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Scarfolk: One visit is not enough
February 18, 2013 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. "Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay." Join their Learn To Swim program, and enjoy the song that won 2nd place in the 1974 Scarfolk Harvest Festival, Dormin Slowly Died With The Radio On.
posted by Jimbob (58 comments total) 96 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't really get this but I really like it.
posted by threeants at 3:47 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I may or may not get this but I really like it.
posted by item at 3:51 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a page from a 1200 page book aimed at 4 to 6 year olds called "Let's Sing The Unspeakable Together."

That fake (?) illustration is creepy as hell.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:52 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


This was making the rounds amongst my UK friends. The tone of it has a lot in common with Royston Vasey!
posted by Kitteh at 3:53 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"For more information please reread this poster." Genius.
posted by brokkr at 3:56 PM on February 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


He had me at "Singalong IRA Telephone Bomb Threats" as featured on John Craven's Newsround. This is genius.
posted by pascal at 3:58 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Kitteh: yes, I thought the same. But this is hardly a bad thing...
posted by pascal at 3:59 PM on February 18, 2013


It's like Children of the Stones but whimsical!
posted by infinitewindow at 4:08 PM on February 18, 2013


Also, in a slightly less comedic vein, I see some influence from Ishiguro's "Never Let Me Go".
posted by pascal at 4:11 PM on February 18, 2013


How to know your an Anglophile born in 1970s America: you love everything about this so hard but don't even get all of the references.

Practical Witchcraft Today

Radio Times 1977 "ITV viewers dirty?"

Scarfolk Primary School maths book

Okay, I'm going to stop posting the ones I like because I'll just be re-creating the archives.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:16 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Royston Vasey - you're kidding? The is the real tone of my childhood in 70s and 80s Britain. I'm pretty sure that learn to swim poster with the drowning child's hand is adapted from an actual poster, one of the many nightmare-inducing warnings we were bombarded with in that heady era. See also: gruesome public information films made for kiddies, like Lonely Water and Apaches.
posted by penguin pie at 4:22 PM on February 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is the weirdest cool thing. Or coolest weird thing. Either way.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 4:22 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I keep hearing snippets of Boards of Canada in my head when I read that site.
posted by ardgedee at 4:36 PM on February 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Look around you. Just look around you.
posted by Conductor71 at 4:38 PM on February 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am somewhat confused, but also intrigued.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:39 PM on February 18, 2013


Nimrod Slowly Died With The Radio On?
posted by Redfield at 4:43 PM on February 18, 2013


Notalging so hard for my brutalist northern childhood.

70s Britain seemed really to be a unique and horrific experiment in what happens when you have a nanny state run by functional alcoholics.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2013 [25 favorites]


BRB going down the rabbit hole...
posted by MikeMc at 5:22 PM on February 18, 2013


Scarfolk Town Motto: "Say 'how do' to our little friends."
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:35 PM on February 18, 2013


Related- I have (still horrific) memories of seeing this PSA at age 8 or 9. Apparently it replaced the even more graphic The Finishing Line, which seems to mostly concern a brutal DFW-esque train-avoidance-as-competitive-sport competition. Ah, England.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:41 PM on February 18, 2013


Negotiating and stating your terms upfront is really good advice.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:42 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


This really has nailed 1970s England in an authentic, but difficult to articulate, way.
posted by Wordshore at 5:46 PM on February 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think I understand John Allison a little bit better now.
posted by rikschell at 6:01 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Neutralizing at its absolute finest!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:22 PM on February 18, 2013


Britain does dystopia with more class than any other country - in fiction and in reality.
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:32 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ragle was the stage name of Eddie Rumpburn who was the manager of Twazzle's Hardware shop on East Twazzle Parade between 1970 and 1978.

"Ragle" is my actual last name, and my stage name is "Raygull" because nobody ever heard of the name Ragle and people mispronounce it.

It's very strange to see one's name jump off the page in this context.
posted by swift at 6:52 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You might be an anglophile if the possibility of a movie called Taboo Romance in the Pickle Factory both intrigues and excites you.
posted by muddgirl at 7:00 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I always wanted to see more of the Dharma Initiative films in Lost, imagining they would include things like this.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:00 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


YES. I LOVE THIS KIND OF STUFF.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:12 PM on February 18, 2013


swift: in northern England, we would naturally opt for the more dour pronunciation of the name. No Ray-gulls round 'ere, sunshine. Only Raggles. And Chunts, Tudballs and Umplebys!
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 8:38 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Dormin Slowly Died With The Radio On" is great. It's all great, but I'm liking the music especially.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:23 PM on February 18, 2013


also, on a similar theme is the National Office of Importance
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:39 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dormin
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:13 PM on February 18, 2013


See also Ghostbox.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 12:15 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


See also The Framley Examiner
posted by aesop at 12:19 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is scarily accurate to my 1970's dying seaside town childhood. Even though I'm from down south, this is just... yes.
posted by toadflax at 12:27 AM on February 19, 2013


Another northern Brit of a certain age who says... well, yes. Pretty much nailed it, except needed more casual child-beating.
posted by Decani at 12:44 AM on February 19, 2013


This is slightly better than I feared it might be.
posted by Segundus at 1:19 AM on February 19, 2013


I've been seeing this around all week and I'm shamefully desperate to get the joke. But also woefully shameful that I don't. The former has won out and I'm posting my ignorance. Save me from this torture...what the fuck is this?? Please.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:29 AM on February 19, 2013


Oh my God. I'm 11. Living in a new estate in Cheshunt, Herts. At the end of my cul de sac is a pig farm and a World War Two pillbox in a field. Some caravans are parked on the other side of the field and in the woods is a half shredded Penthouse and some empty cider bottles.

It was like that.
posted by salishsea at 1:31 AM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


70s Britain seemed really to be a unique and horrific experiment in what happens when you have a nanny state run by functional alcoholics.

Then Thatcherism happened, and we realised the 70s weren't so bad after all.
posted by verstegan at 1:33 AM on February 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Segundus: Wordshore gets it in one.
posted by salishsea at 1:33 AM on February 19, 2013


Save me from this torture...what the fuck is this??

Someone has invented a history of a fictional creepy, perverted northern England 1970s town, and has created mythical posters, cassette tapes, magazines, music, books to demonstrate the fantasy.

And they're funny, owing to their humorous mixing of design cliche and surrealism.

That's all.
posted by Jimbob at 1:34 AM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whew! Ok, thank you.

I may be very impressionable.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:51 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not exactly design cliche and surrealism. The whole "normal life on the edge of terrible horror and dysfunction" tone is oh-so-close to a kind of cultural meme/voice/approach that pushes the nostalgia buttons of those of us that remember its real-life equivalent, especially if we were kids at the time.

Ingredients include: A big government with a penchant for issuing terrifying warnings about the dangers of everyday life (and kids who are free enough to run about alone outside and so have to be terrified into not getting killed by electricity pylons/trains/strangers); a scant disregard for health and safety, creating a world of ghoulishly, risky abandon; total lack of current PC attitudes towards sex and sexuality (with all the attendant casual misogyny that entails).

Add a dash of racism, a heavy helping of retro design, and equal doses of terrorism, suspicion, and liberal attitudes towards uncomfortably weird children's TV presenters and DJs.

Season this awful-sounding mix with the rosy glow of childhood recollection and happy memories of having the above-mentioned freedom to roam with your mates on your bikes (as long as your nylon flares didn't get caught in the chain).

Voila! Instant uneasy nostalgia.
posted by penguin pie at 2:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


Whoa: this is brilliant stuff. The typography, the tone, the visuals, the aura: everything is spot on.

If you've got an hour to kill, there's an incredibly exhaustive blogpost here, at Rogue's Foam, about hauntology in music and art (now some three years old). With regards to Scarfolk, this seems particularly apt:
"Hauntological art is a characteristic expression of postmodernity, that is (in this case), the cultural scenario in which the utopian aesthetic and political ideals of the Enlightenment and the various twentieth-century modernisms no longer seem entirely valid or trustworthy. The hauntology aesthetic can be seen as a self-aware variation on the usual relatively retrograde and conservative idioms that dominate the postmodern landscape in that it makes a point of deconstructing the old, defunct and ‘untrue’ rather than merely reviving it."
posted by hydatius at 2:27 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hauntology. Thank you. I pretty much hoped that by posting this someone would come along and give it a name for me.
posted by Jimbob at 2:33 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


See also: The original, UK version of Life on Mars.
posted by penguin pie at 2:42 AM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a comic series mentioned often either on Too Busy Thinking About My Comics and Mindless Ones that based on reviews seems to trade in this aesthetic but I can't remember the name. There was a creepy Hellblazer comic set in a town like this.

Is this the British version of the fake, overly cheerful 50s suburbia parodied in the Fallout games and Pleasentville?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:48 AM on February 19, 2013


Now just need to find a bit of funding to Cyriak to turn some of those posters into real, pseudo- educational information adverts.
posted by Wordshore at 4:11 AM on February 19, 2013


Oh I'm hoping there is a TV series in the works because that would be brilliant.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:35 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Dormin Slowly Died With The Radio On" is great. It's all great, but I'm liking the music especially.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 5:23 AM on February 19


It seems to be a slowed-down "Nimrod", to my ears. Which is perfect, of course.

Edit: listened again; it's definitely slowed-down Nimrod.
posted by Decani at 4:36 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ask your ironmonger for a factpack.

That's going to be difficult as my ironmonger has no hands, having burnt them off in a spectacular monging accident.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:48 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tremendous! Reminds me of the small business ads that ran before the main feature at my local cinema:
"If your rubbish is heaped and accessible, try our convenient grab-loader service."
30+ years later, I can still remember the phone number.
posted by ZipRibbons at 5:26 AM on February 19, 2013


This is my childhood
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:20 AM on February 19, 2013


gruesome public information films made for kiddies, like Lonely Water

That was... amazing and terrifying.
posted by jokeefe at 7:41 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


this should taste of absent-mindedly chewed Ladybird books.
posted by scruss at 7:05 PM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honk Otter!

Just came here to post this, but I see she has already been posted.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:58 PM on March 9, 2013


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