James Follett

Very Short Fiction


Pull The Other One

Last update was Sunday, 30 December, 2007 8:07 PM

Pull The Other One James Follett © 2008


My grandson recently enlisted my help, and the help of Dylan and Thomas, with a school science project. He was required to measure the pull necessary to pull a ring-pull top off a can. We did it properly by making up a test jig that consisted of a Black and Decker Workmate, several G-cramps, assorted lengths of timber, a bottle screw off a sailing boat, and a piezoelectric spring balance normally used for weighing luggage. Like proper researchers we made notes and took photographs so that our methodology could be studied and, if necessary, challenged.

The whole caboodle was set up in the garage with Dylan and Thomas looking on because the test subjects were cans of Felix. Opening the Felix drawer always arouses their interest. A can of turkey-flavoured Felix was placed in the vice, the spring balance was hooked on the ring- pull's ring, and we started winding the bottle screw. Dylan and Thomas seemed to be thinking that all these shenanigans and endless delays just to open a can of Felix was a new form of cruelty to cats.

The top came off the can but the can slipped before we could take a reading. The contents of the can were given to Dylan and Thomas. Test Can 2 (rabbit) gave a reading of 7.2 kilos which I didn't believe. How could anyone be expected to exert such a pull by hooking a finger through the ring? Impossible. Almost as impossible as the speed at which two cats could polish off 400 grams of rabbit-flavoured reconstituted meat.

Can 3 (tuna) also returned a reading of 7.2 kilos and the contents given to a now disbelieving Dylan and Thomas. Can 4, rabbit again, and the same result therefore we considered our figure was an accurate result on the force needed to open a ring-pull can.

Then my wife came home and surveyed the mess: a huge, complicated jig, empty cans, and two bloated cats on the garage floor, their stomachs on the floor, legs splayed out, and still eating. We explained the purpose of the experiment: promotion of an empirical approach to research by exhaustive note-taking and observation coupled with the creation of controlled conditions for experiment; pushing out the frontiers of human knowledge etc.

She listened and said that we were wasting our time because she, and everyone else she knew, used a can opener to open ring-pull cans, and why didn't we use tins of beans because they're a third of the price of cans of Felix? And don't expect her to clean up when the cats threw up everywhere.

This is typical of women. No questing after solutions to the great issues that tax mankind; no unceasing search for knowledge. Is it any wonder that the first men on the moon weren't women?

(But she did have a good point about using tins of beans except that that would've made me even more of a boring old fart than I already am)



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