view from my pew 13

 

Dear Internet

Mr Grenville-Stubbs here. I imagine that you thought I had forgotten all about you, didn’t you? But no, I have simply been rather too busy to put fingers to keyboard and muse in your direction. However, I have something rather significant to tell you.

Revd Philip Inneck-Tucker, our Minister, told me a story before Christmas and said that I was one of the characters, but I can’t work out which one so I will tell you the story and let you decide. First of all I need to tell you the context:

We had a young lady come to our church recently for a concert to raise funds for the refurbishment of the thermometer at the front of the church that indicates how we are doing with our fundraising to replace the church roof. She was one of a number of performers, many of whom were from our church. My friend, Mr Capel, gave an enthusiastic performance on the spoons. Mr Baumgarten surprised us all with a performance of Nessun Dorma that led to a standing ovation until the CD jumped and we realised he was miming to a recording of Pavarotti. Mrs Barnard raised a few eyebrows with her Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. And I gave a stirring recitation of the “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more” speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V (although our safeguarding designated person did suggest that covering myself in stage blood was a bit much for a family event).

The young lady in question was a schoolfriend of one of the young people from our church. She doesn’t normally come to our church but she wanted to perform and played her violin for us. She played ‘Spring’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I commend her ambition but unfortunately her ability did not match it. It was rather painful to listen to and I felt embarrassed for her as she battled her way through (repeats and all). After the concert over a cup of tea in the church hall I talked about her performance to Mr Capel, Mr Baumgarten and Mrs Barnard and I expressed my opinion with my usual thoroughness.

I thought nothing more of this until Revd Phil told me this story:

“Thomas Edison did not invent the electric lightbulb, even though many people believe he did. What he managed to do was invent a commercially viable, practical and durable electric lightbulb. The problem with previous versions of the electric lightbulb was that the filaments would burn out quickly so the bulbs did not last long.

light bulb“Edison tried 6,000 different materials for his filament. Each time it didn’t work he decided that he had excluded one more non-working alternative, narrowing down the options until he found one that worked and was cheap enough to be financially viable. Finally he tried carbonized bamboo and found that it worked.

“But imagine, for a moment, if Mr Edison had been working in his laboratory and he had overheard a conversation outside the door. ‘I can’t believe he’s still going. He’s tried almost 6,000 different materials and it just doesn’t work. He’s not going to succeed. He just isn’t up to it and he should give up now.’

“What if he had taken that to heart and given up just before he tried carbonized bamboo?”

I don’t think I am that much like Thomas Edison although I do consider the comparison to be flattering.

Yours faithfully

Mr QR Grenville-Stubbs

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