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16 October 2014
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Julie-ann Graham
Julie-Anne Graham

Julie-Anne studied fashion in London at Central St. Martins and Embroidered and Woven Textiles in Glasgow School of Art. She is currently working as Trash Fashion coordinator at New Belfast Community Arts Initiative, helping community groups create fantastic wearable eco creations.

The scribble that got unscrambled by Julie-Anne Graham

The unscramblable scribble is a new invention and I'm sure to those of you who have been born more recently the idea of a straightened scribble is ludicrous. Well let me tell you that it never used to be this way. There was a time when scribbles could be untangled, but only with patience and a long knitting needle. Nonetheless, it was possible. Old ladies spent days on end at children's parties blowing bubbles and untangling scribbles as their main source of income.

Well the day that this story begins on, and not the day after or before, there was an almighty hullabaloo in the Magee household. Old Mrs Magee had got her knickers in a twist, as was prone to happen from time to time what with all the time she spent inside the washing machine. She was an incessant explorer and in her early days had travelled far and wide amongst the people of the globe. Now she was content to investigate The Small Places that most people took little interest in. You could find her from time to time hunting for maps and treasure in the tumble drier, trying to post herself through pillar boxes, diving in the deepest depths of the sofa for gold and clinging to the underside of cars as they sped along, picking up clues along the way, for she was a fearless old woman and liked the feel of fluff and tar in her hair. To say that she was occasionally found soaking wet with a few slowly dissolving washing tablets on her head would be quite true and a matter not open to debate in the slightest.

As a result of all this activity she was prone to attracting dust, which was offset somewhat by all the time she spent inside washing machines. The dust would collect in her wrinkles and up her nose, in her cardigans and in her socks, but it did not bother her in the slightest. In fact she positively encouraged it by wearing clothes made solely out of velcro. Not the nice furry side of the velcro you understand, but the jaggedy arse side. This was because the dust she encountered in these places was always and without question, of an amazing hue.

The places that she explored were different to the places you and I might explore if we were looking for treasure in our houses, for she kept a team of little fusslebumpfs who continually attended to the dust, spraying it with violet and crimson and gold and all the colours of the rainbow. These fusslebumpfs were very happy with their jobs, as the old woman had purchased brand new rainbow spraying kits for them all. All they had to do was think of a colour and it would come out of their spray gun. For example, fusslebumpf number 2 might think of peacock blue with pink and purple spots and this is exactly what would appear at the end of his gun. The only colours the magic guns could not mix were boring colours. Beige, cream, grey and mustard were out. Old Mrs Magee was never fond of boring colours and liked to kick her hologramatic heels up from time to time to prove it.

Anyway, on this particular day Old Mrs Magee had been out foraging for scribbles. These little creatures were a particular love of hers and she had vowed to protect any one of them from the more unsavoury knitting needle wielding members of her generation. She would collect scribbles of different dispositions and deposit them upon her person, in the same way that you or I might collect stickers, sweets or toadstools.

Now I don't know about you, but if your granny is anything like mine, she may be inclined to keep tissues up her sleeve (just in case). Well this is where Old Mrs Magee kept her scribbles. They were always perfectly safe on her clothes as they were as soft as the hair of a Wufflegorf (whose coats feel like dreams and melted clouds). The only time her clothes could be considered a hazard to her tangled friends was when she had just been freshly washed in the washing machine and smelt like a new pin.

On this particular day, she was depositing a few scribbles in the enormous hat that she kept especially for this purpose. The hat was a fabulous work of art, made from circles of fluff that she had found in the tumble drier. These flat fluff pancakes are the very same ones that your mother probably throws away, for they must be removed so that the machine will work the way it's supposed to. Well of course Old Mrs Magee's pancakes were not grey and boring; they were the most dazzling pieces of fluff you have ever seen! She placed each pancake on top of the other until she possessed a towering hat of emerald, turquoise, fuchsia and silver. The scribbles were very useful at keeping all the fluffcakes together and Old Mrs Magee was glad of their company, as they were as inquisitive and curious about things as she was herself.

Melba was her favourite - a medium-sized pink scribble with long flowing swirls. She sparkled uncontrollably and had been the result of an accident with a glitter pen one Christmas in the Waldorf household. These organised and outrageously orderly people considered her a mistake, much to her indignation, and threw her out with the trash. She sat for days, arranged neatly on top of Agatha Waldorf's rubbish pile, lamenting her fate, along with the broken Christmas decorations and pulled crackers when Old Mrs Magee happened along. Because she was an old woman who like to explore tiny places, she quickly eyed up the stash of multicoloured refuse, checked that the coast was clear, then dived headlong into the creases of neatly folded wrapping paper, where the two friends met for the first time.

Melba lived in the best room in the hat - it was at the very top and had the most fabulous views. It looked like someone had sprinkled it with sparkling diamonds and it smelt of vanilla and mangos. It was overflowing with dazzling little pieces of mirror, silver coins, crinkled maps, collections of magnifying glasses piled up in the corners and various odds and ends, for Old Mrs Magee was prone to collecting anything that might "come in useful". Few people could deny the practicality of tinsel-filled jam jars or screwdrivers with ruby handles.

Melba loved her room very much and the two of them would spend hours discussing the next tiny place to explore. However, today Melba noticed that Old Mrs Magee was nervous, hopping from foot to foot in the kind of agitated manner that implied she had not been on a proper adventure in a long while. Being a highly intuitive young scribble, Melba enquired as to whether or not this was the case and commented that she had noticed her anxiety (to be fair it would have been impossible not to notice as her room and its contents bounced violently from side to side every time her friend's feet got itchy.) Old Mrs Magee confided that although she was becoming very friendly with the nooks and crannies (some of whom she would consider lifelong friends), she was getting a tad restless and she longed to feel the wind in her hat and the smell of fresh treasure maps in her socks.

Footnote on the subject of the Waldorfs (it is a little known fact, but scribble discrimination is currently rife amongst law abiding citizens. Many are treated extremely badly by orderly people who cannot see their multi-faceted uses and talents. The diagnosis for these people is frightening. The prospect of catching the dreaded "imagination gobbling" disease, is one we all shudder at. The scary thing is that it creeps up on you like a stalking calendar, and you are not aware of it until your mind has gone grey and fallen out in front of you. This has a general tendency to hit people as they get older).

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