Admiral: the philosophical storage company

Admiral stores things.  Lots of things – but mostly what we store is paper, covered in information.

But what is this “information”?  That rather bizarre question was put to me the other day, and I have to say I was rather taken aback by the question.

Information is, I suppose, the answer to a question of some kind, and since human beings are people who are all about asking questions, then it is not surprising that people want to store information.

However I was not completely happy with this answer, so I went searching a little further, and found an article in New Scientist which said that everything comes back not to questions but to philosophy.

Now when I started this I was not sure we stored too much philosophy at Admiral, but the argument that everything does indeed come back to philosophy was supported by some rather curious research I found which suggests that wherever you start on Wikipedia (and you really can pick any word at random) and then click on the first blue hyperlinked word (excluding those in brackets or italics) and then in the article you get to, click on the first hyperlinked word (again with those exclusions) and so on, and on and on, you will always end up with the word Philosophy.

New Scientist tried it out with poet and went through poetry, literary, fiction, narrative, Latin, italic language, Indo-European, Family (language), human, living (extant species) biology, natural science, science, knowledge, facts, information, sequence, mathematics, quantity, property, modern philosophy, philosophy.

They then perversely tried starting with philosophy and went all the way round and round and back to philosophy in 20 steps.

Now what is particularly odd is that some very “concrete” words like “rock” lead to philosophy very quickly (ten steps in the case of “rock”).  But remember – there should be no cheating here – one must take the very first word offered by Wiki.

Now what this seems to imply to me is that Admiral, with its storage of documents which often (although not always) contains words, must in essence be a storage base of philosophy.

As a result I sought the permission of my colleagues to change the name of the company from Admiral Self-Storage to something that is more related to what is clearly our role in the world.  The trouble is that Admiral Self Philosophy doesn’t quite seem to work.

I have also tried Admiral Philosophy Storage, and Admiral Philosophical Self-Storage but nothing really seems to convey just how close we are to the core of all things – a mere 20 steps from the heart of everything.

I have however not given up on reflecting our position close to the core of all knowledge as I am now working on a couple of signs to have up over the entrance to the facility: “Welcome to the universal home of all things” is perhaps a little too pompous, but maybe “You are now entering the philosophical hub” would work.

Of course I am reminded of Douglas Adams’ famous concept of “life, the universe, everything”, and it is of course from Adam’s most well-loved work, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.”  This book came up with what are now some of the most loved elements of contemporary philosophy.  So perhaps I may leave you on this with ““Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at   Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 810 1125.

Admiral Document Storage
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


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Measuring it wouldn’t tell you anything about its size

Admiral does something quite simple: it stores things.

Now in doing this one of our prime concerns, and indeed one of the concerns of our customers, is that we know about dimensions: how big are the items to be stored, how big is the storage space we have available.

If this seems fairly straightforward and clear to you then you are clearly one of our sort of people.  You believe in such issues as height, width, and depth.

So basic is all this to our everyday work that it comes as a bit of a surprise to find out that not everyone actually goes along with this version of the universe.

For it was reported a while back in New Scientist magazine, a strange encounter between a man who wanted a bag and a motoring accessories chain of shops – which, as with most shops these days, sold things online.

He found a “large tool bag” on the virtual store but noted that no dimensions were given – which meant he couldn’t work out if the tool bag would indeed hold all his tools, an issue which he felt was a basic prerequisite for deciding whether to purchase or not.

He therefore decided to call the nearest physical store of this chain to his house, and he asked what the size was.

“There’s no size on the bag in the store,” he was told, according to the subsequent report in the magazine.

“Could you measure it for me?” he asked.

“I don’t have access to the equipment,” was the response.  Now that was interesting because it seems that the store also sold tape measures.

Disappointed, but unbowed, the potential customer decided to go to another store and ask how big the large tool bag was.

“I don’t know,” was the answer, “it’s just a bag”.

“Yes but what size is it?”

“You want me to measure it?”

“That would be helpful.”

“But measuring it wouldn’t tell you anything about the size.”

Now the story in New Scientist continues on from this point, but I want to pause there because there is something profound in that statement that “measuring it wouldn’t tell you anything about the size.”

The potential customer persisted (which I have to say is more than I would have done at this point) and suggested that, “if you got a ruler and put it beside the longest side of the bag that would help.”

To which the answer came…

“Not really it doesn’t have any size.  It’s just a bag”.

The magazine left the story at that point, but I wondered just how a shop assistant who had presumably been through school, had actually managed to complete 11 years of compulsory education and yet ended up with the notion that measuring a bag wouldn’t tell you anything about the size.

My only guess is that the sales assistant had only ever seen “size” as meaning clothes size – but even so, what had been going on in lessons concerning area in maths, country size in geography, the size of the bits and pieces of matter in the physical universe (in physics)…   Could all of it have been by-passed?

This is, after all, going a bit beyond the old joke that crops up when someone speaks of 1500 cubic litres – which is a joke because a litre is already a measurement of three dimensions.  So a cubic litre is presumably something which exists in six dimensions.

I can understand that sort of comment – it comes from a confusion about what a litre is.  But to think that measuring the bag won’t tell you the size of the bag, really does suggest that somewhere along the line our educational system is failing in every dimension that it exists in.

Or maybe doesn’t exist in.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at  Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 7839 516.

Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


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Why is it that sometimes throwing away old things is just too hard a task to consider?


Clearing up means tidying away.  Throwing out the rubbish, putting the rest in its rightful place.

Clearing out, however, which implies going beyond jettisoning obviously unwanted items and instead suggests removing long stored but no longer used items, is hard.

Clearing up, clearing out.  Just one little word different within each phrase, but emotionally they are worlds apart.

Items that we have had for a long time are more than items – they are memory stores.   Even an old radio that no longer works might be kept, because it was the first present given by someone precious.

An old iron, completely broken and beyond repair, might be kept “because it was the first thing I bought when I moved out of my parents’ home”.

As for getting rid of photographs, that can seem almost like cutting one’s hand off.  And besides, surely our children will want to reminisce over them, even if they have no interest in the past at this moment.

So big is the problem of past possessions that there are even people around nowadays who describe themselves as “decluttering coaches”.  A frightful title, and not necessarily one that might draw us to such a person – but we can all see what it means.

To solve any problem what we all need is a plan of action – a plan that is not just logical but which also meets our emotional state.

One way to handle “clutter” in this regard is to recognise that a lot of things are kept because they have an emotional link with our past.   If one starts with these items when one begins to try to solve the issue of old things, one can instantly get blocked.

Nothing is thrown out, but worse, we start to believe that we can’t throw anything out.

If, however, we start with the non-emotional items then we can often make some progress.

So one can start with leftovers: a box of cables that has been collected from old electrical goods – just in case we suddenly need them.   In reality cable endings change every few years, so the box can go.

Some really old clothes might have an emotional connection, but those items that were bought and were hardly worn – and are kept because “it’s hardly been worn” – really can go.

People who buy books find it hard to throw away books – so load up a boxful of those that you know you will never read again and take them to the charity shop.

In the bathroom and the fitted cupboards there may be old towels that you no longer use – you have the newer ones so throw out the old.

There are some people who keep all the letters they have received or all the Christmas and birthday cards.  But the question then arises – are the memories they bring good memories or sad?  If really good, hold on to them – otherwise they can go.

And then if you get stuck, try this approach:

If you have plenty of space and you are not thinking of moving, then yes, keeping all these items in your house or garage is in one sense ok.  They are there, no one looks, no one minds, and hopefully they are not a fire hazard.

But if you find the knowledge of these items disturbing then it is time to do something.

And if you are going to move – then the value of these items can be measured.  Another ten boxes of memorabilia is going to cost you a few more pounds when you move.  And that’s before you consider whether you can store them or not in your new home.

That’s when the true value of the clutter in the house becomes apparent.

You can measure

Perhaps the solution to the quest for total harmony is for each of us to invent our own system of measurement.

A friend of mine was recently required to give evidence in a court case following a minor car accident.   He was asked by the learned counsel for the prosecution how far his car had travelled from a set of traffic lights before it was hit by another vehicle.

Thinking for a moment my friend then answered in a clear voice (as he had been so instructed), “About twenty metres.”

There was, he later told me, a stony silence in the court.  The judge looked up from his notes and peered at the barristers for the prosecution and defence, looking from one to the other.  Eventually one of the learned gentlemen ventured, “About 65 yards sir?”

The question mark at the end of the suggestion was perfectly audible, and all in court waited until the judge had got a slight nod from the other barrister, and thus it was decided.  In this court of law, on this day, twenty meters was around 65 yards.  In other courts, or indeed in this court before another judge, it might well be something quite different, but for now, that’s what it was.

This notion of having to turn the rather logical metric system into the wholly haphazard imperial approach to measurement for the sake of a court hearing suggests that the idea of random measurement systems, upon which I have touched in the past, is still with us, and will be for a long time to come.

Indeed there is now the growing use of the FMW measurement of distance, with FMW standing for the “five minute walk”.

Of course, the distance which people can walk in five minutes varies hugely from one person to another, and so it seems a suitably vague system for measuring matters that have to be converted to something else.

Certainly the “foot” (from which the yard was derived) has been used in many measuring systems in countries ranging from England to Greece, Ancient Rome to China.   The only problem with it is that it means something quite different in each and every place – and not just country to country.  A foot in one village could be quite different from a foot in a nearby town.  It all added to the fun, not to mention disputes with carpet salesmen.

The FMW is obviously part of this tradition, and it is rather interesting to note that one of the first distances to be recorded in FMWs was the journey across the straits of Dover – which is apparently 68 FMWs.  Who worked that out, and whether they survived the experience, we don’t actually know.

It all raised (in a very roundabout way) the notion that if we are to go around measuring things we often measure in units that we have never heard of, how about measuring other things that we never measure, in units we are quite familiar with.

Take for example, free will.  How much free will do you have?  Is it above or below six gallons, which I have just established as the fundamental adequacy level of free will for a normal functioning adult.  Although my opinion might be changed now, having just seen an advert from a firm of solicitors which proclaimed “Free Will, worth £180”.

The problem is made more intense by any attempts to measure the probability that something might or might not happen.  For example, the website of the Irish Lottery used to point out that you could improve your chances of winning the Lottery by taking a good look at the STATS section of the Lottery web site which has information in it based on previous draws.

Now working on the perhaps naïve belief that lottery draws are actually random this suggests that the Irish government has made some important discoveries relating to probability – which up to this point told us that the winning numbers being declared as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, coming out in that order, were the same as for 48, 22, 1, 19, 3, 44 coming out again in that specific order, which were exactly the same as…  well you get the general idea.

So we can now measure probability in new ways, refuse to accept metric in an English court of law, pay £180 for free will, and travel to France in 68 five minute under water walks.

But perhaps this is just the issue of measurement and order seeking to keep up with human progress.   Actually I rather suspect so.

You can find more information about our facilities on our website at Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 7839 516.

Admiral Self Storage Ltd
Bloxwich Lane
Tel: 0800 810 1125


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