lady neighbour had given me; her late husband, a seafaring man, had brought it back from ‘foreign parts’. We negotiated a bit more and I finally handed over the ‘saw’ and one-pound-ten-shillings (£1.50) and got the guitar, my first guitar.
The instrument came in a floppy shaped bag with a flap and a button at one end; it was made from a strange light brown synthetic ‘leather’ material. When opened up it emitted a strange, earthy, not too pleasant, but very distinctive smell. Yes, that was the very same smell coming out of that hole in the road…
Well, that’s quantum mechanics for you!…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in books, brain, Dulltown, existentialism, guitars, history, Hull.UK., humour, information, physics, puzzle, reading, science, serendipity, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The guitar and the hole in the ground…

  1. Oh my gosh, I love this! What a great memory for you, haha! It sounds like it smelled a bit “foosty” like the stuff piled at the back of the charity shop up the end of my road. Anyway, smells yes…I do love a good sniff. Freshly mown grass is my favourite, followed by pipe tobacco. Then there is the weird “fried egg” smell I sometimes catch in the air (not a fried egg in sight) – this always reminds me of my grandfather, who hated fried eggs and him and I would go out the back and sit grumbling at my grandmothers attempts at a cooked breakfast! Oh and well done for wading through that book of yours, very high falutin’. I’m not very good with Quantum things – always reminds me of maths, and I loathe maths.

    • Dave Whatt says:

      I can ‘picture’ that guitar bag smell, if you know what I mean – it was a brownish-maroon hollow sort of smell with the hint of an old mouldy book about it – how about that?…
      I love fried eggs, but I don’t eat ’em – threw my frying pan away years ago!
      I can handle low level maths and find it very satisfying when it comes in useful – like laying out an elliptical flower bed for my friends a few weeks ago – great fun!…

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