Crank’s Bumf

Experience tells us that most cranks hoick their bumf about in carrier bags. Any crank’s bumf will be peculiar to his own idée fixe, whether it be UFOs, the second coming of Christ, the grassy knoll, or one of any number of tomfooleries. But no matter what the precise nature of the mania, the crank almost invariably stuffs his bumf into a carrier bag before setting out into the world.

Having so set out, he makes his way to his preferred spot. This may be, for example, at the foot of a statue in an important square. There will be many passers-by, weather permitting, each and every one of whom is a potential convert to the crank’s cause. Bumf in bag, he may either rant through a loudhailer or, more quietly, buttonhole individuals by thrusting a sample of his bumf at them as they pass.

The bumf usually consists of a bundle of Gestetnered screeds, of wild and improbable prose, which the crank will be willing to give away gratis. The carrier bag will contain numerous copies, often dog-eared and crumpled. Most days, the crank will return home with almost as many in his bag as when he set out.

What does he do, the crank, when not at his spot? He scribbles a new and more thorough screed, sitting at his kitchen table. Each day he gains new insights into his inner world, finds fresh evidence for his theory, and he commits it to paper. The best type of crank will have in his bumf several different screeds, all of course devoted to the same subject.

It will be noted the very few cranks ever veer from their chosen topic. A Loch Ness Monster crank is oblivious to the concerns of a Lindbergh Baby Kidnapping crank. But it is also worth noting that, with the substitution of a small number of nouns, the screeds in their bumf can be almost identical.

It is generally impossible to become an ex-crank. The most a crank can hope for is that his mad ideas gain acceptance by the wider world. Then he is no longer a crank but a prophet or a visionary. In the future, in recognition, a statue of him may be cast, and placed on a plinth in an important square. At the foot of the statue, a new crank will take his place, with a carrier bag of bumf, and the gleam of certainty in his wild eyes.

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