Tuesday 6 March 2018

Autumn's Autograph

I had a pair of trousers,
A jolly shade of green.
I wore them in the summertime
And kept them bright and clean.

Now autumn is upon us,`
My pants are turning gold,
And soon they'll fall and blow away
And leave me bare and cold.

In the 1970s, autograph books were all the rage in my primary school.

The idea of getting an autograph from a famous person was furthest from our mind; autograph books were for passing around the playground. The intention was to leave a pithy little "Roses are red ..."-style verse on a pristine coloured page of our choosing before the next child could get their grubby mitts on it. Priceless were the last first and last pages.

My verse of choice was the one above. These were possibly the first opportunities to practice what was to become your Signature.

Whatever may be said about the education of the late Princess Diana, she had a gorgeous hand. Her signature is confident and obviously from an era when good handwriting was an admired accomplishment.

Mum, too, has lovely handwriting but I tend toward a scrappiness of style, more in keeping with the 1970s educational nonchalance toward such things. It took many adolescent years for my signature to develop the swirls and flourish I hoped for.

liked my signature. Not for me were the classroom doodles where feckless schoolgirls tried out new names reflecting the latest pimply love-interest. Mine settled into my life and became my travelling companion. Keeping a cheque book throughout adulthood ensured that it never descended into a seldom-used chicken scratching when pen and paper became more and more obsolete in the electronic age.

Mr Pipistrello was fine about me keeping my maiden name for many aspects of my life. However, I did decide to renew my passport in my married name soon after the happy day and did so at the first opportunity. I didn't think to first stop and practise my new signature, though.

The new initials didn't lend themselves to the arabesques of my former and something more angular was required to give the composition some flow. With pen poised over the bureaucratic submission, I had to commit to something on the spot ...

Hmmm ... Something rather like an altitude profile for a mountain stage in Le Tour de France is what I saddled myself with. And is that a hot air balloon thrown in for good measure?

This year heralded a perfumed air of change in the Pipistrello household. Our family's annus horribilis was behind us and fresh fields were on the horizon. The time had arrived to address the fraternal twins of my signature. And besides, my singular attitude of refusing to see the point in learning to drive, which bewilders all public servants who see the possession of a driver's licence as akin to owning a face, was making it harder to navigate the slightly dystopian, regulated landscape known as Modern Life.

So off I trundled to various corporations and agencies to "fix" my errant ways, by explaining that I was now married and wished to change my surname. For those who never lift their noses out of their iWhatevers to engage with the world at large, a visit to a Government Shopfront might be a quaint or archaic experience. For some, such as myself, these places are where we go to do our Business.

More recently, the Grocer's Shopfront known as Medicare has been swallowed up by the Supermarket Chain known as myGov, a nerve-jangling place where you are cut off in the marble foyer by a tablet-wielding traffic director (in this instance a very pregnant lady in work-appropriate sneakers who bravely put on a perky front while desperately shuffling from aching foot to foot in her own personal Circle of Hell), and encouraged to take the Self-Service option (a misnomer, really, as the greatest number of the staff on duty were standing beside frazzled individuals who couldn't fathom the touchscreens) or give over your first name and the nature of your Business and take a seat to await assistance from a teller.

Now the joy of going to the old Grocery known as Medicare was the ability to watch the other customers attending to their Business, glare at them when it seemed like they were hogging the many attendants with with their overly-long transactions, pinch a few paperclips from the counter at the entrance and then finally get a fistful of dollars when you had the pleasure of sitting down with the attendant who called your number.

Not so at the myGov Discount Emporium! Here the chairs are lined up turned away from the few tellers on duty, facing a wall of giant television screens with rolling video and audio footage promoting all manner of aspects of our Modern Life.

Eventually, I got my chance to transact my Business with a very pleasant woman and it was all done quite quickly. She finished by saying, "Well, that's it ... I guess it just leaves me to congratulate you?"

"Thank you," I replied. "Actually, I've only just decided to change my name over. I was married twenty years ago."


  1. Huh!!! Love this! so poignant funny and sadly so true

  2. So you started your blog 65 years plus one day after Stalin's death and got your first comment on St. Patrick's Day?
    How promising a beginning!!

    1. Ah, Sean, accident only, not design. But if the timing is nonetheless considered auspicious, I'll take the credit and you can assume there was a prior consultation with dear Sibyl.

  3. I mentioned the above, because one day after Stalin's death a sweet little girl was born, 23 years later to become Ms J.. Strange, isn't it? ;-)
    May I ask who is Sibyl?
    Papperlapapp: Herewith I ask. ;-)

    1. Such a simple answer to your recognition of the 6th of March. And dear Sibyl and her namesakes are the Ancient Greek lady oracles, but her hexameters didn't advise a future encounter with a multi-p'd beast called Papperlapapp! A tidy little word to slot away, thank you!

  4. Ah! Now I do see your sibyllic smile ...


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