Clink Street, London, 15th September 2014
Trade shows are bizarre places. I don't know if you've been to the Basel watch fair, but the weirdest part is the bit where they show retail display furniture - you know, those C-shaped stands for watches, price blocks, velvet plinths, things like that. At first you think, "Where are the watches? Haven't they finished setting up yet?".
But Basel is nowhere near as weird as the Stuttgart automotive trade show that I went to a few years back, when I was looking into supplying parts for vehicle dashboards. An entire room is devoted to crash test dummies, and their salesmen trying to convince you in German-clipped English that their dummies are the best. Sometimes it's hard to tell them apart from their products. It's a yellow-soaked zombie horror movie.
These days, we treat our quartz crystals like crash test dummies. I'm not going to let on exactly what we've started doing, but a bit of harsh treatment seems to season them. A wizened old crystal that has been to hell and back keeps much better time - we have atomic measurements to prove it. And it's why there's a slight whiff of electrical burning in Clink Street these days, too, but the exact source of that is definitely going to remain a trade secret.