If I could just remember to tell the paperclip that I really
don’t need help writing a letter, it wouldn’t
pop up offering assistance every time I write my monthly
missive. But I always just click ‘cancel’, and
up it pops the next month, right on cue.
If you don’t use Microsoft Word, you might think
I’ve finally gone off the rails, but I haven’t,
at least not in that regard. The ‘Office Assistant’,
which comes in many forms, including that of an acrobatic
paperclip on a lined yellow pad, tries to lend a hand with
everything you do, or look as if you might be thinking of
It even wants to write the letter for you – start
a letter ‘Dear M—’ and before you can
get any further, it’s offering to complete the salutation
with ‘Dear Mom and Dad’. It’s American,
of course. It reads your text for you when you want to check
it for spelling, and it goes into paroxysms of glee when
you want to print anything out. And it does things to amuse
itself when it gets bored – turns into a coiled spring,
or a star with a satellite circling it, that sort of thing.
If it gets really, really bored it falls asleep.
I have to confess that I rather like it. In fact, I’ve
got quite superstitious about it, because it has two ways
of signing off when you shut down Word – it either
turns itself into a motorbike and drives off, or it simply
dwindles away. I’m convinced that if it dwindles away
what I’ve written is no good, and it’s letting
me know that.
But back to the real world, where paperclips do nothing
more than hold your papers together. But is that really
all they do? Every year for about a hundred and fifty years,
dozens of manufacturers have manufactured millions of paperclips.
But why? All we do is circulate them – we send them
to one another. We should have had enough for the world’s
once and future needs a century ago. So where are these
billions of excess paperclips? Forget global warming –
one day, everything on this earth will be smothered in discarded
paperclips. You mark my words.
In the meantime, however, I have a newsletter to write,
with or without the paperclip’s help. The competition
to win Lloyd and Hill – The Movie was, as I thought
it would be, very popular indeed, and I’m really sorry
that only five of you could win a copy. I might see if Carlton
will let me do it again some time, in view of the response.
And there was a big entry for the usual monthly competition
too. The winners should by now all have been notified for
both competitions, and I will take this opportunity to apologise
to last month’s winners for the very long delay in
getting the prizes off. I think they are all on their way
And at last, I can tell you that Unlucky For Some will
be published by Ballantine in the US, but not until late
2004 or early 2005, so you’ll have a bit of a wait.
I’m not sure what the hold-up was, but at least it
is going to be published Stateside, and that’s the
I’ll see you in a month or so – in the meantime,
have a happy and peaceful Christmas, and a pleasant and