Kirkcaldy again and getting closer

Hurrah. We found the button. I do worry. We gathered the collaborators today and we talked through the thing we are making and I think I know more clearly why we are making it now. I think I might have been credited as Al Beverlay on the printed literature and there is a huge power in not giving a fuck. I’m not making this to push my name to the front of anything. It’s just another of the things I have made over the years where it’s about the thing. Big old life. I’m still in it, being ridiculous. I’m still hoping I’ll hit that vein of consistent work, but it comes with being known and the older I get the more I feel the lack of those early chances as I’m gonna have to be the late arrival now. But I’ll still be doing this when I’m ninety, cos I love it when I’m allowed to work. The industry is cruel and selective and contact-based and arbitrary. But the work and the people working? Glory. Apart from the inevitable plague of egomaniacs.

The guy in the coffee shop this morning was wondering. What’s the place you’re at? That building over there? I’ve often wondered what it is.

It’s a huge building housing a “universal testing machine”, where they would have to stop the traffic on one of the main thoroughfares in the area in other to pull or push huge girders. Bertha, the vast hydraulic machine, would pound and pull and twist and crush the best efforts of the world to make solid steel. She still sits, sleeping and hungry, likely craving another girder to destroy but ultimately starved in this new world. We have satisfied ourselves that we know the capacity of materials. We build higher and bolder because of what we learnt through that one man’s rigour.

What of the new tech? The latest revolution? The industrial revolution has overtaken us and there are too many voices making new things for a Kirkaldy to try and make sense of the breaks. There will be another Tay Bridge disaster as AI gets ahead of us, egged on by all of us who are only interested in what it can do and are failing to take into account how it might break.

With luck, in another 150 years we will still be growing and caring. David Kirkaldy was exactly the kind of pioneer I’m usually annoyed with. He was a man who wanted everything measured and quantified. He was almost certainly out of the same Scottish Presbyterian “wee free” stable as my paternal grandfather, who was held up throughout my childhood as an example of everything that was wrong with the world. Excessive care. Measurements. Facts not opinions. “He’s like a cult leader,” Sammy observed, when I tried out some of my written bits. And yeah, certainty can be intimidating, because there is almost no foundation available to us. We base all our notions on blancmange. It’s just about who insists that their blancmange is concrete.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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