The idea of a perpetual motion machine has caught the imaginations of inventors throughout history, despite the accepted laws of physics telling us that such a thing is impossible. There have been many who have claimed to have constructed such a device - some have been self-deluding crackpots, others out-and-out fraudsters, but in every case their efforts have ultimately been exposed as failures.
But such a machine, if it were possible, would have a profound impact and it is for this reason that the search goes on, pursued both by professional, fully-funded teams working with the latest equipment and facilities, and by lunatic amateurs pottering away in their garages and garden sheds with bits of string, bicycle wheels and rusty old tins.
Firmly inhabiting this latter category is Herman Gland, who has been working on the problem for more than twenty years. Mr Gland, however, is coming at the matter from a novel direction. He reasons that if it is possible to make a perpetual motion machine - a device which will continue to operate indefinitely without any input of energy - then it follows that it is equally possible to build a perpetual stasis machine - a device which remains static no matter how much energy you put into it.
Gland's initial attempts to build such a machine were understandably basic. He began by nailing a grapefruit to a post, but found that it was ridiculously easy to dislodge. He then tried supergluing a Mars bar to a table leg. This set-up proved slightly more resilient but ultimately no match for the dog, which ate it when Gland popped out to put the kettle on.
Of Gland's early experiments, the most successful was when he left his car parked in a neighbouring alleyway. It stayed there, motionless, for just over eight months before the council finally came to tow it away, which was impressive but still fell some way short of the most commonly accepted definition of 'perpetual'.
In more recent years, Gland has experimented with more sophisticated techniques and has invested in powerful magnets, advanced superconductors and a laser pointer that he bought on eBay. All this was a lot of fun, although essentially pointless.
But now Herman Gland believes that he has accidentally stumbled across the real deal after spotting a broken washing machine dumped in the front garden of the house opposite. The appliance has been there for over a year now, without anyone making any attempt to move it, and Gland firmly believes that it will remain where it is indefinitely.
The Fourth International Humming Championship takes place in a field just outside Wigan this weekend and is open to anybody who has a favourite song but doesn't know the words. Two thousand entrants took part in last year's event, simultaneously humming over two thousand different tunes. There were reliable reports that the din could be heard more than thirty miles away.
Organisers are hoping for a better turnout this year. Despite there being no shortage of competitors, there were only twenty spectators last time and many of these were noticeably intimidated at being outnumbered a hundred to one. Additionally, last year's event was augmented by several craft stalls, a raffle and a brass band, and it is believed that these may have been responsible for driving many people away.
Still, the reigning champion, Ian 'Tone Deaf' Crompton, has been very active in encouraging people to come along. "It's a marvellous event," he lies, fondly recalling how he previously romped to victory with his ear-shatteringly hideous rendition of 'Eton Rifles' by The Jam. "I know some people can find humming quite irritating and that the prospect of suffering a couple of thousand folks doing it in unison is only slightly more tolerable than repeatedly slamming you own head in a door, but it's by supporting events such as this that we keep our communities alive. And, on the plus side, the whole thing only last about four and a half minutes, which is barely long enough to ruin your afternoon, let alone scar you for life."
Motorists are being warned about the following delays and disruptions to travel today in and around Derbyshire.
In response to years of negative criticism, the National Association of Housebreakers, Pickpockets and Miscellaneous Villains has issued a code of conduct. The Association's president, Micky 'Spanners' Johnson believes that this move is long overdue. He hopes that now the code is in place, the public can finally be confident that their homes will be burgled in a competent manner.
"We know that being robbed can be a difficult and stressful time for many people," said Mr Johnson. "And that's made all the worse when whoever has turned you over is clearly some kind of bumbling idiot. People have a right to be burgled to a professional standard by properly trained criminals, and when that doesn't happen it reflects very badly on the rest of us."
All members of the association will be obliged to comply or face financial penalties. The code covers many areas of their work, including health and safety, dispersal of assets and 'grassing to the old bill'. The association has also instigated a formal grievance procedure and members are obliged to leave a leaflet at the scene of the crime with details of how to make a complaint.
"I think it's high time that our industry got its house in order and that the skill and conscientiousness of our members was recognised," Mr Johnson told us. "For too long our good work has been overshadowed by a few bad apples. The fact is, we're not in this business to upset anyone. After all, if my intention in robbing people was to cause as much dismay, grief, anger and despair as I possibly could, then I'd still be in banking."
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Stuffed with new material and old favourites, Recalled to Life is 280 pages of plumptiousness and very probably exactly what you need to prop up that wonky old table in the kitchen.
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Stealing horses to order
We're very very sorry
The sound of fury
"Targeted motivational short-term direction objectives..."
"We speak to Maurice Pencil, a wind tunnel technician..."
EMI have released the world's first CD in Braille. Funky Bumps is a compilation of classic 70's funk, featuring the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes and many others. It can be played just with the fingertips - without the aid of a CD player. Record company spokesman Greg Marsden claimed that this was a major step forward for the recording industry, allowing the blind access to a whole range of music that had previously been unavailable to them. When it was pointed out to Mr Marsden that blind people were perfectly capable of listening to regular CDs just like anybody else, he merely grunted and mumbled something about having to speak to the marketing people in the morning.
"You're a miserable old sourpuss..."
"Could you support a helpless pirate?"
"...madcap antics ..."
"Frogs can jump ten times their own bodyweight..."more...
of the Bleeding Obvious
All material Copyright © Paul Farnsworth 2000-2014, and may not be reproduced without the express permission of the author. All characters, companies and organisations are fictitious, and any similarity to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.