Monday, March 28, 2005

Now Grandfather was an inventor

Another bit of browsing

I'm waiting for Ethohost to fix an issue with the server, and being Easter Monday it's a wet autumn day so I've been doing a little browsing today. Here's one from

"In Rose Family lore, there are a great many things my grandfather was supposed to have invented. Some of the stories are actually true. He played a role in designing prefab housing after World War Two, and true to his roots as an unreconstructed Fabian, told a reporter from the London Times he didn't understand 'why we don't make similar buildings today for the homeless.' As a kid, every time I traveled on an airplane, one parent or other would mention that Papa had some role in making the black squishy resin that glued the slabs of concrete together to form runways. This is unverified and probably apocryphal, but I promise to ask next time we talk. "His other great breakthrough in the world of applied chemistry was the development of fusible interlinings, a manufacturing process that allowed apparel makers to glue garments' interior linings to their exterior fabric, obviating the need for skilled craftsmen to stitch the pieces together. Faithless to his roots as an unreconstructed Fabian, he transformed the schmatte business by allowing companies to fire lots of people and move their operations to Bangalore."
I find this interesting because both Dad & I have invented things, but nothing has ever come of them. When he was a young man Dad invented a kind of electric guitar ... Not the electric guitar as we know it, but a feedback loop on an acoustic guitar that caused a plucked string to vibrate forever until the musician decided to stop the string and then when I was a young child he and a friend had a provisional patent on a television aerial that was placed under wallpaper. From memory he gave up on that one because he couldn't find a manufacturer interested in turning the idea into a finished product. In my case, the one that really rankles was having the basic idea for a mountain bike, stronger frame, lower gears, wider tyres. I called it the "off-road bike". I never got beyond the thought experiment stage because I listened to my friends who thought nobody but me would ever be interested in riding a push bike off-road. It looks like Matthew's grandfather took his idea of fusible interlinings and pursued it with a single minded dedication. Something that both Dad & I have lacked. What would have happened if, rather than accepting a "No" from people quite happy making what they always made, Dad and his friend had invested a bit of money and made the aerials themselves? What if I'd tried for a patent on the "off-road" bicycle? I don't know if I'll ever have another flash of inspiration, but if I do I'm going with it to see where it leads me.


Julia Clement said...

Submitted to Blog Excerpts

Anonymous said...

Hey, Bruce. Just checking to see how you're doing. Hope you're well. :)