Day 34: Smelting
last filming day in New Zealand
the sawmill we find out that the smelting has worked, but maybe not as
perfectly as we had hoped. We now have purified gold inside a glass casing,
but it is not in one nugget – bummer! We can't very well make
jewellery out of little bits of pure gold. We will now need to cast it,
or at least melt it into one piece.
and I re-light the furnace. The bellows are still OK - sort of - but because
we didn't have time to let the lining dry properly before lighting
the furnace the previous day the clay has now cracked. This could affect
the insulation that is needed to obtain high internal temperatures. A
heavy shower arrives. It is a pain sitting outside in the rain. J suggests
generating heat using a carbon arc, much like an arc welder. I hope that
it works. He disappears into the sawmill with a car battery to provide
electricity, some automobile jump leads to connect his device, and two
carbon rods that he removed from a flat flashlight battery. Within minutes
sparks are flying (literally) and the tips of the carbon rods are glowing.
He melts the gold, but because of the method he is using, the surface
of the gold nugget produced is ‘pock marked'. I suggest flashing
a gas-welding torch across it to melt the surface but J doesn't
want to ‘cheat'. He takes to polishing the gold while Mikey
and I chill out. The result is a shiny gold whitebait looking pendant.
Ellen and Kathy produce lovely solid gold earrings.
programme ends successfully. We are all getting on well. We have gold
jewellery and hope that we have made a great series.
That evening we hold
a ‘rap party' (a party to celebrate the end of filming). I
usually find most such parties pretty tiresome. This party is different
though – way different. The ‘influential people' and
the ‘local helpers' are friends. We are constantly told that
we are ‘almost locals', ‘honorary locals', that
we will be ‘missed badly', that the town ‘won't
be the same without us'. Gradually the music is turned up a little.
The pub is heaving with people, all of whom we know. It was probably Kathy
who started dancing, I don't know. I'm not far behind, and
within minutes half the people in the pub are dancing to Irish jigs one
minute, contemporary British dance music the next. Everyone is smiling.
Everyone is enjoying themselves. It's among the best parties of
any sort that I have ever been to. What a place! What a great bunch of
people. I'll miss so many of the characters that I have met. As
for the BBC posse? I'd like to think that after ‘Rough Science
Three', we are in a lot better shape than after filming the second
series. Respect is due to Steve Evanson for holding such an unlikely group
together very much against the odds. In a way one of our regular helicopter
pilots summed us up. He said, "There are film crews and then there
are crews that film. You're a great crew that happens to film".
Cool! Nice one Tucky.
I like being with
my friends again, but I'm not sure that I like being back in the
UK it has been difficult being away from Liz for so long, but I will miss
New Zealand's West coast for a long time.
sit in ‘rural' England and listen to the constant hiss of
tyres as cars drive along a distant road. Planes fly overhead, kids shout
and scream in a neighbour's garden, a lawn mower drones on in another.
Thanks to light pollution I can only see a fraction of the stars that
would have been visible in New Zealand, even on a clear summer night in
the Cotswolds. And the English countryside? Even the most beautiful and
scarcely populated areas are - what can I say - sanitised. There is little
or no wilderness left in the whole of the UK, let alone the south of England.
Compared to the South Island we live in a synthetic world, which is so
overcrowded that true freedom, the ability to do what we want as long
as no harm is caused, is an illusion. Half of me wants to fit right in
here again but a good part of me doesn't.