Sunday, 24 June 2012

Watford in Three Lines

Félix Fénéon (1861-1944) was an intriguing character who at one point in his career had a day job as a senior civil servant in the Ministry of War that he somehow combined with an active involvement in anarchist causes. Under another hat he wrote as an art critic noted for his enthusiastic support of Neo-Impressionism and the work of Seurat, Signac, Luce and Pissaro. In 1906 Fénéon was employed by Le Matin newspaper in Paris to entertain readers with a selection of stories from the day’s news rewritten in condensed form. An anthology drawn from the total of 1200 was published in translation in 2007 under the title, Novels in Three Lines

A recent discovery deep in the archive of this miniature newspaper (West Herts and Watford Observer) from March 15th. 1963 is a voice from a time when JFK was in the White House and Macmillan was in Downing Street. The back pages are full of employment advertisements for genuine full-time jobs in manufacturing. And Cliff Richard and the Shadows are performing at the local Gaumont. The news pages produced a rich harvest of dispatches from the foothills of Metro-land that seem to lend themselves to the Fénéon treatment and ten examples are presented below. 

Speaking of their 16 year old daughter, parents told a court that they had done everything for her but she had been a continual nuisance up to and including leaving the family home to live with a 20 year old man with whom she had been intimate. 

After a number of false starts, identical twin ginger haired brothers in late adolescence separately travelled by air to overseas destinations at the expense of the Royal Air Force. 

An aversion to abusive language induced a publican to arrange for a customer to be forcibly ejected from his premises. The said customer’s head impacted upon the pavement with such force that his earthly existence was terminated. 

A conscientious intruder successfully forced entry into six homes at consecutive addresses in the same street for the purpose of relieving the occupants of their most valuable possessions. 

Approaching the end of a lifetime of sorting letters and hand painting a collection of 1,000 model soldiers Mr. Harold Marsh was presented with an Imperial Service Medal by the Assistant Head Postmaster. 

Informed that he would be charged with dangerous driving and excessive speed, a van driver expressed his disappointment and requested the police officer to charge him with any offence but that. 

Noted for his ability to recall seeing swans wandering daily in search of food, Mr. Oscar Rees Gibbon died at the age of 93. For 53 years his home had been in Bushey Heath during which it had lost its rural character. 

The sum of £2 was extracted from Martin Card by way of punishment for his impudence in trespassing in search of game on land held in the possession of the Earl of Dudley who did not take kindly to this sort of behaviour. 

A performer who spoke not a word on stage during his act gripped the imagination of his club audience to such an extent that members were in turn reduced to a most untypical condition of prolonged silence. 

His second wife was a sister of his first but even the amputation of a leg in Cape Town was insufficient to extend his life beyond the age of 79, although he had in the past impressed many of his acquaintances with his intellectual stature. 

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