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The Scrivener: Sir Isambard And The Pre-loved Tea-bags

Brian Barratt draws our attention to the pioneering work of Sir Isambard Vestibule Greangrymne in demonstrating the al fresco use of used tea-bags.

Brian is dedicated to bringing the achievements of the amazing Sir Isambard to the attention of an ignorant world. Previous reports one of which regrettably is an obituary can be found by searching through the columns of The Scrivener in the menu of this page. Try March 24, 2006 and November 10, 2006.

In his indubitably individual and somewhat less than noteworthy research, Sir Isambard Vestibule Greangryme rolled back the tide of scientific progress. On rare occasions, he also rolled it forward. In search of a suitable metaphor for his work, we must turn our eyes to the beach at Skegness, on the gale-swept coast of Lincolnshire.

When the tide is out, one sees nothing but miles, or kilometres, of featureless sand. When the tide comes in, it brings with it a scattered miscellany of flotsam and jetsam to delight beach-combers and seagulls alike, and to keep the Town Council's cleaners gainfully employed.

This is perhaps an apt description of Sir Isambard's tides of work on the al fresco usefulness of used tea-bags, which cannot be found in scientific literature. His interest was first aroused during a visit to Australia, where he observed that persons of a rural persuasion frequently had corks hanging on pieces of string suspended from the broad brims of their bush hats. This practice was efficacious in discouraging the myriad flies from settling upon one's face and causing personal discomfort.

Only a fertile brain such as Greangryme's could come up with the idea of recycling pre-loved tea-bags for the same purpose. Shortly after his return to the United Kingdom, he hung a number of them from the brim of his hat, and ventured forth into the English countryside. The sight astonished local people when they gazed at him through their lace curtains.

It was the middle of Winter, snow was thick on the ground, and not a fly was in sight. Sir Isambard had not adjusted his clock from Australian Eastern Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time. More importantly, he had neglected to make a note in his diary that he was now in the Northern Hemisphere. Such are the seasonal problems of a preoccupied man of Science.
He repeated his experiment when Spring arrived. Flies were out in abundance, due perhaps to the fact that he chose to walk among the cow-pats of the fields adjacent to his chosen village. The result was not as he expected. Rather than discouraging the flies, his tea-bags encouraged them to congregate in large numbers beneath the wide brim of his hat.
In a subsequent and rather uncharacteristic attack of lucidity, he realised that there were logical reasons for this. Firstly, he had used camomile tea-bags, the disgusting ditch-watery smell of which was extraordinarily attractive to flies. Secondly, the tea-bags were still damp, and the flies were thirsty.

Never disheartened by failure, Sir Isambard proceeded with his next attempt. He made quite sure that the tea-bags were completely dry and re-attached them to his hat before venturing forth yet again. The cow-pats and their busy visitors were of no consequence during this phase of the experiment. There was, however, another interesting scientific development.
Sir Isambard was invaded by magpies. Utterly dedicated to their seasonal search for diverse items of material with which to build their nests, they swooped and competed with vigour. Believing that the intrepid research scientist was a form of mobile scarecrow, they attacked and ripped off every delightfully dangling tea-bag. A scarecrow doth not a scaremagpie make. And then the flies returned, in the irritating aerially choreographed manner which is their wont.
Although he pursues his research in what he believes is a thoroughly rational way, serendipity is perhaps an essential ingredient of Sir Isambard's scientific method. The cows-pats which he had attempted to avoid treading on and into, during his perambulation of the fields, gave rise to the next stage of the project.

He is now working on a system whereby used tea-bags can be sewn together with their own strings, in the shape of the sole of a shoe. These, he postulates, can be attached temporarily to the base of one's shoes prior to taking walks through fields. That which cows are prone to deposit will thus adhere to the tea-bags and not to the soles of one's shoes.

When one returns home, one will simply remove the undersole with its accompanying bovine faecal matter, obviating the necessity to clean one's shoes after every walk in the countryside. If this enterprise succeeds, one will be eternally grateful to Sir Isambard Vestibule Greangryme for the flotsam and jetsam which accompany the high tides of his curious endeavours.

Copyright 2007 Brian Barratt

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