I’m grappling with my sixth Royal Mail Yearbook at the moment, and it’s taking me down the usual interesting avenues – obscure places I’d never go in the course of my usual business writing. I don’t think I’m giving anything away to reveal that one of the chapters is on King George V stamps. He was a near-obsessive philatelist who amassed a priceless collection which now belongs to the Crown. There’s a great story about the king paying a record £1,450 for a rare Mauritius 2d blue in 1904. One of his secretaries remarked that he’d read about ‘some damned fool’ who’d blown a fortune on a single stamp. Without skipping a beat, George replied, ‘I am that damned fool’.

But to get to the point... George also set up the British Postal Museum and Archive, which houses some real graphic treasures. Don’t worry, I’m not just talking stamps here, but all kinds of printed ephemera, including some achingly cool posters. These gems from the 1930s were recently picked up and released by zeitgeisty London greeting card specialists Umpen Editions. And you can see why… the designer-illustrators of the era were superb – witty, stylish and attention grabbing. Pat Keeley (top – a promotional poster for the famous Auden-scripted ‘Night Mail’ film) and Tom Eckersley (below – get the bubblewrap out, quick), as well as Hans Schleger (aka Zero) and Edward McKnight Kauffer were quite brilliant, and have a retro quality that’s bang on trend.

had we but word enough and time.

OK, I’ll come clean, numbers are not my forté. To me, they’re just confusing marks best left to bookkeepers and accountants. Actually, I’m beginning to think I suffer from a mild form of number dyslexia, often transposing digits and being perennially useless with PIN numbers and phone numbers. So Word Clock, by the ingenious digital designer Simon Heys (currently working at the Times), is a welcome antidote to the number fascism of time. It’s a rather beautiful screen saver (for Mac, PC or iPhone), which tells you the time in written out words, which change… well… every second. You can set it as a full screen of words or a rather elegant spiral, you can change the colours or the typeface. It’s wonderfully mesmerising watching time click by in words. And you can get hold of one for yourself right here.

LP Hartley never spoke a truer word when he said “the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.” I’ve just finished my annual wielding of frying pan and pancake batter in readiness for, well, not celebrating Lent. The children insist on it. Each year I dig out this trusty little gem of a cook book – by now practically a Kings family heirloom – to mug up on the recipe. And it never disappoints. Look at that cover, truly from a bygone age, and long before Delia was even weighing up her career options. It never fails to bring a small lump to the throat remembering all the stupendous cakes we made. It was the Sixties by the way, not the Fifties, if some of you were rudely wondering. And that’s a lot of cakes. At a cover price of 1s 6d, I think we’ve safely had our money’s worth, and who knows, when the boys have grown up, they might be clamouring for the recipe on Pancake Day too.

Response to the totalcontent monkey mailer has been phenomenal, and we’ve not even started sending out to the list of juicy prospects we’ve put together. Through the power of twitter and facebook, the posters were picked up by the popular design blogs acejet170 and formfiftyfive, and we’ve been getting over 500 hits a day on the web site. As well as wonderfully positive comments, we've been inundated with requests for posters from far and wide, so the studio currently looks more like a Royal Mail sorting office than the usual oasis of writerly calm. A gallery has even been in touch asking if they can exhibit our monkeys. Deborah is questioning whether stuffing orange tubes is in her job description, and my tongue is protesting at all the stamp licking. We got a rubber stamp of one of Rob’s monkeys made up, which we think works pretty well on our NB:Studio designed address stickers.

At last. After several false starts and many months in the making, here'stotalcontent’s very first mailshot. It's a series of three A2 posters designed byRichard Scholey and Simon Morrow at Elmwood, with the illustrated chimps provided by Rob Ball of the Partners. Jim had hours of fun coming up with suitable misquotes from Shakespeare, which had to be close enough to be familiar, but surreal enough to be funny. The idea is based on the ‘infinite monkey theorem’, which suggests that given an infinite amount of time a group of randomly typing monkeys would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. 

The sign-off copy at the bottom reads: 

‘If they stuck at it forever, a thousand typewriting monkeys would eventually tap out the complete works of Shakespeare. But if you haven’t got time to monkey around for copy, better call Jim Davies on 01926 812286.’ 

The letters are keys culled from an ancient typewriter, while the sign-off is set in a suitable typewriter font. 

Many thanks to everyone involved for making this happen. If you want one for your studio wall please email us here and we’ll mail you some hot-off-the-press monkeys.

Finally. totalcontent’s very first mailer is drying off at the printers as we speak. It was designed by the good people at Elmwood, and features illustrations of monkeys by the highly talented Rob Ball of the Partners. Of course we’ll reveal all as soon as we get our hands on them, but in the meantime, here’s one of Rob’s excellent simian creations. Hope I wasn’t too much of a pain-in-the-arse client.