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Last night I wasted two hours of my life. Not out of choice mind you but I was conned into it. Let me explain.

A few days ago I recorded a program about the Dambusters, more to the point, a program about recreating a bouncing bomb from scratch made famous by the daring midnight raids that ninteen lancaster bombers took part in to destroy three dams and in turn Germanys heavy manufacturing infrastructure. I have a massive interest in how everything works and the bouncing bomb had intrigued me since I was young, I even experimented myself using tin cans to try and understand the logic that went into the making of such a device. It was complex, but I quickly discovered by reading an excellent book that the tin can needed to rotate against the direction of travel, this helped the bounce. Not only that but the angle of the drop counted too so I made a small launcher using a couple of wire coat hangers and played away until I understood a little about the complexities.

So as the program started last night we were shown the immense task ahead, they were going to build a replica dam and blow it up bouncing bomb style. Wow, lets pop open a bottle and settle down to watch. Well, it didn’t get off to a good start. A Cambridge professor was shown dropping two wood and cardboard bombs from the top of Kings College only to land in a child’s sandpit, not very thrilling. I was even less thrilled as the top engineering lecturer decided to research Barnes Wallis using his old archived papers and didn’t realise from the start the bomb had to spin so we had to watch some poor attempts at a recreation before the light bulb moment came on.

It was mildly interesting but never got into the nitty gritty of it all, he only needed to have looked on Wikipedia and he could have gotten to the bombing bit a little faster. What really interested me though was the special permission they had been granted in Canada to build a small scale dam and breach it with a bomb. Thrilling. It must have cost a fortune too, how cool, build it and blast it. There followed a few practice sessions away from the dam, some interesting, some laughable as they used a contraption that looked uncannily like my coat hanger one to release the bomb. Interestingly the spinning of the bomb was done before the aircraft took off as opposed to using a small engine as they did in the real Dambusters planes adding to a few more problems.

One hundred and ten minutes in and finally the dam was built and the plane was about to make its first real practice run. Then the dam sprung a leak, oh no! Fearing it wasn’t going to last too long the pilot swooped down and dropped the dummy bomb. It bounced and bounced and bounced eventually slamming into the wall of the dam to ragged cheers. Things were looking good but with only minutes of the program left how are we going to take in the final real run using proper explosives?

We wasn’t that was the answer. Health and safety stepped in and instead of loading the bomb onto the plane to do it for real it was gently lowered to the correct place beside the dam using a fishing rod contraption and detonated once everyone was clear. I’m not joking, a bloody program about a bouncing bomb and not only doesn’t it bounce at the end but we see a hastily rushed finish because the dam had been shoddily constructed and had more leaks than cock-a-leekie soup.

This type of thing annoys me greatly, the whole point was to recreate the bomb and blow up a dam with it, they just forgot until the very end to say they wasn’t going to use a plane or even bounce the real bomb it was all too dangerous, what a con. Even all the construction and testing of the bomb throughout the program were all problems that were already well documented but I could have let that go if they had done what they advertised, so essentially the whole program was in reality pointless but rather lavishly funded.

I must learn to stop watching documentaries, they seem to have got to a point of mindlessness with no real outcome. I haven’t been so disappointed since finding out that Andrews Liver Salts for flatulance is to actually stop it not start it. What an odd thought.

I have an idea for a documentary, I want to become a British Le Petomane and use my blowhole to shoot marbles through cardboard. Any offers of funding?

Don’t know who Le Petomane is? Have a look here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Pétomane you won’t see that on Britains Got Talent.


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