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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

The Neon Tube Experiment
Tuesday, October 26, 2021 @ 10:33 PM

I had been carrying the neon tube in my car for a few days, ready to try out a small experiment. It was a bit too long so I had a bit of it sticking out of the window on the passenger side. Apparently, there’s no specific law against this as long as you fasten a red strip of material to the end. I used an old tanga which I had found in the spare room.

Somewhere, I’d read that if you hold a neon tube firmly at both ends and stand under a 264 million gigawatt electric pylon, similar to the ones that Endesa likes to raise up in people’s back yards, the light will pick up the ambient electrical radiation and actually glow.

It would make a bloody good photo, I reasoned. It would help publicise the case of the unfortunate veterinarian lady from the riverbed as she stood on her roof under the stretch of the giant cables that the power company had thoughtfully draped over her home. To say nothing of the massive pylon they had erected just outside her bedroom window. She would stand there like a modern goddess, her legs slightly apart, her chin raised defiantly, the neon tube held firmly between her palms as it radiated.

While the vet glowed, just after sunset, I would be ready to take a quite sensational picture.

On the way down from the sierras where I had been hunting mushrooms, my way took me past what used to be a rather large and modern restaurant – Madrid money, they say – which sits defiantly under another enormous electric highway once again erected by the omnipresent electricity provider; a monopoly whose only interest and loyalty – as proved over the past few months – is to its shareholders. Curiously, the joint, which is evidently spreading gently out from the original farmhouse and which has been tastefully converted to a roadside brothel, apparently has no electrical hook-up of its own and has to rely on a generator.

The lines crossing above the locale actually hum and one's hair writhes slightly as it debates whether to stand on end under the cables.

A perfect place for my experiment.

I stopped the car outside the door and climbed out with my rod, looking something like a manic Luke Skywalker.

Right there, outside the front door, I spread my legs slightly, grabbed hold of both ends of the neon tube and, with a short prayer to the god of idiots, waited to be bathed in light.

Well, nothing happened, actually, and after wishing a good evening to the three or four slightly startled looking girls together with the bouncer who had come outside to join me, I put the rod back in the car, fastened the knickers firmly on one end, and quietly drove home.

The cables above the vet’s place, I noticed this morning, are now in full working mode. You can see the air bubble as it touches them. Perhaps the earlier experiment hadn’t worked because the power wasn’t strong enough. These new pylons appear to hold an even heavier charge. I think I might try my neon tube experiment again tonight.

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