Reader, I must apologise for being somewhat dilatory in my quest to bring novel items to the Mortal Bath. To paraphrase both Margaret Thatcher and Prince – and you don’t get to hear that very often – we are a father, and she’s the most beautiful girl in the world.

Thusly, reader, bear with. I do have a few up-to-date articles in the taps but can’t promise a publication date, as we’re baby busy… and these DVDs of Fringe won’t watch themselves, obviously. Anyway, to help sustain my throughput ratios, I have been ransacking the archives.

When I first started exploring the world of self-publishing, I was inspired by zines and writing about zines, writing about music, dancing about architecture, as I’ve detailed in previous posts. My first effort was nine issues of a zine called ‘Thingy’, between 1996 and 2003. Of variable size and quality, more of an annual, really, ‘Kind of like a stoned Reader’s Digest, yeah?’ as I termed it at the time.

The name was intended to indicate the wide, vague and catholic selection of content, and was only partly chosen for its properties of innuendo. Alright, it was pretty much completely chosen for its properties of innuendo. “Have you seen Markwoff’s Thingy this month?” etc. Heh – what can I say? The foot of Python, and for that matter the thingy of Blackadder, have always loomed large and influential.

Looking back on my output when 23-ish-years-old, there is much that is dissatisfactory in Thingy. That vagueness of the title is reflected in the quality of much of the writing, which is often slap-dash and lacking polish. I am also struck by how far I am from many of the preoccupations, how much closer I am to some (in understanding and affection), but mostly I’m struck by the shoddy construction. [Michel Roux voice and emphasis:] “It’s awful!”

However, some of the pieces still make me chuckle, and need only a little grinding and sanding. On a semi-regular basis, then, I shall present some of these Thingy items as archive pieces. As Ben Six suggests in a recent space-filling retrospective, maybe not something of which to make a habit – although, as an aside, I would probably be quite happy with a reputation as the ‘Status Quo of blogs’. It would mean that I had at some point in my career done something in writing as simple, direct and awesome as this:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Quo.

Anyway, that’s the preamble. First up (for ‘Thingy Thursday’? Or ‘Fingy Friday’, more accurately, given the tardiness?), I offer a speculative fiction double feature of that great Lost Civilisation sitcom, Graham and Santha.

A great – and terrible – thing about the internet is that you’re only a few clicks away from complete distraction. Two corners turned from the road you were on and you’re enjoying a coffee in a little speakeasy you had no idea existed. Or suddenly in a park you used to frequent, sat on a bench inhaling the smells of summer and feeling that the universe is a kindly place with designs on making your life good.

Then, like an episode of the Twilight Zone or a book in the Chronicles of Narnia, you rise and return to your original route to discover that hours, days, years have passed and all your friends, family and those you hold dear are ages gone. Time has wasted.

“Civ II. We meet again.”

Lordy. Nearly 10 years ago, I was getting through university with the aid of marathon Civilization II sessions. Attempting to best the Romans, Persians, etc. Developing metallurgy, unleashing barbarian hordes, quelling civil unrest in Laudanum or Boventry (Dear me, such metanerdery… I always liked to give the towns whimsical Pythonesque/Asterixish names). So, in a quick series of links this Saturday last, I found myself sat in Red Lion Square, trying to remember what I’d popped out for. Someone, it emerges, has been sustaining a game of Civ II for 10 years.

Apparently, it all goes wrong. Well, it’s bound to. It strikes me as just a reflection of one’s life when one installs the game.

Reader, I downloaded it. There may, possibly, be something written here in the next few years. I expect it will be “Create entertainers.”