If Plato's Theory of Forms is at all accurate in its reading of reality, then the title of this new series of articles, 'Camera Obscura' - literally 'dark chamber' - is more than a little apt. And no, I'm not thinking of the deliberately light-impoverished room which witnesses an exterior image being projected on to one of its surfaces. We inhabit, at least on a sensory basis, a realm which is seldom perfectly lucid and often a little blurred at the edges. For Platonists, the world of the senses is but a flawed copy of the unsullied abstract - the 'idea' - from which the physical world derives its shape and substance.

Most crucially, then, for our purposes the term 'camera obscura' refers not to a portion of our world - it is our world.

Over the coming issues we'll be making regular visits to this shadowy space, delving into matters both

subtle and gross. Should my prose, on occasion, be a little obscure, let's just say that the pun is intended. Appropriately enough, our first subject is the person who inspired this column in the first place. His name is Ted Holiday and his darkened chamber is known as the Goblin Universe.

I first discovered the Goblin Universe a little more than eleven years ago. I was surfacing from my undergraduate studies and caught in the wake of a new revelation - with no more exams or essays to fret over I was free to read whatever I liked. Predictably my literary diet oscillated between outright classics and barely-published duds, as I strived to sample the fullest range of the written word. In the midst of stalking the cluttered shelves of secondhand booksellers, charity shops and libraries I found myself caught up in the writings of the late British naturalist and journalist Frederick William 'Ted' Holiday. His posthumously-published final work