Monsieur Creosote

An interesting email in from Alban Cambe in France:

Hi Tristan,

I think I might have uncovered a new clue to South…

I was walking home from the post office when I noticed the telephonic poles in my street where slightly different if they were down the street or up. The newest ones are up the slope and the older ones down.

The newest look perfectly healthy despite a film of algae (on the northeast side). What struck me was the oldest ones which were covered in some kind of tar or bitumen that seemed to have flowed from the heart of the wood itself.

After few researches I found out that these kind of wooden poles are soaked in “creosote” in order to make the wood imputrescible*. My guess is that the sun heats the pole on its southern side, melting the creosote down from the structure of the wood. Therefore, the creosote seems to flow more on the southern side of the pole.

I repeated this observation only 2 times in the vicinity of the first observation, some poles are brand new, there have been a lot of works in the past few months.

You will find photos with this email. Hope it was interesting and you may confirm it soon.

Best regards,

Alban Cambe

Thanks Alban. I can’t claim to have noticed this, but has anyone else? Please get in touch if you have.

(Apologies, Alban, for the title to this blog post, I couldn’t resist an irrelevant and grotesque Monty Python reference.)

* It appears that while ‘putrescible’ is of course an officially recognised English word (“Liable to decay; subject to putrefaction” OED), ‘imputrescible’ isn’t. Yet. Since its meaning is so clear and it is a lovely word, I hereby declare Alban Cambe its progenitor.