back to article Painters wrap Forth Bridge job after 121 years

The English language is preparing to mourn the loss of one of its most agreeable similes as painters finally apply the last lick of paint to the Forth Bridge. For well over 100 years, chaps armed with buckets and brushes have scaled the famous structure in a Sisyphean endeavour to keep it spick and span. Now, however, after a …


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  1. Mad as a Bat

    "like X-ing the Y"

    like trying to secure Windows

    1. Thomas 4

      like Y-ing the X

      Like updating the Motorola Android Phone?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like Xing the Y

    "Like pleasing the missus!"

    1. Neil Greatorex

      Like X-ing the Y

      Like correcting Wikipedia...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's all PR BS I'm afraid. I was told by somebody on the project a few years back that it was a myth that the bridge was constantly being painted. Futhermore he said he could cite periods where no painting was done on the bridge at all for some considerable time.

    The whole myth got started because painting the structure is so complex that it obviously takes a very log time and somebody stated that it took so long that by the time the painters reached the far side they would have to start again at the other. There was never any official confirmation of this.

    Indeed I remember a few years ago it being a news story (probably in the Scotsman) that the bridge was falling to bits because the painting had been stopped. They can't have it both ways - either the painting was stopped or it has been continuous since the bridge was erected.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They did stop for a while, but I have family in South Queensferry, their house has an excellent view of the bridge and there were people working on it all year round.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Working on it...

        ...isn't the same as painting it you know.

  4. Jim 59

    Which one

    And which Forth bridge are we talking about ? "Network Rail" is the clue. Not the graceful FRB then, but the pleasingly chunky FRB.

    1. Calum Morrison

      There is only one Forth Bridge

      There is a Forth Road Bridge too. Please do not confuse them.

      That is all.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. MJI Silver badge

      The rail of course

      The rail one is called the Forth Bridge not the Forth Railway Bridge

      Only road bridge not with road in its name next to a railway bridge I know of, is the Tamar Bridge as the railway bridge of course is the Royal Albert.

      1. andy mcandy


        reading your comment made my brain go crosseyed! :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Of course there is only one Forth Bridge....

        The others were First, Second and Third.....

    4. Bracknellexile


      There are two bridges: "The Forth Road Bridge" and simply "The Forth Bridge". The latter doesn't have "Rail" in its name.

      1. Jim 59

        Confusion abounds

        Evidently we are all having a quiet day. I thought it was "Forth Rail Bridge". So does the Visitors Centre at Wikipedia allows both "Forth Bridge" and "Forth Rail Bridge", but what do they know?

        Admittedly "FRB" was a step too far.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        3rd Bridge

        There is a third bridge, George, which has as usual been unfairly omitted. George IV Bridge, that is.

        1. Grease Monkey

          George IV Bridge does not cross the Firth of Forth. It's an elevated street in Edinburgh. You can't count it just because it's in Scotland you know.

          There are two bridges at Queensferry, the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge. Although they are planning another road bridge. Further inland there are two more bridges although I think they cross the river Forth rather than the Firth of Forth. Those are the Kincardine on Forth Bridge and the Clackmananshire Bridge which bypasses Kincardine to the north.

          So in short there are still only two bridges over the Firth of Forth.

    5. Badbob

      There are two different bridges, with two different names....

      Forth Bridge - Railway Crossing

      Forth Road Bridge - A90 Road Crossing

      Similar to the situation in Gloucestershire / Wales.....

      Severn Bridge - original bridge, now carrying M48

      Second Severn Crossing - new bridge, carrying M4

  5. eloise

    X-ing the Y

    Like checking a Windows computer for Viruses

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Like keeping a windows server patched?

  7. Willington

    Hows about...

    Like trying to appease her.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    To State the Obvious

    Like Patching a (insert your own preference here) Server.

  9. Paddy Fagan

    like X-ing the Y

    with due respect to the moderatrix - like policing the reg comments

  10. It wasnt me

    How about

    "Like thinking of a 'get me coat' one liner that hasnt already been done."

    "Like finding a previously unused 'paris' gag."

    "Like waiting for for an Orlowski Article with comments."

    "Like waiting for a Page Article without moaining about Brit-Kit".

    1. Asiren


      I think there was a Page article that didn't slate Brit-Kit last week, wasn't there??

  11. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    And with a political flavour

    for a long and pointless endeavour:

    "Like talking to a politician" (add name of current PM to make it topical)

  12. Gomez Adams

    Like downloading the internet

    Like downloading the internet.

  13. HP Cynic

    Wet Paint

    I'm glad to hear it will be finished, I have seen a few TV articles in recent years where the workers talked about the new longer-lasting paints and also commented on the myth that the bridge has needed a "Wet Pain" sign since it was built.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Had to be said

    Like finding a fenchman who'll shag his missus

  15. Frederic Bloggs

    Another (topical) political one:

    Like waiting for government to use open source


    Like government to complete a computer project on time and budget

  16. Jon Double Nice

    Like paying for PFI

    This is the post bit, ya.

  17. DZ-Jay

    Like X-ing the Y.

    I personally like the euphonic sound of that phrase, so I would like to officially submit for your approval: "Like eksing the why."


  18. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Graham Bartlett


      Except that brass monkeys has nothing to do with cannonballs...

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        @ Graham Bartlett

        Thanks for you post and the clarification. I've been labouring under that misapprehension for years.

  19. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Reminds me of a backup once

    Reminds me of my last company, when the tape drive broke on the software production server. Someone decided that we couldn't buy a new one, because the new SAN took all the money and it had an excellent new tape drive in. I was instructed to run a cron job each night to copy the source code repository to the SAN which was in a different building (The backup software couldn't backup to the SAN).

    It took just over 25 hours to copy the entire repository over the internal network, so the next night the job started before the first had finished. I can't remember how long this nonesense went on for before they decided to buy a new production server and just connect it directly to the SAN. Whatever, it certainly saved the cost of a tape drive :)

  20. vonBureck

    X-ing the Y sounds good to me

    Let's not get too fussy here, nothing wrong with "X-ing the Y". Maybe except for the potential mispronunciation as "waxing the I" (eye?)

    Yes, yes, I was just leaving anyway.

  21. Bracknellexile


    Edinburgh has a ready-made substitute right on the Forth Bridge's doorstep!

    " building Edinburgh's tram system!"

  22. relpy
    Paris Hilton

    see icon.

    never stops.


  23. Anonymous Coward


    Like waiting for a set of comments without OS bashing

  24. Marco Mieshio
    Thumb Down

    P - lease....

    This is old news and coupled with this the scaffolding is not down for three months. So it is not finished yet and it is old news that it is finished. The News in this country is tripe with a capital T. Have people forgotten that our government has been engaged in torture! This means if they can do it to them, they can do it to us.

    1. Badbob


      Been a while since I seen a trolling post that went quite so far off topic! But hey, at least the rendition flights will have a nice view on the approach to Edinburgh Airport.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      @Marco Mieshio

      If I understand your post correctly, we should not be concerned with anything other than just one instance of something that has probably been going on in some form or another for a long time. There is no justification in your mind, for people to indulge in a bit of humour combined with non-political interest.

      I'm sorry, you are wrong.

  25. Graham Bartlett

    @HP Cynic

    "Wet Pain"? Are you accidentally typing your NSFW website URLs again?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like X-ing the Y.

    To be a true substitute it needs to be some action that once completed needs to be started again .... perhaps

    "like making pedantic corrections to the register comments forum postings"

    will do.

    "Back in the day"(TM) it would, of course, have been "like reading usenet"

    1. Angus Ireland

      In that case...

      ...Bracknellexile hit the nail on the head with " building Edinburgh's tram system" - the tracks in Princes Street requiring repair work only a short time after being put down!

  27. Christoph

    Like ...

    Like clearing out the spam trap

  28. Paul RND*1000


    Like staying opted-out of Facebook's privacy invasion schemes.

  29. joshimitsu

    Endless Loop

    Like keeping a games PC up to date.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oil Rigs?

    Every one I've been on has been a rusty bucket. Epoxy paint isnt the be all & end all.

    Don't think the painters should hang up their brushes just yet.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    It'll be good for twenty years, mate

    Probably not the first time a builder has said that ...

  32. VeganVegan

    Remember Sisyphus?

    He thought that he was so clever. I wonder what he thinks of all this new-fangled silliness.

    1. Nick Galloway

      A good X-ing the Y

      Why not revert to 'like the labours of Sisyphus' and be done with it?

      Otherwise you could make it less cerebral and use 'like licking your own elbow'.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Like a minister respinning a government policy

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "This involves the application of 20,000 m2 of paint at a total cost in excess of £130M. " (From Wikipedia)

    Can it really cost £6500 per square metre to paint this bridge?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair

      Most of the square metres involved aren't particularly square - they're all nobbly, pointy and thin, and they do insist on hanging around hundreds of feet above the sea

  35. Scarborough Dave

    This will last at least 120 years.

    Like applying fecking windows updates to a PC!

    Yes, I am a windows user, so windows fans, don't burn me - Please :)

  36. Beau

    Like Xing the Y

    Like cleaning all the viruses and other shit out of your friends and neighbors machines every few months!

    Most of whom never even bother to speak to you between cleaning times.

  37. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    ... like cleaning the house

  38. John Savard Silver badge

    The Phrase in Question

    I take it then the phrase to which the article was referring was "Like painting the Forth Bridge"? It takes some effort to dig that out of the context.

  39. nyelvmark

    Like Xing the Y

    I would think that the most appropriate alternative in this forum is: "Like designing a secure system". As soon as you think you've finished, somebody discovers a fundamental hack which means you need to go back and start again.

    Something more in tune with the mentality of the Clapham Omnibus passenger is needed, though, I think. How about "Reaching your annual performance-review targets"? As everyone knows, achieving this feat will simply lead to your boss being replaced by someone with better "people management" skills, who will set you unreachable targets for next year.

    A friend of mine had such a review, and was told that she wasn't doing what was specified in her contract of employment. When she objected that she didn't have a contract, her boss informed her that there was a provisional contract held in the HR department, but that it was confidential and so she wasn't allowed to read it.

    She's looking for another job, but painting the Forth bridge probably isn't up her street.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Can we see the QA reports?

    I sincerely hope they applied that epoxy 100% perfectly to every square inch of the bridge; that epoxy is buggeringly hard to remove or patch, not to mention just a little bit toxic.

    One little patch done badly, if left alone for a couple of decades due to "we don't need to maintain it anymore" thinking can lead to mighty costly repairs. Or spectacular failure. In my (amittedly worthless) opinion, I would stick with conventional micaceous oxide paint and regular maintenance. Sure, it costs $x per year, but thats better than the $x^2+y^6+z^17 you'll have to pay when something goes wrong. Cheapest contractors = what are the chances?

  41. RightPaddock
    Black Helicopters

    Paying the Bills

    In Oz they replace the Forth with Sydney Harbour, which is a road & a rail bridge. Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) had the job before he went into movies, but that's now't to do with price of fish either.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Like Xing the Y?

    Like Waxing Dat Azz?

    ......Paris, Because somebody's needs to!

  43. Tejekion


    Like it never even happened.

  44. Zog The Undeniable
    Paris Hilton


    Like trying to disprove Rule 34 of the Internet, given the existence of Rule 35.

    You probably wouldn't start your search with Paris.

  45. theBatman

    Like driving to the end of the M25?

    Seriously, I think the register should host a competition!

  46. blueprint


    Like using taxpayers money to keep the banks afloat...

    Like bailing out Greece...

  47. Purlieu

    Keep the original

    I think I'll personally keep "Like painting the Forth Bridge" thankyou very much.

    I'm not ready to throw away my cultural heritage just because some johhny jumped up with some fancy paint one day.


  48. Sandy Ritchie


    Why change the saying?

    I mean we still use, not enough room to swing a cat (of nine tails), freeze the balls off a brass monkey (cannon balls) and the likes.

    Like painting the forth bridge... never ending with no apparent benefit! How about like paying your taxes... you keep paying them, but the country still goes down the pan and the professionally unemployed still get by with no income but have full sky package and a 40+ inch LED telly.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: meh!

      " swing a cat (of nine tails)..."

      You're telling me that all those times I've been scratched to buggery by pissed-off cats, after I'd swung 'em around a bit by the tail to check room sizes, were pointless?

  49. Anonymous Coward

    I pity these guys

    They're painting themselves out of a job. A bit like painting yourself into a corner, but more so.

  50. M7S

    Like x-ing the y

    Like satisfying the users

    Like securing the network

    Like fixing the economy

    Like getting the Tube to work properly

  51. This post has been deleted by its author

  52. Anonymous Coward


    like trolling a forum?

  53. Stephen Rodda

    Like X-ing the Y

    Like updating Flash?

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