Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The Pacemaker's Beat

“There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can sit still;
So with single mind and double chin, they roam the world at will.”

Robert Service's doctored lines refer to the remarkable Derny men, the poem's relentless meter echoing the throb of a Derny man's Derny.

By definition, the Derny man is a leader; it's what he does -

The biological phenomenon known as 'convergent evolution' as demonstrated by these two bicyclists and their respective mounts.

   (Flann O'Brien famously touched on the close relationship of man and velocipede in “The Third Policeman”;
“The gross and net result of it is that people who spent most of their natural lives riding iron bicycles over the rocky roadsteads of this parish get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their bicycle as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them and you would be surprised at the number of people in these parts who are nearly half people and half bicycles... when a man lets things go so far that he is more than half a bicycle, you will not see him so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.”)

   In the world of cycling lean is the norm, but the best Derny men are on the heavy side, as with Sumo wrestlers a large girth is an advantage in their chosen sport; in the Derny man's case it makes him a more effective wind-break for those behind. Derny men are a dedicated group of semi-professionals much sought after in Europe and Japan. They act as pacers on their Derny bikes for racing cyclists whose speed is increased when they are are sucked in to the Derny man's sizeable low-pressure zone.

  A huddle of Derny men prepare for action, the tension mounts...

Here we have one Derny man show-boating, another doing the Derny work.

And so on and so forth.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sui generis

   The other day I came across this masterpiece in the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris (A museum well worth a visit if only because it has so few visitors. It's just north of the Pompidou Centre). It was made by René Lambourg of Saumur in 1844. It was later displayed in the Exposition Universelle of 1855 when it seems likely that the python was added. Lambourg donated the work to the museum in 1862. Everything visible within the case – the lion, the snake, the grass – is made of glass.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

What's that on the ceiling?

I have always been interested in the idea of upside-down crocodiles (See HERE), so, apparently, has Jacques Garcia. These photographs were taken by Christine Fleurent at Garcia's chateau in Normandy; 

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A Morning Infusion

Head in the warm valley of my pillow
I create a vision then draw her near
To exchange injunctions in tones too low
For attendant ghosts of my past to hear.

I wake, breathless, and discover my hand
Redundantly clutching my drawn-up knee,
The wanton grasp, denied all that was planned,
Transfers to a tool for stirring my tea.


Thursday, 2 February 2012