A book about Pylons?
Yes – that's right. Electricity pylons. If you've watched the film, you'll know that for many people, pylons are surprisingly interesting. Try it sometime in a social situation; talk about a fascinating pylon website you've found (www.pylonofthemonth.org for example) and watch as people are drawn to the conversation almost against their will.
Now close your eyes and imagine that in a book format on your coffee table or in the loo. Amazing isn't it. You can't fail to appear more interesting, eclectic in your interests and generally fascinating. Not only that, but those 'difficult to buy presents for' people in your life can be crossed off the 'to do' list for another year.
So What is it About Pylons?
Good question. At the risk of being quoted in Private Eye's Pseud's Corner, I think that it's a combination of their form and function. That and the way they stand out so starkly in whatever environment you place them. Are they things of beauty? Well that's in the eye of the beholder but the number of pylon picture on Twitter would suggest that there is something about them that catches the eye. There are poems about pylons, films about the people who build and paint them and artists who are inspired by them. In fact once you start reading 'The Secret Life of Pylons' you risk falling down a rabbit hole into a warren of interesting pylon facts. Here are a few spoilers to whet your appetite:
Did you know that a pylon in North America is what we in the UK would call a road cone? Or that the man who designed Chequers, the country house of the UK Prime Minister, played an important role in the design of UK pylons? Do you know who George Stockbridge is? I thought not – you really need a copy of The Secret Life of Pylons.
What Will The Book Actually Be Like?
It will be a lovely hardback book with colour pictures of pylons and an accompanying article full of interesting facts about pylon history, etymology, poetry and lots more besides. You’ll also learn something about the local area of the pylon in question and even a bit about the science of electricity. Plus anything else interesting that pops into my head when I’m writing, rather like on the blog. It is after all meant to be eclectic and a bit random. I’m planning to stop at about 60 to 70 pylons, so around 160 or so pages of pylon packed action. It won’t be easy to stop there, but all good things must come to an end.
WARNING: Reading this page will change your life. You'll never pass a pylon without trying to spot the objects discussed below...
Next time you are close to a pylon, look carefully at where the wires are attached to the arms of the main tower. If you do, you will see that there are dumbbell shaped objects clipped onto the wires. You can just see them on the wires in the pylon picture and there is a zoomed in view as well that gives a better view These are Stockbridge Dampers and are named after George H Stockbridge, who was granted a US patent for his invention in 1928. In the patent he says:
My invention relates to means for preventing objectionable vibrations in suspended cables, such as are used in electrical transmission lines and the like...
These people are helping to fund The Secret Life of Pylons.