The Forth Rail Bridge proudly stands across the Firth of Forth some nine miles west of the city of Edinburgh. Its russet red metal work has a complete length of about two and a half kilometres. It is a world renowned railway icon and a testament to Victorian engineering. It truly is a product from a different age.
It is a euphemism however, for a job that is without end, as in the’ painting of the Forth Bridge’ where a team of workers will start at one end with paint brushes in hand and vats of red paint scraping and dabbing away at every plate and rivet until they had reached the other end. At this point they would go back and start again.
Oh the tedium! Oh the monotony!
Like Sisyphus and his stone, the poor, yet highly skilled, painters of the Forth Rail Bridge are destined to a life of endless repetition.
But wait, there is hope? A new painting process has been developed where the coating is electrostatically applied. It is a paint job that is guaranteed to last for twenty five years.
No longer will the workers dreams be rutilated. No longer will they inch their way to and fro, high above the swirling waters below. Once they get to the end they can leave it for another generation of painters to come along behind them, perhaps their sons are daughters if painting is in their genes.
So perhaps in future the Forth Bridge will become a euphemism for a new way of working. One in which a solution is found for the long term, and where a technical solution is applied successfully.
In the future will we hear people say that something is ‘like painting the Forth Bridge’? ‘Yes it is. That’s it done and dusted for another 25 years.’ Job done.