Why ElectricQuaker?

Welcome to ElectricQuaker.co.uk!

I’m JTA, and one of the questions people just sometimes ask me is the one that goes “Why is your blog called Electric Quaker?” and, whenever they’ve asked me that for the past four years, I’ve said I’ll write a short note to explain.

I’ve finally got sufficient caffine and loud bouncy cannonning music (that can’t be right…) for me to bother to actually write something.

The short answer is that I am a Quaker, and have been since at least the age of six or so. And this is a website, and I didn’t want to clutter the Internet up too much and get everyone looking forBYM to get lost, so I whacked an ‘Electric’ in there.

The long answer is more complex:

Back in 2000 I was able to go to Britain Yearly Meeting for the Under 19s Programme, or some variation on the name, and stayed out at the meeting house in Muswell Hill. Had a fabulous time, which was rare for me back then, because of all manner of things (although it was the week when Naomi Stillhere left us, as I mentioned once).

Rachet Screwdriver
Naturally, we played games, although I think Rachet Screwdriver was banned even then, so we were naturally reduced to playing it on the sly [Anyone who thinks you can dissuade Quaker children from doing something just because you’ve told them not to is evidently not up to speed on the Children of Reading Meeting!] and, of course, we had great fun doing so, although I’d not realised how global the game was until I dug out the link to jriddell.org. (There’s also a fab page about it over at pym.org, although it looks like they call it Wink over in Pennsylvania.)

Another Game
Still, we did require more peaceful games to play whilst the inevitable carpet burns calmed down a bit, and one of those games was (probably, although I don’t fully remember) called ‘Circuit,’ or ‘Fuseboard,’ or something.

You sat (as you do with most Quaker games I’ve encountered) in a circle, and you held hands. Thus you form a circuit. An ‘electical current’ is created by squeezing the hand on your left when the person on your right squeezes your right hand (which, of course, is on their left). So the pulse travels round the circle.

The pulse can be reversed, as well: when you squeeze the hand of the person on your left, they can, if they wish, squeeze your left hand twice, which reverses the current, and leaves you to squeeze the hand of the person to your right, and so on back around the circle.

Excitement is added by someone outside the circle, who picks about five or eight people in the circle, and gives them the name of a domestic appliance, as drawn out of a hat full of suggestions. That person makes the noise appropriate to that appliance when the electic current reaches them.

Hence you would get something like “Squeeze… Squeeze… ‘K-thunk’ [Toaster]… Squeeze… ‘Vrm-rm-rm’ [Hoover]… Squeeze… ‘Vrm-rm-rm’ [Hoover again]… Squeeze…” and so on. I promise it is more fun than it sounds, especially when everyone decides to pick on the fridge, and the washing machine gets complacent, and then forgets to go off.

An electric Quaker
Anyway, one of the appliances to come out of the hat was “An electric Quaker,” which was, I think, unprecedented. Given that the entire thing requires you to make a noise appropriate to the object, we were all a bit flummoxed, but we pressed on anyway, and the sequence went as follows:

“Squeeze… ‘K-thunk’… ‘K-thunk’… Squeeze… ‘Vrm-rm-rm’… Squeeze… ‘Nnmmmm’… Squeeze–” and then, in an incredible voice, that sounded like dimwitted honey running off a spoon — “Squeeze… ‘Friennnds…'”

I can’t translate the voice, of course, although I can still hear the guy clear as a bell in my head, eight years on. It was absolute genuis, and even made me forget the welt on my elbow where I’d got dragged back three feet during the morning’s screwdrivering.

Dawn of an Internet byway
And so, when I came to get a website, four year’s later, and was vaguely strapped for a name, I wound up picking Electric Quaker. I am, to be fair, a fairly geeky Quaker, so it works on a whole host of levels, which I’m not going to be able to list without cracking open another can of Mountain Dew, but there you go.

And why Electric Quaker II?
Because this is the second version: I stupidly failed to keep backups, and lost all my posts from 2004 or so (apart from the stubs that I used to RSS out to Livejournal). Hence II.

D’you know, I actually feel better for having finally got round to writing that!