Dr Lamp’s Atlas

It is said that the cartographer Pamela Lamp became interested in patterns of pressed meat consumption around the world. She travelled from continent to continent, collecting statistics and even attending tastings, when and where such were held, in barns or conference centres. As soon as she had filled a notebook, she shoved it into one of the pre-addressed Jiffy bags she had brought with her, visited the local office of the postal service, and sent the book back home, where it and all its fellows would be waiting for her when her globe-trotting survey was complete. Her assistant, a sycophantic wannabe cartographer, had the keys to Dr Lamp’s house, and kept an eye out for the postie, and whenever a Jiffy bag was delivered she let herself in and took the newly arrived notebook from its bag and arranged it with all the other notebooks on a pedestal notebook stand with attached cartographical work surface, a formica countertop with a design of ruled squares. So when Pamela Lamp came home, everything was ready for her, and she set to work making a world atlas of pressed meats. She let the assistant help her out, but did not allow her to do anything of great importance, for she did not wish the assistant to have any pretext to wangle an acknowledgement in the text. So the assistant lit Dr Lamp’s cigarettes and made cups of cocoa for her and swept the floor with a broom, like Cinderella, but did not make any direct contribution to the atlas. When it was eventually published, the reasoning behind the entire escapade became apparent. For, ever since she was a child, Dr Lamp had been determined to create, singlehandedly, a book which could with absolute justification be called Pam’s Spam Maps.

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