Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Da dit

Being the kind of person who hangs on to almost anything in case it comes in useful (I'm still giving houseroom to a massive turn-the-handle gramophone - one day I might get round to digitizing all my 78s), I was cheered (and I'm not the only one) to read that the author Alan Sillitoe still keeps his hand in at the Morse code he learned as a radio operator in 1944 - and there's a French poetry magazine that's broadcast in Morse, apparently.

I've never learnt more than a few dah-dits in Morse - enough to recognise the origins of the signature tune for the Inspector Morse series, and ro realise that text messaging on mobile was at least giving ...--... a new lease of life (SMS, if you hadn't worked it out, as the default ringtone for an incoming message). I couldn't see myself tapping away in the darkness, or waiting to see if the coded message would get through before the sinister knock on the door; but on the Joni Mitchell principle ("You don't know what you've got till it's gone"), I admire people who keep supposedly obsolete skills - and languages - alive.

Now, is there a celebrity that can do semaphore?

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