Ouch. Inside of my head like insulation wadding. I’m writing this from the Australian Historical Association’s regional conference in Armidale, New South Wales. The morning after the conference dinner last night. Just had a wonderful conversation with a few hard-core archivists, though: lovely, convivial people, one sweet gentleman in particular, dressed in old jumper and obligatory tweedy beige-grey. All of them driven by the mindboggling array of stories and objects and details they encounter every day in a way that teeters on the edge between the fascinating and the tedious. This gentleman in particular was telling me about the crime files collected at the State Records office, stuffed with the evidentiary objects produced during trials from the 1920s and 30s: weapons, letters, photographs, victims’ underpants. Plenty of scope there for the fetishism of the object. He also mentioned a paper given by Alan Ventress about an 1840s ‘registry of flashmen’, compiled by a police officer in Sydney on the activities of the flash characters of the day. Thieves and ex-convicts, most of them, living in the early tidelands of the city, who used the notorious ‘flash’ language, a kind of slang code, to share secrets and a mutual sense of identity. What a thing.