Short stories…

How cool is this idea?

Short Story Vending Machines.

Yep. Soon to be installed at Canary Wharf tube station in London, commuters can choose from a selection of one, three or five minute stories across a range of genres.

Pros: More people reading stuff. It’s good for the soul, you know?
Cons: LITTER! (and if you look at the number of free newspapers left on floors and seat across the Underground network, you’ll know what I mean).

Also in that story, this line, featuring one of the best words ever invented:

The idea of selling books from a machine is not new; in 1937, Penguin founder Allen Lane installed a “Penguincubator” on Charing Cross Road, a slot-machine book-dispenser that biographer Jeremy Lewis wrote: “shocked his more conservative colleagues”.

Sadly, it only sold books. ‘Sadly’ because if there was anything that 1937 London could have really done with more of, it would surely have been penguins. Well, penguins and an absence of impending global conflict.

But it seems that book vending machines go back over a century even before Lane’s Charing Cross effort.

The first book-dispensing vending machine was built by Richard Carlile in England in 1822. Carlile was a bookseller who wanted to sell seditious works like Paine’s Age of Reason without being thrown in jail.

However, it would seem that this was no automated process. Carlile or some other individual was likely sitting in the back of the machine and handing the books out through a slot at the bottom as the money came through a slot at the top.

The machines at Canary Wharf won’t have people inside them. Technology has really moved on in the last 197 years. The short stories will be free and won’t actually be books – rather just sheets of paper.
They’re already in use across France, the US and Hong Kong, but not in South Africa, where the dual challenges of eleven official languages and rampant theft would mean that the stories would be difficult to share, and the machines only temporary at best.

Put off…

In today’s news (and having checked that it’s not yet April 1st), this:


Now, this might sound a bit OTT, but I can remember being put off going into both Science and Cookery after seeing Beaker and the Swedish Chef on The Muppets. Also, I was strongly dissuaded from buying any ACME products because of the stuff I watched on the Roadrunner cartoon.
Windy Miller from Camberwick Green put me right off living in a windmill, and I studiously avoided being educated in east London because of Grange Hill. After all, who’d want to be beaten up for dinner money by Gripper Stebson?

In fact, the only thing I ever did that bucked this trend was quite regularly having a pee, despite having seen Bob Holness being asked for one on Blockbusters.

Anyway, given this sort of criticism, I think we can all see the forthcoming demise of the misleading and kids TV show Fireman Sam. After all, it would be awful if anyone headed to south Wales only to find that the village of Pontypandy is actually completely fictitious, just like the rest of the CGI cartoon series.


* Eyes roll back so far that I can see my own arse. 

150 up

As I mentioned yesterday on certain social medias, my now-more-popular-than-ever Inspired By 6 Spotify playlist crashed through the 150 song mark this week.

A bit of housekeeping meant that four new tracks were required to get it there. They were:

Banners – Start A Riot
(overheard on one of Mrs 6000’s weird Showmax series)
The National – Guilty Party
(track 9 on their 2017 album in my car)
The Cinematic Orchestra/Roots Manuva – A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life
(actually currently on BBC 6 Music’s playlist)
Slowdive – Sugar For The Pill
(I heard this earlier in the week and remembered how good it was)

If you are on Spotify, you can find the playlist here:

And please share it around as much as possible. I’d like to be famous just because people love the music I enjoy listening to and have helpfully curated.

Crap news

Ugh. “This just in”:

I was going to go with “shock” or “sad” instead of “crap”, because it is both of those things. But above all, it’s just crap news.

All of our heroes are dying.

Mountain Heights

This would be a TIL, but I actually learned this some time ago and just never blogged it.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa and Snowdon, Wales, United Kingdom are exactly the same height.

That height is 1,085m or 3,560ft.

Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales, and the 19th highest in the British Isles. All the higher mountains in the British Isles are in Scotland (Ben Nevis being the highest at 1,354m/4,411ft), meaning that Table Mountain is higher than any point in England, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the Isle of Man. I knew this bit anyway, but I didn’t know that Ol’ Flat Top (as no-one calls it here) and Snowdon were exactly the same height.

For the record, Table Mountain isn’t even the highest peak in the Western Cape, let alone South Africa. Those records go to Seweweekspoortpiek (2,325m/7,628ft) in the Klein-Swartberg and Mafedi (3,451m/11,322ft) in the Drakensberg.

And for another record – and just because it’s a number that has stuck with me since I visited it in 1986 – Mafadi is just 10ft short of being the same height as the highest railway station in Europe: Jungfraujoch sits at 11,332ft. Aside from its altitude, one of the things I will always remember about going there was running along the train platform despite several warnings not to, and becoming very short of oxygen, very quickly.

Something I should probably keep in mind when I pop up Mafedi on my next visit to KZN*.


* Presented solely as a nice conclusion to a simple blog post. I have no plans to climb this extremely remote peak.