Roughy the Balsa Slayer

Capstan "floor fly"

That’s me. A week of unspecified lurgy has kept me off the bike and in the shed. I am getting very twitchy about not riding, especially as March was another (modest) record in terms of distance and saddle time.

It’s all gone to poo tho. Cough, Bunged up head, snot everywhere and a throat that feels like it’s been sanded. It’s a possibility since everything else from the dog upwards has been given a good lashing of balsa dust this weekend.

Well enough to play with toy gliders, not well enough to mow the lawn. That’s my self-certified medical diagnosis. That glider is a Slingsby Capstan. My dad had a share in a full size one when I was no’but a nipper, and I had many vertigo-challenged hours in the co-plilot’s seat looking down at the ground and wondering when we were going to hit it.

We built the model as well. Must be – FLIPPING HELL – thirty years ago. Shit, there’s no way of saying that without instantly appending “you old fcker” is there? We didn’t really know what we were doing so the poor thing was beaten to death by Yorkshire stone. I don’t think we ever had the courage to chuck it off the edge, instead darting it into rocky scenery and innocent bystanders.

The company that made them went out of business years ago, but some enterprising young turks bought the plans and moulds and for£70 dealt out wingy nostalgia for those of a certain age. Carol bought me one for my birthday last year, but only now have I had the time to get jiggy with the sanding block.

The original seemed to take about a year to build. And about a 10th of that to destroy. My skills in both those areas are still about the same – so although it looks mostly glider shaped, it’s not been all plane sanding. Luckily Carol is on hand to help me with the difficult bits, and talk me out of apply powertools to any problem that takes more than 10 seconds to rectify.

I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that rebuilding my youth has been mostly good fun. Sure I’ve ingested around a kilo of second hand balsa, and invested time really that could have been spent doing almost anything more useful, but it’s therapy of a sort.

Man has cold. Man has shed. Man has mug of tea. Man has all sorts of tools, some of which he knows the purpose of. Man has things to build and instructions to ignore. Man has decent enough time while wondering if sympathy of family might extend to some fortifying cake.

Better be better next week. Once I’ve finished this, Carol will probably feel I’ve learned skills useful for general repair work and specific bevelling.

Probably be a good time to start riding again.

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