Archive for Fiction

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.

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.

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.

Parallel Words

Continuing the theme of nominal accidentology – the study of names which could have been otherwise, and the ensuing differences in derivatives, I want to consider the alternative universe wherein our feet are as useful at manipulation – or podipulation – as our hands. It’s based on a series of tweets emitted back in February, while our esteemed PM worked abroad as a salesman for the arms industry. That moment is passed, so we need not be so personal.

Possible changes in the English language which might have ensued, were our feet as useful as our hands:

  • We’d be able to stand legs akimbo
  • We’d have legs dealers
  • Legs dealers could be entertained with a toe buffet
  • Our politicians could flog sidelegs on trades missions
  • CND would stand for the more general Campaign for Nuclear Dismemberment
  • George Bernard Shaw’s play might have been entitled Legs and the Man
  • Abilene would famously have required surrender, on entry, of all footguns
  • Our Air Forces, Navies and Armies would be companioned with Leggies
  • We’d have a Salvation Leggy
  • There’d be a quip about someone looking “eggless enough
  • There’d be no need for the Black Knight fight scene in Jabberwocky

Puzzle Corner

Congratulations to Mrs Ivy duPorc of East Gleaming, Hants for proving that the complex function z(s) = 1+2-s+3-s+4-s+… has all of its non-trivial zeros symmetrically distributed about the line Re(s) = ½. A book token for £4.50 is on its way!

Pay attention much?

Never having seen any but the occasional episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – which always struck me as quite decent entertainment – I’d never thought of it as a source of linguistic novelty. Seems I was very wrong. Usually good to find that out.

Also finding out that the magazine Verbatim, to which I was subscribed, last century under the editorship of the late Laurence Urdang, is still around, having been revived both in print and online.