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April 11, 2002
Fair warning: there's more stuff here about notebook protectors. It's all part of a ridiculous bid to fend off Stig O. Walsh's lawyers. But at least the Threat of Impending Legal Doom has given me the incentive to come up with a shorter, more street friendly way of referrring to the standard variety of notebook protector: NoPro. (Though I'm still tossing up what the plural should be: NoPros, I guess, but NoProse is weirdly appealing, and I've also got the surprise move of putting the "s" at the start: SnoPro.)
Anyway. I wish to report a conceptual breakthrough, on the vitally important subject of tattoos and NoPros. Douglas Adams has a line somewhere about everything being connected. I've spent today redisovering the truth of this. A notebook protector is the modern equivalent of a detachable tattoo.
Wait, let me explain.
I've been carrying around a notebook for years. So has Stig. It's just the kind of thing that people like Stig and I do. Over time, notebooks tend to get dirty and scruffy. Over time, they also fall apart. As a result, valuable notes can and do get lost. Scattered to the wind, like ashes, dust, and Stig O. Walsh's legal team. The exact kind of thing which entirely defeats the point of keeping a notebook in the first place.
I've always known that notebooks fall apart, but until recently I never knew that anything could be done about it.
Enter Stig and his NoPro obsession. "Just think," he says, "your notebook will be protected. That's the nature of notebook protectors. That's what they do." Then he paused, and added the killer line of his already impressive sales pitch: "that's why they're called notebook protectors."
In a flash, my initial cynicism vanished. (Cynicism? Indifference?) I went to the Paddo Market, the only known source of NoPros, and got one.
The clouds parted. Sunlight came down. Dappled sunlight. Luminous, glittering sunlight. Triumphal music played, at least in my head, and I felt like a new religion had formed at my feet. I watched spellbound as it fluttered gracefully upwards, lovingly transforming every molecule of my body into a more caring, more noble, more sentient being.
And a few days later I realised that I'd also found a solution to my ongoing tattoo problem.
The ongoing tattoo problem?
I'm Libran. It's hard making decisions. The harder the decision, the longer it takes me to make up my mind. In 1979 I was offered the chance to see a movie with friends. I couldn't decide if I wanted to go, or what movie I wanted to see. And I'm still trying to work out what I should've done. To make it worse, all those friends entered normal society and got proper jobs, so now I've got the grief to deal with, along with the indecision. It's all hugely time consuming.
And I've been thinking about getting a tattoo for a long time. A looooooong time. 1979 marked another watershed in my career of indecision, as that was the year I first started thinking about whether I wanted a tattoo.
It's an issue that I've been thinking about now for twenty-three years.
To be honest, I haven't made much progress. At some point in my second decade of indecision, with no result in sight, I moved on to another question. What sort of tattoo would I get, if I decided to get one?
A few seconds later I was hit by a tidal wave of choices. Getting a tattoo turned out to be a simple yes/no. But deciding on the design of it could well take several thousand years, because there were an infinite number of choices.
So I began keeping a list of my design ideas. I filled notebook after notebook with them. This was before I got my NoPro, so many of my design ideas were scattered to the wind.
And when I was in London, at some point in 1998, I came up with the Tattoo Design To End All Tattoo Designs: an image of Rolf Harris, riding on a kangaroo and playing a wobbleboard.
One millisecond later
Reality hit. Hard. I had to admit that, if only for a fleeting moment, I had seriously considered the idea of permanently marking my skin with a cartoon of Rolf Harris. I immediately gave up on the idea of getting a tattoo, and checked myself in for counselling. The first thing the counsellor wanted to know was "why are you here?"
"Because I contemplated getting a Rolf Harris tattoo," I said.
There was an embarrassed pause. Then I asked, in a voice which couldn't hide my nervousness, "can you help me?"
"I'm not sure," said the counsellor, "but I'm certainly happy to try. That'll be a lot of money, thanks."
Three months went by, and my bank balance dwindled. And only after three months did the counsellor indicate that no help of any kind was available for people with Rolf Harris tattoos, whether real or still at the design stage.
My notebook entries at the time reflected an anger, a frustration, a sadness. At least I think they did. The weather was quite windy around then.
But a solution is now at hand.
Instead of getting a tattoo myself, I can tattoo my NoPro. As well as protecting my notebook (thanks for the tip, Stig!) it can also be my detachable tattoo. And if I don't like the design ... well, now we come to the crux of the issue. If I don't like the design, I can just get another NoPro. That's the real beauty of the idea. I did some research and discovered that it's much easier to get a new NoPro than a new skin.
I spent four years at a university learning how to do research like that. And this is the first time I've ever found a useful purpose for it. Those four years have suddenly added up to something marvellous. I don't think I've ever felt so clever, so satisfied, so complete. Twenty-three years of indecision has fallen away, and all I'm left with is the delightful tranquility of one incredible idea. I can't remember ever feeling so happy to be living in the modern world.
Thanks, NoPro.Posted by Sean Hegarty at 06:19 PM in the Mad scientist storytelling category | Comments (0)
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