Thursday 28 January 2016

Emergency Supplies (1979)

The 1970s was a decade of social tension. Environmental disaster, terrorism, war and foreigners were a constant threat. Many citizens and some of their friends expressed concern about what would happen if the worst came to the worst.

In 1979 the government declared that it was fully prepared for any eventuality. A series of posters and leaflets introduced Pre-Emergency Services which had been set up to supply citizens with "essential survival items" including ping pong balls, rubber bands (see poster above), furniture polish, drinks coasters and crocheted toilet-roll covers that looked like Georgian ladies.

The minister for internal affairs wrote in one leaflet: "Our new emergency initiatives clearly demonstrate how seriously we take the welfare of British citizens. Should an unexpected catastrophe occur, such as the one which may or may not take place later this year on October 14th, we guarantee that working families and those most in need, such as table tennis players, will be the first to receive the emergency supplies listed in this leaflet." 

To further demonstrate his commitment to the people, the prime minister himself offered to forgo his own rubber band and drinks coaster rations saying that "the knowledge that the people of the United Kingdom are safe is all the comfort I need and I will gladly make do with less vital resources", which were later revealed to be water purification tablets, dried food goods and medical supplies.

For more archival documents about emergency procedures read this Public Information Booklet, this civil defence poster and take note of this new emergency services telephone number.

Thursday 21 January 2016

1970s Games (Various)

These old games were found in a cupboard in the council office basement (click to enlarge).

The goal of 'Pollute' (1975) was to earn as much money as possible for your multinational corporation while contaminating the world's oceans. Extra points could be scored by inadvertently bringing about a genetically corrupted, mutant starfish which threatens to destroy mankind, then offering the monopolised solution at a vastly inflated price. Subsequent versions of the game included 'Super Pollute: Poison the Skies' and 'Pollute Deluxe: The Countryside is a Twat'.

Winner of the Queen's Award for Arrogance, 'Mister Smug' (1978) was an edutainment game which taught politicians and big business leaders how to emotionally and legally distance themselves from the catastrophic outcomes of uninformed decisions which affect millions of innocent people and ruin lives. Bankers and other sociopaths were banned from playing the game in competition because they always won, even when they had officially lost.

'Land Mine' (1970). Very little is known about this game because few players survived, though it appears that the military funded the game's production so that it could test the latest in concealed weapons technology and observe its explosive effects on a civilian population.

For more games see 'Discovering Scarfolk' by Ebury Press: Top Tramps (p.85); Junior Taxidermy Kit (p.86); and Singlemulty (p.105), and others.

Thursday 14 January 2016

Forensic Litter Collection (1978)

The police budget for 1978 was only half of what it had been the previous year. This was because the treasury had been robbed and the subsequent investigation was thwarted by limited resources. The thieves were never apprehended.

Violent crime soared, particularly recreational parricide, and Scarfolk's woodlands, wastelands and canals were strewn with bodies and body parts. The police, overwhelmed by the sheer number of cases and keen to deflect any criticism, claimed that the problem was not one of unsolved homicide but of littering and blamed any failings on the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

The two eventually agreed to pool resources and turned the task of forensic crime scene examination over to the community, children in particular. Much like the children's TV programme Blue Peter, schools launched charity appeals that encouraged pupils to collect victim debris, organic or otherwise, to raise money (see leaflet above). In 1978 children across the country collected nearly £9000 worth of gold fillings and 525 glass eyes, among other items. Some were cleaned and reconditioned for further use.

Homicide litter recycling became so popular in the late-70s that some overly-enthusiastic people tried to donate whole family members before they had passed away, but the rules were quite strict: donations could only be accepted if the person was murdered first. To this end, the police helpfully released a pamphlet describing those methods which were most likely to avoid detection.

Saturday 9 January 2016

Thursday 7 January 2016

The Fact Ban (1976)

In 1975 the government discreetly tortured citizens to find out what they thought of its leadership. The results revealed that many participants thought the state "cheerfully totalitarian","despotic, but in a nice way", and "I'll say anything you want as long as you stop waterboarding me and give me back my eye."

The government sensed a need for change and announced that it would be introducing more liberal attitudes to its policies, particularly those relating to facts and information.

Facts had always been problematic for the government because of their inflexibility. Though the use of facts in state administration was strongly disparaged and had largely been expunged from political life, some civil servants stubbornly refused to yield to inexplicable reversals in party policy.

An internal council memo to employees read: "Facts do not serve the best interests of a successful government and we must not permit them to hinder our healthy economy with their tyrannical, oppressive insistence on what is and isn't true. If you must employ a truth, ensure that you are liberal with it -  untamed, unedited facts can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Ideally, you will create your own facts so that you can retain control of them."

In early 1976, as part of its Truth Reform, the government went a step further and initiated an all-out ban on unsanctioned facts, as can be seen from the above council leaflet distributed to employees. Until the end of the decade all facts were created and authorised by a new governmental department called the Fact Office or F-OFF for short.