Divine comedy

Carolyn sent me another of her out-of-the-blue text messages on Monday:

Have you ever used those water-finding sticks? I'm going to make some tonight out of coat hangers.

I texted her back to explain that the word she was looking for was diviners (not dividers, as I had overheard some bloke say the previous week, while he was trying to chat up a very bored-looking woman). I also explained that divining was "utter bollocks, obviously".

Carolyn then texted back to say that she had tried it with coat hangers before and "it definitely worked".

After a few more texts, I rang her. "This has got something to do with bees, hasn't it?" I said. Carolyn laughed. It was indeed to do with bees.

It turned out that she planned to go dowsing to look for a suitable fault line to situate her bee-hive near. Yes, she was still going on about that bollocks about fault lines.

I pointed out that using divining rods to detect energy vibrations emanating from fault lines was using a technique which doesn't work to detect something which doesn't exist emanating from something which isn't there.

Which is how I came to find myself standing in a dark field holding a pair of bent coat-hangers on Tuesday night:

Me dowsing

An expert in the field on Tuesday.

"It works! It works!" screamed Carolyn as her coat-hangers crossed.

"It doesn't work; you tilted your hands," I said.

"No I didn't; they definitely moved!" said Carolyn. "Here, you have a go!"

So I had a go. Walking over exactly the same spot, I watched open-mouthed as my two coat-hangers miraculously did not cross, but splayed wide apart.

"You moved your hands!" said Carolyn.

I think not. The dowsing rods had evidently detected my negative vibes.

It's the only logical explanation.


I received one of Carolyn's out-of-the-blue, weird-question text messages on Tuesday morning:

I wonder how I would know where the fault lines in our garden & field are?

I have to admit, I have never wondered that. As a general rule, gardens don't have fault lines. So, on Tuesday evening, I took Carolyn for a walk, and demanded to know what the hell she was on about. It turned out she was on about bees (obviously). Someone had turned up at her bee club claiming that bee hives should be placed on fault lines. The vibrations rising up from the fault line, he reckoned, mean that the bees have to vibrate less that usual in the hive (!?!), which means they have more energy to use to gather nectar and stuff.

No, Carolyn didn't understand it either. I told her it was bollocks. If anyone who isn't a physicist or a member of the Beach Boys starts going on about vibrations, you can pretty much guarantee it's bollocks. The same goes for waves and energy (although I don't consider the Beach Boys particularly well-informed on the latter).

I asked Carolyn if the man had suggested placing crystals under the bee hives. He hadn't. I think he's missing a trick there. Crystals famously help to focus energy.

I then asked Carolyn if she was sure he had said fault lines and not ley lines. No, Carolyn was pretty sure he'd said fault lines.

"You did science at school and university," I said; "you don't actually believe this bollocks, do you?"

"I never did Geography!" said Carolyn.

I have to admit, she had me there.


Disclaimer: For the record, I'm not saying that there couldn't possibly be a correlation between beehives' proximity to geological fault lines and honey production. I suspect there isn't, but, if there were, I could hypothesise several plausible explanations for it. What I am saying, however, is that the hypothesis that energy vibrations from fault lines somehow increase honey production is utter, utter bollocks.

Queen bee

"I suppose I'd better just lie down and get it over with," said Carolyn, the other week.

"Who do you think you are, Queen Victoria?" I asked.

She was talking about photographing bees:

Carolyn photographing bees

Carolyn photographing bees recently.


To bee or not to bee

It started a couple of weeks back with one of Carolyn's obscure text messages:

R u going 2 your dads on Tues. & can u take your camera?m

I don't know when Carolyn started spelling in such an appalling way, or what the 'm' at the end stood for. Perhaps it should have rung a few alarm-bells. She went on to explain (I use the word loosely):

I wanted u 2 take a special picture of a field of flowers. If I can get a key to the field gate.
Carolyn beekeeping

What the dapper beekeeper is wearing this season.

I replied that photographing a field full of flowers sounded right up my street.

In other words, I walked straight into it.

Read what Carolyn texted me again. Read it again very carefully: Field… Flowers… Photographs…

Do you see any mention at all of bees? Or of bee-suits?

Carolyn recently took up beekeeping, and, it turned out, she wanted some photos taking of her bees in action. But it was all right, you see, because she had a spare bee-suit, you see.

Her own bee-suit is a rather dapper affair, sensibly camouflaged to make it harder for the bees to spot her. Her spare bee-suit—the one she expected me to wear—was what can only be described as honey-coloured. It was also, it transpired, about 17 sizes too small. Carolyn literally cantered back and forth, jumping up and down in a spectacularly unsuccessful attempt at containing her laughter, as I tried to clamber into her spare bee-suit. I know I'm not exactly the sveltest of chaps, but there was no way on Earth that I was going to be able to zip it up. I couldn't ever stand fully upright in it.

So I stooped at a respectful distance, with my stomach hanging out of my borrowed bee-suit, taking photographs, while Carolyn did whatever it is that beekeepers do. Then we returned to her car, where I tried to get out of the damn bee-suit. In the end, Carolyn had to help me.

"Wait till I tell Jen that you took my clothes off!" I said.

"Just as long as you don't mention it on your website," replied Carolyn. "My niece would be mortified if she knew you'd been wearing her bee-suit."