By Bob Barclay
In a London coffee house in the early days of 1749 a group of titled gentlemen sat around a table sipping their cups and playing whist at a shilling or two a rubber. The talk came around to practical jokes and japes, for which one of them in particular had a great fondness. John, the Second Duke of Montagu, is reputed to have said, "I wager that if somebody were to bruit it about that he could do the most impossible thing in the world, he would find fools enough in London to fill a playhouse who would think him earnest."
His friends quickly asked him what exactly he meant, smelling a hint of one of his infamous japes. He picked up an empty carafe from the table and said, "If I were to tell people that I could climb into this bottle and be seen within it upon the stage of a theatre, I wager I could put a bum on every seat."
Eric Schiller is a founding member of OWSAG and a retired University of Ottawa civil engineering professor.