Who Needs Archives?

Who Needs Archives?

At first sight a rather uninviting prospect
Endless shelves, perhaps victims of neglect
Yet contained in these dusty annals there is life
The tales of love and hate, of peace and strife

Such archive records built up from earliest times
Ensure the past no longer can the facts confine
And enquirers into life in earlier days
Expose past events to the sun’s bright rays

Do archives matter, what value do they bring?
Of what great treasure the wellspring
A moment’s thought might bring realization
Here lies the history of all civilization

In compilation of the Holy Scriptures
The ancient fragments helped form the picture
Which shaped the foundation of the faith
Exposing roots to doctrines in their time and place

Historical records reveal the pattern of existence
From Doomsday Book, Great Survey of subsistence
Through decades of censuses our life enumerated
Population, land holdings, tithes and how wealth was created

Archives provide the basis for future planning
The facts derived from records past years spanning
Indicate trends and thus strategies formed for future days
Sound guidance learned from past errors in our ways

The scope of archiving is now almost universal
The use of such databases sometimes controversial
But no field of knowledge seems to remain untouched
The stories of noble endeavours, even some corrupt

Archiving for some is a prestigious project
Proudly demonstrating claims to which few can object
Enterprises large and small demonstrating from their records
The value added, the promotion of goodwill and accord

From ancient scripts, objets d’art, and artifacts
The archived collections reveal the facts
In modern days, in addition to items original
Much detailed information is now rendered digital

Photographic records, plans, maps and illustrations
Of many records provide the visual foundation
And other archives hold a cache of original paintings
Often so far undisplayed masterpieces lie waiting

Archiving is a many splendoured thing lacking appreciation
Perhaps academics only those who give acclamation
To the boundless value of this treasure trove
Hidden from view in some crypt-like alcove

In recent years access to stored archives
Has been a boon to those who earnestly strive
To trace their ancestry through family history
Thus genealogy showcases their life story

So time has come to declare the archive’s worthy cause
To claim for it the population’s loud applause
Because without awareness of our past we cannot fully comprehend the present
And if we discover the past there may be no need it to re-invent!

Ken Fisher

Hic et Nunc

Hic et Nunc

[Here and Now]


Here and now that’s all there is
Past and future don’t exist
As past is gone so let it be
Future we can not yet see

Let not shadows from the past
Cause our mind to be downcast
Nor foreboding for what’s ahead
Keep us wakeful while abed

Here and now is all that’s real
At its altar let us kneel
For hic et nunc we bring our praise
And seek to live in all our days

Ken Fisher

 

The Brink

The Brink

The world seems to go on its merry way largely undisturbed
Yet in the background we are aware of standing on the brink
Is this not quite unreal, should not our minds be more perturbed?
Can deep passions not be set aside thus giving time to think

Most of the world’s inhabitants go about their daily round
The rich amassing wealth, the poor struggling to survive
And millions in-between caught up in life’s merry-go-round
But what e’er their lot they rightly expect to remain alive

But as powerful national leaders confront each other eye to eye
Realisation begins to dawn how fragile is the way ahead
The challenging rhetoric will only magnify
Menacing words are flaunted as warheads

But this is no computer war game, this is for real
Let’s put away all illusion and face stark facts
The world stands on the brink, to humanity we appeal
Together we must quickly find the way to step back

This will not be easy, when threats and counter threats abound
National pride and need for compromise play equal part
But each side must learn how to give ground
To wrestle these protagonists apart

We pray that heightened passions might soon subside
That the world could breathe easy once again
And the hostility that great nations so divides
Common sense, if not love, might constrain

Ken Fisher

The Singer Clock

The Singer Clock

 

Singer is a name you won’t easily forget
For decades this brand ruled supreme in
the world of sewing machine production
from treadle power to sophisticated control

Even today you will find Singer machines
in Asian sweatshops and chic fashion houses
But in Clydebank, Singer was also renowned
for its massive factory clock on a tower

For miles around, this monstrosity could be seen
Signifying industrial power and market domination
But like so much of Scottish industry it met with decline
And even the clock gave its final tick in March 1963

When the clock first appeared in 1885 in Clydebank,
then the European headquarters of this early multi-national
It signified the wealth and importance of the enterprise
And its enormous timepiece was a symbolic crown on success

Unfortunately this chronometer probably hung like
an albatross around the neck of the business
It was powered by massive cast iron weights
driving the mechanism that required twice weekly winding

Over the years of the 20th century several changes
were made to the clock. The dials and numerals
were redesigned and various forms of illumination
were employed, inside by gas, outside by spotlights

None of these was very successful, being too dim
or casting unwanted shadows from the internal machinery
In 1928 a total of 145 lamps were attached to the hands!
Then World War II snuffed out illumination and almost Clydebank

After the war, when some normality was restored
The clock came back into service with new enamelled
“Singer” signs re-lit for all to see from far away
But the fate of the clock was on the horizon

In 1963 the clock was finally ceremonially stopped
“As part of area reorganisation in the interests of
production with a smaller labour force”
The aluminium hands were made into souvenir ashtrays!

This was before smoking (and domestic sewing machines) became much less fashionable!

Ken Fisher

Background material from International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society website.

Time Uninterrupted

Time Uninterrupted
[Written on the morning after the London Bridge attacks]

The clock nestling in our garden ticks uninterrupted
Unperturbed by this world’s events
Time is merely measured, not judged
But for some, time has come to an abrupt halt

A new reality is dawning on our nation
The fragility of life in the face of terror
Our vulnerability, caught off guard
As we take our leisure

How can we fathom the minds of those
Who perpetrate such deeds?
What force impels them in their mission?
Random victims who will see no tomorrow

In the tranquility of the sun-drenched garden
The clock ticks on with measured beat
But for the dead no mere interruption
And we who remain, ask why?

 

Ken Fisher

Squaring the Books

Squaring the Books

 

It’s that time of year when the books have to be ‘squared’
The results of the business are thereby laid bare
The initial  task is to prepare the Trial Balance
An exercise which by itself is no mean challenge

All bookkeepers already  know that for every Debit
There has to be another corresponding Credit
If by chance any are found to be missing
We have an unacceptable condition

Throughout the year we have monitored Cash Flow
If we haven’t done that our success we’ll torpedo
And regard for our Budget is quite fundamental
To ensure no problems have become incremental

Of course the Trial Balance is just the first stage
Not providing all the facts for success to be gauged
We need to proceed to the P & L or I & E account
To reach that, there are problems we must first surmount

Yet many adjustments have to be considered
Prepayments and Charges still to be rendered
The obscure complexities of annual Depreciation
Capital and Revenue expenditure and Asset Valuation

The Statement of Financial Activities will show how we’ve done
And hopefully nothing serious has gone wrong
Enough money to pay our Creditors as due
No Bad Debts to get us in a stew!

All the facts need to be drawn from the daily Ledgers
And aggregated together for us then to consider
And next we can channel the results of this trawl
Into the Balance Sheet which will then reveal all

Of course every Transaction needs to be classified
If we get that wrong others we assuredly misguide
The decision to retain Profit can Stakeholders upset
Keep the Shareholders happy, a much safer bet

Fortunately in this modern age we’ve got rid of the pen
Fancy software now employed by all our businesses
And computer systems process all the raw facts
Leaving us to do little except VAT returns and Tax

So when you receive the Audited Report and Accounts
Please consider them well and don’t simply denounce
Think of all that hard work that is contained in those pages
And you must then appreciate the Accountants’ enormous charges!

Ken Fisher

P&L = Profit and Loss   I&E =  Income and Expenditure

Tick Tock

Tick Tock

 

Clock hands like scalpels dissecting the hours of the day
Separating one moment from another – no two quite the same
The inexorable motion ever forwards, ever onwards
Creating the past in neat segments as they begin to age

The ratio of speed between these hands remaining constant
The one more like a heartbeat’s steady throb
The other trudges with measured plodding steps
Together the record kept of each passing minute, hour and day

Tick tock, alliterative sound to punctuate the silence
Calmly marking off the day’s progression
Placid, undisturbed amidst the peace
Or maelstrom of our lived experience

Life not dependent on the movement of the clock
But both bound up in some mystical synchronization
And as the spring within our clock slowly unwinds
The body’s cogs and levers echo that inevitable slow decline

Ken Fisher