PERHAPS you don't believe this small ad. has ever been published. It hasn't, but it could have been.
Steeple Researcher Elliott in Celebration Steeple Hat
You have a parcel to tie? A hundred parcels? Or you just want to pull a string? Ring Rushden on the intercom, and we will meet your every need.
Now of all places on this terrestrial ball Rushden office has long been the most stringless. To tie a parcel meant shredding a piece of publisher's rope, or sacrificing one's braces, or searching for a multi-knotted scrap of string saved up from the last incoming package.
So why the sudden abundance? Why the bulging drawers, the stacked-up basement, the trailing lines that snake and trip the unwary? We will tell you. . . .
One day in April there was rather a mad sort of scene. "Don," boomed a voice, "go and buy some stringlots of it; not less than two hundred feet. Take it to so-and-so, do so-and-so, and fail at your peril." (Exit Don).
Skipping Scene 2, we now describe Scene 3a room at the office where string is being unwound from a stick and measured against the edge of a table. Weary arms are stretched like those of a particularly imaginative angler. Somebody counts aloud, and a female, gladly forsaking "Coronation Background No. 33," writes down some figures.
Presently the tension is unbearable. Will it never end? It will and does. Figures are added up. Groans rend the air. A story is written. . . .
We said it was rather mad, didn't we?
Well, now for Scene 2. Don makes cautious approach to St. Mary's Church, whistles for the steeplejacks to come down from the clouds, and hands them seven shillings worth of best string. "Take this," he says, "and dangle it from the highest point. The Echo and Argus and Evening Telegraph wish to check-up on the height of the steeple."
Steeplejacks will do anything for an occasional photo of themselves, and in a few minutes our plumb line, weighted with metal, was being lowered from a plank in line with a lineal.
When the weight touched the tower roof the spare string in the clouds was cut off. Then from the battlements the tower was measured by the same method. The string, already cut to the exact length of the spire, revealed the tower to be somewhat shorter, so a knot was tied where the surplus began. . . .
And the story? It said that the height of Rushden's beautiful spire, always believed to be 192 feet, was only 164 feet. A local expert challenged the old figure in 1946 and we had waited for the chance to prove him right or wrong. Just before the string test the local surveyoralso at our requesthad made a survey by theodolite. The string confirmed his report, and that was that.
Finally, a confession. We bought two lots of string to get the low-down on the church, but one was never used. It did not occur to us that tower and spire could be measured separately.