“Hello there. Today marks the first instalment of a new series on Muggle technology. We shall be looking at how Muggles get around without magic, how they manage with everyday tasks that we take for granted with the aid of magic. We shall also be looking at their little inventions, ranging from the ball point pen to the Atom bomb, whatever that is…” The presenter looked at his producer and shrugged his shoulders.
“We shall also be introducing a new presenter, Mr Arthur Weasley, who is an expert on Muggles, having worked with them for over twenty years.”
Arthur leaned into the microphone and spoke loudly. “Hello, Mr Williams.”
The presenter winced as the sound in his headphones hurt his ears “Please call me Mark.”
“Thank you, Mark.” Arthur looked around and saw the producer whisper “Quietly!”
“So tell me, Arthur, what have you got planned for us in the next few weeks?”
“Well, Mark, this week I shall be looking into Muggle transportation. Hopefully I will also be able find out how aeroplanes stay up.” The listeners could almost hear the smile on Arthur’s face.
Both the presenter and his producer looked at each other and shook their heads in disbelief.
“I am also going to find out all about their law enforcement officers and their armed forces.”
“Looks like you have a few very busy weeks ahead of you. I, for one, can’t wait for your reports. Well, thank you for coming in, Arthur, and I look forward to seeing you again next week.”
“Well, that’s all for now I will leave you with the soothing sounds of Cordila Warshbank and her ballads.”
The on-air light, went out, signalling the end of the programme.
“Hey, Arthur, are you really going up in one of them Air-up-planes?” Mark looked at him as if Arthur had clearly lost his mind.
“Yes. Hopefully, they might also let me fly one as well. But let’s look at the small things first.”
“What? Things like life insurance?”
All the men laughed as they left the studio, shaking hands and slapping backs.
* * * *
Arthur and his producer met at the outskirts a very large building the next day. In fact it was a Car production plant in the West Midlands.
“Are you sure we’re in the right place, Arthur? I can’t see a bridge anywhere.”
“No, Sid, it’s called Longbridge. It’s a place, not a bridge. They make cars here. I think they’re called Rex’s or something like that. Let’s find the reception area.”
“You know, Sid, I had a car once.” Arthur looked over at Sid who looked impressed.
“I heard about that, didn’t it fly?”
Arthur smiled, but Sid could tell Arthur was holding something back.
“Well, it wasn’t supposed to. I just thought, well, I thought it was possible.” Arthur sighed and mumbled. “Of all the people to get caught flying it, it had to be Ron and Harry.”
Sid chuckled. “It crashed into the Whomping Willow, didn’t it?”
Arthur grinned. “It’s still running around the Forbidden Forest.” Both laughed out loud at this as they walked on.
Both men walked around and finally saw a sign that pointed them to the main reception area. They made their way into the building. They asked to see their tour guide and waited patiently for him to arrive.
They met a very jovial man by the name of Mr Sedgeway. He took them into a small room to explain to them all about Health and Safety.
“Welcome to Longbridge, and may I take this opportunity to wish you a pleasant visit to our plant.” Arthur and Sid smiled at each other and looked over at the Rhododendron’s and Lupin’s on display. “They are splendid. Look Sid, there in full bloom.” Sid smiled and walked over to them and inhaled the scent of the flowers.
“Marvellous, Arthur, but I thought we were going to see how cars are made?”
Mr Sedgeway looked at both Arthur and Sid with trepidation. But decided to carry on regardless.
“We shall be looking around and hopefully, that will give you an insight into how we make cars here at Rover. But first I shall be showing you a video on Health and Safety. This shall give you an understanding of what not to do and what to do in a factory environment.”
It was fair to say this was Arthur’s first time watching a video film. To say he enjoyed it would be a big understatement. He thought that laughing when the man got hit over the head was a bit of a faupax, and asking if there was any popcorn and ‘bubbly-pop’. But on the whole, he enjoyed it.
After the video Mr Sedgeway stood up and cleared his throat.
“I’m afraid you won’t be able to wear your coat on the shop floor or the assembly area. It’s against procedure.” Arthur looked over at Sid, who in turn looked slightly alarmed.
“In fact, all of your loose clothing will have to be removed. Did you not get my e-mail?”
“No. I didn’t get the a-b-c or d one. Did you, Sid?”
“No, Arthur, it must have been lost.”
Mr Sedgeway looked at them and frowned. “Never mind, you can put these on over your clothes. Please leave your coats here. You will have to wear your P.P.E as well.”
Arthur had a sudden sensation of panic come over him. “I don’t have any pippy, do you, Sid?”
Sid leaned into Arthur. “No, Arthur. What is it?” Arthur was glad that Sid shared this particular feeling.
Mr Sedgeway, seeing the confusion on their faces, huffed and walked into a small cupboard and gave them each a small bag.
“Here, now you have some Personnel Protective Equipment. You each have a hard hat, some overalls, ear protection and eye protection. Oh and you also have steel toe capped boots.”
“Now when you are ready we shall get going, off to the body shop.” Mr Sedgeway looked at Arthur and Sid as they got changed. Arthur smiled and leaned in to Sid to whisper.
“That, was a close call, do you think you can wear these outside as well?” Arthur and Sid struggled to get into their overalls, Arthur smiled as he put on his new boots. “Do you know, Sid, these are the best boots I have ever worn.”
Sid smiled as he got into his overalls. “They’re not bad are they, couple of charms to keep them clean and they’d last ages.”
They got into the buggy and started on their tour. Mr Sedgeway cleared his throat.
“Now, when I tap my eyes and ears, gentlemen, can you please put on your P.P.E?”
They stopped outside the entrance to the body shop so Arthur could present what he was witnessing.
“So here we are listeners at Longbridge, a small part of the West Midlands, which happens to make cars. Is that right, Mr Sedgeway?”
Mr Sedgeway, not expecting to be interviewed, sputtered a reply. “Er, y-yes, that’s right.”
“Mr Sedgeway has kindly agreed to take us around his magnificent production plant, and also to tell us about making cars. So Mr Sedgeway, how many cars do you produce in a given week?”
“Oh, I would say about four to five hundred.”
“Really! I was expecting about four to five. You Muggles certainly know your stuff.”
Both Sid and Mr Sedgeway looked at Arthur strangely. Arthur on the other hand tried to pass it off as a slip of the tongue.
“What are Muggles?” Mr Sedgeway was getting more suspicious by the minute.
Arthur was beginning to panic. “That’s what you call yourself, isn’t it?” Arthur asked. “Muggles, because you live in the Midlands.”
“Oh, you mean Midlanders.” Mr Sedgeway chuckled to himself.
“Yes, yes, that’s right, Midlanders.” Arthur blushed.
Mr Sedgeway turned around and walked into the building. He didn’t see Sid clip Arthur around the head. “Prat, be careful next time.”
As soon as they walked in the building, both Arthur and Sid were surprised by two things. The size of the building, you could have easily housed the Quidditch World Cup in there, and the noise. Arthur and Sid looked at each other and smiled. Arthur actually felt giddy.
Mr Sedgeway was tapping his eyes and ears. Arthur and Sid put on their glasses and ear protection. Arthur looked around, surprised; it was as if somebody had turned the noise down. He could still hear all the machinery, but he could also hear Mr Sedgeway as well.
The tour started when Mr Sedgeway was finally happy that both men were wearing their P.P.E. He had to explain to Arthur that taking off his ear protection and putting it back on again was not a good idea. They walked around the production line and came to the body press.
Arthur actually giggled when asked if he wanted to press a piece of metal.
“Well listeners, I am about to press my fist piece of metal. Mr Sedgeway, how much pressure is exerted on this machine?” Arthur looked smugly over at Sid, who looked impressed.
“Well this machine, I would say about one thousand tons per square inch.”
“How much!” Arthur spluttered
“One thousand tons. It has to be that in order to press the metal.” Mr Sedgeway was obviously proud of this machine.
“Of course it has to do this.” Arthur recovered. He looked over to Sid and mouthed. “One thousand tons.”
“So now the flat piece comes off the track and into the -?” Arthur looked over at Mr Sedgeway.
“The press mould.” Mr Sedgeway was beginning to enjoy himself.
“Right, the press mould. So I just press this button here, then?” Arthur smiled when Mr Sedgeway nodded. Arthur’s hand was clammy, his breathing had stopped. He hesitated for a brief second, summoning up all his courage. Arthur then pressed the button down.
There was an explosion of noise, a groaning of metal and a final clatter of the piece being ejected out and onto the track for the next part of its journey.
Both Arthur and Sid were caught in a moment of stunned silence, both seeing the power and beauty of this huge machine; it was frankly awe inspiring.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, that was a sight to behold. We now follow our piece to the assembly weld shop. This is where all the pieces come together to be assembled into a car. Is that right, Mr Sedgeway?”
“That is correct, Mr Weasley.”
Arthur stopped in his tracks, causing Sid to bump into him. “What in the name of all that’s holy is THAT?”
“That, Mr Weasley is our mechanical Robotic welder.” It was difficult to see who was more excited Mr Sedgeway or Arthur was obviously in awe of this machine.
After ignoring Arthur’s comment on “These are even better than plugs.” Mr Sedgeway started explaining to Arthur what the machine’s purpose was, he motioned towards the Robot. “Do you wish to program the Robot, Mr Weasley? Anybody can do it.”
This spurned Arthur on. “I would love to, Mr Sedgeway. I would love to.” Arthur got in front of the control panel, and was mesmerised by all the buttons and flashing light’s. Arthur gulped and started to narrate.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am about to programme my first Robot. I hear you ask, ‘What is a Robot?’ Well, a robot is a machine that can do repetitive tasks over and over again. It can also make machines. So, in effect, it’s a machine that makes a machine, Fascinating.” The excitement was clearly visible on Arthur’s face and also in his voice.
After being shown which buttons to press, Arthur finally stepped up to the control panel “So listeners, I press these buttons here, in this order.” Arthur stuck his tongue out, as he pressed the buttons in turn, causing Sid, to chuckle.
“Well, I’m about to press the final button, to confirm the programme. Fingers crossed.”
Whatever Arthur was expecting, it wasn’t this. The Robot rose in a graceful arc, picked up the pressed piece of metal, and swung the piece around to another part of the track. It was held, fixed and welded it all in about five seconds.
“Sweet mother of all-” Arthur forgot his microphone was still on. “Did you see that, Sid? Did you see that?” Sid started to wave his arms, and mouthed. “Your mic, your mic. Carry on talking.”
"Well, listeners, we now have a shell of a car. I have only one word to describe this: BRILLIANT!”
Arthur looked at Mr Sedgeway, who was pointing to a sign that read ‘Paint shop.’
“Well, listeners, we shall now follow my car to the paint shop. Please lead the way, Mr Sedgeway.” They walked back along the production plant to the buggy, before entering the paint shop. Arthur was clearly still excited about the Robots.
“Did you see that ,Sid? I did that. I made a car! Me, Arthur Weasley, car maker extraordinaire!” Mr Sedgeway gave Arthur a rather strange look and also some information on the paint shop, which Arthur read out.
They pulled up next to the Paint shop. They all entered, and Arthur was surprised to see that it was so clean.
“Well the Dursleys would love this place.” Arthur mumbled to himself. Arthur turned to Sid and got ready for his presenting.
“So, listeners, we are now in the paint shop. I can see my car coming down the track; it looks as if it’s going in to be painted. So, Mr Sedgeway, how do you paint a car?”
“Well first they go into a vat of cleaning agents, as we see now. This in turn cleans the car of all grease and dust, as well as any other contaminates it may have picked up.”
“And here comes my car. It is now hanging from what can only be described as giant hooks. It’s now going into big bath, listeners.” Arthur was almost jumping up and down.
“It’s coming out now, ladies and gentlemen, look, Sid, it’s all shiny. So what now, Mr Sedgeway? Where do we go after this?”
“Well now we follow the car over to the spraying booth. Let’s follow it.” Mr Sedgeway motioned for Arthur and Sid to move along.
Arthur looked around, and to his delight, he saw more Robots spraying all the cars. “Would you look at that, Sid? They have robots painting my car. It looks all shiny.”
Mr Sedgeway couldn’t help but be amused by Arthur’s excitement.
“Yes, Mr Weasley, this is the first of many coats. Shall we go and have lunch, while it goes into the oven?”
“You cook the car? Surly you’re having me on?” Arthur looked at Mr Sedgeway expectantly.
Mr Sedgeway chuckled. “Yes, in a fashion we do, Mr Weasley. It dries and hardens the paint.”
“Outstanding! Simply marvellous!”
All three walked out of the paint shop and to the buggy. Arthur leaned over to Sid. “Do you think they have heard of plum duff?”
Sid chuckled to himself. “We’ll have to ask Arthur, we’ll have to ask.”
All three got out of the buggy. They found themselves out side a big building with the words ‘Canteen’ over the door.
Arthur had to be practically pulled away from the Food Carousel and clapped when they got to the tills.
“Well, listeners, we are now in the canteen where you will be pleased to know that they do all the things we do, although slower. I am having toad in the hole followed by spotted dick and custard, Sid is having chicken fricassee with jam roly poly and custard. I must say this food is excellent. Where are we going after this, Mr Sedgeway?”
Mr Sedgeway looked at Arthur with a slightly dazed look in his eyes; he couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something wasn’t right about this man “I mean who would get excited about a food carousel?” Mr Sedgeway chuckled to himself at the memory of Arthur’s face watching the carousel in motion, carrying all the dirty trays and plates away. And there was that word again “Muggles,” and the phrase “the things they think up.” Mr Sedgeway clearly thought Arthur was not really running on all cylinders, but he could also tell that he was genuine and generally interested in this factory. He was brought out of his thoughts by Arthur asking him again.
“Where are we going next, Mr Sedgeway?” It was clear to Arthur that Mr Sedgeway had possibly been breathing in too much paint fumes.
“What is that? I’m sorry, Mr Weasley, yes we shall be off to the engine plant. We shall then go to the assembly line, where all the components are fitted to the car.”
Arthur and Sid smiled. This was turning into a most enjoyable visit. Once lunch was over they got back into the buggy and made their way over to the engine production plant.
Once again Mr Sedgeway tapped his eyes and ears, where all three placed on their P.P.E.
The tour was brief, but Arthur learned more there than all the tinkering he had done in his shed. He had a brief chat with some of the men on the assembly line. Mr Sedgeway showed him the engine that would be going into the car. Arthur actually clapped when this was announced.
They arrived at the assembly line just in time to see their car coming down the track.
“Well, listeners, the car is coming down the track; it’s passing more robots. Well it now has windows, and now men are, I can only describe it as swarming over the car, they each have a specific job to do. One places the doors on, another places the dashboard in, yes there go the wheels, the seats and all the rest of the components that make up a modern car. Absolutely splendid! I’m almost at a loss for words.” Arthur carried on with his narrative whilst the rest of the car was assembled.
“Well, we now have a completed car, and I must say it looks magnificent.” Arthur wanted to describe how thing could be improved with the aide of Magic. Where curtain charms could be placed and extra buttons could be installed. But then he thought better of it, as they were in a Muggle factory, with Muggles all around them. He just couldn’t let his enthusiasm get the better of him.
Mr Sedgeway thought it would be a good idea for Arthur to drive the car off the production plant, and to also park it up ready for sale in the next few weeks. Arthur jumped at the chance, totally ignoring Sid’s pleading looks.
Arthur got into the car and was surprised at how spacious it was. Clearly they had come along way from his old Anglia. He was also slightly disappointed to find no space for any modifications. “Well, I’m just going to have to Transfigure some of these buttons to my own design then,” Arthur mumbled. Arthur got himself settled and started his narrative.
“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am about to drive my car off the production plant, and into its designated space, ready to be sold. I place the key in the ignition.” Arthur jumped when the car started up.
“We place it in gear.” A loud crunching sound was emitted from the gear box.
“And we’re off. Oh dear, oh deary me. How do you stop this thing?”
There were a few things Arthur over looked. Firstly, a new car is faster and more powerful than his old Anglia. Secondly, power steering is a good thing, but not when you are in an enclosed area. And thirdly, letting a wizard drive in a Muggle car, in a Muggle factory, with Muggle devices all going off, is not a good thing on hindsight.
After extracting Arthur from the wreckage, Mr Sedgeway called Arthur a few choice words, and then had them thrown from the Longbridge factory. As a final act of malice he also gave them the mangled wreckage as a parting gift.
Arthur and Sid exchanged looks it had been a slight anticlimax after the day had gone on so well. Arthur wiped himself down and picked up his mic. “Well, listeners, I thought that went well. You’ll be pleased to know that after a couple of charms the car is as right as rain. I am now the proud owner of a Rover 75 Executive class, with eklectic windows, air conditioning and satellite navigation, whatever that is? Next week we shall be looking at the transport system, and why Muggles no longer use steam. I hope you enjoyed this report as much as I have enjoyed presenting. ‘How do they do that?’ Mark, it’s over to you.”
Sid pressed the stop button on his recorder and sighed. “That was a close one, Arthur. Next time please say no when you’re asked to drive something.”
“Well, where’s the fun in that? Do you want a lift, Sid?”
“No thanks, Arthur, I’ll just Apparate to the office and make a start on this for tonight’s show.”
“Right you are, Sid, see you next week.”
“Yes Arthur, it’s been fun, hasn’t it.”
“It has, Sid, it has.”
Sid smiled, and with a small crack he was gone. Arthur got into the car and started it up. He drove off gingerly; Molly was in for a surprise tonight.
Please thank TKP(you know who you are, LOL.) Tante for letting me play with her format. SIB for giving me the idea and letting me run with it. Please read and review.