08 February 2010

On a wingnut and a prayer: Bromptons in Brompton

Bromptons, the iconic folding bikes (right), are named after the Brompton Oratory (right), a big Catholic church in the Brompton Road area of west London (right).

(The Catholic church has a saint for everything, of course. The one representing cycling is Madonna del Ghisallo. Television is St Clare of Assisi, and the Internet is St Isidore of Seville - handy to remember next time your connection keeps getting dropped while you're trying to book your summer holiday.)

According to the church's website, the name 'Brompton Oratory' is incorrect, though that's exactly what the sign outside calls it. They maintain its correct name is the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but I wouldn't have been so keen on a folding bike called 'Mary'. Still, Brompton Square isn't exactly a square either, I suppose. More a sort of circle you move in.

Anyway, you don't see many Bromptons parked round here. Presumably the owners simply take them inside the shop or restaurant or whatever, rather than leaving them to the mercy of the guys with greatcoats and bolt-cutters. Or relying on any hopeful prayers to the Madonna del Ghisallo.


  1. I think having a single saint for the internet shows that the catholic church isn't really up to date with networks and the challenges of High Availability and Scale. One saint would be a SPOF: Single Point of Failure.

    The correct design would be multiple load-balanced saints on different geo locations, different fault lines (robustness against earthquakes, asteroids, etc), all hosted in jurisdictions with compatible government policies (Data protection etc). You wouldn't pray to "the saint of the internet", you'd first log in to the church and get a link whichever saint you were to pray with for that session.

  2. The saint would have to give you a token to make sure you continued to talk to the same saint throughout your session though. A wafer perhaps?

  3. I would have thought that the Catholic doctrine of infallability means that fault-tolerance isn't strictly needed. In any case, if you were issued a wafer it would expire after a week so you'd need to renew it each Sunday.

  4. A common misconception about the Catholic church - only the Pope is infallible, and only in his Bulls. Whereas Steve Jobs, for instance, is always infallible....