The inside of a table tennis ball?

6th March 2021

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Been struggling in the past few days to vary the wording of the official avalanche report and forecast. Given the prevailing stable weather system and snowpack it’s been tempting just to resort to:-
“It’s white. It’s hard. It’s cold. And it’s stable.”
Finding different ways of describing the same thing day after day is a bit challenging…but important since we don’t want to appear to our audience just to be ‘copy & pasting’ the same old, same old day after day. Needs to be fresh to maintain your attention! But try as we might, there are only a certain number of ways of describing the same thing repeatedly especially a snowpack that’s as homogeneous as what we’ve had for nearly a week now.
It reminds me somewhat of a task I was set for an after-school detention when I was a spotty youth. I can’t recall the indiscretion that cost me the detention but there we were in a classroom being supervised by a youthful tousle-haired physics teacher, a recent Cambridge physics graduate who’d turned his hand to secondary school teaching. It was his job to set the detention task for the assembled miscreants and being of a distinctly scientific persuasion he settled on an essay entitled, “Describe the inside of a table tennis ball.” After the initial uproar from the assembled spotty youths he explained that it was an excellent essay title based on a question he’d been asked at his interview for Cambridge just a few years ago. 400 words, thank you very much, and we had an hour to complete it. Also, it would be read aloud at the end of the detention and if it didn’t pass muster with him then we’d have to rewrite it there and then.
What could you possibly say that was of any interest about the inside of a table tennis ball? The words didn’t flow very well at first but later I warmed to the theme. Some dreamed up cod science surfaced in my hormone-charged adolescent brain so I banged on about the need for a perfectly spherical internal surface of said table tennis ball, free of all minor weaknesses in order to avoid the concentration of stresses that could induce eventual collapse and failure…yadda, yadda…you get the drift. That got me to about 200 words. But I was struggling from then on. What next? Grasping at straws, perhaps some faux sociology/philosophy nonsense as interpreted by a recent TV programme I’d seen might work? Culled from this:-
(Above) Patrick McGoohan as ‘The Prisoner’ being followed around ‘Rover’, a menacing over-sized table tennis ball which corralled the inhabitants of The Village preventing them from escaping.
Buoyed up now with teenage false confidence, and being a bit of a Stanley Kubrick fan, I may have also dropped in references to his magnificent, ‘A Clockwork Orange’, on the basis (possibly) that the actual fruit is spherical(ish). Hey, I was 15 and in my desperation for passable content it kinda made sense.
And so to today.
(Above) Coire Dubh, a relatively shallow coire carved into the south side of the Carn Liath massif. Yes, you guessed right, it was white, hard, cold and stable! The now elderly cornice debris merely adds a bit of photographic eye-candy.
(Above) Coire Dubh from afar. To add some broader context.
So did I make it home for tea & medals after just one hour of detention, or tea & sympathy two hours later?
History relates that my detention minor thesis fell on its face and I had to rewrite it. The physics teacher had never seen ‘The Prisoner’ and thought Kubrick’s work was at best muddled, over-hyped tosh and my references to it tenuous in the extreme. He was wrong of course. Not about my essay, which was rubbish, but about Stanley Kubrick who at the time was one of our greatest film directors and gave us the inestimable ‘Dr Strangelove’. 
I never forgave the physics geek for his lack of taste.

Comments on this post

  • Andrew
    6th March 2021 11:23 pm

    A 15 year old shouldn’t have had anything to do with ‘A Clockwork Orange’! No wonder you were in detention, obviously a ‘bad egg’ (or a bad table tennis ball!)

    • meagaidhadmin
      7th March 2021 10:24 am

      The furore the film created prior to its initial release was total catnip for a teenager. They banned it a year or two later which would be regarded as a brilliant marketing coup nowadays. Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je T’aime’ went to No.1 in the charts for similar reasons after the BBC banned it from the radio airwaves. Same happened to Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ back in the 80s.

      The film was re-released to popular acclaim in 2019.

      Film poster

  • Tina C
    7th March 2021 8:10 am

    Take an “A” for effort. See we can read & appreciate this over hyped tosh – magic.

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