‘A’ lies anywhere on the minor axis…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s dictionary words are: cockatrice, orogenesis, spane, lazar, prepollence, and zounds. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. The professor will conduct the lesson from inside a large cardboard box using handwritten notes poked out through a slot in the side. You should not allow this to distract you from your studies.

I wonder who W. N. Shaw was? He was of course the compiler of the features published in The 1954 Gadgets Annual, that old junk shop book of mine that I mention on these pages from time to time, but I wonder what else he did. Perhaps I’ll Google him… Oh, dear, poor W N, there’s nothing immediately popping up, he must be in there somewhere though, still we appreciate his good work, don’t we dear reader?

Yes, the Gadgets Magazine, from the days when people developed practical skills and repaired broken items rather than chucking them out as we do today – and they devised tools and labour saving gadgets for use around the home, workshop and garden.
Let’s have a quick thumb through these yellowing pages to get a feel for the content: A Precaution When Cutting Wire; A Handy String Dispenser; A Practical and Inexpensive Underlay For Carpets and Rugs; Imitation Oxidized Screws; A Gadget to Avoid Losing Gloves; etc.

‘Yes, dear?’
‘I’m a little bit confused…’
‘What about Albert?’
‘It’s this business of marking out OA and OB…’
‘OA and OB dear?’
‘Yes Madge, and what are major and minor axes? We’ve only got one axe and that’s in the shed, I don’t see what…’
‘Albert, is this that silly magazine of yours?’
‘It’s not silly, it’s very erudite dear and full of…’
‘Erudite eh? And that’s the plural of ‘axis’! Are you considering laying out an ellipse for some reason?’
‘Yes dear.’
‘Well just for…’
‘The fun of it?’
‘Well, yes… it’s a really elegant and pleasing shape, isn’t it?’
‘Let me have a look. Oh, yes, that’s a novel way of doing it I suppose – when I was at school we did it with two drawing pins and a loop of string.’
‘You did ellipses, at school, Madge?’
‘Of course, didn’t you Albert?’
‘Er, I can’t recall… So you used drawing pins and string, that sounds a lot more fun than marking off OB and OA…’
‘Yes, it is, and it’s a very satisfying thing to do, none of that ‘joining up the pencil dots’ nonsense. Albert, I want you to come upstairs with me for twenty minutes, and after that I’ll show you how to draw some very nice ellipses.’
‘Oh, alright Madge… Will I need my pencil?’
‘Yes, you will…’

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...
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4 Responses to ‘A’ lies anywhere on the minor axis…

  1. Sharon Mann says:

    I’m going with Madges method, too. And. I could use the gadget to avoid losing gloves, haha.

  2. Dana Doran says:

    Oh! Well, Google has its moments where it will point you in the right direction and other times it just misdirects! Google, or ABC, would have us all believe that the only physicists (after the death of Stephen Hawking) are Sheldon and Leonard https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20GROsqWWoI
    Mr. Shaw was the author of a Cambridge publication, Air Currents and the Laws of Ventilation! hoho…I’d say he was an expert in “hot air!” and, we could all use a lesson in how hot air circulates….(tee hee).

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Oh, nice clip!…
      I recall a while back Googling W N Shaw and pretty quickly finding some stuff about him, the real one that is, but all that seems to have evaporated away…
      I expect he was a spy, one of those moles in MI6… or was it MI5?…

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