In my childhood there was a comic-book magician called Mandrake who could make anything happen with a wave of his hand. (“Mandrake gestured hypnotically.”) He had a top hat and a silver-topped cane. I, alas, lacked those attributes, and still do. It would be nice to pretend that this website suddenly materialised, full-blown, out of nowhere: but it didn’t. It has taken time to build, and will take more time yet. Good manners, however, dictate that the first impression it makes should not be the glare of acetylene torches and the shriek of angle-grinders. Unless a website is content to look like a construction site, it will always tidy away its earlier versions, but the penalty for doing too thorough a job of covering up the early stages is to forget that one is travelling through time. The aim of this section is to provide a sense of context for any visitor who might wonder how such a complex structure came into being, and continues to expand. There are very few people doing the work, and there is painfully little money, but it all takes quite a lot of thought, and some of that is touched upon here, with material by and about those involved, and published commentaries by interested onlookers. There are also some archived versions of homepages that I wrote for the site when it was still more promise than performance. The general effect, I hope, is to give a reminder that even a mechanism designed to live in permanent present must have a history.