The firegrid Blog. Thoughts, humour, ranting and general randomness. Wowzers!


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Wed 15th April 2009

Audi 0 - BMW 1

Filed under: Random Stuff

An excellent piece of advertising over in LA, pure class, I just had to post it!

Mon 27th October 2008

Forgotten what an Egg looks like?

Filed under: Random Stuff

The chaps down at the News & Star Website have really played their journalistic trump card today with an absolute cracker of an article entitled EXTRA POLICE DRAFTED TO CRACK KESWICK EGG-THROWING CASE.

Yeah, thanks lads.  I'd totally forgotten what an Egg looked like, thanks to you I am now fully informed.  No longer will I shriek in terror every time I open the fridge and see six pale pink coloured oval shapes staring back at me.

LOL, nice one chaps ;)
Fri 10th October 2008

Ballista Watch

Filed under: Random Stuff

Regular readers of my Blog will remember the post I made not so long back regarding the Roman Ballista for sale on eBay.  Random or what?

Well, alas it didn't sell.  But before eBay remove the listing from their servers completely, I think it only fair to post all 18 questions and answers this auction generated.  Fair play to the folk at Carpenter Oak and Woodland for joining in with the fun (obviously some of these were genuine enquiries but the majority made me laugh):

Q:  hello & help!. i have lost my only house key & can't gain entry to my flat!. would this help me get in?. also where i am is a real quiet street. from the looks of it, am i correct to say the noise will be minimal without disturbing the peace?. i hope you can help & reply soon as it's getting freezing waiting around out here like this!
A:   Your thinking is sound as pound. The ballista is virtually silent when firing so you wouldn’t upset the neighbours and the friction of your skin on the rough oak runway will take the edge off your shivers. Providing you get the trajectory right you should sail through the roof-light and land snugly in your settee in front of your favourite TV programme. 

Q:  hi trying to save you time & money here, so would you consider posting this to me fully already built please?. im in the UK based in the roman town of Ratae (Leicester). could you take it over to your local village post office & have it weighed, let me know how much & i will pay via paypal where the fee's on an amount such as this, will be lower/better for you. thank you. 
A:   If you promise to increase the size of your letter box to take it!

Q:  Wonderful! Would you consider donating it to a non-profit organization in the U.S.? We have people in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) that could make it work again.
A:   Whatever happens we would very much like to see this fabulous piece of kit in action again in a location where as many people as possible can see it. It is a great piece of timber engineering and does credit to the Roman ingenuity. If we are unable to sell it on eBay and you were able to cover the costs of shipment we would like to discuss the possibilities with you.

Q:  Hi. Does one need a background check to purchase siege weaponry?  
A:   I couldn’t be sure. I imagine that as preparing to fire a 12 ton, 8m high weapon is not something you can do on the quiet it might be that the government relies on spotting pending disaster in time to take evasive action. Just like they would if the entire financial system was about to collapse!!

Q:  hallo, würden Sie auch nach Deutschland liefern ???, in die Babelberger Filmstudios nach Berlin und wenn ja, wieviel Frachtkosten ??? Meding, HU.
A:   Ich hoffe, dass ich Ihre Frage richtig als verstanden habe: Hallo würden Sie auch nach Deutschland liefern? zum Babelberger Filmstudio in Berlin und wenn so, wie ist die Wagen-Kosten? Das Verschiffen nach Deutschland würde nicht ein Problem sein ich werde von Wagen-Kosten erfahren und zu Ihnen zurückkommen. I hope I’ve understood your question correctly as: Hello, would you also deliver to Germany?, to the Babelberger film studios in Berlin and if so, what are the carriage costs? My response: Shipping to Germany wouldn’t be a problem I will find out about shipping costs and come back to you. 

Q:  Is it possible to arrange a visit to where the ballista is located and will we be able to inspect all the parts of the ballista?
A:   The ballista is stored at our yard in Scotland. The full address is The Framing Yard, Loch of Lintrathen, Kirriemuir, Angus, DD8 5JA. There is a map on our web site at . We’ve now moved all the parts to a flat area of the yard so they are easy to inspect. We are open between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday, if you need to visit out of those hours just let me know.

Q:  hello my good roman sir, my greatest nephew in nigeria has only today passed his final college exams with the highest marks. this will make a loving family gift. will you post please to nigeria?. god bless you & the catapult!. 
A:   Being the customer facing company that we are we will do better than that, we'll deliver it personally, erect it, provide staff for a year to fire it and, and...deposit £10,000 in your account!

Q:  I see scope for a partnership agreement here. If Labour loses the next election (likely) could we both raise funds by organising a "Toss the Tosser" open day? Beachy Head maybe. Load it with a politician... £10 per spectator. We'd be millionaires in a day. 
A:   I get your drift but not wishing to offend any potential buyer who might be affiliated to said party (although I’m not sure the particular party matters) I think I’ll decline to pass comment

Q:  In your ad you state that it will be incapable of being fired again without repair works, due to the recoil damage from when it was fired on the show? Does this mean that it is not a 100% accurate replica? As I'm sure the Roman's managed to get more than one shot out of their ballista per siege?
A:   Bear in mind that when we say it is a replica it wasn’t as though we had a first edition copy of the centurions guide to building your first ballista! However you’ll see from the video that there were a significant number of experts brought into the project. Towards the end of the 10 day build programme the engineers raised some concerns about the arresting stops for the throwing arms but the production company were concerned about time and money so it was fired without further modification. You will see from one of my previous responses that we are fairly confident that with the right people involved and some further investment this could be restored to full working order.

Q:  I have often said I wouldn't trust my Mother in Law as far as I could throw her. This device raises interesting possibilities. Could a Witch's Stool be fitted....?
A:   I have now doubt that such a modification would be within the capabilities of even the most modest DIY enthusiast. Just beware of health and safety regulations.

Q:  I have been contemplating a career change of late. Would you be so kind as to advise the current market demand in your region for freelance ballisters? I have no direct experience in siege warfare, though my corporate position has left me quite competent in the areas of windmill tilting, entrenched thinking and provided a deeply seated bunker mentality; traits I should think translate well to a budding siege entrepreneur.
A:   It sounds as though you’re quite well qualified for a position as a full time ballista rooky but unlikely to make the heady ranks of stone loader or pin puller. I hope you’ll understand that we are currently inundated with applications but if you would like to put together a CV we will do our best to look at it. Bear in mind that a well scribed document on the best available parchment is likely to work in your favour.

Q:  Hello. I work for a debt recovery company that deals in recovering large properties from defaulting payers. An unfortunate sign of the 'credit crunch' We have one defaulter who says 'I bloody well shouldn't have to pay for my house, I'm the bloody future king, don't you know' Well that shows how far removed from the real world he is. He is now refusing to hand over the front door keys to Windsor castle. Could we hire this device from you to assist in out recovery of the said property ? Thank you 
A:   As a resident of Tetbury in Gloucestershire and close neighbours of He Who We Won’t Name, I hope you understand my reluctance to comment. 

Q:  If the catapult where to fire again would there be enough room to load a cow?
A:   Does your mother in law know that you have plans for her? If however you are referring to the bovine variety there are some points to consider with regard to ammunition. Firstly the ballista has a fairly narrow launch channel designed to accommodate a stone ball of about 350mm diameter which is launched by a sling behind the it. Clearly a cow would require a much larger ‘slipway’ and of course a sling of equal proportions. In addition, whilst festering cows were a favourite in times of siege to spread disease amongst the enemy I have a feeling that these days there might be certain conventions controlling the use of biological weapons. However adaptation of the ballista to accommodate dysfunctional relatives is a possibility.

Q:  Thank You for the quick reply.... Does it come with a Guarantee for pieces and where is the present situation of the Catapult.. I am over for a Man Utd game next week with people from and would have half a morning to inspect.... Also when was the last time it was fired and is it been used at present for anything.. 
A:   With regard to a guarantee for the pieces I assume you mean will we guarantee that all the parts are there. Indeed, in fact the buying price includes us making any necessary repairs to get it back to a full display condition and delivery to a UK mainland destination. It is currently stored in our timber framing yard in Kirriemuir, Scotland. If you only have an afternoon to spare you would only have time to view it if you charter a helicopter; you would be able to land near our site. It was last fired in 2002 for the BBC programme, Building The Impossible and is currently dismantled so not in use.

Q:  Is there any particular reason that it will never fire again?
A:   No there isn’t. The original build was done in just 10 days and as you can imagine it was mayhem towards the end. It was recognised before the first firing that the recoil could cause some damage to the timbers that arrest the firing arms. The engineers suggested some additional steel strapping to help prevent this but time was becoming a real issue. As a result the arresting stops suffered some splitting but we believe that this could be quite easily rectified with some remedial steel work.

Q:  I would be very interested in this. Can you tell me whether there is movement on teh price if I need contruction and how would it take. I have a team of builders who would be able to help, would it be possible to have 2-3 people from your end to manage the rebuild. 
A:   Interestingly the original build used a number of volunteers. It is possible that we could provide some supervision for the re-erection process and of course this would be reflected in the price. 

Q:  Hi, If it were fully restored, what sort of castles would I be able to lay siege to with it? Is it suitable for Norman stone castles or is it purely for knocking over wooden motte and bailey style structures? Thanks  
A:   Clearly this depends on the ammunition you load up, obviously feather pillows are less effective than chunks of stone!

Q:  How long does it take to erect?
A:   Hi Ray If we undertake it we would reckon about a week for an experienced team of four, dependant on site conditions.

Fri 10th October 2008

Do you want flies with that?

Filed under: Random Stuff

Banksy's latest project has opened in New York - The Village Pet Store and Charcoal Grill.

It's essentially an old store that Banksy has converted into a pet store themed art gallery.

If you're in the New York area, you can see the gallery at No. 89, Seventh Avenue South, Greenwich Village, New York (Open 10am - 12am Daily until 31st October 2008)

If, like me, you're nowhere near Greenwich Village, and aren't likely to be anytime soon, take a look at the website by clicking here.
Wed 1st October 2008

In the market for some Roman siege artillery?

Filed under: Random Stuff

Global jumble sale and all-round purveyor of random tosh eBay really have come up up trumps this time.  For sale on their site today is a full-size Roman siege catapult, otherwise known as a Ballista


The Ballista, as connoisseurs of ancient siege weapons will be well aware, was based on quite advanced technology which the Romans originally lifted from the Greeks. It functions in many ways like a giant crossbow, though it was often used to shoot stone projectiles rather than spearlike bolts.

The catapult was recreated by a team of experts, following all known records, as accurately as possible – and then successfully fired.  It was created for the BBC in 2002 for a programme called Building the Impossible.  It was built by(and is now being sold by) the timber-frame team at Carpenter Oak & Woodland.

Even you're thinking of making the purchase for the wife's birthday/christmas present - or simply to defend the ol' homestead, there are a couple of things to note:

1.  It weighs about 12 tonnes, as such postage will be a problem.  Equally, customer pick-up in a Transit van just isn't going to work.

2.  It's about 7.5 metres tall and about 8.5 metres long - make sure you have adequate space in the garden.

3.  Handy with a hammer and screwdriver?  If not, an additional £17,500 will be required on top of the purchase price to pay the team at Carpenter Oak and Woodland to erect it.

4.  Rich?  Good, because the starting price for this little beauty is set at £25,000.

So, in conclusion if you have aspirations to overthrow a neighbour’s castle, the Ballista isn’t ideal, as even though it is potentially capable of throwing a stone ball over 100 yards, it is now not in firing condition. (Please note that even if it were, you would need a team of several skilled operators in order to do this, and these are very hard to find today. You may also find that advances in weaponry since this was designed place you at a considerable disadvantage on the modern battlefield.)

But, if you're still interested, click here to see the listing - but be quick, the auction ends on the 10th October 2008.

Sat 2nd August 2008

Pendulum do Violet Hill

Filed under: Random Stuff

Pendulum were on Radio 1 the other day in the live lounge.  The live lounge acts normally do a live version of one of their own songs and a live cover.  Being Pendulum, I couldn't possibly think of which cover they were going to do - but in a stroke of pure genious they did Coldplay's brilliant Violet Hill, and what a version!  If you're a fan of either band just have a listen and see what you think.

Sun 15th June 2008

Weezer - Pork and Beans!

Filed under: Random Stuff

This week I have been mostly listening to the excellent "Pork and Beans" by Weezer.

While the song itself is excellent, it's the video that really makes it different.  Weezer often go all out on their videos and have had some really excellent ones in the past but this has got to be their best.  Truly a video for the 'YouTube' generation.

Have a look and see what you think.  Whilst you're watching it, try and see how many YouTube faces you recognise!
Tue 13th May 2008

Holy Cow!

Filed under: Random Stuff

In almost every show, Batman would be heard to mutter the immortal words "Holy Cow!"  I wonder what he would say if he ever came face to face with this big bovine.

Chilli, a Friesian bullock, stands a massive 6 foot and 6 inches - towering over his fellow bovine playmates.  Chilli's owners are now hoping to get him listed as the UK's tallest cow.

Chilli and his twin sister Jubilee were abandoned at Ferne Animal Sanctuary nine years ago, when they were just a few days old. Manager Naomi Clarke explained:

“For some reason a farmer decided he didn’t want Chilli and Jubilee, so dumped them with three others on our doorstep nine years ago."

“He was only six days old and didn’t look that big but as the years passed we noticed he was getting rather tall. We have made an application to Guinness World Records and we are quite confident he will get it.”

Apparently, the average Friesian comes in at 5 foot tall.  Full story over at The Times.
Wed 7th May 2008

Indy's back!

Filed under: Random Stuff

I was watching the normal early morning rubbish on TV this morning whilst getting ready to go to work - King Arthur's Disasters had finished so I was left with a poor array of programming to be fair.  Anyway, an advert came on for the new Indiana Jones film.

Well, it was all I could do not to run around the lounge squealing in glee.  Even the cat stopped chewing on the table runner for the full 15 second trailer.  I remember reading about the new film last year but forgot all about it.  Now, it's nearly upon us - 22nd May!

Being a child of the 80's, the Indiana Jones trilogy was an absolute all-time classic.  Ask anyone who grew up in the 80's and I'm sure they'll agree.  If you don't know what I'm talking about, trust me, it rocks.

Anyway, whilst watching the trailer old Indy didn't actually look so old.  He looked exactly the same as I remembered him all those years ago, even though he is still potrayed by the very same Harrison Ford.  With this in mind, I decided to produce a little pictorial timeline.


  1981 Indy (Raiders of the Lost Ark)            1984 Indy (The Temple of Doom)               1989 Indy (The Final Crusade)           2008 Indy (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) 

Looks eactly the same in every shot doesn't he?  Weird eh?

Anyway, can't wait for the release of the film, it's going to be great ;)  I'm going to attend the cinema in khaki shirt, leather jacket and hat.  I'll also make the time in the queue pass much quicker my singing the theme tune in a constant loop.

Du du du dah, du du dah.  Du du du dah, du du dah dah dah.....
Fri 2nd May 2008

The Cans Festival and Banksy

Filed under: Random Stuff

On a particularly dull day at school once I thought I would express myself via the medium of art and scrawled a particularly kick-ass doodle across my desk using a compass.  When it got found out I thought suspension and expulsion was my only future no matter how often I told my teacher it was art.  So, how on earth does Banksy get away with it?

I'm a real fan of Banksy so I was pleased to see his latest works unveiled in a disused tunnel in Waterloo for The Cans Festival.


Murals in the Bristol artist's famous stencil style appear with work by 29 other artists in a half-mile stretch of the tunnel in Leake Street, Waterloo.  Reclusive artist Banksy kept the tunnel's location secret until Friday morning.

The tunnel is open to the public on 3rd, 4th and 5th May 2008 in Leake Street, London, SE1 7NN.  Click here for more information.