Who makes rain-mates?

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This rain-mate business (see below) is beginning to really bother me. How could something that helped define a generation just disappear, or rather, not appear at all on the net? Interesting that the web-searcher’s bible, the tutorial at Berkeley on finding things on the net, has been updated to include a recommendation to use Teoma as a ‘second opinion’ search enginge (after Google). As it happens, Teoma did bring up more relevant sites on the rain-mate than Google, including one which tells me that it was invented in 1950.

As with kazoos, please let me know (via comments) if your local shop sells rainmates. The next shoppoleth is the eyebath. Those included with Optrex products don’t count – it has to be an off-the-shelf, stand-alone eyebath.

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Power, Dominion and Freddie Mercury

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In these post-Soviet days, it’s quite a surprise to see something that looks every bit like a statue of Lenin towering over a miniaturized public outside the Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road.

There is such a surfeit of signs here – the name of the theatre, the architecture, the literal ‘elevation’ of Freddie Mercury to beyond stardom and into history, the gilding of the statue which ennobles but also disguises; the physical stance, the microphone threatening the public like a weapon. It makes you want Umberto Eco to come and write an essay on it, if you liked his Travels in Hyperreality as much as I did.

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Theremins and Shoppoleths

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I am the first person to celebrate the wonderfulness of the web, and the fact that you can buy almost anything from anywhere at the touch of a button, but I wonder sometimes if shopping in the real world is suffering as a result.

Way back in 1997, Chris Hampson and I wondered where old ladies buy rain-mates (scroll down the page to find the answer), and now Daniel Jones and I have a similar problem with the Kazoo. You can forgive the wonderful Macari’s in Charing Cross Road for being fresh out of them, because a) they sell everything else including three types of theremin [cherubim, seraphim and theremin?], b) their shop is as much fun as their website, and c) one of the guys behind the counter is in the Return of the Jingleberries. Likewise, Foote’s in Golden Square get my vote for having an Acme Siren Whistle in stock, and the two guys in the percussion department have an endearingly postmodern attitude to music and salesmanship which worked a treat on me (who else would ask you if you’re sure you wouldn’t like a duck-warbler to go with that siren whistle?).

Harrods: No Kazoos There
But what do you make of the fact that you can’t get a kazoo in the whole of Denmark Street, where po-faced guitar-snobs tell you you need to go to Chalk Farm for ‘that comedy stuff’? Or that Harrods, once famous for stocking everything you could ever want, not only don’t sell them (in music or toys), but can’t tell you where to get one either?

Hunting the shoppoleth
Hence, I’m coining the word ‘shoppoleth‘, (from shop and shibboleth), meaning any item whose disappearance from your local shop signifies the rise of the virtual world at the expense of the real one. Likewise, if you can buy a shoppoleth near you, it signifies that everything is all right with the world for a bit. An extreme example would be the cobbler’s last that I saw in Woolworths (of all places) in Berlin in 1993. If you can buy a last at your local shop, rejoice.

Kazoo Watch
Meanwhile, if you live in the UK and your local shop sells kazoos, please add their name to the roll of honour (comments) below. Likewise, any more sites like Miserable Melodies which features such things as the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra playing Whole Lotta Love are welcomed.

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God Bless Framley

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The more I hear Alastair Campbell whinge about the media, the more I want to bury my head in The Framley Examiner. There is an uncanny, though not surprising similarity between the Campbell story and the “Bush asks Congress for $30bn to help fight war on criticism” spoof in The Onion. See also Anti-war demo numbers exaggerated explains Blair from the wonderful Rockall Times.

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Don’t let your cat flap

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From the Hendon & Finchley Times, invaluable advice on Keeping Your Pets Safe from Al Qaeda. Here’s something I wouldn’t have thought of if the bomb dropped: “In the event of an instruction to stay at home, remember to lock your cat flap”. The author also recommends you should “keep some medicine in the kitty”, a phrase I would have avoided in an article about pets.

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Cat Bowling

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Somehow I just knew that there was such a thing as Cat Bowling

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