Earlier tonight on BBC Radio 4, a national emergency occurred (although you’ll be excused if you missed it). In short, the computer that creates the audio of the Greenwich Time Signal - otherwise known as the “pips,” the glue that bonds the United Kingdom together as one and reassures us that everything is as it should be - broke. It stopped working. No pips. Nothing. Just an awkward few seconds of dead air, the sound of paper being anxiously rustled, a coyote howling in the distance, and the almost imperceptible swish of tumbleweed brushing across the desert sands. Though I may have been imagining the last two.
This is surely a sign that we have reached The End Times, people. Forget the Rapture, this is the true start of Armageddon. Get any tinned foods and bottled water that you can lay your hands on, gather up your loved ones, and take to your bunker. Goodbye, cruel world.
The controversy over ‘logical punctuation,’ which has been gripping the internet in recent weeks, continues to rumble on. I think we can all agree that this is a far more important topic than superinjunctions.
“If you are reading this in 2085 then we hope you have found all the answers. In 1985 we are beset by questions about unemployment, world peace, resources, pollution and the impact of new technology, such as the machine I am using to do this, on all of the above. The children who wrote these pages face a future where the accelerated rate of change in a wide range of areas is leading to increased uncertainty. We do however still enjoy life in 1985, and we live in a part of England which is still very beautiful. We hope that in 2085 the beauty is still there.”—BBC: Domesday Reloaded - Life in 1985, by pupils of Neroche Primary School, Somerset (near where I grew up)
This is completely fascinating. Twenty-five years on, a project to put online a mid-80s project in which a million volunteers wrote and photographed a snapshot of everyday life from across the UK, which could have been lost forever because of the (ahem) far-sighted technology choice made back in 1986 - laserdiscs, which promptly began falling apart and becoming obsolete. Such innocent times.
This is true “crowdsourcing,” over two decades before it became a buzz term. (Also, as a spotty 15-year-old schoolboy in Somerset, I seem to remember making my own contribution to this project, which adds to the general level of amazement.)
“I’m still not convinced creative writing can be taught. Perhaps you can take a mediocre novelist and make them into a slightly better one, but a course can’t make someone into a good writer. Ian McEwan and Kazuo Ishiguro both did the UEA MA, but they were both innately good anyway. Some people swear by creative writing courses. I say, go and get a job, a fairly menial one instead. Otherwise what are you going to write about? Writing is about expressing something new and exploring the form in new ways. So unless you want to churn out thrillers or misery memoirs, you can’t work from a pattern book. You need to autodidact.”—Will Self
“Generation X is officially old. Sorry, when did this happen? It seems like five minutes ago we were young, we were the future, the people for whom anything was possible. More than possible: inevitable. Now we’re the middle-aged bores pottering around in slippers, fretting about how our savings scheme is doing in an unstable market and, saddest of all, ‘getting into’ things: expensive coffee, Booker-nominated novels, obscure types of pilates.”—Generation X is 50? Whatever | Darragh McManus | guardian.co.uk
In these financially straitened times, I’m sure we’ve all shared the same worries about the plight of the super-rich. Maybe, like me, you’ve lain awake at night fretting about how the likes of the Duke of Westminster, steel magnates Lakshmi Mittal and Alisher Usmanov, Tory peer Lord Kirkham and Carphone Warehouse chairman Charles Dunstone are managing to scrimp and save every penny in the current climate. Well, there’s no denying it’s been hard for them, but the good news is that they’ve weathered the storm and emerged safe and sound from the recession. In fact, they’re 18% wealthier. I’m so relieved, I could cry.