|I wonder if they sell Baggy Pants?|
If you've ever waited in a long queue willing the time to pass you're sure to like an idea French bureaucrats have introduced for their customers - free short stories. The Alpine city of Grenoble have, it seems, installed vending machines with printed stories for anyone visiting their municipal offices. What a very good idea.
So how does it work? After taking a number in the queue at the town hall, customers push a button to receive up to three minutes fiction on scrolled paper similar to supermarket receipts.
According to The Times newspaper this week the initial 600 stories were drawn from the best on Short-Edition, a Grenoble-based publishing application with 10,000 writers and 141,000 subscribers.
Short-Edition came up with the idea after watching people enjoy the 'feel-good' factor of buying chocolate from a vending machine. A short story, they reckoned, could have the same effect.
The machine, which has no screen and just three buttons, has gone down well with French writers who welcome their new (if fleeting) readership. Nicholas Juliam, a civil servant who contributes to the site says. 'As an author, it's very gratifying to be read, whatever the place.' And who an I to disagree?
Imagine the possibilities - children's books for bored families on airports, flash fiction in the fish and chip shop, horror in the hairdressers and Victorian drama at the dentist's, not to mention that very long queue in the supermarket... Picture the scene when you get to the front of the queue. 'Hold on a sec, will you? I'm on the last page.'
I've just one suggestion. Add a free bar of chocolate too.