Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The BBC Test Card Witch

(click to enlarge)

Many people recognise BBC television's test card "F". However, when it was broadcast in Scarfolk an old woman would inexplicably appear in place of the young girl as soon as parents left the room.

According to legend, if she turns to look you in the eye, you are fated to die beneath an overloaded lorry which will topple over, crushing you with its consignment of industrial safety equipment (Find out if you are cursed HERE).

Children called the woman Old Chattox and she was believed to be a 17th century witch whose spirit had been unintentionally revived and broadcast by a hilltop TV transmitting station built on the site of her execution. She frequently flouted broadcast guidelines and undermined the BBC's attempts to avoid product placement by advertising the services of a bull castrator who had been dead for nearly 400 hundred years.

Below: Photographs of Old Chattox taken by viewers between 1970 and 1978. Old Chattox wrote out demands on her blackboard, which children felt compelled to obey (top). She also drew occult or satanic symbols designed to mesmerise and indoctrinate young viewers. Some of her messages were seemingly nonsensical, though many people believed they were cryptic descriptions of future events (bottom).

Further reading:
i. Learn about Bubbles the clown and his range of possessed greetings cards.
ii. For more information about TV broadcast signal intrusions, see the 1975 We Watch You While You Sleep video.

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 stubbornly refused to yield to inexplicable reversals in party policy.

An internal council memo to civil servants 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.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Civil Defence. Public Information (1979)

By 1979, nuclear war was deemed an imminent threat. The  previous year the government had held a referendum on whether to have one and the majority of Scarfolk residents voted in favour, largely because they liked the siren and thought it sounded funny.

They also voted for the 3 minute warning to be extended to 10 minutes so that older, frailer people could get to their windows in time to see the initial flash and subsequent mushroom cloud. A festive atmosphere was expected and party poppers sold out in anticipation of the countdown and explosion.

The children of Scarfolk primary school painted their own post-detonation blast shadows onto walls around Scarfolk and instead of a traditional nativity play they put on a post-apocalyptic version in which the star was replaced by a missile, the donkey wore a hazmat suit and a glowing, malnourished Jesus and Mary were forced to eat Joseph after he perished from radiation poisoning.

More nuclear war related public information HERE. For advice about what to do during catastrophic social breakdown go HERE.

Merry Christmess and a happy new year from all the staff at Scarfolk Council. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Unreleased Star Wars Merchandise Prototypes (1977)

Some claim that movies have become mere advertisements for their own merchandising and that even before a film is released the public has been overwhelmed by a tsunami of branded products, from toys to clothing, watches and perfumes; food and drinks to firearms and trafficked children.

The original Star Wars film was one of the first to capitalise on its merchandising potential by producing desirable, limited-edition toys that children (and their parents) could never afford. Even today, rare items such as the 1:1 scale, functioning Death Star can now reach upwards of £114 billion in auction, even more if it's still in the original box (batteries bought separately).

Back in 1977, SMS (Scarfolk Medical Supplies Ltd) desperately wanted to get on the Star Wars bandwagon and prepared a pitch for a series of potential tie-in products aimed at sick and other feeble citizens who are a drain on NHS resources. In addition to the product mockups posted above and below, there were also Darth Vader oxygen masks for asthmatics, X-Wing-X-Ray machines, Sith bedpans, and Chewbacca toupees. Even the slogan on the promotional catalogue reads: "Use the Forceps!" 

SMS were also very keen to tap the enormously valuable post-life demographic. For patients who didn't survive their medical conditions, there were mortuary items such as Greedo body bags, Jedi Embalming Materials and R2-D2 urns, all of which ensured that even after death it was impossible to escape exploitation by a movie brand.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

"Don't Wait to Hesitate" Public Information (1970)

Scarfolk Council wanted to nurture a generation of passive citizens so that it could do what it wanted without interference. But it was also fully aware that it needed to sell this passivity as positive action.

A 1970 government leaflet (see above) stated that "urgent, active dithering is strongly recommended" and that "citizens should be single-minded about being in two minds. Resolute hesitation may or may not have made Britain what it is today."

Dithering and faffing were also promoted in the media as attractive character traits and by summer of that year large DIY stores were selling specially-designed garden furniture to consumers who wanted to literally sit on their fences. Student activists wore T-Shirts emblazoned with fashionable slogans such as 'Don't Go to War With Hem & Haw', 'Yes & No & Maybe' and 'Erm'.

By the end of 1972, however, the state had become aware of the long-term physical and economic side-effects of sustained dithering. Unforeseen mass drooling, for example, cost the state hundreds of thousands of pounds in community bibs, and by 1973 the promotion of hesitation gave way to the more definitive 'Don't' campaign.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Advent Calendar (1976)

While Scarfolk Council did not officially endorse any religious denomination, many people felt that it strongly favoured the stationery and office-supply cult known as Officism (see Discovering Scarfolk for more details). In fact, several people in the upper echelons of local government were believed to be high-ranking members of the cult.

The council's bias can be seen in this state-funded advent calendar, which was sold in Scarfolk in 1976. The intention of the calendar, with its images of religious violence concealed behind an idyllic nativity scene, was to undermine the spurious message of love perpetuated by the country's dominant religion.

The calendar's violent imagery, however, was more attractive than the council had expected. Children wrote letters in their hundreds to Father Christmas asking for balaclavas, klan hoods, ducking stools and other torture instruments that hadn't been in use since the Spanish Inquisition.

The Officist cult realised that to compete in the competitive market of religion, it would have to introduce its own brand of fashionable cruelty. Following months of market research and an intensive collaboration with an advertising agency, the cult came up with Torment Mittens™, which were cheap to manufacture but produced the right balance of physical pain, psychological distress and fear of the divine.

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.