True Colours

This piece was written for Weekly Min Min Prompt for March 10, 2023, ‘paint it black’.

When David Warren (inevitably nick-named Rabbit) invented his device, the initial response from the airlines was less than whelming. ‘Experts’ placed it only slightly higher than the perpetual motion machine, a flying car powered by ice cream, and an electronic worldwide network for sharing cat pictures on the scale of likelihood of being feasible.

So for trade fairs and product pitches he introduced some novelty features.

When it was first switched on, a jack would pop out of the top of the box and shout ‘Houston, we have a problem’. When the ‘Print Report’ function was activated, the end of the cylinder would open and eject the local newspaper. The bottom section concealed a drawer where you could store useful things for an emergency, like a pad and pencil so you could hastily write your will and a copy of the Common Book of Prayer and a cyanide capsule, in case you felt a bit squeamish at the thought of dying in a plane crash.

When his invention finally got the recognition it deserved, he made it available royalty and patent free and he promptly disappeared from aviation history. Of course, unimaginative manufacturers totally ignored his one and only request: ‘Paint it black’.

Footnote: David Warren was very real. I’ve made up the purportedly amusing bits.

The black box: an Australian invention that nearly didn’t happen (

11 thoughts on “True Colours

  1. Black Out. (There’s black humour, and then there’s sick humour…)

    They say ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn,’
    But after a carafe and half of cheap Sauvignon
    It’s pretty bleak waking up at the crack of dawn
    After a night spent spark out on the Hotel lawn.*
    Pissed again.

    Knowing the ‘week sober’ AA chip will be withdrawn,
    Seeing the housemaids looking down on me with scorn,
    As pale and buck naked as the sad day I was born,
    Except for the tightest unwhitest briefs ever worn.
    Pissed again.

    After my latest of late nights out, after I had sworn
    I’d never ever wake up to another dry horror morn,
    Surrounded by clear evidence of a a Technicolour yawn,**
    A veritable vomitorium of voided carrots, peas and corn.
    Pissed again.
    * Spark out- beyond a deep sleep, closer to a stupor.
    ** Technicolour yawn- another cute Australasian turn of phrase meaning ‘upchucking.’

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oops, somehow I seem to have forgotten to comment on this, Doug. Sorry.
    Lots of fun ‘facts’ in your inimitable tongue-in-cheek style.
    By coincidence I heard it being explained on a random TV programme the other day why the black box was actually orange.
    Would I have noticed this if it hadn’t been for your story?
    Who knows, and does it matter? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Everything matters to the trivia buff. 🙂 For instance, none of these oft-used quotes from books, movies and TV were ever actually said:
      Play it again, Sam.
      Beam me up, Scotty.
      Houston, we have a problem.
      Elementary, my dear Watson.
      Which is why Clifford Stoll did say: ‘Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.’

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What’s the saying about never watching sausage being made?*

    Nice job with the guided tour down one of what I suspect are numerous rabbit holes that history has dressed up, suitable for imaginative children and gullible adults.

    Fave line: “…a cyanide capsule, in case you felt a bit squeamish at the thought of dying in a plane crash.

    *damn! according to one source, the person cited for the referenced admonition is, by most sources, Otto von Bismarck

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s a bummer when qood quotes come from bad people. H L Mencken has some great ones, including ‘“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
      But, then again, he was an anti-Semitic, racist, and a misogynist. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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