A regular visitor to the archive, who has a talent for spotting hilarious articles in old newspapers, has just handed me three gems from the Orkney Herald of 1932.
The first article is entitled Record Breaking at Kirkwall Library and praises the achievements of librarian David Flett who has apparently been 'breaking records regularly during the past few weeks'. His latest feat has been to issue 182 books in one night which, the impressed journalist tells us, 'during a period of three hours, is a rate of over a book a minute'.
I'm going to challenge the staff downstairs to double that record whilst I play the theme to Record Breakers on a loop and encourage visitors to mime playing the jazz trumpet along in tribute to Roy Castle.
Why don't people wear velour anymore?
The second article has the excellent headline Cowpunchers in Kirkwall Gasworks and tells the terrifying tale of Mr William Harvey who, having bought two cows at Kirkwall Auction mart, was dragged along the road by one of them, losing the sole of a shoe in the process.
The cow, which escaped Mr Harvey, was headed off into Castle Street, causing passers by to panic and run; and then it burst through the doors of the gasworks.
That's when the 'cowpunchers,' whose job is presumably to deck cows who get out of hand, appeared. But the cow saw them off too! More workers were chased about a bit and then came a 'wild but ineffectual plunge through a lime store from which it emerged like a ghost'.
The story goes on and on and reads like the synopsis of a slapstick silent movie. The animal was caught in the end.
The final story, The Prodigal Sun, is the most hilarious. It tells of a cloudy winter's day when an unexpected and brilliantly bright shaft of sunlight broke through the heavy dark skies of Kirkwall for half an hour. Half of the population covered their eyes and cried out that the world had come to an end whilst the other half 'threw off their coats and vests and dashed their hats to the ground.' Some townspeople even scaled St Magnus Cathedral to get closer to the rays and the town band were hastily summoned to play 'Bathing in The Sunshine.'
A sundial is said to have been promised by a town worthy and the article ends ' Kirkwall is still struck dumb with astonishment and it is understood that a medal is to be struck in honour of the occasion.' I am definitely not making it up but there is a possibility that the article was meant to be a joke. It's hard to know sometimes.
Articles taken from Orkney Heralds dated respectively:
30th March 1932
20th January 1932
13th January 1932