poetry | prints | cine | home

Journal of Distraction - by Michael Kelly

Week 3 - Thursday

Last time I was here they had a label-gun - for poor benighted children of the electronic age, a wondrous thing with clicky dials which disgorges adhesive labels stamped with any word you desire. But I was only allowed to use it twice, for I ran amok and labelled anything that didn't move, and several things which only moved slowly, such as Mrs. Prendergast. They have hidden it from me this time.

(Lives of Great Inventors No.2: The inventor of the Label-Gun

Jean-Paul LaBel... after a childhood blow on the head could never remember the names of things unless they had signs on saying what they were... no no, wait, he had obsessive compulsive disorder, hated people touching his stuff, wanted to find a convenient way to put his name on all his belongings... early experiments with a huge eff-off twenty-foot typewriter big enough to put household objects through... years of trial and error, produced the label-gun... ironically, he didn't put his name on the prototype and Thomas Edison stole it... never saw a penny, died in the gutter... but today the house where he was born bears a sticky label in his honour.)

In my lunch-hour I went to see Mr. Fezzigig. He keeps pestering me to bring him new technology and reluctantly I'm obliging. I loaned him the heavy-duty staple-gun for a bit; he's seen one before but it was huge job of steam pistons and clockwork - I was quite envious when he described it. Anyway he stapled a few of the clerks to their desks by their sleeves to prevent them slacking off. I've tried to tell the clerks about unions and so on but they immediately denounced me to Fezzigig and he called a parson in to have me exorcised. I thought I had more luck when I tried to tell him that a relaxed worker is a productive worker and described the extra-curricular anti-stress courses they had at one place I was at. He seemed keen and I gave him some books on yoga and stuff; however when he'd taught all his clerks the lotus position he took their chairs away to use for firewood and told them to work like that. Confidentially he told me that come Christmas he's going to lay them all off and start outsourcing to a workhouse. I'm not sure where he's picked up terms like 'outsourcing' and begin to suspect he's found the door into the modern part of the building and noses around at night. Another sign might be that he's started sketching out abstract logos for his company, Fezzigig & Bros Textile Manufacturers Ltd, (which he wants to rename *finitas, in the lower case like that), and roughing out brochures which talk not of muslin and cambric and so on but of 'Cotton solutions for the 19th Century.' I hope he goes bankrupt.

PS. Private message to David Boyd of Carolina:

David, I still have the negatives. You and I know the girl was only a midget, but to everyone else she'll look underage. Besides the thing you did with the chicken is illegal in most states anyway. The thing with the dachsund, illegal even in Holland. I don't care if your readers are ready to lynch you, you keep linking me every damn day or else.

< < | > >