Part Two of the series on how to repair your own violin
Basics of repair
There is a grand tradition of fiddlers who repair their own instruments, as I said. Just because you happen to be a player does not make you useless, after all.
To repair your own instrument gives great satisfaction. I have one fiddle which is over two hundred years old which I found in bits, with all her varnish stripped. She would surely be worth more financially if I had had a restorer fix her, but I did it myself, she sounds and plays wonderfully, and I get a real kick out of the fact that I saved her myself. Because, believe me, she was kindling-wood before.
It is important to understand that Transsexualism, Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and Gender Dysphoria (GD) are in fact the same thing; I will use GID and GD as interchangeable in this article. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, prepared by the American Psychiatric Association, the terms GID and GD apply to the same condition, depending on which edition of the DSM you look in.
Up to the fourth edition, DSM4, the term appears as Gender Identity Disorder and in DSM5 it appears as Gender Dysphoria . There is a note in DSM5, which confirms that the name was changed to Gender Dysphoria because the word “Disorder” was seen as having negative connotations and was stigmatising to people suffering from the condition. It was not changed because it was no longer considered a mental disorder — as most trans-activists will tell you. GD still appears in the DSM5 which is the DSM of “Mental Disorders”. I make no comment here about the act of or reasons for distorting or hiding the truth with wordplay to protect people’s feelings!
In the past walls were rendered and plastered with lime. Lime is a truly wonderful material that can be bent to a whole series of uses, but as a render on stone it is unsurpassed. It ‘breathes’, allowing moisture to escape and suppressing damp walls. This is because it is very porous. So why are there damp walls in so many old houses today?
Phuket, Thailand. Midnight: Bangla Road is packed with tourists. They’re mostly Westerners and Russians, but many Asians and a smattering of Indians. There seems a disproportionate number of unattached males. The music is very loud, and throbbing. Outside the bars, on elevated stages, Thai girls are dancing provocatively. They’re tall, fantastically beautiful, and seductive. They look, and move, like supermodels, but with better bodies. Then you realise: there are other Thai women here too, but they’re short, cute and pretty, not at all statuesque or magnificent. Alongside the kathoey, Thailand’s famous trans women, they are all but invisible, like candles next to a searchlight. It’s easy to see who has the attention of the gathered men.
On stage, one girl rolls her dress down to her hips so that her naked breasts and torso – she sports a delicate dragon tattoo on her back – are shown off, as she wriggles to the thrumming techno. Her body is as flawless as a Greek goddess’ and her dance mesmerising as a Siren’s: you just can’t help but watch and smile at her exquisite insouciance.
Being a European, of course, I had no direct experience of Southern Baptism or any of the other so called ‘Evangelical’ cults until about five years ago, and even then it seemed relatively harmless. They were just a bunch of crackpot fringe-dwellers, somewhat like the Moonies or the Baha’i. Still, I was beginning to see pattern, as I read the writings of Baptist seminarians and ‘thinkers’. Was there any substance to this cult at all, or was it just anything anyone wanted it to be? Was it, indeed, actually dangerous?
It’s clear that there is a deal of brouhaha about the extent to which transsexualism is impacting on the lesbian and gay, and to a lesser extent bisexual, lifestyle and political hegemony in the West. This is contributing to an increasingly bitter spat about young transitioners — people transitioning gender before they reach their majority.
There is no doubt that political activists are operating on this body of young people, some with laudable motives, others not so; but why is the lesbian and gay community so exercised?
France is divided, basically, into the north, where tuiles plats were traditional roof covering tiles, and the south, where tuiles romaines are found. There is a line just south of Chalon sur Saone where you can see this change quite clearly, and you know you have officially entered le sud, even though the Mediterranean is still hundreds of miles away. I always stop for a glass of wine in a café when I pass this point. Roofs in the north, with their flat tiles, tend to be steeply pitched, whereas in the south the pitch is much more gentle.
Everyone will be familiar with the beautiful poplar trees that make valleys in Burgundy and elsewhere so charming to the eye. Poplar produces straight-grained timber of prodigious length. The wood is soft and easy to cut, and it holds nails very well. It resists splitting firmly because is has an interwoven grain, so it is tricky to plane well; better to use a power plane. But poplar is in any case best kept for rough work.
It has two big disadvantages; it can to warp severely as it dries, so great care must be taken in stacking; and insects just love it. Poplar should never be used unless it is treated or painted, or else the woodworm will have a field day. However, it is reasonably resistant to rot, and as long as it is used with care, is a useful timber. It is cheap and plentiful, light and easy to handle.
Unfortunately, poplar is usually grown individually, in long thin avenues, or as windbreaks along the edges of fields, and more rarely in plantations. Its presence in the beautiful valleys of central France is a great asset visually. However, this causes a problem when it is cut for timber.
Wood is, along with stone and earth, one of the principal materials used in the construction of buildings, and particularly older buildings. The principal varieties used are oak, poplar and beech, known as hardwood in UK. Spruces and pines(softwood in UK) are also much used, especially in new-build. It is important to have some understanding of the nature of wood, its uses in the older house and some sympathy for its virtues as well as its limitations.
Wood is used in a wide variety of applications, and the most important of these are the support structure for floors; the roof timbers and associated work; and the interior finishing timber. Timber is also used in the construction of interior walls and in many areas in the construction of supporting walls.
There are three timbers commonly found in older buildings in France, namely oak, poplar and pine. Other timbers are often found as parts of outhouses and sheds.