Clever Chaps

Reuters;   The European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve will take measures to support struggling economies. —–

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, in a joint statement issued after their meeting on Monday, emphasized “the need for policymakers to adopt and implement all reform steps required to deal with the financial crisis and crisis of confidence.”

N.Y.Times;   WASHINGTON — In a pattern that has become familiar, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that the economy was growing more slowly than it had forecast, in part because its efforts to hasten recovery had proved insufficient.

Fed Action: The Federal Reserve appears to be moving toward
announcing some new step to try to energize the troubled U.S. economy.

In The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes, there is a wonderful story about a British Commando unit training to be dropped into France a day ahead of the D-Day Invasion; to disrupt the German communication and supply lines, and generally cause all the confusion in the enemy ranks they can.

They are billeted on the large country estate of an English Lord.

His Lordships estate covers several thousand acres of woodlands, a river, village, railroads, bridges, and terrain much like the part of France in which the commando unit will  operate. It is the perfect training ground for the Commando unit.

The Invasion date is near and it is time to take their leave of His Lordship who has been a most conscientious host; sparing no effort to aid them in their mission, and being a most genial all around good fellow.

The warriors cast about for a suitable expression of their appreciation and settle upon the estates peach orchard.  Five acres of peach trees laid out in precise rows and just coming into their maturity. The orchard, ablaze with pink peach blossoms, sits in front of the ancient baronial mansion like a giant corsage pinned to the sculptured green lawn. It is His Lordships pride and joy.

But there. in the dead square middle of the glowing orchard, a gnarled, ancient, giant black stump thrusts its ragged trunk into the sky. Like a scab on a beautiful womans face. It has defied all efforts over the years to pull it out.

The commander and the exec. walk around the stump a few times, thump it with their swagger sticks, probe the earth and make a few calculations on their pad before summoning the sergeant;
” Sargeant, we shall need exactly 75 lbs. of explosive evenly divided among four holes three feet deep here, here, here,and here. Set the men to it.”
The sergeant snaps off a stiff salute, “Sarr” and makes it so.

A table is set up about fifty feet away with a pitcher of orange squash and fresh scones and biscuits for his lordship and the two officers. As the sergeant directs the men in planting the charges around the great stump, the Captain explains to His Lordship;
Capt; “You see sir, we have so mastered the principles of demolition and the characteristics of our explosives that we can calculate the charge necessary to lift the stump out of the ground to the last ounce so there is no excess explosive force to damage  the surrounding flora.”
HL; “My, you are clever chaps.”

The executive officer chimes in;
XO; “Yes milord, the principles of modern demolition are so firmly established that we can predict with absolute precision the effect of a given amount of explosive.”
HL; “My, you are clever chaps”
Capt; “And when the charge goes off ,milord, the stump will be lifted out of the ground and lay itself gently on the lawn where it can be easily cut up and hauled away.;
HL; “My, you are clever chaps.”
Capt; “And the blast will not shake so much as a blossom from the surrounding orchard, you have my word as a British officer sir.”
HL; “My, you are clever chaps.”

The sergeant approaches the group, stringing a coil of wire with one hand and carrying a battery powered detonator in the other.
Sarg; ” Beg’ pardon sir, the men thought it might be nice if His Lordship could set off the charge.”
Capt; “Splendid idea sergeant. Are the charges all set?”
Sarg; snapping off a crisp salute; ” All laid along sir.”

The captain and the xo strip the ends of the demo wire and connect each one to a post on the detonator. Turning to their host, the captain held the device out and said;
Capt; “Now sir, if you will do the honors, at the count of zero simply give the handle a twist and you’ll see more work done in a few seconds than a dozen good men with shovels could do in a week.”
HL: ” My, you are such clever chaps!!!”

The three men stood at the table, the xo counted down dramatically from ten, the captain pointed to His Lordship, and with a gleam in his eye, the stately old country gentleman twisted the handle on the detonator.

The men loading the units equipment onto the trucks a hundred yards away had different estimates, but all agreed that the stump was at least a hundred feet up when it turned over twice and headed, sharp end down, for the earth.

Where the stump had been was a smoking crater thirty feet across and fifteen feet deep. The blast sent the ten foot long stump and a massive ball of roots hurtling skyward along with two tons of earth and sod; sent a shock wave outwards that snapped off the closest peach trees flush to the ground, then rippled on across the two officers and His Lordship sending them and the table and orange squash rolling along the lawn.

The shock wave had just enough force left when it reached the estates five hundred year old baronial mansion to blow out every window in the long high front facing the orchard.
Just as the two officers were helping His Lordship to his feet, the stump thudded into the ground fifteen feet away and sent them tumbling again.

The sargeant came up ;
“Sarr, I took the liberty of going over your calculations, and I believe you missed a decimal point, Sarr. It should be 7.5 not 75 pounds of charge, Sarr.”

HL  looked at the blasted ruin of the orchard, every leaf and blossom blown from the remaining trees, half of the survivors leaning over away from the crater. His eyes swept across the smouldering pit to the tables and chairs lieing scattered and on to the windowless home of his childhood. His mouth moved up and down a few times but no sound came out. Thrusting the detonator into the captains hand, he stomped his way across the grass, through the front door, into the bathroom under the stairs, slammed the door behind him, and the plaster ceiling, loosened by the explosion, collapsed on his head.

Whenever I see the latest financial whiz kid, who is appointed to play checkers with the countries economy, proclaim to the suckers citizens;
” We’re going to apply this much pressure to this point of the system, and the worlds economy will rise up precisely this much, turn thirty-five degrees in this direction, and come to rest on this exact spot.”

—I can hear, as clear as though he were whispering in my ear, His Lordship say;
“My, you are clever chaps”

Posted on September 10, 2012, in Where This Road Goes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You nailed this one. . .


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