Propulsion Tables

When consulting propulsion tables, it is extremely important that you know exactly what you are looking at. This is all the more so since there are two different sets of propulsion tables in circulation, the popular Blötzmann Propulsion Tables and the somewhat arcane Non-Blötzmann Propulsion Tables. Both sets are widely available, either as booklets or as loose-leaf plastic sheets which can be propped on a little hands-free propulsion table-holding tripod. Of course, both the Blötzmann and Non-Blötzmann tables give pretty much the same results, depending on the precise nature of your experiment, and even some of our most top-drawer propulsionists have gone on record to say that they do not give two pins which set of propulsion tables they use. But there is slightly more to it than that.

It is hardly surprising that Blötzmann himself execrated the Non-Blötzmann tables in rather fruity language. I would quote him directly, were it not that my upbringing makes me prefer the thought of throwing myself into the path of a speeding train rather than uttering some of the fruitier words in Blötzmann’s lexicon. Sheltered it may have been, and riddled with priests, but I make no apologies for the way I was brought up. Yes, I may blush when I read language like that spat from the mouth of Blötzmann, but that does not make me a bad person, merely, I would aver, one who does not wish to be sullied and besmirched. The Blötzmanns of this world may scoff at one of my refined sensibilities, and god knows they do, but I shall not waver. That is why I will not repeat the verbal abuse Blötzmann poured down upon the begetter of the Non-Blötzmann Propulsion Tables. You will just have to take my word that he condemned them absolutely.

Given the popularity and effectiveness of Blötzmann’s own propulsion tables in calculating all kinds of propulsiony matters, it is common to find people asking why the Non-Blötzmann set was ever devised in the first place. Oh, I don’t mean that you will be asked such a question while waiting at a bus stop or trudging along the high street or when you pop into the newsagent to buy a packet of cheap Lithuanian cigarettes. But at any gathering of propulsionists, for example at a cocktail party held to celebrate the publication in an important academic journal of a new paper on a knotty propulsion problem, or in the queue for the toilets at an award ceremony for a propulsionist who has won a ribbon or a medal, you can bet that someone present will pipe up with the old question of why on earth the Non-Blötzmann Propulsion Tables were not only created, but published in great quantities, in innumerable editions and formats, and often included a picture of Blötzmann on the cover which was deliberately scribbled upon or otherwise defaced. It is as if he is some kind of Stalin figure, wielding limitless power, who must be deposed for the greater good. Perhaps there is an element of truth in this. After all, Blötzmann was a commanding figure in the world of propulsion, with a deafeningly loud voice, the constitution of a bison, and a tendency, at conferences, to wear dazzling suits dotted with badges made from semi-precious metals. He had a curious way of carrying himself, such that even when sprawled half-asleep in a chaise longue, his belly full of cognac, he looked as if he was standing upon a plinth, gazing into a brighter future. And of course, since his death in that unfortunate picnicking accident, statues of him have sprung up wherever one looks, or at least wherever one looks in propulsionist circles, and it cannot be denied that a sort of personality cult has arisen in his wake.

It is also true that the person or persons who devised the Non-Blötzmann Propulsion Tables remain, to this day, completely anonymous. I had hoped, when I sat down to write this article, to reveal to the world their identity. Then we could at least refer, along with the Blötzmann Propulsion Tables, to, say, the Huffington or Widdecombe or Blunkett-Blears Propulsion Tables, instead of having to use that frankly irritating Non-Blötzmann formulation. It saddens me, immeasurably so, that I cannot make good on my intention. I have, you see, been “got at”, by dark and sinister forces within the propulsionist community. Tomorrow morning at dawn I begin work in the salt mines. It will, I suppose, be something of a novelty to give lectures on propulsion to salt miners as they hack away with their picks and shovels, although I am fearful that the language deployed by salt miners is a sight more fruity than the language used by Blötzmann in his denunciation of the Non-Blötzmann Propulsion Tables. Wise, I think, to pack a pair of earplugs in my pippy bag, to protect my delicate sensibilities, for which, I repeat, I refuse to apologise.

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