Sunday, April 16, 2006

Many a year ago, I worked for the Commonwealth Government, in various menial roles, their description not significant to this post here. Suffice to say there were rules. Rules to doing everything, and I mean everything. Even if you encountered a situation where there appeared to be no rules, there was still a rule, which was to do nothing and refer upwards.

There was even a rule as to how many spaces to put after a full stop. Two. And that's how many I've been putting ever since.

"Why," I asked, "and from whom did this edict come?"
"From the Style Manual it came, you worthless peon, and who are you to question why?"

The Style Manual. The very name held such potency that I was powerless to resist. I asked to see this Style Manual, for to see with mine own eyes, where is was writ that two null characters should follow the full stop.

"Silence, drudge! The Style Manual is not for the pathetic likes of a mere dogsbody, and back to work! No Style Manual is there here, nor would you have the mental capacity to understand it!"

And there ended the matter. The office did not possess a Style Manual, they costing money, and we a poor provincial bastion of bureaucracy not having spare funds for such things. I took it as given. I was told it was in the Style Manual, and that was good enough for me.

And yet I wondered - was there really such a thing? What edicts were contained within the gilded pages of this venerated and dusty tome? That's how I saw it in my mind - like the Book of Kells, each page decorated by successive generations of public servants, slaving away (in between tea breaks, of course) in the bowels of the Department of Administrative Services.


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