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Friday, July 14, 2017

Comic Cuts - 14 July 2017

After a fortnight of steady work on the Valiant index, I've spent this week doing almost nothing. There are a couple of piles of books sat on the scanner next to me and a larger stack that I've had to move out of the office to make room; all have been somehow involved in filling four of the seven days since the last column. But the end results are frustratingly small.

Long-time readers may recall that we've had a problem with leaks in what our landlady calls "the conservatory" but which is, in fact a utility room tacked onto the back of the converted garage that is my office. We've had repairmen come in the past to fix the roof, but each time they find a hole and fill it, the water finds a new way to get inside. The seals around the doors, the windows and the roofing panels has perished; if you stand in the doorway to the kitchen, you can look through a hole under one of the panels and see the outside world.

The roof was to be repaired this week, but, after a long period of dry weather which has had everyone talking about a possible hosepipe ban, the heavens decided to open up. Not so much on Monday but definitely on Tuesday night. I usually use old coffee tins and old plastic milk bottles in a Heath Robinson-esque way, to stop the water pouring down the back of our fridge. Depending on how bad the weather is, the coffee tin usually has the capacity to cope; a plastic bottle with the end cut off guides the water and stops the rain making a constant plink, plink, plink noise as it lands.

The towel comes into effect during heavier rain. You see, if the rain pours through it splashes against the window surround and misses the tin, which is why we lay towels down to soak up any water the tin doesn't catch. But, to reduce this problem, we have the tea-towel drainage system: the rains lands on the towel at the top of the window surround and soaks down its length before dripping into one of our tins. The tins' capacity is just under four pints of water, and we have up to four of them in operation because there's more than one hole the water seeps through.

On Tuesday night we put a busket where those tins are and I emptied it just before going to bed at midnight. I awoke at 5:30 the following morning and came down to make sure everything was OK and the bucket was almost full. That's 16 pints of rainwater in 5 1/2 hours. Add the half a pint collected by one of the other tins and it's simple math to work out that the rain was pouring into the "conservatory" at a rate of three pints an hour.

That's not the worst of the problems. The worst would be the slugs. They just love to crawl in. On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning I caught three, so it's not a small problem. Apart from leaving disgusting silvery trails for you to wake up to, they cause a bigger problem. In October 2014, we had to replace our washing machine because the electronics were fried. Then, in June 2016 we had the same problem with the new machine. Thankfully this time it was cheaper to fix the motherboard than replace the whole machine. But let me take you back to that post briefly:
Oh, and the washing machine stopped working on Sunday and the very heavy downpours we've been having have added another leak into the utility room. The two events are not connected as far as I know. The latter I was able to fix with a Heath Robinsonesque device consisting of a plastic carton with a hole in the bottom which caught the drips and guided them into a tin which rested on the window sill. Into the tin was drilled a hole out of which the collected water dripped. Unfortunately, plastic trays and old tins are no substitute for a blown motherboard, so I couldn't jerry rig the washing machine.
As you can see, the leaky roof was already a problem back then. But my point is my prediction that "The two events are not connected as far as I know." Well, actually they were connected. Slugs like to hide out in warm, wet places and will slither inside your washing machine. And it's the slugs who short out the motherboards. The replacement board was sealed tight to make sure this didn't happen again, but a more ideal solution would be for there to be no slugs indoors in the first place... and that means getting the roof fixed... which isn't going to happen this week now.

I was prepared for disruption on Monday, but it didn't happen; nor on Tuesday and now we're delayed until the middle of next week because the guy doing the job has family commitments in Germany.

To distract myself from the work happening three yards away, I'd planned a fun task for myself which involved looking through some old issues of Authentic Science Fiction, the 1950s British SF magazine. There has been a question mark hanging over the authorship of a few stories and I thought this would be a good time to resolve it. (I've had a couple of research breakthroughs recently that involve authors for the magazine, hence my sudden desire to dig out my copies.)

I'm sorry to say the results have been inconclusive. I need to read more of the books in full before I can say anything with any certainty. For anyone who knows the magazine, I'm leaning towards the idea that Bert Campbell wrote all of the Roy Sheldon yarns, but this is something I'll have to come back to.

But while I was doing this kind of research, I thought I'd tackle another set of books. Again, the results were inconclusive as I don't have a large enough collection of the books. By now it was half-past Tuesday and I spent the rest of the day and most of Wednesday doodling around trying to solve a couple of other mysteries associated with those old 1950s paperbacks that I love to write about. I didn't have much luck—and in one instance, rather than solve the mystery I've managed to muddy the water further!

Not that the week has been a total loss. Trying to dig out my Authentics from the shelves at the back of the office meant dealing with the spiders who lived there. My office has now been fully dusted for the first time in a while and is looking spick and possibly even span.

So for our random scans I've spent some time cleaning up my rather tatty early issues of Authentic, which are by the mysterious D.L.W. He only signed two of the books, but the first nine covers are clearly the same artist. Only six here because it's late and I want to go to bed. The cover above is by Ratcliff.

1 comment:

  1. Most reassuring to learn that slugs and spiders prefer motherboards to paper! I don't like to think of them eating their way through, or defecating on, decaying damp-endangered pages to which an increasingly ignorant world attaches no value. If there was any justice, a special housing grant would be made to safeguard and preserve your piles of rare old books, comics and artwork. But that, of course, is only pleasant dreaming. Best of luck with your ongoing nightmare.