A few years ago I heard that parental control filtering software (PCFS) had banned a perfectly innocent web site. According to this (possibly apocryphal) story, the software took exception to an image which contained a preponderance of 'flesh tone'. The image in question, so the story goes, was a large scale close up of a bald headed man.

A couple of years later I discovered that my web site (the one you are looking at now) had also been banned by such software. I contacted the authority administering the ban to find out why. "Because your site deals with the occult." I was told. "No it doesn't. Where on earth did you get that idea from?"

After a brief pause the chap at the other end of the phone line told me that two pages (Otherindex.htm and ThumbOtherindex.htm) contained significant quantities of occult material. "Nonsense," I said "have you looked at the pages?"

After a look through the two pages the chap acknowledged that the software had made a mistake, and removed the ban.

Out of interest I then had a look through the two pages to see if I could find what had offended the software. I was genuinely surprised to find the number of words that could have an occult connotation on the pages in question; omens, magic, Erzulie, haunt, ghostly, midnight, candlelight, transfixed, abyss, psi, ethereal, chimera, sign, worship, darkness, ley lines, precursed, Pan, Ormuzd, Zoroastrans, etc.

It occurred to me that anyone wishing to have the notoriety of producing the most banned web site in the world could do so by listing all the words in the dictionary, confident in the knowledge that every potentially offensive word ever listed in PCFSs would register a full set of hits on their site.

(It is surely only a matter of time before some dreary attention seeker does exactly that!)

While looking through the titles I made two more unexpected observations. The first was prompted by one of the potentially problematic titles from the trawl above; 'Torquemada looking upon Ormuzd. Or; Rave-el Bollero and the Zoroastrans'.

That observation being the comparative dearth of names of non existent pop or music groups featured amongst the titles - 'Rave-el Bollero and the Zoroastrans' was (of course!) an entirely imaginary mid 1950s rock and roll group.

The other non existent groups whose names are used in titles are 'Fu-hsi and The Cosmic Principles', 'Norbert Prendergast jr and his B.A.(Hons) Rhythm Boys', 'Yin Yang and The Trigrams', 'Arthur Intergalactic Gascloud and The Bed Bugs from Mars', and 'Los Puntos Negros'. I have to admit to a sense of disappointment that I haven't managed more. This disappointment remains unlessened even by the inclusion of the following imaginary duos; 'Astrolabe and Ephemeris', 'Splurgethurgle and Yowle' and 'Gyron and Abscissa'.*

The second observation was the satisfying frequency with which food and drink crops up in picture titles; apples, oranges, bread, oysters, wine, peaches, cream, tea, brandy, Blue Stilton, Beluga, spaghetti, baked beans, pineapple, rose tea, Mars (bar), gelée, cheese, cherries, toast, coffee, sausage, egg, chips, scampi, caviar, tangerine, sandwiches, plums, water, nuts, blancmange, treacle, Wensleydale cheese, bananas, potatoes, pretzels, oubliette (a type of omelette in which aubergine is the main added ingredient), isobront (a frozen confection of macaroon and caramel, coated in flaked cashew nuts and grated chocolate), and that shallot.

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Subsequent efforts to correct this lamentable situation have produced little improvement; even if I stretched a point to allow the inclusion of The Winking Triffids for example, or Whistling Sukiyaki and The Pequad Blues, or The Universe and Everything In It, or Cinnomolgus and Hercynea, or The Unmitigated Magpies, or Host of Accretions, or The Great Rhombicuboctahedras, or Carillon and The Vestibules, or The Lemming Tendency, or Los Marbelos, or The Artyfartyfacts, all of these would only amount to a minor addition to the list of non existent pop or music groups to be found amongst the picture titles.

Unfortunate. Sad.

Then there's Pappalardi the Harpooneer - he say 'Discombobulation!'

"Complete and total Discombobulation. Discombobulation Cubed."



*Postscript 2
Well, what can I say?

During September and October 2018 I did a trawl through all my picture titles and changed a number. Never mind why - that's none of your business for goodness sake!

As a consequence I feel it is appropriate to offer an explanatory note to any who might feel offended by these changes.

Firstly, the removal of the word plum from one title was simply a result of the pressing exigency of the process of changing the title and should not be seen as a criticism or form of disapproval of plums in particular or fruit in general - indeed I made strenuous efforts to include pomegranate and then loganberry in the new title, and in the case of the latter further attempts in the form of an anagram and then using a substitute coding, alas to no avail.

On a personal note, I am of course deeply saddened by the loss of even one food from my picture titles, and am equally saddened by the loss of two non existent music groups; 'Rave-el Bollero and the Zoroastrans' and 'Arthur Intergalactic Gascloud and The Bed Bugs from Mars'. The removal of these two non existent groups does not imply any dissatisfaction on my part with the nature of their non existent music, nor is it connected to the widely unreported diminution in the quality and quantity of their non existent output.

Well, there you go!

(Or don't go..... perhaps....?)

(No, don't go there!)