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.
‘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?’
‘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…’