The Pitshanger Archives are currently undergoing a revolution in miniaturisation. The vast quantities of records, accounts and laundry lists are being converted into tiny packets of digital information: to wit, as black and white scans on microfilm. Finally we can burn all of our old papers, and indeed our recent celebratory bonfire in Walpole Park on Bonfire night was a fitting end to the thousands of trees which had given their branches to our glorious bureaucracy. We are moving away from paper to celluloid, from dead plants to dead dinosaurs, and it feels great.
We are now halfway through, and we have already cleared enough space on our shelves to fit…well…we’re find something to put in there, we’re sure. Or maybe we could rent them out ? And anyway, we now have enough shelf-miles to archive the next six hundred years of the Pitshanger Poets, give or take the odd apocalypse.
Now, there are those who claim that we have chosen a Betamax technology in microfiche instead of microchips, but our reasoning is sound: we are safe from hacking, viruses, incompatible upgrades and ruinous licensing agreements. After all, what is said at our weekly workshops is sacred and never to be divulged.
Anyway, there was plenty of juicy intrigue at the latest meeting. Martin Choules returned fresh from Algeria and filed a confidential dispatch on the underground heavy metal scene, while Gillian Spragg has been spying on a different African and recalling those blue-remembered skies. Alan Chambers then slipped us a quiet word about the hidden voice in the cacophony, and Peter Francis delivered a coded communiqué spun out of a child’s story. Christine Shirley’s concise cipher came to us on a postcard, longing for turnips and mountain gold, while Daphne Gloag sent her report, about the air, over the air – indeed, she sent it twice. Finally, we received a full debriefing from John Hurley on his re-acquaintance with an old flame and an old habit.
Storing and securing information has featured before at the Pitshanger Poets. Indeed, there was the hilarious story involving Sir John Soane and the purple umbrella…but unfortunately we are having trouble locating our records of it at present. It seems that we may have overlooked the importance of a thorough indexing system, or the need to ensure that our papers were in the right order before they were imaged, but these are mere teething traumas. It is true that some of the rolls of film read more like a fridge-door-full of magnetic poetry after a visit by James Joyce, while other rolls appear to have had their lens cap left on throughout, but rest assured that normal service will be resumed as soon as everything has been printed out and stapled together.