Rope and Hollywood

I have here a piece of rope, but not just any old piece of rope oh, no This is a very special piece of rope or at least it is to me because I made this myself. Oh, yes, I have the video evidence to prove it. I made it in Visby and if I were to tie something up with this rope, and then you were to say to me, “Oh, sorry I need the thing, could you could you free the thing?” would you expect me to get a knife and cut this piece of rope that I made myself? Well, no, I’m not going to do that. It’s my bit of rope, this, and anyway, it’s a useful bit of rope. Why would I cut it when I could just undo the knots? If I had tied the knots reasonably competently then I should be able to untie them again. So why would I cut a piece of rope? Well, I’m not going to cut this piece of rope and don’t ask me to, but maybe I would in a desperate emergency – but in Hollywood movies we see people cutting rope all time and it really irritates me. Someone says “Free the prisoner!” and then you know what’s going to happen next: someone gets a knife and cuts the prisoner free. What you don’t then see is someone else coming on going “Oi, you just ruined my bit of rope that was a good bit of rope that you twonk what did you just do that for?” that was a good bit of rope that you twonk what did you just do that for?” See rope is valuable and useful stuff. So you don’t just go around cutting it unless you absolutely have to. It’s analogous to… You go with someone to his home, and as he’s Rummaging in his pocket to get his front door keys. You just speed things up by kicking his front door down. Will he let you into his home? No, he probably won’t because he’ll think you’re a complete nutter. Who kicks the door in when just by waiting a few seconds you can get the key out and open the door? Well, who cuts a piece of rope when you’re just a tiny bit more patient you could undo the knot? People in ancient and medieval times, I’m pretty sure, Did not cut ropes lightly. Now, when I say that I made this bit of rope, really all I did was finish it off because, um, I was presented with a spool of Jute Fibers and these just had to be spun into strings and the strings into cord and the cord into rope I didn’t clear a field of stones and so forth. I didn’t plough the field, I didn’t sow the field with jute seeds I didn’t grow the crop, water the crop, weed the crop, keep pests off the crop, harvest the crop, and then go through the back-breaking and laborious process of Processing all the crop to get the fibers out and then drying them out. No no no no no. I started with jute fibres. I had it easy really I was just finishing this rope off. Making ropes in the medieval and ancient world was a fair bit of work and people would not cut ropes lighhtly. Yet in the movies. It’s absolutely standard to cut a rope, in fact hardly ever does anyone ever undo a knot There are even a machines in films – the catapults and so forth – where the mechanism for launching is to cut a rope. No, no They had all sorts of other ways of launching a catapult with hooks and eyes and levers and and so forth You don’t cut a rope every single time you want to launch a missile That’s just that’s just stupid, so, um it’s only three fathoms of rope but it’s three fathoms of my rope and so that’s very it’s very precious to me and It has occurred to me that some people don’t know what a fathom is. You may know the expression. I can’t fathom it out. You may know the expression ‘I can’t fathom it out’. Well, fathoming is to do with finding the depth of a piece of water, and a fathom is six feet, and it’s a very convenient length of rope, because when you’re pulling the rope with its lead weight out of the water to find out how deep the water you’re in is, you could then stretch out your arms like this and that would be roughly six feet between your hands, and then start winding the rope in like this, hand over hand, and each time you did that that would be one fathom. Now, you may say “But hang on, maybe You’re a bit of a short guy, and you not exactly the right height for that.” Well, you would very quickly learn how much slack between your outstretched arms you needed to (if you have your thumbs like this) how much slack you would have to leave hanging down in between your thumbs, too, for that to be six feet on you. So there you go, that’s why it’s a fathom, and it’s a very useful measurement. And one inch to one fathom is exactly 1/72nd scale which is quite a useful scale Right, got a bit off the point, there. Yeah: ropes – you don’t just cut them! Lindybeige

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