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Tuesday 5th July 2005

I was out for a run and passed a pub that was being refurbished. Outside was an unattended mechanical circular saw, attached to its own work-bench. It was an expensive looking bit of equipment and the blade was housed in a disc of moulded plastic to stop people cutting their hands off as they used it. But in order for the saw to be useful for cutting other things there was a gap in the moulding on the table surface. This is where you put the things that you feel are the wrong size or shape and are able to rectify the situation. By the cutty bit was a little symbol in a circle of a cartoon hand with a line through it. I took this to mean, "Do not put your hand in this bit where the blade is!" It was nice to have the warning, though I can't imagine that it is something that was entirely necessary. "Oh, so I shouldn't put my hand near the wildly spinning bit of metal with serated edges that is able to cut through hard wood, so which would presumably make short work of my soft flesh and bones then. Thanks!"
But if they are going to put that sign up there then I don't think it is enough to just have a picture of a hand with a line through it. Because I look at that and think, "Right, I can't put my hand there, but what about my foot, or my face or my penis?" There is no warning about that being a bad idea, whilst there is for the hand. If they are going to treat us like imbeciles and put one warning up then they have to put one up for everything that it is wrong to put by the whirling blade of death. As well as every body part there should be a picture of a hamster with a line through it and a small dog and any animal that could conceivably be lifted on to the work surface and placed near the danger (so you wouldn't need a rhinoceros as you wouldn't be able to lift that, or a tiger because that would eat you as you were lifting it, don't be ridiculous - you are making a mockery of my point). But what if the hamster is the hamster anti-Christ or has committed a terrible murder spree and needs to be put to death? There must also be a sign (for each animal that you could realistically get by the blade) of the (for example) hamster with cartoon devil's horns on its head, with a tick by it.
Other things that shouldn't be put by the blade are the eggs of endangered birds, priceless works of art and human babies (unless the baby is evil, like Damien in the Omen in which case an exception must be made). It's probably not a good idea to put another functioning circular saw near the circular saw either.
My point is that if they aren't going to leave us to make our own judgement about what should and shouldn't go by the saw, then they can't just name one thing. They have to list them all.
That is all a side issue though. What I found interesting about seeing the unattended saw with the warning not to put my hand by the blade, was that it really made me want to put my hand in there. There was time, I could switch it on and cut off my own hand (even though it had not offended me) before anyone could stop me.
The thought then made me shudder and feel queasy, but why would one have such a thought? (and I have them all the time - they're what Peter Baynham used to call "mad thoughts") It was in fact the sign telling me not to do that that made the concept so appealing.
Maybe that's what's going on. Maybe they weren't refurbishing the pub at all. Maybe the blokes milling around in there, doing no work at all now I think about it, were collectors of severed hands (possibly using them as part of some many handed Frankingstein monster they were creating, but probably just liking the hands for their own sake). They knew that an unattended saw with a sign telling people not to put their hands in it, would be like a candle to the moth and at least one in ten people would succumb to the perverse intention and give them what they wanted.
Now I think about it that way, I am rather pleased that there wasn't a sign telling me not to put my cock in there. After all I can still type one-handed, but if I have no cock then there would be no call to ever do that.

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