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Individual perceptions of what constitutes infinity are something which occur to us all from time to time. What exactly is infinity? How is it best visualised? Is it possible to nail such an abstract concept down in concrete terms? Or are concerns such as these confined to childhood? Because, certainly it was in his childhood years (see Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer ISBN 978-0747576549) that Michael Mansfield, doughty champion of a whole raft of hapless victims of British justice misapplied, claims to have come close to a personal perception of infinity in the shape of . . . a bottle of Camp coffee on the front of which there was a label depicting a be-kilted Redcoat seated outside a tent with a bottle of Camp coffee on the front of which there was a label depicting a be-kilted Redcoat seated outside a tent with . . .

Well, I’m sure you get the picture.

Correction: pictures!

Ad infinitum?    

Well, no. Not quite. And it is to the boy Mansfield’s credit that he realises he simply cannot defend his childhood perception of – well, let’s call it forestalled infinity through to the aforementioned abstract extreme. (If, that is to say, I may be permitted for the sake of my argument to employ the quasi-crazy term forestalled infinity.) Because, given his demonstrably brilliant, quick-silvered, razor-sharp, legal tenet-honed mind, Michael Mansfield knows only too well that what his personal “Camp coffee” model of infinity lacks is . . . a be-kilted Redcoat in the real world sitting outside a tent with a bottle of Camp coffee on the front of which there is a label depicting etc. etc. etc.

Having said which, your columnist may now confide to readers of ‘How to Tell a Great Story’ that he personally, Bill Keeth of That Ilk, did really and truly perceive true infinity one day, when (like Michael Mansfield, in his earlier manifestation as a schoolboy) I, too, was a schoolboy, just 8 years of age, short-panted and immature, rushing home from school one dinnertime (from Shepherd Street University, aka Mount Carmel, Blackley) to read The Beano. So, the infinite miracle to which I refer came about on a Thursday (Beano publication day) in the summer of 1950 in the least pretentious location known to man. That is to say, true infinity, as yours truly once perceived such, manifested itself to me in a line of workaday traffic athwart the roof of a commercial vehicle (to whit, a Morris van) which at the time in question was trundling its way southwards in bright summer sunlight along Rochdale Road, the A664, in the direction of Manchester city centre and just 25 yards short of what is nowadays a condemned building (therefore, in the process of being demolished) which was formerly the washhouse, slipper bath and triple swimming-plunged edifice (Boys’, Girls’ and Mixed Bathing) known to its devotees as Harpurhey Baths.

So what was it I saw that day? What concrete example of true infinity did Bill Keeth perceive that Isaacs Newton and Asimov would have given their eye teeth to have seen? That Karl Popper would have popped his cork to have come across? Something, indeed, for which Immanuel would surely have instantly de-Kanted, Bertrand forsaken his Russell, Isaiah surrendered his very Berlin?     Well-hell, folks, true infinity, as perceived by Bill Keeth that June day, consisted of an entity sprung life-sized into this world like a god of Ancient Greece – nay, goddess. In short, ’twas a life-size plastic model of a white goose which held in its beak a bottle of Hoe’s Sauce* on the front of which there was a label depicting a white goose which held in its beak a bottle of Hoe’s Sauce on which there was a label depicting a white goose which held in its beak etc. etc. etc.

Ad infinitum!    

Yes, sirree!.


Which quasi-infinite quality, I would now venture to suggest, is assuredly fast approaching in the quite different shape and form of those many and varied items of literary interest which are readily accessible at the click of a button to readers of ‘How to Tell a Great Story’. Take, by way of example, the umpteen items that may be accessed directly via my personal monthly contributions to the WISP column PLUS any number of publications which may be accessed more indirectly via their ISBN numbers therein revealed PLUS even more websites to be accessed within those websites which have been duly accessed so far.

And that’s just my stuff!

Because then it’s everybody else’s turn, not that I am in any way suggesting that WISP should be readers’ first port of call. But considers, if you will, Over 500 Articles, 1,000 Reviews. The Candid Storyteller, Blow Your Own Trumpet. Infosynthesis, Invading Spaces, Jack’s Fables, Nook Chronicles, StoryAsia, Storyteller’s Nuts and Bolts, That’s Life, Zodiac’s Children . . . AND the umpteen other websites etc. that are available through them.

And NOW – Dah! Dah! – I fully intend to load readers up with a whole lot more besides, courtesy of Nina Sankovitch, who, in her own words:

“From October 28, 2008 through October 28, 2009 . . . read one book a day and wrote about each book . . . on site” www.readallday.org

After which she called it a day! (Joke, albeit not infinitely hilarious!) Some day! Some days! 365 of them in all!! Ergo, 365 books in all – and 365 book reviews on top of that.

So, I am sorely tempted to tell you more about Nina Sankovitch except that Nina Sankovitch has (quite rightly in my opinion) issued a statement on her website to the effect that the:

“Site and content [are] wholly written, created, and owned by Nina Sankovitch and cannot be used without the express consent of Nina Sankovitch.”

So why risk overstepping the mark and upsetting the lady. Besides, everything that Nina Sankovitch has to say (and it really is one helluva lot, believe you me – and very professionally and entertainingly put together it all is, too) . . . Yes, Nina Sankovitch is quite readily available to readers of ‘How To Tell A Great Story’ at the merest click of a the aforementioned infinity-seeking button, at:

Don’t miss out on this, whatever you do!

So down the rabbit hole with the lot of you (after Alice and me) – and don’t even think of lifting your floppy ears up until a ‘How To Tell A Great Story’ infinity of items of literary interest has passed, with this one to kick off with for starters . . . Nina Sankovitch’s website came to my attention, courtesy of Erica Wagner, Literary Editor of the London Times (Review:17/10/09).

As with others of her kind Erica Wagner (and, I suspect, Nina Sankovitch, too) is, unlike your good selves, no friend of self-published literature. But, unlike some other literary editors I could name (prior to a needful pause to accommodate copious expectoration in their direction) Erica Wagner possesses a lively sense of humour. Once upon a time with the UK literati seemingly intent on pinning yet another award on Ian McEwan for Chesil Beach – at 40,000 words (if that) only marginally a novel and (if less than that) a novella, ergo ineligible for consideration for the Booker award, Erica Wagner was kind enough to publish my personal criticism of the book to the effect that, as that effluently-mouthed Mancunian comic, the late Bernard Manning might have put it: ‘Ken Dodd’s stage act is longer than that.’

*Hoe’s Sauce, once upon a time honoured with the Royal Warrant of Queen Alexandra (wife to King Edward VII), is no longer produced by its most recent owner, an Irish multinational company. It’s previous owners include Norco Pickles, Pandora Pickles, George Henshall of Middleton Junction near Manchester. No image of the label appears to be available on the internet.

January 2010

Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website, http://www.novelnovella.com.

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