There was a happy conjunction of words in the Guardian crossword the other day. When solved, the leftmost column on the grid read ANDORRAN VANDAL. Remarkably, these were precisely the words which appeared, in the form of punched-out holes, on the small piece of dun cardboard spat out by the Hooting Yard Analogue Topic Generating Machine, a piece of gubbins I had knocked up for me by a boffin.
Most writers will tell you that the question they are most often asked is “where do you get your ideas from?”Most writers will also tell you that it is a brain-numbingly stupid question to which there is no pat answer. But I have no difficulty answering it. For many years now, I have not had to summon a single idea in my head. Instead, what happens is that a variety of arcane and abstruse data is fed into the Hooting Yard Analogue Topic Generating Machine and, after humming and buzzing for a while, it spits out a small piece of dun cardboard on which is punched out a word or, more often, a few words, thus providing me with my topic and freeing me from the tedium of having to think of anything myself.
So remarkable was the coincidence of my given topic being replicated, exactly, in the Guardian crossword, that I fell out of my chair. How often does that actually happen in real life? But I did, I toppled from my chair and lay sprawled on the carpet, dribbling. After some minutes, I realised that this was a far more comfortable position than sitting in the chair, so I stayed put. The only drawback was that my pencil and paper were up on the desk, and I could not reach them. Still, it was very restful on the floor, so I dozed off. That is why nothing appeared here, on that day, about the ANDORRAN VANDAL, nor indeed has anything appeared here for several days in a row. I have become regrettably enamoured of lying on the floor, dribbling and dozing.
Had I the pep to tell you about the ANDORRAN VANDAL, you would learn that this was a sobriquet once given to Babinsky 2, the idiot half-brother of the lumbering walrus-moustached serial killer Babinsky. Babinsky 2 earned the name during a period in which he went rampaging around Andorra smashing up telephone kiosks and daubing ruderies upon road signs. He dressed in full Andorran national costume while so engaged, and was thus mistaken for a native of that mountainous land.
Further details can be found in a footnote on page 841 of A Thick, Chunky History of Vandalism in Andorra, From 1554 Up To Last Thursday (Spurious Tomes, 2016).
I do not get the impression that it is a random analogue topic generating machine. From the passage, I inferred that the machine would spit out a topic only after having arcane and abstruse data fed into it. Unless, the data is payment in exchange for a topic, then I can only that it works with the data, evaluating and synthesising it into the topic.