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Last Month's Newsletter

December 2003

Dear Visitor,

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 doing.

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 now.

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 main thing.

I’ll see you in a month or so – in the meantime, have a happy and peaceful Christmas, and a pleasant and prosperous 2004.



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