Saturday, June 07, 2008
I have always found the word 'boffin' infinitely consoling. It has been in sad decline, perhaps because there are fewer boffins - obsessive, socially incompetent, necessarily British people in white coats with pipes (the men) and mascara where lipstick should be (the women) conducting improbable, unwise experiments of immense national significance. Barnes Wallis was, I suppose, the supreme boffin - at least when played by Michael Redgrave. These thoughts are inspired by this story about a British missile called - only a boffin could have come up with this, not because of feelings sexual inadequacy but because he didn't get the reference - The Penetrator. The video captures the grey-skied, windswept apparent futility of the perfect boffin experiment. 'So, guys, let me get this straight, you have made a missile that can be fired into a wall of sand, right?' 'Right.' 'I must be getting back to the ministry. Taxi!' My chest swelled. The boffins are back.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 5:42 am