I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

The Cleaners Who Almost Botched Up The Birth Of Europe !

 


Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the document that founded what we now call the European Union. Among all the reports and stories being published and broadcast to mark the event - yes, I've been a busy boy - there is one that is priceless!

One of my colleagues discovered a little-known fact about the event during an interview: an eager team of cleaners accidently threw out the hundreds of pages of the treaty just days before the signing ceremony! A little bit of astonishing trickery, which I will come to later, ended up saving the day.

The cleaners are said to have come in after weeks of marathon typing to tidy up the venue before the arrival of the heads of state. (Six nations agreed on the treaty, which established the European Economic Community.) Pages and pages of the text, translated into numerous languages, were left out on tables. Stencils and Roneo duplicators, which apparently produced a mess of ink and imperfect copies, were everywhere. The cleaners apparently thought the "mess" was no longer needed and so tossed the whole lot - treaty included - in the rubbish. It was taken to the Rome dump, never to be seen again.

You can imagine the horror the next morning! One of the men who was overseeing the ceremony describes how there was absolute panic, with an SOS to Brussels: quickly send a team of typists, we have no treaty! It was just three days before the official signing, however, and the diplomats knew there was no time. Some students were employed to come in and make an attempt at fixing things. It was hopeless, however. Things couldn't be rectified so quickly.

So, what did they do? It's been revealed that officials actually typed up just the first and last few pages of the treaty and put them in a nice leather folder - and then a big pile of BLANK pages were inserted in the middle! The day had been saved! No one had any way of knowing that the treaty passed around the important signatories was actually completely blank in the middle! Assistants just smiled nervously as they passed around the big pile of paper, which was opened up at the page the leaders had to sign!

In some ways, this is a lesson for us writers. Never let anyone else - not even a computer cleaning programme - go near your files to tidy things up! Never leave your rough handwritten copies of prose lying around the place! All of those precious, important pages - your very own Treaty of Rome - could disappear in a flash. And I'm not sure you would get away with using just the first and last few pages of your book at the signing ceremonies!

17 comments:

The Moon Topples said...

I thought the lesson was that only the first and last pages are actually important. Everything else is just so much filler.

Way off topic, but I couldn't help but notice that there is a picture and a name on here now. I guess you solved your anonymity questions from a few months ago? Anyway, glad to have you a little less "Shameless" and a with a little less shame. Or something.

Sorry I haven't commented in a while. I've kept up my reading through Bloglines, though.

p.s. Your blog is still ginormous, and a huge gray square obliterated the first paragraph of this post when I was reading it. In case you didn't know these things.

Shameless said...

Hi Maht,
Yes, I decided there was no good reason not to put my name and photo up, and I was getting busted all over the place, with people stumbling on my blog and knowing it was me. :) It's a very small world!
When you say "ginormous" do you mean that the letters are too big or that the blog spills over the page and you have to use a horizontal bar to slide across? Do let me know so I can tweak the sizes if necessary. Does anyone else have any problems with the size?? Do let me know folks!

Susan Abraham said...

Ha-Ha! Great story, Seamus! You're sure your manuscript is where it is?

P.S. How was the champagne? :-)

The Moon Topples said...

Shameless (is it still OK to call you that?)

I guess I meant that everything is kind of big. The pics in your sidebar are like three inches wide! It's as though your whole blog has been "supersized." As an American, this shouldn't bother me.

But everything shows up just fine. I don't have to scroll across or anything. I just get a visceral shock each time I load the page is all. Not really a criticism, it's just the first thing I think when I click in, so it's fresh in my head when I post a comment.

Verilion said...

I've had stuff chucked out that I accidentally left near the recycling bin! But still I've got to agree with Maht there, makes you wonder what the hell is the point of all that paper if no one bothers to read it.

Minx said...

Magnificent!
First page of novel, last page of novel - done, here - publish me!

I have told you before how large you are. You do not fit on my poor little screen and you also take ages to load - big boy! Not that it stops me popping in for some of that nice french coffee.

Debi said...

I have a technique for dealing with supersize you. Click, minimise, go elsewhere, maximise. Stops me grinding teeth to stubs while I'm waiting for you to download.

This is the point you can toss your luxuriant hair and say 'Because I'm worth it!'

Shameless said...

Susan,
I think I have 20 different copies of my manuscript on CDs in 20 different places, and it's been emailed to four different email accounts, floating in cyberspce! Am I overreacting?

Maht,
I think I will have to take a fresh look at the sizes, now that there seems to be some downloading problems ... I think I just wanted to give the pictures some decent space! See! Big is not always better! I will try to reach a compromise! :)

Miss V,
Yes, I've lost important stuff from stupidity ... once I left an important text on a bus! Now I'm seriously careful with a capital C! :)

Minx,
... and we wil create a new Europe!
Yes, my mum has also talked about having to slide a horizontal bar across ... but I was assured that most screen resolutions are now capable of coping with big boys (it's possible to stretch the screens wider and new screens do it automatically, according to my techno fixitupper?! :) I am reassessing!
The Times Online just changed to an expanded width, and it seems we're all going that way. Maybe it's time you pushed out sideways, Minx! Otherwise, I'll be squeezing back in to that thin number! :)

and Debi, what a wonderful vote of confidence ... that someone will work out a little system to come and see me! :) I'm really touched. But I WILL rethink the things that make downloading slower! I promise! :)

Thanks, everyone, for the feedback!

Shameless said...

OK, technical update!
I've just been chinning with my technofixerupper who has given me a few clues about how to reduce the downloading time. Whew!!!!
So, the main problem was the number of back pages I was putting up on the front page - 60! Way too many apparently for a smooth, quick download. So, I've reduced this to 20. Let me know if this helps! :)
Also, I've strangled the supersize takeover! :) The pictures in the sidebar are reduced to an "easy to handle" size! :) The big boy has calmed down!
Do give me feedback to see how the whole thing is falling into place. There's no point in me putting up all these bells and whistles if it's not even making the dawn parade! :)

Susan Abraham said...

Seamus, if it's reassuring to you. I have no problems at all downloading this supersize you. I can read you very easily, see everything larger than life...and how many different colours did you say you came in again??? :-)

There was a novelist called Judith Krantz - she wrote sagas in the style of Barbara Bradford - she always kept her manuscript in the freezer. She said that if her house burnt down, that would be the last damaged place.

I do the same as you but maybe not as many copies as such...but I know what you mean. I've lost work unecessarily before...after all, our writings are priceless gems. :-)

The Moon Topples said...

Shameless: I apologize if I made you self-conscious about your virtual appearance. I just always notice it when I first click in. Am glad the page loads faster, though. I only allow seven days of posts to remain on the home page at a time, which is still more than some, but I think you are correct in thinking that perhaps 60 was a little much, especially as you use images and sometimes media files in your posts.

As for manuscript preservation, I email files to myself all the time, and sometimes keep a spare on a thumb-drive. I left a notebook filled with song lyrics on the set of a film once (I was acting in the film, and using the notebook as a prop on my character's desk) and returned the next day to find months of my pretentious scribblings had been used by the crew in the construction of a very cool-looking wall, but that all of my work was covered in green paint and gone forever. I think I cried.

Shameless said...

Susan,
The freezer! Now there's another good idea! :)
I'm glad the supersize wasn't a problem for you, but I've reduced slightly none the less ... especially when there are so many different formats, speeds, screens, resolutions out there. Do let me know if the downloading is faster.

Maht,
No, no, no need to apologise! It's very important to get this kind of feedback, especially when I'm often setting the controls totally by chance, in the dark. A few people have now said the page downloads faster, so it must be better.
The wall and the green paint story is a warning to all of us! :)

chiefbiscuit said...

This is all interesting - the post as well as the comments!
Glad you have sorted the size matters thing ... I found your blog was a little slow sometimes - esp when our provider kicks us off broadband after we've used up our quota! (Thankfully it's not too often.)How did the theatre production go?

Susan Abraham said...

Hi again Seamus,
Downloading is still as fast (I'm using a wireless broadband) but I like looking at your page now a lot better. I think Moon Topples offered you an excellent idea in emailing files to the self. Then it's like...always there & won't get misplaced or lost. Even if anything goes wrong with your computer (hard discs, floppy), you know you can always pop into a cybercafe and your material is still safe. :-)

Minx said...

Whoo, that's better. It was no good asking me to widen up, I was bracing meself against the sides as it was! As for the rest of the stuff you said I lost you after the sencond sentence.
Suffice to say you loaded in double quick time and I am looking at a pleasant vista. I will miss using you as a coffee break while the 2078 items loaded but thanks anyway!

Cailleach said...

So, what you're saying is that nobody reads the inbetween bits. Except for publishing companies. And them what buys the books.
But not them what signs the treaties... hmmm.

Shameless said...

CB, Susan, Minx an Cailleach,
Sorry,I thought I had responded here to your nice comments! It just shows that I've been busy busy busy. Really, I could've sworn that I replied to you all here. Maybe Blogger ate it all up! :) Anyway, the comments were read and appreciated.