Gonna Break These Rocks

The Blairite quango in which I work continues, you will be reassured to know, to hand out money to any old crank who comes in with a new and exciting idea for development.

One of the more innovative recent proposals has come from a man who has invented an explosive which can blow rocks up without making any noise. The strength of the proposal rests upon the fact that he has, apparently, shown it to the Queen. And she was very impressed.

He’s a clever man. What he’s done, you see, is chosen a deaf old lady – albeit one with considerable influence and whose face appears on coins – to confirm that his explosions are indeed completely silent. Of COURSE she was impressed, she couldn’t hear a thing because she’s 78 years old.

The Queen is, in many ways, an inspiring woman. I thought her Christmas speech was very good. But she has no scientific credentials that I know of, and I am sure that she does not possess sufficiently accurate faculties to qualify her in any way to pass judgement upon the actual validity of this man’s claim that he can explode rocks without making any noise.

I just don’t believe that it’s possible. Rocks make noise even when you DON’T explode them. Kick a rock, drop a rock, hit a rock with a spoon, it will make a noise. Don’t try to tell me that you can explode a rock and make no noise. No, don’t even try.

I bet he’s using polystyrene rocks, or something.

Even if he CAN do as he claims and explode real, actual rocks without making a noise – what’s the point? He should be seeking a slot on the Paul Daniels magic show, not Government funding.

(Oh, forgot – Paul Daniels doesn’t have a magic show any more. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)

Now, I know a thing or two about explosions, and one of the things I know is this: noise is one of the things that makes it an explosion. I have seen a number of explosions in my brief life – here are some of my favourite ones (no doubt you can add your own favourite explosions to this list):

Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD: the explosion of the Dalek flying saucer at the end. We’re talking the Peter Cushing film here, not the original TV series, and it’s not actually all that great. But it’s an explosion from my childhood – a nostalgic explosion.

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves: towards the end, when Morgan Freeman starts blowing up barrels. The brilliance of the first big explosion is of course multiplied many times by the exchange that follows between a Baron (“is this your idea of control, Sheriff?”) and Alan Rickman (“Shut up, you TWIT”).

The Italian Job: “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody…” etc.

Batman Returns: the explosion of the shop front, preceded by Michelle Pfeiffer saying “Meow.”

Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em: every time Frank Spencer touches anything, it explodes. It’s a hilarious joke which never gets tired.

Dr Who – Remembrance of the Daleks: in the final episode of this serial, a special weapons Dalek blows up loads of stuff. When they filmed it, half of London’s fire services turned up because they thought somebody had blown up Waterloo station.

The Death Star: I don’t even know which Star Wars film it gets blown up in, but it’s bloody fantastic anyway.

Mary Poppins: up amongst the chimneys, with the fireworks. Dick van Dyke is in it.

Dr Who – the Greatest Show in the Galaxy: the one right at the end, mainly because it happens right behind Sylvester McCoy and he doesn’t even notice it.

The Hindenburg: is it distasteful to like this explosion? We watched it again and again in science lessons at school, couldn’t get enough of it.

The Bridge on the River Kwai: the best explosion of a thing ever.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: the best explosion of a person ever.

In every single instance cited above, the noise of the explosions is one of the features that make them so memorable. Remove the noise, and the result would be far less satisfactory.

So when a man approaches my office and says “I’ve invented a noiseless explosion and the Queen says it’s wonderful,” my inclination is to tell him to get lost. “Go home,” I want to say, “put the noise back into your explosions.” Now – if he had invented a way of exploding rocks in a NOISIER way, perhaps so that deaf old ladies like the Queen could get the full enjoyment of a proper explosion, that would be something I’d be interested in funding.

Sadly, I am not in a position to make decisions like that; and he’s going to get his money, I just know it.

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