Wednesday, 11 August 2010

This is how my mind works

Last night, whilst cleaning my teeth before falling into bed at the witching hour, I suddenly and for no apparent reason thought about Letraset. Now if you're under 25 there's a very real chance you won't know what that is, so let me explain. These days, with computers, decent cheap printers and 1,001 fonts, it's easy for any Tom, Dick or Harry to knock up a professional-looking piece of print. Desktop publishing, they call it. But back when I was a kid, if you wanted to produce something that looked better than the best your handwriting could be with a felt-tip pen, you (or at least I) used Letraset. The idea was simple - you'd buy sets of letters printed on flimsy plastic sheets and transfer them to paper by rubbing the sheet with a pencil. It was brilliant - not only did the finished product look good, it was also laborious in a very satisfying way. I imagined that the silicon revolution would have done for Letraset in the same way it has for the typewriter (I used to have one of those too - for the very young amongst you, these devices had ribbons, jammed a lot and made everything look like Courier... but now I'm just being facetious). But no - Letraset lives on, against all odds...

But then this is how my mind works... that thought, against all odds, made me think of the Phil Collins song of the same name. Yes, Phil Collins, much derided, memorably duped by Chris Morris ("I'm talking nonce sense"). But Against All Odds is a decent song of its genre, probably a solo career high watermark for Phil. And he was a good drummer for Genesis, especially in the early years when he didn't have to worry about vocal duties - some of his playing on, for example, Watcher Of The Skies sounds very much like the cymbal-clattering of Stewart Copeland in his Police heyday, yet pre-dated Copeland by five or more years. I thought all this and more, just from a random thought about Letraset.

I should have gone to bed at this point, except... that thought, all this and more, made me think of the early recording of the same name by Leeds' finest, the always-excellent Wedding Present (it's on George Best). Which made me think of the time I gave one of my best friends a meat cleaver for a wedding present. Which made me think of Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones's Diary. Which made me think of The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾. Which made me think of what the HTML entity name for that three quarters character would be (since you ask, it's ¾). Which made me think of entity-relationship diagrams... relationship history... browser history... eyebrows... Denis Healey... the Healey Frog-Eyed Sprite... Kermit the Frog... Alberto Frog... Alberto Balsam shampoo... balsa wood...

In my defence, it was late and I was tired. But this is how my mind works sometimes. Be grateful you are not me.


  1. Hmm, I like Letraset and I like dymo-tape too, but which is better...?

    1. I can always rely on you for an interesting question, Mark. For me, Letraset, by a nose - I would always be a little disappointed by the finished dymo product...