It all began with the clock. We were drinking coffee in the village hall (once a month the village holds a coffee morning - more about that here), when I spotted it. Stood beside a bric-a-brac stall was a large, wooden art deco clock. I went over to have a look. It didn't work, but the owner only wanted a fiver for it. I was tempted. If I wanted to get it going, she said, I should talk to Joe, who was into renovating old clocks. I didn't say so, but I thought of having a go myself.
In the end, I didn't buy it. It would end up, I felt sure,on my list of things to do that never get done, and that's long enough as it is. I did meet Joe on the way home though. He'd been heading the other way, but when I told him about the clock he promptly turned round and made straight for the village hall. If it had been an old radio, I said to K, I would have done the same. Come to think of it, I'd been meaning to build myself a decent radio mast in the garden (like you do - well you do if you're into amateur radio). All I needed was some lengths of "two by two". It wouldn't take that long...
|Old Radios... Racal RA17 Receiver - first came out in 1954|
An hour later I was back from the builder's merchant with the said lengths of wood tied to the car. An hour later I had them both painted with wood preserver. Up until now, my mast has been a fishing pole with a wire tied to the end stood on it's end in an old bit of pipe. This has enabled me to make two-way amateur radio contacts with just about anywhere in Europe and occasionally, places further afield: Chicago, Rio de Janiero, Svalbard spring to mind. I've always wanted to extend my reach and, without getting too technical, that means lifting that wire a bit higher. If I bolted two lengths of two by two, I reasoned, I should be able to raise it up at least five metres - possibly more.
Have prepared the lengths, I started to dig a hole to stand them in. Here I hit the first technical hitch. It's hard enough to dig a deep hole eight inches wide even when you don't hit solid rock two feet down. Oh well, I thought, I'd press on. I'd find other ways of supporting it later.
I've compressed quite a lot of activity into a couple of paragraphs. In fact, at this point I realised it would soon be getting dark. With an anxious eye on the roofs of our two cars which were parked a lot less than five metres from this distinctly wobbly erection, I lashed the thing to a nearby tree (before anyone suggests it, not tall enough to serve as a mast) with all the rope I could find. I'd sleep on it. At least if it fell over in the night it would fall in the least bad direction.
|Aerial at JY5HX, Amman, Jordan|