Archive for Narrative

All Remaining Paper

‘Remove all remaining paper before reloading.’, it says here. It says so on the front of my printer. Being so literal minded, I find I don’t quite know what to do with this. Whilst it’s plainly something to do with the paper feed tray, the object so enlabelled, I cannot help but feel that it must apply to some greater referent.

All remaining paper? It would be such a huge undertaking even were I certain that it applied to me in particular. After all, I know I’m not the only one in the world with such a printer. I can’t even be certain that no other type of printer does not have a similar demand plasticly and blackly emblazoned upon it. Perhaps it’s intended for the first person who both feels moved to obey it and is capable of doing it? For it ought to be reasonably clear that once somebody has removed all remaining paper, whether or not they reload afterwards, that it will be no longer possible for anybody else to do so, except trivially. I mean, were I certain that someone had indeed done the necessary, and consequently that no scrap of paper remained, then I could feel easier about my inaction since my doing nothing would be all that’s necessary to remove all remaining paper.

But of course this will not do. I know I’m outcopping on the flaky rock of rationalisation. I know, and cannot unknow, that paper is produced more or less continuously in gloopy vats of sticky fibrous whiteness. And the sighing — nay moaning — of air dryers whispering with their hot sweet breath over the sheets of floppily freshformed laminas, well, it keeps me awake at night so it does. So much paper. And nearly all of it remaining. It’s just not possible for one person to remove it all. Then it hits me. The removal of remaining paper is intended as a communal activity. It’s obvious. Why did I not see this before? Why else would they mark everybody’s printer with such an exhortation? In the hope that just one of us might do something about it? Of course not. It isn’t cost-effective.

This realisation has hit me with the same dread certainty of one who discovers, when one is about seven years old, that one is supposed to join the cubs. Despite all the voices inside you which rage against it, despite all the cries, the protests, the echoes of which you can feel humming within your very teeth, you know that you must thrice dib and triply dob with all the rest of them.

They say a child has no conception of this kind of catharsis. They lie. They say it would not occur to a child to rail against such monstrosities, for it knows no better. They fib. They say a child will not question authority until it has seen its own betrayal enacted in its own parent’s humanity. They tell porkies. Children know. Adults forget — it screams for epithesis, scit infans, adultus obliviscetur.

But all of this Munchish, Baconian screamery is to no avail. We all give in in the end. We capitulate and eventually become our own internal scout, guide, soldier, wac, rear admiral, judge and Ian Drury all rôled into one. We see that everybody else is already at it. Why else would they be trying to eliminate all the trees in all the parks in all the world? Why the deliberate introduction of Dutch Elm disease? Why all this land clearance in the Americas and in Africa and in Malaysia? Why all this schlaßenbrennung? To get rid of the wood of course. To remove all possibility that any paper might remain.

Were it not such a desperate thought, that all the trees be doomed, one might easily be seduced, entranced, enraptured and bewitched by the scale of such a collective-unconscious-bogglingly grand concept. The organisation that must have gone into it. The marshalling of forces, the necessary indoctrination. In all that time it must have taken to educate entire populations for this task, imagine all the civilisations that must have fallen, risen, fallen again, like the heaving breast of some gigantic Cartlandish heroine finding herself under the spell of a still more corpulent Sir Jasper.

But we have forgotten, have we not, that all of this is merely means to an end. I feel it is up to those of us who know, who have remembered, to remind all these countless generations of actors, generals, cooks, thieves, wives and lovers, that after all of the remaining paper has been removed, we are expected to reload. There’s no point in it otherwise. We must warn everyone now, before it is too late. We rush collectively towards our own annihilation. It may not have occurred to anybody that perhaps it were wiser not to reload, that we don’t really have to remove any remaining paper, let alone all of it. We must fly, fly like the wind. We must feel the swish of hair in our mouths, the brush of furze and gorse against our bare ankles, the rivulets of sand between our toes. Will you join me in this noble task? Dare you refuse? I know you cannot.

What was that Programme?

For no good reason I can think of, an episode of Dr Kildare I saw rattles around and resurfaces every so often in my brain, on a timescale of roughly a decade, but without the regularity that might suggest.

It rattles mainly because I didn’t understood it. I must have known about surfing – it was about a girl surfer and I don’t remember being all ‘do people actually do that?’ about it. I remember Kildare telling her she mustn’t surf any more, but I must have missed what the reason was. All I have is ’why not? What’s the problem here?’ Naturally, she went ahead and did it anyway, and it didn’t end well. Was that the reason? Perhaps I wasn’t used to seeing unhappy-endings at that age.

Anyway, this Digital Archive of Radio Times from 1923 to 2009 turned up. 1923! It doesn’t seem to give you any access to actual page images – none I can find anyway. The magazine ran advertisements, so maybe they don’t want you seeing what was available for sixpence from Cadbury in 1950 or something.

But they’ve done an awful lot of work reformatting the information for presentation – and searchability – on the web. Very impressive. Not that the text is always accurate – there are spectacular misreadings from the optical character recognition – but that’s only to be expected from machines.

There’s evidence that entries have been corrected by human staff members, just not very much. So your searches are going to miss things. Members of the public are invited to correct the text and to add further information about the entries. Such crowdsourcing means that the information will always be freely available doesn’t it (say yes).

The folk at the BBC even ask you if the program whose listing you’re looking at was actually transmitted. You may find their lack of faith disturbing, but obviously the magazines were printed in advance and you couldn’t reasonably predict things which might interrupt the schedules. Like Churchill dying or Kennedys getting assassinated or whatever. Stuff like that.

So do have a go and clog up those BBC arteries with millions of HTTP requests.

Oh yes – the Dr Kildare thing. I found the episode – two of them (it was a double) split over successive pre-watershed Thursdays, the 6th and 13th February 1964. It was called Tyger-Tyger with guest star Yvette Mimieux, the text for part 1 saying A beautiful girl defies Dr. Kildare’s medical warning that she must give up surf riding. Part 2’s description says In spite of her condition and Dr. Kildare s protests, surf-rider Pat continues to take an active part in the sport. Surf-riding, eh? Interesting. Hyphens even. Is that the staid BBC or is ‘surfing’ not a thing yet?

So, on the whole, I’m none the bloody wiser. But wait – now I have Yvette Mimieux and can go to her page on IMDb and – result! Petit-mal seizures would you believe?

She drowns. Thanks, internet.

Aircraft Factory, England, 1917

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Ye Olde

It should by now be common knowledge that the use of Ye, for the, is based on a mistaking of the older orthographic rendering of the word the as Þe. Maybe it’s odd that an almost equally common misreading of ſ – the old long form for s, as an f, hasn’t produced a bunch of Ye olde tea fop from Þe Olde Tea ſhoppe, but the shop’s h probably stops that happening.

But Ye Olde has been around a lot longer than I thought. Here it turns up on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1887. They even had the quainty-wainty f-word (that’s Fayre) back then.


This picture is an engraved illustration from The Graphic (1869 – 1932) of May 21 1887, reporting on the Newcastle Exhibition where they’d had the wherewithal to build a complete half-scale model of the heavily ſhoppe-laden medieval Tyne Bridge which had been washed away in the flood of 1771.

Said Jubilee is why Exhibition Park was born, and is also what spawned Newcastle Exhibition Ale

Instant Gratification

The long-story form of a joke was designed to enhance the communal experience for the teller and the listener. But our modern listener may become restive. Since one hopes it possible that a joke may remain funny if told another way, we try cutting to the essence. Here goes:

approaches(flood, S)

offers(TS, “truck escape?“)
demurs(ST, “No thanks. God provides.“)
inundates(flood, Ground floor)
relocates(S, upstairs)

offers(BS, “boat escape?“)
demurs(SB, “No thanks. God provides.“)
inundates(flood, Top floor)
relocates(S, roof)

offers(HS, “helicopter escape?“)
demurs(SH, “No thanks. God provides.“)
inundates(flood, S)
relocates(S, Heaven)

queries(SGod, “WTF?“)
responds(GodS, “Sent truck, boat, helicopter!“)

Does it still work? If not, there’s a long version available at radar.

The Melotones


I thought, from a long time ago when I first knew about my dad’s early career in music, that this band had been called the Mellotones, with two ells. Mellow Tones, of course. But there it is in the pic – just the one. Now I think it should have been pronounced /mi:lotonz/ (a rhyme with me low tones). Or perhaps after the great ancient greek hero /məlɔtəni:z/ (muh-lot-unease). The other greek hero on the right, /vəbrafəni:z/, is being played by m’dad.

Phoenix, Arizona

At the southeast intersection of South Central Avenue and East Jefferson Street. Central Avenue runs north – south through the city centre. Jefferson runs east – west, and is a bit south of the centre. In fact it’s south of the city-crossing Van Buren – the other street of fame and of 50s motels.

View Larger Map

This building now houses the Phoenix Police Museum. The window/door shown is the one just occluded by the front of the yellow bus shown in the other image. The museum’s website appears reticent regarding the building’s connection to the location shooting for Psycho. But I suppose, as nothing bad happened there, they wouldn’t be interested.

The Leith Police

The Leith Special Constabulary of 1916 look like they could dismiss us without too much bother. Tom Archibald’s book on the History of the Lothian and Borders Police doesn’t mention if this particular photograph was ever seen outside the police station – it merely states that it’s an unusual picture. Other group portraits exist which show police in front of a wall sporting earlier (of course, pace Mitch Hedberg) group portraits. I suppose it possible that such photos are taken in places with public displays of police group portraits, but it doesn’t seem very likely.

Shopping List

Things to look for on ebay

  1. Spare pine needles for Christmas Tree
  2. Police whistle Multipack
  3. Combination shoehorn-comb
  4. Roll of pre-validated parking tickets
  5. Cat Hinges
  6. Swiss Army Fork
  7. Sweat collector
  8. Curled Hamster
  9. Moss Fertiliser
  10. Rapid Balloon Deflator
  11. Sock Whisk
  12. Glitter Cannon
  13. Black Cheese
  14. Stackable Chicken Set
  15. Cardboard Hammer
  16. Dolls House HiFi
  17. Portable Grand Canyon
  18. Laughing Liquid
  19. Pope Scratchings
  20. Megaphone mute

Make your own. Even better, give it to someone and point them to a shop assistent in B&Q. Film on your mobile from a safe distance.

Inspired by three guys and a list.

Leaving work for the weekend

If you don’t know what this two and a half minutes of rather grainy and blocky night-shot YouTube video ‘footage’ is about, you might think it odd that somebody decided to bother posting it. It’s one of those what’s that all about?, pretty much nothing without its context. As some of the comments that go with it have said, the silence – and it’s mostly silence with measured footsteps – is deafening.

It followed something shown in a rather more dramatic eight minutes of video recording events that had happened the day before. It may not be so obvious in the first couple of minutes, just more bullying by people who ought to know better, but there’s a reason the video’s that long.

The story behind it is amazing. And wonderful. A lot has happened over the past few days. Most of it will not have been covered by mainstream news. But the story these clips tell is something significant.

It’s difficult to say with any certainty that some of the police (police are people too) in these recordings are getting pretty uncomfortable with what they’re doing. That may just be a case of inferring mental states of others from only the evidence of outward appearance – never a very clever thing to do. But if the state militarises its police force in order to keep its citizens under control, it should maybe allow for the outcome that – one day – the state might end up having to deal with a militarised police force.