THE BUCKET GAG.
A STUDY IN HYDRAULICS.
This is one of the many and various gag's that tend to get carried out on the fire stations, I had only ever seen this particular gag performed at Hammersmith fire station, but it could possibly be quite a common one. Set the scene. It was during the strike in 1977 when all the watches on the fire station were intermingled, and some old gags could once again be tried out. All you need for an old gag to be effective is a new face to afflict it upon. It was around 12-30am in the morning and around a dozen firemen were seated around the long grey Formica covered mess table up on the first floor at Hammersmith fire station. We had only just returned from the Laurie Arms, a public house about 25 yards down the road from the fire station. A mere two or three guys were left manning the picket line and brazier down below on the ground floor, (no doubt hoping to pull some late night crumpet). All others were happily ensconced drinking some clinkie's (bottles of beer! this is the alternative to tinnies, cos you cannot get take-away cans of beer from a public house). For your further information, the term clinkie's is derived from the noise one makes as one staggers down the road with a plastic bag full of beer bottles. The plus side to clinkies being, that there is ten pence deposit back on each of the bottles the next day. So that the first man up in the morning with a clear head, can if he so needs or wishes, capture the lot. Station rules decree that writing one's name on the label of the bottle is not proof of ownership. So there we all were, drinking our clinkie's and passing the time of early morning, only so many striking days left till Christmas!. The conversation ranged over a vast range of subjects, from the Home Secretary is a wanker, to I've got to get up early in the morning cause I'm driving a lorry to Portsmouth. When somebody I know not who, decided that they wanted to discuss the subject of hydraulics. I mean come on now! I've just got back from the pub, where I have supped four pints of beer, I am now half way through my fifth, and some Pratt wants to talk about hydraulics. Note for the un-initiated hydraulics is the study of liquids at motion and at rest, which apparently, senior fire brigade officers need to be aware of, but is not much use when it comes to actually putting out fires. Well anyway this Pratt waffled on about surface area's, head and pressure etc, then went on to give us an analogy saying. That the standard two gallon water bucket was larger in circumference at the top than the bottom, this making it virtually impossible for a man to hold up a bucket of water with only one finger at the bottom for more than five minutes. It was at this point in the proceedings I suddenly began to pay close attention. I had been in the job a long long time, I had been the victim of many jokes myself and as such, could now spot a wheeze coming off from twenty paces away. A big young strapping firemen at the far end of the mess table took the bait stating brashly "ah nothing to it, two gallons of water weigh twenty pounds, another pound or two for the bucket, easy". The Pratt, now elevated in status in my eyes to being a cunning devious joker went on to waffle "No it can't be done, the inverse ratio of the large upper surface area, to the lower area of the bucket etc etc makes it impossible". Well, a two gallon metal bucket was duly produced and filled to the brim with water. It was agreed that instead of using his finger the (victim!) would instead use the upturned handle of a broom to hold the bucket aloft. Two firemen standing up on the mess table held the bucket up against the room ceiling, a broom handle was placed under the bucket, and duly handed to the young fireman. The first five minutes passed quite uneventfully, one or two wags commented on the strength and tenacity of the young fireman. During the second five minutes the young man was urged to carry on, and get himself in the Guinness book of records. During the third five minutes interest seemed to have waned somewhat, the general hubbub of conversation in the room arose, and the clink of beer bottles was again to be heard. At last our hero red in the face and sweating slightly declared "alright lads, fifteen minutes is long enough I've shattered the record take the bucket down now will you". Well of course if you have spent a few years in the job, or even the armed forces, you will have guessed the ultimate punch line to this gag. For those of you that have not, and possibly still retain faith in human nature, picture the following scenario. There you are in the middle of a room, holding up a full bucket of water against the ceiling using the handle of a broom and suddenly you are the only person left in the room, no one to assist you in the delicate procedure of lowering down the full bucket of water. Once again was to be heard ringing through the station the age old anguished cry of the distressed fireman "you b*st*rds I'll get you all for this" but even this vengeful cry was partly drowned out by the loud crashing and splashing noises.
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