A few late beers had put the moping to bed and an early
start finds a reasonable volume of gypsum powder for
me to start making my plaster of Paris plaque (yes,
I’d forgotten what it was all for too). Anyway,
all the trouble thinking about how to get the gypsum
hasn’t left much time for creative thinking about
what to put on the blasted thing. Some brainstorming
with the others brings out lots of clever ideas about
what are the essential elements of planet Earth and
even some philosophical debates about whether we should
be communicating the ingenuity of our planet or the
ingenuity of us humans. In the end, desperate times
meant desperate measures.
I decided that Kate and I were in this together. After
all, a few years ago she’d co-presented The Essential
Guide To Rocks – BBC Two’s last geology
series. As an honorary geologist, she should have recognised
it was calcite veins as well as gypsum. She should share
the humiliation. What better then than a plaster of
Paris mould of her face? The only trouble is that when
calcium sulphate mixes with water the chemical reaction
gives off heat, so people using it wear gloves to avoid
burning the skin. Clearly Kate didn’t deserve
to lose her skin for what was a relatively minor geological
mistake. A safer way to make the mould was to have her
make the impression into wet sand, and then pour the
liquid plaster of Paris into it to set in the mould.
But would our lovely Kate really agree to bury her
face in wet sand? Of course she did – what a girl!
With her delicate features (squashed nose and double
chin) preserved in stone for eternity, my bit was done.
Of course – the others had their challenges to
complete. Having been a bit too preoccupied with moping
I hadn’t had much chance to check up on how theirs
were going, so it was brilliant to watch as first the
magical ‘sound-on-a-sunbeam’ light-communication
device and then the topsy-turvy space pen worked. Magnificent.
Team hugs. End of moping.