November 5, 2009

Charmingly barmy

Today at Rocky's the shower exploded, and an emergency plumber arrived to save the day. He described the plumbing and water works as "She's all a bit Heath Robinson", a phrase I now believe will become part of my everday jargon.

W. Heath Robinson was a cartoonist known for drawings of 'eccentric machines' and his name has since entered British language as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contraption that achieved absurdly simple results.

Used in scenarios such as the BBC's Planet Earth documentary series, in which devices used to create smooth camera movements, such as the effective steadicam made out of bicycle wheels and rope used to sail up a 100 metre high mound of bat droppings, were said by David Attenborough to be "Heath Robinson affairs".

In Pink Floyd's 1971 concert film Live at Pompeii, Nick Mason described the band's early on-stage musical experiments as "Heath Robinson".

Also. W. Heath Robinson was the man behind "The multimovement tabby silencer", which automatically threw water at serenading cats.

See also - Heath Robinson (codebreaking machine).

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