Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Winding up

The first serious match of the season is almost upon us, and the clubhouse on club nights is a hive of team managers puzzling over lists and diagrams. So far the teams are looking promising and the numbers of young people doing their thing round the track give signs of a good season to come.

But behind the scenes more is going on too. Stuart Woodman and I had to obtain more black powder in order to make ammunition for our guns, so that races can be started well. There's more to this than meets the eye. We have to have a license to buy and hold this black powder and we have to find a supplier who has some to sell. This is not a simple business because the regulations governing the supply and holding of explosives are so stringent that there aren't many outlets. Our usual gun shop in Wotton can't help us despite having a shop full of other shooting accessories.

Event Horizons is a company that makes explosions for films and it's to them that we went last Thursday. They were behind all the explosions in the Indiana Jones films, amongst others. The premises we had to go to doesn't have a post code, so we had to follow the detailed instructions for finding them. I'm not sure I could find it again, but it's between Cheddar and Wedmore and a long way from anywhere. (And here is one of the many paradoxes surrounding this business: they aren't allowed to advertise their whereabouts, but there has to be a warning sign on their gate...)

Charlie, the boss, is currently in Abu Dhabi working on the next Star Wars film and someone else is setting up a film involving a "rogue tank" - whatever that might be. We had to ask for Nick and he had the three kilos of black powder in the back of his car. Another paradox is that although we have to have a license for the black powder, the flash powder that makes the vi. sible flash is more dangerous, but anyone can own it.

For our ammunition both have to be loaded into the shells and sealed in with little circles of card and painted over with nail varnish. I've had some funny looks in Boots as I decided what colour to go for! Making the rounds is kind of boring but also restful. There's a bit of an art in doing it so that there is a good flash as well as a bang. But of course we do like a good bang. Dick, the starter in Yeovil, has had a torrid time of it lately from a man living right beside the track who complains about his afternoons being disturbed by Dick's guns. These are, admittedly, ferociously loud. The controversy led to UK Athletics coming down with a sound meter to measure how loud his guns were. And he's had to quieten them down a bit.

Ah, the complications of being a starter.....

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