When importing products from the US it is important to remember that no one knows what they are doing.

For some weeks one of my customers has been telling me about a problem he has had with the importation of t-shirts from the USA.

His business, it seems, involves bringing in a range of shirts, which get stored at Admiral Document Storage; some of which are displayed in a small number of local shops.

Each shop only gets a couple of copies of each shirt in the main sizes. If they don’t sell, then they are taken back; if they do sell, additional copies are moved out of the warehouse and placed in the shop.

That sounds straight forward, but that is only the start of the story. For where a t-shirt design does sell particularly well, a licence fee is paid to the supplier in the USA and copies of the shirts are produced under licence for the UK market and distributed to suitable shops across the country.

All this seems a fairly logical and reasonable way of running a business, but as I have learned over the years, nothing in business is ever quite like this.

The problem, my customer explained, is that when he brings in small numbers of shirts from America there is a customs duty to be paid. Normally that is arranged without any difficulty, but this month’s supply caused him a particular concern.

Having run the process of importing the t-shirts for a number of years he knows when the shirts are likely to turn up, and when this month’s supply didn’t show up by what he took to be the due date, he started making phone calls.

Eventually these calls led him to the transport company Parcelforce who were due to deliver the parcel of t-shirts to our customer. They said that they could not deliver the parcel because it had not been cleared by Customs.

A quick phone call to Customs revealed that they were saying the opposite. The parcel, Customs said, had been cleared and was waiting for Parcelforce.

“Oh no it isn’t,” said one side. “Oh yes it is,” said the other. And so it went on.

For weeks, and weeks, and weeks.

Eventually, with pressure being mounted by my customer, and his GP expressing concern about his blood pressure, the suppliers in the US, Customs in the UK and Parcelforce were able to agree that yes, the parcel had now been cleared, £18 was due in duty, and a form was being sent to my customer.

This seemed to be a change of procedure (normally he had just gone to his local sorting office, picked up the package and paid the duty) but websites are everything these days, so he followed the new orders.

He read the form, and following instructions, went online.

On the Parcelforce site there was a notice at the top saying that he had to enter his reference number which was on the letter he had received from Parcelforce, printed top left.

And there, lo and behold, was a reference number, top left. He entered it.

It was rejected.

Given that the number was 13 characters long it was, however, quite possible that he had mistyped the code. He did it again. And again. And again. Always without any luck at all.

Eventually he went back and read the letter from Parcelforce. One third of the way down the page on the right was another code. He entered that code, and bingo! He was in.

My customer paused, and I thought that to be the end of the story, but no it wasn’t.

“I phoned Parcelforce,” he said, “to tell them that the website was wrong, and that the code number needed from the letter was the number further down the page. The lady I spoke to was very friendly. ‘Oh yes,’ she said, ‘that’s a mistake’.”

You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125

Email: info@archive-document-storage.co.uk


How do you write down dance steps?

That might seem a rather odd question, and it is one that I’d never really thought about, at least until I saw a fair number of pages being placed in our storage facility at Admiral Document Storage and found that they were in fact pages of dance steps.

Of course, these days one might expect dance steps to be recorded on video, and yes, that does happen. But dance is such a personal activity, and a performed dance is such a personal expression, that it becomes hard to distinguish the interpretation of the dance from the dance itself. It is a bit like trying to learn a Bach Fugue from listening to it. Yes, if you are phenomenally proficient in Baroque music, it can be done – but not every pianist has a brain like that.

In dance, something as basic as “lower your arm” is too vague. How fast? At what angle? What pose and attitude is the dancer taking? Should one give the number of degrees of descent? And what is the dancer doing with his/her hand, fingers…

As I started to understand the problem I learned that some people have tried to explain the dance step by step, frame by frame. But then the amount of work involved becomes just too much.

But it turns out there is indeed a thing called dance notation: a combination of graphics and instruction. Movement is translated into signs with words below. It is not a perfect version, but if one also has a video of the dance, then it becomes much clearer what is in the instruction and what is in the interpretation.

Which actually makes the point that even more than most musical performances, dance never looks the same twice.

Curiously, the earliest form of dance notation that we have dates from the time of a man who liked to think he was, if not God, then at least a direct descendant thereof: Louis XIV. He wanted to regularise the dances that took place at Versailles, and so commanded that a system of dance steps be written down.

The Beauchamp-Feuillet system which followed allowed courtiers to learn the steps of each dance – and, of course, because L’état c’est moi ruled the roost, what the courtiers did, so French society followed. To dance was to dance like the King commanded.

Since then there have been many other ways of writing down dance. One that is much loved among aficionados of the dance was devised by Remy Charlip and involved drawings on cards of dancers in various positions. One is left free to dance one’s way between one position and the next, although there are also commands written in English.

It seems that all sorts of people have devised ways of writing down dance movements, and for the most part the instructions are now an additional note to the video, but somehow it seems rather reassuring that an idea first set up by an autocratic monarch, whom one can never imagine dancing at all, is still preserved in part at least.

And I’m rather proud that we’ve got some stored in the Admiral Document Storage centre.

You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www.archive-document-storage.co.uk . Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

As TV develops, so does the way in which the writers respond to its insatiable demands.

Among the vast array of items that we store in the Admiral Document Storage facility in the West Midlands, I was recently surprised to find that we have a collection of scripts for TV series.

This is something of a new development and one that reflects the fact that (as I recently discovered) several new TV channels become available in the UK every month of the year.

As a result of this growth each of these new channels requires new programmes.

Some of the channels, of course, are very specialist. Unless you are an aficionado you might not know that there are three 24 hour a day channels that show animated horse races in which different numbered horses win at random, and on which you can bet. Hard to believe if you are not a viewer, but they are most certainly out there.

Of course, such channels are run totally by computer, but there are many, many more that show actual proper series with actual proper actors – series that don’t necessarily make the big time, but which occasionally do.

The dream of each one of these stations is that it will find, and sign up the exclusive rights to, one such successful series. Their profits come, it seems, not from the advertising or the subscriptions that they get, but from the occasional sell on to one of the bigger channels or studios.

This in turn has challenged the makers of these new programmes (most of whom work on incredibly small budgets) to find writers who are not currently signed up to existing shows.

And so it seems that a new breed of writer has emerged: one who will knock out a few episodes of a series for a modest sum, hoping (along with the producers and the TV channel itself) that the idea of the series will suddenly become a hit.

But these writers have a problem as they are working for very limited sums (their reward coming if the series is sold on, even if they don’t write further episodes) and they need to work fast. And so they need ideas.

The logic, as explained to me, was this. Just because a TV series doesn’t make the grade, it doesn’t mean the idea and the basic scripting was no good. It could be the production, or the acting, or the direction that failed to grab attention. So getting hold of the scripts of TV series that were quickly cancelled or never even made it to air, could be quite an investment.

The problem is that these scripts will never be found on the internet, nor are they for sale. You have to grab them when they are no longer needed by the studio making the series and then hold onto them until such time as you might need one.

This is not to suggest that a writer will actually copy someone else’s work – that of course would be illegal. But there is no copyright on ideas, and so the idea of a particular character acting in a particular way in a certain setting can give rise to a similar character doing similar things but with different words in different settings. Having earlier scripts can save the writer a lot of time searching for a character or a situation.

And thus there is a demand for scripts of unknown and even cancelled shows made for minority TV channels. Using these scripts writers who are waiting for their big break can develop ideas and options, all created while staying within the law.

It is one of those very strange developments that one would never know about unless one was told about it.

Which is why, when any company storing anything at Admiral Document Storage wants to talk to me about what we’ve got here, I always, always, listen.

You can find more information on our facilities on our website at www. archive-document-storage. co. uk. Alternatively you can call us on 0800 810 1125.