It escaped my attention the other day, but the piece Fatso And Slosher was the three-thousandth potsage [sic] at Hooting Yard. Or rather, it was the three-thousandth potsage in what I still think of as “new format” Hooting Yard, beginning in January 2007 and replacing the old format used from 2003 to 2006. This, then, is potsage 3003.

John Ruskin liked to number the paragraphs in some of his books – notably the mad autobiography Praeterita – and I ache, slightly, that I did not take the decision to number the potsages here way back when. (The same can be said of the Resonance104.4FM radio shows, of which there are now untold oodles.) Of course, I could delve into the innards of the archive and edit each and every potsage to give it its assigned Blötzmann Number, but I do not have the patience to do so, and the benefits would be negligible, other than to satisfy a numerical fancy.

Q – Should numerical fancies be satisfied, all else being equal?

A – There is no definitive answer to this question. On the one hand, Blötzmann applied numbers to absolutely everything, fanatically, even when there was only one of them, like some of the exhibits in Sir Thomas Browne’s Museum Clausum. On the other hand, Dobson never numbered anything, allegedly because he never learned to count. It was said of the out of print pamphleteer that “[he] did not even know how many feet he had, which is why so many spare boots were found in his closet”.

Had I bothered to number the potsages, an exciting activity might have been devised, let us call it Hooting Yard Sortilege. By plucking a tile from a pippy bag containing three thousand tiny bakelite tiles numbered from one to three thousand, the plucker would be led to a specific potsage, contemplation of which would provide guidance to the supplicant. What I would suggest is that those of you who wish their lives to be directed and governed by Hooting Yard – which I imagine is every single one of you – should print a paper copy of the entire archive, carry out snippage with scissors to separate the potsages, and number them accordingly. Then make a pile of them and do the pippy bag / bakelite tile business.

While you lot are doing that, I shall proceed onwards towards the four-thousandth potsage, with the wind at my heels, and a look of beatific stupidity on my face.

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