Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Friday, 28th September, 2007
WHEN I WORKED in the backgrounds department on the film Watership Down in London in 1977 and earned £75 a week, I soon put the best part of a week wages towards this microscope. It carries a 'made in China' tag which wasn't so common at that time. I bought it from one of the technical shops which were a feature of Tottenham Court Road. You could reach the Watership Down studios through a small arcade at the top end of Tottenham Court Road, appropriately near to Warren Street underground station.
The film work was an interlude in writing my first book, A Sketchbook of the Natural History of the Country Round Wakefield and, as part of the broad study that I'd mapped out for myself, I wanted to look at pond life for myself.
I was staying for a short spell at a rather basic - well grubby to be honest - bed and breakfast opposite Kings Cross station. Back there in my the room, I was convinced that this microscope would open up a hidden world so I put some dust from the top of the coin-in-the-slot electric meter onto a glass slide, convinced that the microscope would reveal a teeming world of dust mites. I was disappointed when there was nothing to see. Except greatly enlarged dust.
The microscope came into its own when, back home in West Yorkshire, I put a drop of pond water into the hollow on one of the glass slides and saw tiny creatures such as rotifers, vorticella and slipper animalcule in action.
I've always preferred to use it at its lowest magnifications, that way you see a more three-dimensional image.
Here I go with yet another 3D design program, this time it's the versatile Carrara 5 which is featured on the cover DVD of the November issue of Computer Shopper (but not the CD version). I've been dabbling with Bryce, the 3D landscape program, for about 10 years, so the interface makes perfect sense to me.
With all my interests in geology, landscape, abbeys and castles I feel sure
that I'll be able to put it to good use some day. But if I don't, I'll enjoy
exploring its possibilities.