Thursday, 26 November 2015

"This is...Scarfolk" (date unknown)

Many people will remember Miroslav Šašek's "This Is..." series of illustrated guide books for children. Following his famous works on London, Edinburgh, Ireland, Paris and New York, Šašek turned his attention to 1970s Scarfolk.

He worked on “This is…Scarfolk” for several months and included many recognisable places and people: the pagan Officist cult deity, Mr Johnson (see Discovering Scarfolk for more details); Kak the bird, mascot of the 'Don't' public information campaign, and the Council Christmas Boy.

However, when Šašek submitted the manuscript to the BCWA, the council's Board of Censorship and Whimsical Annihilation, he found himself facing legal obstacles.

The council felt that the book contained "untruths which could cast the town in a bad light". Firstly, the council complained that the front of the Scarfolk Death Bus on the book's cover was blood splattered, "which suggests that [the bus] wilfully drives at people with the intention of knocking them down, whereas, in actual fact, community Death Bus drivers prefer to back up over pedestrians who are dilly-dallying on pavements or in the doorways of shops".

The council also complained about the depiction of a nuclear mushroom cloud. A devastating accident at the local nuclear plant had not been scheduled for at least three more years.

Finally, the Council Christmas Boy did not like to be looked at under any circumstances and cursed the project. When a test print run of 20 copies was made, mysterious falling figures appeared on the covers. One week later 20 people connected with the book inexplicably threw themselves from the roof of the council building. They survived, but only briefly, as they were all quickly backed over by the Scarfolk Death Bus. It is perhaps these events which in part led to the Falling Disorder campaign.

The publication was cancelled and all that remains of it is the cover above.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Brood Parasites (1970)

In 1970 there was a spate of cases involving brood parasites. Unknown children began appearing in households all over Scarfolk. So inconspicuous were these children that months would go by before a host family noticed a strange child in their midst, sitting at their dinner tables, taking over the bedrooms and toys of the youngest legitimate family members. Social workers reported that it was as if each host family had been "hypnotised" into believing the child was theirs.

It was also discovered that these children had been regularly stealing small, family possessions which they then sealed in wax and hair and buried in scrubland beneath a motorway flyover. When unmarked Scarfolk council vans were found collecting the wax-sealed objects, an enquiry was launched. The council rejected the accusation that the brood parasite offspring were part of a secret government deal with "an insistent non-human organisation", and they were pressured to tackle the problem, hence the poster campaign above.

Local corporations generously funded a community aid scheme, whose slogan was "The future of our real children is at stake". Scarfolk Tobacco Company recommended literally smoking out the preternatural children and sent thousands of complimentary packs of cigarettes to infant schools, while Scarf Distilleries Ltd. promoted the regular application of neat alcohol to any suspect minors.

It is now believed that there were very few officially accepted brood parasites and the vast majority of arrests turned out to be normal children rejected by their disappointed parents because of low exchange evaluations.

Friday, 13 November 2015

I-Spy Surveillance Books

In the years before digital surveillance and the government's Snooper's Charter, it was much harder for the state to spy on its citizens.

Without the technology we have today, the government had to rely on manpower, specifically from society's most innocent members - minors. Children in the UK especially were much easier to manipulate and were largely oblivious to the creeping diminishment of their civil liberties.

I-Spy books were published by the state and given as gifts, as well as distributed to schools, youth clubs and infant terror organisations (see "The Infant Liberation Front"). The books transformed the tedium of surveillance into play, encouraging children to routinely observe and record the actions, speech and private correspondence of people who the government deemed to be enemies of society. These included "free-thinkers, beneficiaries of welfare and other degenerates. [...] Extremists, potential extremists, and those whose profound lack of extremist attributes is extreme in itself, are also worthy of suspicion and censure."

The completed books even prompted children to spy on themselves, which many found difficult, even with the mirrors provided.

Each completed book was sent to a local government councillor whose job it was to forward the data to the relevant renditions team, and also to decide if any compensation was due to the child; for example, if the surveillance data they had submitted led to the arrest and execution of a parent.

More about surveillance in Scarfolk here:
"Unlearn Privacy Cards"
"We Watch You While You Sleep. TV Signal Intrusion"
"Roy, The Telekinetic Child-Owl"

Friday, 6 November 2015

Remembrance Poppies Leaflet (1977)

In 1977 a war briefly broke out in Scarfolk over how peacetime should be administrated. The government favoured aggressively pursuing corporate and economic interests in overseas territories. This was executed by the newly-founded Department of Foreign Business Acquisitions (FBA), another name for what was also known as the armed forces. By chance, international conflicts often broke out shortly before the FBA's scheduled arrival in troubled regions, and it was both fortunate and convenient that the FBA were on hand to liberate lucrative businesses, particularly those pertaining to natural resources, from enemy control.

Others in Scarfolk favoured the strict regimentation of peace on home turf. The council published a lengthy list of civic misdeeds which were regarded as "incompatible with war and/or peace". While the list included obvious restrictions such as "engaging in illegal conflict without paying appropriate war-spoils tax to the government", it also included lesser misdemeanours such as not wearing remembrance poppies. The red flower, a symbol of fought-for freedoms which are "to be exercised in precisely the manner stipulated by the state", was worn as a sign of respect to the honourable men and women who lost their lives in wars, honourable or otherwise.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

"Infant Catcherbots" Public Information Poster (1975)

After last week's post about the Bladder Clown surgical toy we thought it seasonally appropriate to show you another artefact filed in our Automaclown Archive B.  

Parents in the 1970s were required to submit their children to civic trials, the details of which are not fully clear to us now. We do know, however, that the few children who survived them developed debilitating paranormal powers such as retrospective-clairvoyance - the ability to see the future of people who lived in the past.

Perhaps understandably, many children went unregistered for "The Trials" and the council was forced to track them down by ever devious means. By 1975 the council had developed Catcherbots which, in various guises, lured and apprehended unregistered children. In addition to the Clown Catcherbot (see the council's Halloween poster campaign above) there were also the Jesus, 'lovely Nana', pony-demon and Noel Edmonds Catcherbot models.

Once an offending child had been identified, Catcherbots sucked them up through their 'catcherholes'. Early quantum technology made it possible for dozens of children to be imprisoned inside the Catcherbots in a space no larger than a shoe box. At least, that was the theory: many of the children were never seen again. The same technology was later used in recycling machines that crush and process plastic bottles.

Happy Halloween/Samhain! Do you know where YOUR child is tonight?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

"Surgical Toy Insertions Catalogue 1973-1974"

In August 1972 the BBC broadcast a documentary about how overcrowded prisons were forcing the authorities to address alternatives such as house arrest and electronic monitoring. At least a decade before homing devices in the form of ankle monitors or bracelets were first used, a Scarfolk inventor called Matthew Shipton set out to find a solution, drawing upon his years of experience working for toy manufacturer, Scar Toys.

Working with Dr. Hushson of Cavalier Pharmaceuticals, who had made his name hybridising children with kitchen appliances for the catering industries (see Discovering Scarfolk p. 121 for more details), Shipton surgically implanted his daughter's musical box into a lesser-favoured nephew. Whenever the boy released adrenalin (a sure sign of wrongdoing) the musical box opened and played Debussy's Claire de Lune, warning those nearby of potential ill intent on the boy's part.

The documentary had unexpected repercussions. Children up and down Scarfolk wanted to be fitted with their favourite toys. The demand was so great that Scar Toys and Cavalier Pharm went into production. Their Surgical Toy Insertions were the #1 Christmas gift five years in succession.
Meanwhile, the prison system adapted Shipton's musical boxes so that, instead of containing twirling ballerinas, they housed bulldog clips which nipped at the vital organs of criminals if they transgressed. Clare de Lune, however, was retained for its calming effects.

See more from Scar Toys here: Lung Puppy
See more from Cavalier Pharm here: Mindborstal

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Public Information Booklet: "What To Do When..." (1976)

Below is one page from "What To Do When...", published in 1976. This government booklet was sent to Scarfolk schools, youth clubs and covens and taught children aged 5-12 the survival skills they would need in the bleak near future. The council took for granted, indeed had budgeted for, a complete social breakdown by the year 1979.

In the event of such a collapse, those in power, including Scarfolk's own mayor, would be housed in secure, luxury bunkers. Despite this, they deemed it "unsportsmanlike to let unprepared citizens perish so quickly. Besides, it wouldn't be at all entertaining for us"*. This referred to the many cameras which, as early as 1974, had been placed around the town to capture the unfolding dystopian drama, not for security reasons but merely for the amusement of the surviving elite - a prescient precursor to reality TV.

Chapters included:

"What To Do When..."
...Your Personality is Erased
...The Truth Doesn't Mean Anything Any More
...A Psychic Dog is Following You
...You Realise You Have Less Trading Value Than A Good Sock

* Excerpt from an internal council memo sent by Mayor Ritter to his most senior staff and his favourite office cactus, 32nd May 1976.

The subject of missing parents is also addressed in this post: "Is your mummy who she says she is?"

Monday, 5 October 2015

Personal Space Allowance (1975)

Until 1975, the standard PSA (Personal Space Allowance) had always been fixed at a comfortable, civilised 20 inch zone around each citizen. The government suddenly amended this, however, citing terrorism and a rising population as reasons to cut personal space along with other social benefits and civil liberties.

The PSA was more than merely reduced: The new bodily zone into which representatives of the state (and even some commercial organisations) were now free to pass was amended to minus 5.2 inches. Naturally, this made human bodies 'semi-permeable', legally speaking, and for many people only the depths of their intestines remained private.

Police, security and social services enthusiastically exploited the new laws, as did the health service which randomly pilfered internal organs from unsuspecting citizens, claiming quite lawfully that they were found in 'communal public places'. The nervous public caught on and by 1977 there were self-help groups springing up all over Scarfolk which helped citizens become as obese as possible in an effort to protect their innermost parts from state interference and even commercial exploitation.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Library Music LPs (1970s)

Library music is often used in television, radio and film productions. This low-budget, pre-written music is intended to convey particular moods to the audience. Entire LPs, named by theme and often in multiple volumes, are dedicated to a wide variety of moods and concepts such as 'business dynamism', 'modern leisure', 'relaxed terror', 'perky dismay' and 'unspecified uncertainty'.

The library music records presented here were found in the Scarfolk Council archive. Our files show that audio from them was included not only in many of Scarfolk's public information and infant indoctrination films, but they were also the soundtracks to party political broadcasts of the 1970s.

Library music was also used by large corporations in their threatening advertising campaigns, as well as the aggressive training and breaking of ineffective, altruistic employees.

Additionally, subliminal audio from releases such as 'Sound Frequencies to Induce Unconditional Obedience' (Music de Scarfolke, 1970) was broadcast on all local television channels on the hour, every 8 hours, for a duration of 3 seconds. It triggered in citizens the compulsion to stand at their open front doors and shout out confessions to thought crimes they had perpetrated during the day. Teams of social workers hiding in bushes and beneath cars recorded the confessions for later exploitation by the state. For example, up until 1979, a portfolio of each citizen's crimes was buried with him so that any outstanding sentences or punishments incurred in this life may be carried over into the next.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Citizen Value (1971-1979)

In 1971 a local government survey revealed that the citizens of Scarfolk were, by and large, content. This was of great concern to the council which worried that its people risked developing self-confidence - perhaps even dignity - and worse that they might even have false hopes for a brighter future.

By 1972 a government scheme to stifle these dangerous thoughts was in full effect. Schools were not permitted to grade any student higher than a 'D'; adults received personalised insults by post or telephone, and families attended compulsory classes which promoted subservience and feelings of shame.

Additionally, every Friday local newspapers published an updated list of individual citizens' current worth alongside prices for poultry, offal and other meat products. Some citizens' values frequently fell below that of brain, spleen, heart and tripe.

The poster above was ubiquitous at the time, but this example was found on a wall in Scarfolk hospital's maternity ward.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

"Welcome Refugees" Poster (1970)

In 1970 Scarfolk Council faced a humanitarian crisis and was asked to take in refugees. Councillors warned that an influx of too many migrants could make Scarfolk susceptible to earthquakes, foreign food and other natural disasters, and that the town may even "become unbalanced, tip over and crash into a neighbouring town".

The mayor in particular expressed concern that a sudden population increase could affect the chances of him getting his favourite parking spot at Scarfolk Visitors' Welcome Centre and that the building of new housing to accommodate refugees may seriously impact the schedule of his builder who had already delayed the building of his kitchen extension twice that year.

Councillors also argued that Scarfolk didn't have the space for refugees and quickly redesignated vast regions of post-industrial wasteland as 'protected areas of outstanding natural beauty'. Despite this, the council was forced take in 1.3 refugees for every 20 citizens. The council promised to observe these requirements to the letter and even hired surgeons to ensure a precise quota.

When refugees finally arrived in Scarfolk, they were met by the poster above, which was clearly intended to deter them even before they passed through customs and immigration.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

"No" (1973-1975)

In 1973 Scarfolk Council released the above poster all over town. On the same day it also stopped responding to applications for welfare benefits, in fact it stopped responding to all enquiries from the public.

Those who called the council telephone number were answered by a distant, echoing voice which relentlessly repeated the word 'No'. It wasn't a recorded message and callers could sometimes hear faint whimpering in the background.

Some families received letters from the council which contained a single instance of the word, while others received multi-page letters with 'No' printed many hundreds of times. The longest 'No' letter received by a citizen contained 178,121 pages and was delivered by an articulated lorry, whose number plate also simply read 'No'.

Hoping for a 'No' answer, numerous residents tried to take advantage of the council by asking if they were required to pay their taxes or respect the law. Such people were visited by an impeccably dressed man called Mr. Custard who had rows of paper clips and occult symbols tattooed on his face. He would whisper briefly in the residents' ears before leaving. All were found dead within days of Mr Custard's visit, having slit their own wrists and daubed the word 'No' in their own blood on the walls of their homes.

In 1975 the 'No' era suddenly stopped. The council apologised and claimed that it had simply been the result of a clerical error.

For the 'Stop!' campaign see "Discovering Scarfolk" (page 154). For the 'Don't' campaign go HERE.

Friday, 21 August 2015

NHS Health Warning Poster (1978)

In 1978 the Notional Health Service was struggling to cope with its lack of funds. Overspending was unavoidable and the threat of closure was ever present. However, Scarfolk Council's department for health and knitting hit upon a simple method to radically reduce spending.

Firstly, taking its lead from a household insurance policy, the council recategorised many serious (thus expensive) illnesses as ineligible for treatment. Cases were dismissed due to "general wear and tear" or "acts of god", and the council even went as far as to recommend that patients with serious physical ailments "contact the manufacturer for further assistance". Secondly, the spread of disease in hospitals was cut by 90% by removing and prohibiting sick patients.

Patients with cheaper, non-threatening conditions were admitted to NHS hospitals, but only if they understood that they might share a bed with up to 9 other patients and/or a startup business that had rented the bed as office space. Patients were also subjected to virtually costless placebo trials. In fact, all treatments in 1979 were placebos consisting of either sherbert infusions (the town mayor was a major stakeholder in a Scarfolk confectionery factory) or daily rituals conducted by a coven of witches, who chanted in hospital car parks around an effigy of a nature deity made from balloons.

The cost-cutting scheme was successful and other regions adopted the same model. Not treating people was the only way to keep the NHS a viable, going concern, permitting it to continue what it has always done best: treat people.

Friday, 14 August 2015

"Thought Policy" Leaflet (1976)

Below is a leaflet published by the Scarfolk council department that was set up in 1973 to deal with citizen thought detection and control.

In addition to the thought-detector vans which prowled Scarfolk's streets (see HERE for more information), citizens were expected to undergo regular thought inspections.

At the time, thought terrorism was rife and most major public buildings and spaces had security checkpoints. Citizens were expected to read, understand and answer the questions put to them in the leaflet before being scanned by an IDS (Idea Detection Scanner). Initially, IDSs were just ex-policemen who had failed psychiatric empathy tests after sustaining severe head injuries. The practice of using such policemen was stopped when it was discovered that the method they used to extract thoughts from citizens' heads involved the use of a big, sharp stick and an ice-cream scoop. More accurate IDS machines eventually replaced the policemen, drastically reducing human error, though the stick and ice-cream scoop were retained.

Friday, 7 August 2015

The "Infant Liberation Front" Colouring Book

1972 saw the birth of the ILF (Infant Liberation Front), a terrorist organisation for the under-10s. The anarchic underground group was slow to make an impact because many of its younger members had not yet developed the literacy skills required to understand the group's manifesto.

The breakthrough came in 1973 when the ILF published a more accessible colouring book. It outlined the group's aims and depicted recommended acts of terror which could be easily carried out before bedtime. The book was an instant hit and widely distributed in school playgrounds.

The ILF's goal was to create a paedocracy, but not only; it also wanted "the freedom to eradicate all grownups (without having to get their permission first)". To this end the group would go to any lengths. Hordes of children roamed the streets (after they had completed their homework) hunting stray adults, and in 1976 alone 250 grownups disappeared or met their fates.

In 1978 the ILF disbanded when Arthur Grubbe, a 50 year old investigative journalist, infiltrated the group by posing as a 3 year old girl. Grubbe revealed that the ILF was secretly funded by local government who intended to groom sociopaths for positions in the civil service once they reached the age of majority.

Grubbe became something of a celebrity and Arthur was the most popular baby girl name of 1979.

Below, an ILF leaflet. ILF members regularly held dirty protests, especially those under the age of one. They doggedly maintained around-the-clock demonstrations which were only interrupted by feeding time and naps.

You can learn more about infant civil disobedience HERE and HERE and HERE.