I dreamt last night that an old school friend had opened a joke shop in our childhood village. I was walking down a road that combined that place with a couple of roads in Brighton (trying to get to a ‘funky’ new hairdresser apparently) and I passed this thriving new establishment, with a cluster of joyful youngsters clamouring to see the latest plastic poops and rubber eggs demonstrated. I waved at my old gossip-pal through the window, and felt pleased for him. The shop was called Query Knobs or something similar.
Well, in reality this chap does actually run a gallery in London – I haven’t seen him for years. He had an irrepressible, cheery, quirky disposition – maybe a joke shop would suit him, but he’s a learned fellow too, so antiquarian prints is definitely more up his street. This dream mixes in a friend of a friend who does actually sell mail order novelties and stuff, as a side-venture mind you, he hasn’t given up the day job. I wish he had a happy, bustling shop of his own.
On the left, a whoopee cushion with sighted vision of blessed Virgin, via Silly Jokes.co.uk. I see this company has the classics – foaming sugar, itching powder, chattering teeth and plate lifters. I don’t like the ones that are mean to people, but what appeals to me is the jolly uselessness of all this tat, it’s almost like surrealist objects, but without the deeper poetry. Plus I had a brief phase of being into jokes and tricks as a whipper-snapper (one might have to graduate to sex shops to purchase one of those; joke shops <> sex shops, they’re sort of reminiscent of each other). Hamleys toy shop was oft a favourite destination in the mad weeks running up to Christmas (and boy have they got madder and madder), and the magic tricks emporium was the place to go, followed by the jokes and tricks depot. I got off on plastic soap (you rub and rub and it doesn’t lather – sounds like the sex shop again!) and a spring loaded dye that made the taps run red. My aunt apparently fooled my uncle with a car-dent transfer I gave her – it’s success probably relying largely on her acting and straight-facedness skills. Last word from Silly Jokes: Tartan Paint
Well, anyway – sounds like the boy in me never went far..
Oh I’m in a frivolous mood! I see in the WordPress related articles section one entitled “There’s a knob for that”. It’s on AskMetaFilter, which has the strapline ‘querying the hive mind’. The query goes “I’m looking for an image of a ridiculously over-the-top complicated control panel. The more knobs, switches, dials, buttons, gauges, etc, the better.” Seems they want a picture of preposterous controls to help poke fun at a friend’s work’s over-complex software user interface. It just so happens I love the retro-control panel genre of picture, sort of. There’s some smashing shots of Battersea Power Station that do the trick. Some words on the decline of the power station here. It’s funny but my heart always stirs as the train pulls in towards Victoria and I gaze at that building – and not in a Pink Floyd fan sort of way either.