Monday 24 October 2016

Rally - MullMurmurs

During this year's Beatson's Mull Rally, quite a few comments were made about the late lamented 'MullMurmurs' on-event Bulletin service, despite the fact that it stopped quite a few years back in 2010. There were also mentions on Facebook and other social media outlets regretting this scurrilous rag's demise. The topic was even raised again (and the Forum) last weekend at Leuchars!

For those who don't know, 'MullMurmurs' was an on-event 'news' Bulletin, written, printed and distributed during rally weekend. At its best, the team produced up to 13 issues over the 4 days, and at its worst, still managed 8. The only reason it was stopped was that frequency of issue would continue to fall. Rather than offer an inferior service, the plug was pulled. Better a quick finish than dragging on to a slow and painful death with those behind it being blamed.

The simple facts are that changes to the time schedule and restrictions on access to crews meant that the information gatherers couldn't get to locations where they wanted to be and get out again to report and record. Technology has moved on too, and not necessarily in a good way. The original Bulletins were typed up on a stencil which was then transferred to a duplicator machine and then up to 1,000 or more sheets were hand cranked out in the back of a van in a few minutes. These were passed to the Opening Car or 'Bulletin Bill' who ran through the stages ahead of the Closing Car to distribute to Marshals and Spectators. When it worked it was brilliant, when it didn't work it was still pretty damn good.

Sadly, duplicator machines are no longer available, and the most recent issues of the Bulletin were produced on computer printers at a central location. This proved problematic because the central location was not always suitable for the distribution crews to collect. The other big problem is that mobile phone signals are not always available where information could be gathered and passed back to HQ.

Events conspired against the concept hence it was stopped before it died a slow death.

Could it be revived? Highly unlikely. Technology has moved on again, but Mull is different to most other events. Whereas folk can access phones and tablets out and about throughout mainland UK, the lack of phone masts on the island severely restrict access.

In other words, the age of the printed Bulletin has come and gone. Where once a common service on rallies and championships right across the UK and Eire, these much sought after scraps of information and enlightenment have been consigned to the wastebin of history. Just another sign of 'progess' in an increasingly electronic world.

Oddly enough, many folk have kept their original 'MullMurmurs' and it would appear that they refer to them on a regular basis to remind themselves of more innocent non-PC times. The Bulletins can be dipped into in any order because they are simply a black and white snapshot of the passing of the rally at any given point. Surely that's the best legacy.

I was further challenged at the weekend, do I have every copy? Would I publish them? Is there a market? I don't know, what do you think? I have every Bulletin published from 1995 to 2010 (and no gaps!) but I'm not sure when this was started. It might have been earlier. To find those would require a few evenings spent in the loft. Rather than incurring the costs of printing a book would folk pay a small fee through Amazon for downloading them to Kindles or Tablets? Just a thought.

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