The Mother Of Invention

rakiIf there actually is, or ever was, anyone out there waiting with baited breath for the next episode of ‘Iran Life’, breathe in and relax for there is plenty more to come – just not yet. There is more to life than rakı and spinning great yarns!

Anyway, many of you know about our dear ‘daughter’ Gülay; a lady of great character and not a small amount of courage. She’s going through a really rotten period in her life – over a year ago an abscess opened up on her heel and it has proved really stubborn to treatment. Two skin grafts have already failed and another graft using muscle tissue as well as skin in now in the offing. This is a daunting time for her. A big element in the grafts failing is her inability, as a paraplegic, to exercise properly and the necessity to get blood pumping to the area around the wound.

‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’, or so it is said! That being the case, I and my bosom-buddy, brother – call us whatever you like, you won’t embarrass us – Ahmet from Istanbul, put our heads together and did some cogitating. I’ve often wondered what ‘Blue-Sky Thinking’ meant and now I know having been privy to some of his amazing/bizarre drawings that have cluttered up my in-box!



don’t dismiss mummies or elastic bands – already moving on to other ideas!

Ahmet is a university boy whose imagination knows no bounds. I, on the other hand, was indoctrinated with the parachute soldier’s mantra of ‘two’s up, left-flanking, bags of smoke and play it off the cuff’! He’s a thinker, I’m a bodger – he works things out ahead of time, I knock something together and figure out later how to get my arse out in one piece!

So it was that we decided to put together a prototype machine that would give Gülay’s heart, lungs and arms a good work-out whilst helping to pump blood to her feet and legs. If we can figure out her requirements then we’ll get something made by professional engineers (this is Ahmet’s sphere) in Istanbul that will also be marketable at cost (or less through subsidies) to other people with lower limb paralysis. The Letters of Patent look very impressive and I wonder what they are referring to when I compare with what has taken shape in my workshop!


Where to start? Well, a couple of perfectly serviceable, second-hand bikes, a pile of steel off-cuts, a driver’s seat from a crashed car and my workshop seemed like a good place.


cobbling the ideas together into something ‘real’


Boffer going ‘two’s up, left flanking, bags of sparks and . .’


the crash dummy is looking for a new job!


the adjustable locking mechanism



 J has been manfully engaged in testing out the prototype at each stage 

Last evening we saw Gülay, who is home for a few days before heading back to hospital, and talked about the project and the problem of how to fix her legs to the machine when she can’t have any pressure at all where the abscess is. She came up with a pair of custom-made foot/ankle supports that are no longer of use – with a couple of bits of cut-down drain pipe and a few metres of velcro they may very well be the solution.

What you’ve seen above is a selection of photos of the progress of the project from a pile of bits in the corner to a working/functioning model. It is not finished yet, but as the cat is well and truly out of the bag as far as Gülay is concerned, here it is in all its ‘Heath Robinson’ glory! (minus lower leg supports that are yet to be worked through)


Real engineers will be able to turn this in to something that is chainless, fully adjustable, looks good, works good and by golly will do you good! It will also, in all probability, look nothing like the above pile of scrap! If ever Gülay, Ahmet and I needed a lot of crossed fingers then now and the next couple of weeks would be a good time.

 Alan Fenn, Cloud Cuckoo Land

18 thoughts on “The Mother Of Invention

  1. Amazing and wonderful! A courageous lady with great friends. Good luck to all.

  2. you..not only Gulay’s (and J’s) but my hero as well…. 🙂
    As I always say..
    “best in the west, and I think
    in the east
    and south
    and north, too… “

  3. Alan, What a creative, heroic effort! But knowing you, we wouldn’t have expected any less. Give Gülay our best. We’re looking forward to your next installment on this project now, as well as your trip to Iran.

  4. You, Ahmet and a pile of metal = Nothing less than genius! I did wonder about what the outcome of a couple of old bike frames and pedals would produce by way of a “work” out aid for Gulay. And you didn’t hang about! So clever Bof, congrats x

    1. She got to beta Test it today and was away like Lance Armstrong on steroids! Couple of adaptations to make as a result and then the real engineers can get to work.

  5. Genius, so very thoughtful, just lovely, words not enough, and I am sure Gulay deserves it all; a big bravo size, and all the best for dear Gulay- so remarkable!:) Cok sevgiler, ozlem

  6. I know you talked about trying to sort some thing out to help Gulay but this is brilliant seeing it all come together like this, she must be over the moon with it and looking forward to being able to put it into practise, All the very best to Gulay and hope she will make a speedy recovery.

    As I’m all behind with my e mail I will give you a call Love Sis

    1. you know me Sis, efficient, organised, focussed! We all hope for the graft to take next time around.

    1. . . which, according to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations dates it back to the early 14th century 😉

Comments are closed.