A pipe bend

A pipe bend?

OK, I admit it. In a previous life I was a teacher.

If you met people and told them that they immediately asked, ‘What do you teach?’

I quickly learned to be evasive on that issue. The truth usually filled people with horror and they rapidly moved away.

‘Oh children, mostly’, became my standard reply. It was a bit of an ice breaker.

The truth was that I taught them science, and in particular physics. And I can see readers’ eyes glazing over at this point. But it shouldn’t cause surprise. Science is surely what nerds do, isn’t it?

I’ll say that as my career chugged along, I diversified quite a lot and most people, these days, if they ask what I used to do follow up my reply of being a teacher with, ‘I suppose you taught history’.

But no, I never really did.

Back in 1974 we took, along with friends, the first of several canal boat holidays. It was BC (before children) for all of us. Six adults with six incomes could hire a suitable boat for a week and it seemed cheap. A few years on it was 12 people with three incomes and the need for a bigger, more expensive boat ruled us out of the market.

But in 1974 we took the boat we hired to Nottingham. At that time I was a youthful and enthusiastic ‘head of Physics’ – a grand name for the only physics teacher in the school. You won’t be able to imagine my delight when I saw the pipe bend.


I was THE person to understand that for it was something I taught and something we didn’t see in my part of the rural south of England. That little pipe carried hot stuff (probably water but I can’t be sure). Like all things heated, it expanded. It got bigger. The forces generated by this change in size are enormous. This strange bend in the pipe allowed it to get bigger and not break. The bend gave it sufficient springiness to cope.

The photo was taken and joined my lesson scheme. I know it made it more real to youngsters than a mere diagram in a text book.

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