h a l f b a k e r y
My hatstand runneth over
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I was wondering how annoying it must sailing past somewhere in the old days and thinking, is that an island, or what?
Cos, you then have to sail around the island to make sure it is an island and not just a peninsular.
So, my first thought was taller ships, but realised the the tall bit on the
island would be much taller than any feasible mast. Next was lower islands, so someone on the ship could climb the mast, see over the purported island and say "it's an island" or not.
This might go some way to explain Atlantis, as the population got so bored of saying "Yes, it's a blummin' island" twice or more times a day they rather overdid it on the island lowering maneuver.
Finally, I decided that just putting a big hole at the bottom of the tall bit of the island, so passing ships can just see the sea on the other side.
||Baked by Nature eons ago, but you have to be in the right
spot for it to do any good. Does anyone know what the
right name is for a natural land bridge that spans a bit of
sea? 'Sea bridge' doesn't sound quite right to me. The
closest one to my current location is in Nova Scotia, or
'Nover Skosher' as we call it 'round here. Not that it does a
blind bit of good, because if you're on a ship and in a
position to peep through it, you've already run up on the
rocks and you'll be looking at trees and perhaps a few idle
Canadians, if such a thing exists. So perhaps there is room
for improvement after all...
||// looking at trees and perhaps a few idle Canadians, if such a thing exists //
||Canadians are Widely Known To Exist (unfortunately). We agree that the difference between a tree and an idle Canadian is not, however, readily apparent.
||"I wanted to be a lumberjack ! Leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia . . . The giant redwood, the larch, the fir, the mighty scots pine...The smell of fresh-cut timber! The crash of mighty trees !"
||There is an easy way to tell if a piece of land is
connected to the mainland. In the northern
hemisphere, you need to count the number of
seabirds flying east or north, and the number flying
west or south. When you get bored of doing that
you go and find a map.
||Don't bias the hole too far on one side, it might
||God bless that congressman for that. SNL was
getting so boring.
||Perhaps a better way to accomplish this goal would be to
elevate the entire island on stout pylons, so that one can
simply peer underneath it to see what is on the other side.
In this configuration the hole would be in the center of the
island, so that when one is sailing underneath one can
stave off the inevitable anxiety caused when sailing
beneath a land mass by looking up at the sky and noting the
number and direction of seabirds on the wing.
||We think this is an excellent idea, and insist
that the author tries it out immediately.
||We nominate the island to be experimentaly
perforated as Anak Krakatau, in the Sunda
strait between Java and Sumatra.
||We intend to observe the outcome from a
safe distance, known to your species as a
||Ah, the Sunda Strait. Beautiful spot. Hebthorn
("Dinky") Buchanan was last known to have lived
there in the early 1880s, developing what he claimed
would be the world's most effective hydrothermal
telegraphy system. The family records for him are
blank from about 1882-3 onwards - one of the lost
threads of the Buchanan tapestry.
||Perhaps an alternative solution would be for ships to carry
large hula hoops stored vertically Sidle up to a possible
island, tilt down the hoop over the landmass and if the
hoop goes fully horizontal it is an island but if it hangs up
on some unseen object on the far side it's not.
||On an unrelated topic, when Anak Krakatau (meaning son
of Krakatoa) blows up and a new volcanic island forms do
you think it will be known as Anak Anak Krakatau or
perhaps just GrandAnak Krakatau?
||And as for [8th]'s impression of Micheal Palin, I'd like to say
||// The family records for him are blank from about
1882-3 onwards - one of the lost threads of the
||Let us consider the known facts.
||1. While the relevant pages of the family history
are indeed blank, there is compelling evidence to
indicate that this was not always the case. Close
examination of the paper indicates that a highly
sophisticated chemical agent has been used to
entirely remove the ink, without affecting the
underling structure of the paper. This bespeaks a
considerable scientific skill verging on alchemy, a
trait for which the Buchanan line is well known;
and the related phenomenon of "disappearance"
in this context is far from unique*. The conclusion
is that the records have been intentionally erased
for the usual reasons.**
||2. The extant log of the Charles Bal, a cargo
carrying barque on a voyage from Belfast to Hong
Kong, in which Captain W.J. Watson records the
events of 26th - 27th August 1884 ***, referring to
"my brother's dear friend" and the invaluable
assistance he rendered in dealing with "an
unexpected and most unwelcome guest from the
Matilda Briggs, who was discovered to be
accompanied by that which travelers in these
lands have from ancient times dreaded above all
else, such that it is not spoken of, for the world is
not yet prepared for such horrors"****
||3. A plethora of new and somewhat oddly-phrased
Customs and Quarantine regulations promulgated
by all major maritime trading nations in September
to December 1884.
||4. A peculiar nervousness which descends on all
representatives of the Buchanan family whenever
the word "rat" or "rats" are mentioned, often
accompanied by furtive peering into dark corners
and involuntary grasping of any nearby heavy,
||* We refer of course to the infamous, nay
notorious, Disappearance of the Fourth Earl of
Buchanan, along with the shed in which he was
wont to seclude himself, which was suspiciously
coincident with the disappearance of all the fixed
glass on the South frontage of Buchanan Towers,
the appearance of a large, shallow depression in
the ground where the shed used to be, an
outbreak of sudden deafness in nearby estate
workers, and the unexplained phenomenon still
referred to in the area as "that funny sticky pink
rain with bits in".
||** Avoidance of writs for damages, the usual suits
for Breach of Promise and Paternity, actions for
Libel, Slander and Defamation of Character,
Wrongful and Constructive Dismissal, Assault,
Piracy on the High Seas, Piracy on the Dead Sea,
High Treason, Blasphemy, prosecutions under the
various Witchcraft Acts, repeated and wilfull
violations of Air Navigation Orders, failure to
report an accident, operating an electric
toothbrush without due care and attention,
setting fire to His or Her Majesty's Dockyards
(numerous charges brought during the reigns of
several monarchs), aiding and abetting a goat
while under the influence of drink or drugs,
Dancing with Wolves, and attempting to import a
fumarole without a proper licence.
||*** This document now resides in the Public
Record Office at Kew, London, and is available for
public consultation on request. Really, it does. You
can go and check if you like.
||*** Interestingly, in Dr J.M. Watson's notes of "The
Adventure Of The Sussex Vampire", Sherlock
Holmes refers to this event, saying "Matilda Briggs
was not the name of a young woman, Watson, ...
It was a ship which is associated with the giant rat
of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet
prepared." From this it may be deduced that
neither Holmes nor Watson's brother felt able to
further enlighten him on the events of those
terrible few days. The remarkable similarity of
phraseology in the two widely-separated accounts
is particularly noteworthy.
||[8th], by dint of some deep and probing research,
some ingenious and
clever inferences, and by the connection of
several strands of
superficially unrelated evidence, you appear to
which is, in fact, widely known and publicly
||The association between the Buchanan Estate,
the fourth and fifth
Earls, and the Giant (which it isn't, really; just
rather large) Rat (which it
isn't; more a gerbil, in fact) of (which it is)
Sumatra (ditto) has been
extensively recorded in Sturton's five volume
history of the Buchanans.
The matter was also outlined, more or less
accurately, in Desmond
Moines' biography of the fifth Earl.
||As for the "suspicious" blank pages in the family
history, these are in
fact quite mundanically explicable. From about
1882 to 1914, it fell to
Adenine Ffoulkes-Buchanan to act as the family
historian and archivist.
You will, no doubt, be aware of Lady Adenine's
role as an agent acting on
behalf of the British government in the mid 1800s.
||Lady Adenine maintained an obsession with
secrecy even in later life.
This obsession extended to writing everything
with a quite remarkable
invisible ink of her own devising.
||It was only some
years after her death
that it was discovered that her "invisible ink" was,
in fact, water. This led not only to the irrecoverable loss of Buchanan family
records, but also to the revelation that British Intelligence had been
receiving her sensitive information from 1842 to 1852 but had been too
embarrassed to admit that it could not render her secret ink visible. Only
the stains on some of the otherwise blank pages which she sent by pigeon
from Russia, Siam and Van Diemen's Land (including motor oil, blood, palm
oil and, inexplicably, tequila) gave any clue as to what she was up to.