Monday, 16 April 2012

It is all about the box

Before you read this very funny and entertaining blog post (I'm my own harshest critic), I should warn you I'm asking for some help here. Will you assist? If you'd be decent enough to read on, I'll explain everything...

Leaving the office this evening, I encountered a substantial cardboard packet, empty except for a small piece of bubble wrap. It was large enough to accommodate a Pit Bull Terrier, a glass-fronted beer fridge designed for home consumer use, or a small child. I had no need to despatch any of these items to any particular destination, nor even did I have any of them with me, so I walked round the box and continued on my way. I kept thinking about it though. It had a Norbert Dentressangle shipping label on it, but otherwise no discernible branding. I wondered why such a box might randomly choose to obstruct my local pavement. I wondered what mysterious journey the box might have already undertaken, and I wondered how many different pronunciations of Norbert Dentressangle I might find amongst my British colleagues (I fear for the Dentressangles that their brand might be a tad inaccessible for many native English speakers).

You might think I'd have better things to do with my life than muse on the provenance of a cardboard box, and you'd be right. But those things can wait. Right now, I'm wondering at the profuse quantity of cardboard I find in and around London on a near daily basis.

Just this morning I had an Amazon carton to get rid of. (Books, bring me books. I'm like the literary equivalent of the Cookie Monster and Amazon and I are on first name terms. I'm not made of blue fuzzy fluff though.) I saw another box on a neighbour's step, presumably recently delivered and awaiting an excited exploration.

There was a large, suit sized cardboard carton outside a dry cleaner's on my route. And, even in my office, a bloke with a red T-shirt was wheeling a bunch of flattened cardboard boxes somewhere. They were being bundled off to the basement I fear, the place where old cardboard boxes go to die I suppose.

Boxes. Everywhere. We live in a world made from boxes. Gary Connery is soon going to be absolutely reliant on them, as he's going to drop out of a helicopter without a parachute in a special suit and (hope that) the boxes will break his fall. He's mad, of course, but obviously I wish him well. Meanwhile, a quick bit of cardboard box research (ie I Googled) reveals that most professionals in the industry do not refer to these types of containers as cardboard boxes because it does not denote a specific material. What? It's cardboard! What the hell else could it be? It's bits of unbleached wood and paper, these days usually made from recycled materials, and it's used for boxing stuff up. Simple.

OK -- perhaps I am non expert, but I reckon you and I and any of your friends or enemies could spot a cardboard box if they saw one. It's going to be a kind of brown colour, maybe with two or more paper-like layers surrounding a layer of corrugation. (Further Googling reveals this type of box material is known as "corrugated fiberboard", but since the site I read this information on was American, I'm going to call it "corrugated fibreboard", or, even better, "cardboard". What's more, the Wikipedia site I'm researching this from helpfully informs me that a shipping container made from corrugated fibreboard (or cardboard) is "sometimes called a 'cardboard box'..." Seriously, you can't make enlightening stuff like this up.)

I spotted a box once in London's West End after I'd been for a few drinks with some friends. It was about six feet tall, and was empty except for a wire coat hanger (wire coat hangers -- don't get me started). It seemed like it would be a good idea to be in this box, in the way that being full of wine, beer and After Shock can make things like that seem like a good idea. So my friend Charmaine (not her real name, it's Donald) and her boyfriend Donald (not his real name, it's Charmaine) decided to assist with inserting me into this exciting looking box.

Anyone who had not been After Shocked would probably have found it most sensible to turn the box upside down and put it over my head (or, arguably, not do this at all). However, in our cheery state we felt it more sensible to hoist me into the box as it stood upright, its open end facing skywards. After much lifting and grunting, I was finally sufficiently elevated to drop gracelessly into the box and enjoy the wonderful experience of packaged-ness.

Dear me, the happy memories. After having so much fun, a moment or two later I decided I didn't want to be giftwrapped in cardboard anymore, but could not now climb out. Stranded, and unaided by my two giggling companions, I was left with no choice. What may have been as long as several seconds elapsed before I threw my weight sideways and caused the box to tumble over. Oh, the unmitigated mirth of it all. As all the ad's now say, please drink sensibly -- the world's most fashionable oxymoron. Happily, being wrapped in the world's most fashionable packaging material, my fall was relatively painless and my shell of corrugated fibreboard prevented any lasting injury.

And so, I owe it all to the humble box. I was uninjured and could proceed on my very merry way. By way of a tribute, I thought it would be fun to collect pictures of them (cardboard boxes, that is). As many as possible. Please send me yours. I don't want any high art particularly. Smart Phone photos will be great. Don't edit them -- keep them raw and gritty please. Either link to them from here, or add them to Siddie Nam's Too Wordy For Twitter Facebook page. I've added one to start you off. Your help is appreciated. Please tell your friends -- their help is appreciated too. Let's have a card bombardment.

Otherwise please post them to Twitter if you prefer. You can find me for a DM as @SiddieNam, and you can use #TooWordyForTwitter (and, of course, #CardboardBox).

Once again, post here -- Siddie Nam's Too Wordy For Twitter on Facebook, or here at Twitter (@SiddieNam) and I'll love you forever (whether you want me to or not).

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