Friday, January 11, 2013

Chasing a wild chimpanzee

It’s January, and it’s time for a declutter. Books you only got half-way through when they won the Booker Prize; CDs that would have got your grandma’s toes tapping; shoes that were last in fashion when Manolo Blahnik was still wearing short trousers: they’ve all got to go.

Because a bit of decluttering cleanses  mind, body and  spirit just as effectively as any spa treatment.

We’ve having a declutter at Chronicle Towers this week. But the it’s hard to decide what to get rid of.
Deep in the depths of a forgotten cupboard, for example, is a slightly tatty copy of the Bath and Wilts Chronicle and Herald from Thursday March 24 1938.

And what a treasure trove it proves to be. On the wide rolling acres of its broadsheet front page we find a story from Liverpool with the  headline “CHASING A WILD CHIMPAN-ZEE” (they didn’t have the internet in those days so they didn’t realise that using all capital letters is the same as SHOUTING).

Mickey the chimp terrified a playground full of schoolchildren before being shot at point blank range by a Major CJ Bailey. What a ghastly deed to be remembered for.

Further down the page, things turn more parochial, with two separate stories from Trowbridge: “Unusual Result of Crash” and “UNUSUAL INCIDENTS”. It looks like the sub-editors were having a bad day: some things never change.

Deeper  in the  cupboard is The People from a few weeks before. Even in those days it veered towards sensationalism: “Torso Murder Clues Handless Arm In River” screams the lead headline, next to a picture story titled “LITTLE OLD LADY”, about Mrs Bridget German of Devon, celebrating her 10st birthday with a daily bible reading and a game of darts.

There are adverts for sheds for three and sixpence down, and for Doctor Blosser’s Medical Cigarettes, available from the chemists. The past really is another country.

And  that’s what happens when you start to declutter: you soon find that all the old clobber is too interesting to get rid of, and you end up putting it back in the cupboard for later. 

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