Sirius garnered several shocked and disapproving looks when he showed up at the Ministry in his jeans, motorcycle boots, and Led Zeppelin t-shirt. He blithely ignored them all as he made his way to the Minister's office, arriving just before noon. Fudge's secretary had apparently left for her own lunch break already, as he was greeted by the Minister himself.

"Ah, good morning, Lord Black," the portly little man said. He looked a little less than enthused by the outfit the younger man was wearing. "Is that what muggles usually wear?" he asked, a hint of trepidation in his voice.

"Good morning to you as well, Minister Fudge, and some muggles do wear clothing like mine," Sirius answered. "But not all muggles. This outfit is considered something more for casual wear, or for students, manual laborers, and rebellious sorts such as motorbike riders, and I did ride over here today from home. We can walk to the pub I have in mind, though. I can give you an outfit more appropriate for a man of your age and standing, if I may?" He drew his wand and looked at Fudge expectantly.

"Yes, yes, go ahead," Fudge nodded, looking nervous.

With a wave of his wand, Sirius transformed Fudge's horrible lime green pinstriped robes to neatly pressed khaki trousers and a forest green Ralph Lauren polo shirt, accompanied by dark brown leather loafers and a matching narrow belt. "There you go, this is considered a causal outfit for someone like a muggle banker or other businessman. Ready for your adventure in muggle London?"

Fudge nodded. "As ready as I'll ever be, I suppose." He followed Sirius out the visitors' entrance and almost immediately stopped and stared. "Merlin! I thought automobiles were uncommon, but there are so many of them!"

Sirius grinned. "Muggle Studies is more than a little out of date, as I said yesterday. Easily seventy or eighty years out of date, from what I recall of the course, and possibly as much as a hundred years out of date. Nearly everyone can afford a car these days, although plenty of people don't bother with one because the public transit system... the Underground and the bus... is often more convenient for those who live in the more populous areas of the city." He led Fudge around the corner to a pub called The Foggy Flask and claimed a booth within easy sight and hearing of the telly over the bar. As was common for the middle of the day, a news programme was running. Sirius hid a snicker as Fudge stared at the telly, not even noticing that a server had appeared by the table. He ordered two daily specials of shepherd's pie and two pints of dark before returning his own attention to the news.

"...latest word from Buckingham Palace is that the divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales finalised as of 10 June. As of this time, custody of the two young princes will remain with Her Royal Highness in Kensington Palace, while Prince Charles has taken up permanent residence at Highgrove," the news anchor said. "And now for the day's weather." The picture changed to a satellite map of the United Kingdom, with a young woman standing in front of it and gesturing. "London and the southeast of England can expect sunshine this afternoon, with just a few high clouds moving in this evening. Coastal Wales can look for the morning showers coming to an end, while the rain moves across the Marches into Shropshire and Herefordshire, and our friends to the north may also expect scattered showers this afternoon." As she spoke, she gestured at the satellite map, pointing out the areas of cloud cover and where the rain was falling.

Fudge stared in fascination. "How in Merlin's name are they doing that?" he asked.

Sirius stifled a laugh. "Remember what I said about cameras that use a wireless signal to send their pictures elsewhere? That weather map is probably the ultimate example... the camera that takes the pictures of the cloud cover over the country is actually in a sort of space ship orbiting the earth."

"A what?" Fudge looked as though he'd swallowed his hat.

"Muggles don't just have aeroplanes, they have spacecraft," Sirius said. "The Americans sent men to the moon back in 1969, and the Soviets have a space station where people can live for months at a time in space. Satellites are unmanned spacecraft that orbit the earth and do various things. Lots of them have cameras and are used to study weather patterns and things like that, while others are used to relay wireless signals around the world... well, look." He gestured at the telly, which had moved on to world news.

The anchor was speaking again. "...fighting continues along Israel's central coast, where Israeli forces have been battling Palestinian terrorists…" Behind him on the screen, dust billowed up between buildings as uniformed men sporadically fired rifles at other gunmen who were skulking in the shadowy areas and alleys. From there, it switched to coverage of the construction of the Channel Tunnel which would soon connect Britain with France via railway, ending with a report that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was in Washington D. C. meeting with United States president George H. W. Bush in a planned four day long summit; the possible banning of chemical weapons and the eventual destruction of both countries' stocks of such armaments would be the highlight of the summit.

The server returned with their food and drinks as the news switched over to sports coverage, discussing the FIFA World Cup which would take place in Italy in just under a week before moving on to cricket scores which caused the occasional cheer or groan from other patrons in the pub. Fudge turned his attention to his meal and his dining companion. "So this telly thing, it uses moving picture cameras and wireless signals?" he asked.

"More or less," Sirius confirmed as he discreetly cast muffliato to obscure their conversation from the rest of the pub. "I'm not exactly an expert on the technology, after all. But as I understand it, yes, they use moving picture cameras to record whatever it is they want to record, and a wireless signal to send the moving pictures wherever." He paused to take a bite of his food, then added, "And from what I've heard, the cameras are getting smaller and smaller, and plenty of them are being used for security purposes these days. Sooner or later one of those cameras is going to record a wizard performing magic… whether said wizard is apparating into an otherwise empty alley to visit a friend living in a muggle area, entering St. Mungo's through London proper, or is simply a thief who's decided that unwarded muggle homes make easier targets than wizarding homes." He gave a slight chuckle at that. "Actually, the thief is probably the first one going to be caught on camera. Muggles might not have wards exactly, but they do have things they call security systems, which use alarms to summon their police… aurors… in the event of an unlawful entry, and most often have cameras set in strategic areas to record the image of the unlawful entrant to aid the police in finding and capturing him."

"Oh dear," Fudge said. "Is there any way of preventing this from happening?"

"Well, making Muggle Studies a mandatory course, and updating it drastically would be good for a start," Sirius said. "At the very least, if wizards had some idea of current muggle clothing styles, they won't immediately stand out as something bizarre in a muggle area, and then if they behave a little oddly or appear lost, the local muggles will be more likely to assume they're from somewhere else where things are done a bit differently. But as far as I know, an invisibility cloak is the only thing that will fool a camera completely, and even then, if the person using the cloak opens a door or anything like that…"

"They'll still attract the attention of whoever might be watching the pictures from the camera," Fudge finished unhappily. "And you're right about the clothing, too. I mean, at least I'm aware that muggle men wear trousers, but I would have just transfigured my robes without changing the colours as you did, and I can see that I'd have looked rather silly. I can only imagine what someone like Damocles Parkinson would come up with to wear."

Sirius gave a chuckle. "Eh, it depends. But even if he was to consult with a muggle studies textbook, he'd still look out of place because those books haven't been updated since, what, 1925 or so? Certainly not since the Grindelwald era, and I doubt even that recently. That's the big problem; it's been explained to me that while muggles do respect tradition, they also embrace change, especially when those changes make their lives easier in some way. Clothes such as we are wearing right now are easy to clean and comfortable to move in, much more so than the wool and linen suits that were fashionable back when the muggle studies books were last revised. These clothes are also fairly versatile, in that they can be worn for pretty much any leisure activity. What you're wearing is even considered welcome in less conservative businesses, although the majority of those still require more formal attire during the workday. But in contrast to the last time the muggle studies texts were revised, back then, probably because doing the laundry was more difficult than it is nowadays, people had different clothing for various leisure activities. One outfit especially for riding horses, a different outfit for playing golf, yet another for strolling about the countryside, a special overcoat for driving a car… you do see some holdover from those days, particularly among those who ride horses competitively, they still wear a certain style of clothing for the competitions. But for the average person, something like what I've got on right now would fit in perfectly in any of those situations I named. Worse still, most wizards don't seem to realise that wearing something like a riding or golfing outfit as pictured in the textbook will make them stand out rather than blend in."

Fudge considered this for a while as he made inroads into his shepherd's pie. "This is good," he commented. "I would have expected the potato to be lumpy or the bottom to be burnt, since the muggles don't have spells to prevent things like that from happening."

"Oh, they've got plenty of technology to handle things like that, from what I've seen, not that I know how to operate most of it," Sirius said with a grin. "My source of information is a young bachelor, so he doesn't do much cooking for himself and what little he does cook tends to be simple things, boiled eggs, tinned soup and the like. But I'm given to understand that most modern cookers have mechanisms to regulate the temperature of the hobs and the oven, and timers to alert the cook when the food is most likely done."

"So, that's another sort of change the muggles have embraced to make their lives easier, I assume?" Fudge asked.

"Exactly," Sirius agreed. "If you've time, we can visit a shop or two before returning to the Ministry. I'm sure you'd be interested in seeing what muggles write with and on, and also I scouted a place nearby that sells things like video cameras so you can see for yourself how popular they're becoming and why it's getting so important that wizards learn to blend in with muggles better than they do now."

Fudge looked at his pocket watch and nodded. "I'd like that. You've given be quite a bit to think about already, and since I wasn't sure how long this trip would take, I had my secretary reschedule a couple of meetings that weren't especially urgent. Just some preliminary negotiations for next quarter's budget allocations, with several department heads coming to tell me why their department needs an increase in funding so much more than someone else's department."

Sirius laughed at that. "And some people wonder why I don't get involved in the Ministry beyond my Wizengamot duties," he said. "I have no patience for that sort of thing and I know it. I'd probably end up pranking the people doing the most complaining if I had to listen to them all day. Make 'em sing nursery rhymes or something any time they try to talk about money for a day or two."

"Ha! That's not a bad idea," Fudge said with a chuckle of his own. "Unfortunately, not something that fits in with the dignity of the Ministry."

"Well, true enough, but it's something pleasant to think about when you're stuck in those meetings and listening to the whinging," Sirius said. "Ready to go?"

Fudge drained the last little bit of his pint and nodded. He watched with some interest as Sirius gave a wave to the server, who immediately brought something resembling a very narrow book with no apparent pages in it. Sirius opened it and tucked some muggle money inside before handing it back and standing up. Fudge followed him out of the pub and up the street to a shop selling school and office supplies. He tried not to gawk too obviously, but it was difficult as he didn't recognise over half of the items on display. "What is all this?" he asked his companion quietly.

"Exactly what the sign outside says," Sirius answered. "Supplies that are most often used in offices and schools. I know you recognise paper since the Daily Prophet and other newspapers and magazines use that instead of parchment, and so do the interdepartmental memos within the Ministry. But look at these." He held up a spiral-bound notebook for the minister to examine. "If I've done the conversion arithmetic correctly, two of these cost roughly one sickle, and one notebook will last the average student a full school year for taking notes for each class. The metal bit keeps the pages together and in order, and the lines on each page keeps their handwriting from going all over the place. That's in contrast to a three-foot parchment scroll, which costs a sickle by itself and might do for a couple week's worth of note-taking for one class if the student has fairly small and neat handwriting… and then it still might be misplaced or lost when it comes time for the end-of-term revisions. Sure, parchment scrolls are traditional, but these notebooks are a change that make the lives of muggle schoolchildren much easier, especially when used in conjunction with the item known as the biro, or ball-point pen."

"This is much nicer paper than the Prophet is printed on," Fudge said as he took the notebook from the animagus. "So what is this biro thingy?"

"It's an inexpensive writing instrument," Sirius explained. "It's a bit like a self-inking quill, but far less messy, as the ink used in a biro dries almost instantly. No blotting necessary, not to mention, there's no need to have an ink bottle that might get knocked over sitting on the desk while using it. Sure, the ink runs out eventually, but these biros cost even less than the notebooks… one can buy a packet of a dozen for the equivalent of perhaps fifteen knuts."

Fudge blinked. "Are you serious?" he blurted out.

"I'm always Sirius," the animagus replied, unable to resist the pun on his name as always. "But yes, I'm very serious about the cost of biros. Also, look over on this side of the store, they have the perfect solution for those people who have horrid handwriting but still need to communicate through the written word. May I present to you, the typewriter!" He led Fudge over to the typewriter display and inserted a piece of paper into a manual model, having learned how from Lily back in the late 1970s. Using two fingers but correctly operating the shift key, he slowly typed out the words, 'I came, I saw, I conquered.' He then hit the carriage return lever and turned the knob to raise the words up enough to be seen.

"That's amazing!" Fudge gasped. "How does it work?" He poked at a few random keys and watched little metal bars lift up with a clacking sound, leaving 'mfqks' on the page underneath the sentence Sirius wrote.

"Well, I know each key operates one of those little bars," Sirius said, "and you hold down the shift key whilst pressing a letter key to get a capital letter. The bars strike against a ribbon that's got ink of some sort soaked into it and that leaves the imprint of the letter marked onto the paper. Beyond that, I don't really know. But from what a muggleborn friend told me back in my Hogwarts days, pretty much every business in the muggle world uses typewriters for correspondence just to prevent misunderstandings due to poor handwriting. They're ubiquitous enough that muggle secondary schools have classes for the students to learn to use the typewriters without needing to look at the keys. Touch typing, I believe Lily called it."

"And you say these typewriter thingies are used in most muggle businesses?" Fudge asked.

Sirius nodded. "Yes," he confirmed. "Although something called a computer is likely to become more widespread over time, at least according to a muggleborn I've met since my release. Those require electricity, though, so I don't know how well they would work out for wizarding use. Although I wonder if it might be possible to come up with something to shield technology from the effects of magic; the headlamp on my motorbike works fine despite the enchantments I've put on it… well. That's a thought for another day. What do you think of what you've seen so far?"

Fudge poked at the typewriter again, this time typing, 'sngdiLE' before looking back up with a smile. "I think I'm astonished that no muggleborn students have turned up at Hogwarts with these notebooks before now, that's what! I think I'm starting to see what you mean about muggles embracing change." He looked at the typewriters again and added, "And I might just buy a few of these typewriters and set them up at the Ministry, just to see who's willing to learn how to use them and who isn't. Goodness knows old Perkins in the Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office really ought to have retired a couple years ago; he's even older than Griselda Marchbanks. But his wife is an absolute harridan so he likes having a reason to be out of the house all day, every day. He didn't mind being shunted off to that department so long as it meant he could keep working. But I had to get him out of the Department of Magical Transportation, because no one could read his reports anymore. His hands are still steady enough to use his wand, though, and Lucius suggested he might be willing to work under Arthur Weasley so long as he could still work. He might not have nearly the amount of written work as before, but I'm sure Weasley would appreciate being able to read what little Perkins does have to write without needing to ask what every third word is supposed to be."

Sirius chuckled. "I know Lucius has a problem with Arthur, but really, the man isn't all that bad. He's eccentric to be sure, and he doesn't know half as much about muggle things as he thinks he does, but he's a good sort for all that. What you might not know is that there's a few hundred year old feud between the Weasleys and the Malfoys; I don't know the entire story myself but supposedly a Weasley son had been betrothed to a Malfoy daughter and then broke the betrothal but kept the dowry. The Weasley side claims she was pregnant with another man's child and so he had a right to do what he did. The Malfoy side claims he beat and forced the girl before the wedding, getting her pregnant and then using the pregnancy as an excuse to reject her." He shrugged. "Paternity spells hadn't been developed back then, and the girl committed suicide because of the disgrace, so there's no knowing the exact truth now. The one hint that the Weasley scion might have been the true culprit is that he was a known gambler, and the ancestor that is known to have lost the bulk of what small fortune the family used to have, which makes it plausible that he illegally kept the dowry money to pay off a gambling debt. On the other hand, the Malfoy girl was known to have wanted to marry some other young man only to find out he was betrothed elsewhere, which makes it plausible that she tried to break both betrothals by becoming pregnant with the other man's child. Anyway, both sides have been raised since then to hate and distrust the other. This sort of feud seems like a waste of effort to me, but nothing like that ever happened in the Black family, so I don't know how I'd feel if it did… if I might pass that anger on to my children and all that, you know?"

Fudge just shook his head. "Indeed. I, ah, don't suppose you've enough muggle money on hand to purchase one of these typewriters? I really would like to try these out at the Ministry. I will, of course, recompense you for it."

Sirius looked at the price tag and then looked in his wallet. "Sure, I can manage," he said after a moment of figuring. "But let's go to the other shop first, then stop back here on our way back, so that we don't have to carry such a large package until we're ready to go home."

Fudge looked confused. "But we could just shrink…"

Sirius shook his head. "Security cameras, remember? You certainly don't want to be the one caught breaking the Statute on camera."

"Oh, right," Fudge said sheepishly. He turned and headed for the shop door. "Where is it we're going next?"

"It's called Maplin, and it sells all sorts of electronic equipment. Just the sort of place Arthur Weasley would get lost in for hours," Sirius joked.

Fudge laughed. The two men walked a couple blocks up the road and entered the Maplin store. Fudge gawked as Sirius led him to a display of CCTV and home security cameras. "You say these things are going up all over the place?" he asked as he watched himself on a small telly. He waved, trying to figure out where that particular camera was set up.

"Yes," Sirius replied. "As I said, these sorts of cameras are quite sturdy, so that they can be set up nearly anywhere, with no concerns that they might be damaged by the weather. And by putting them in strategic locations on the streets, the muggle police then have a much better chance at identifying thieves and other criminals. Even if the crime itself isn't caught on camera, it's quite likely that a camera somewhere near the scene of the crime will record someone behaving suspiciously… running or acting furtive or whatever… and then that person can be found and taken in for questioning. My muggleborn friend says that in another ten years, probably every street in a major population centre will have multiple cameras on it. And probably half of the private homes will also have security systems which include cameras by then as well. It's far less a matter of IF a wizard gets caught on camera, as a matter of WHEN a wizard gets caught on camera." He looked upwards and gestured to a few dark half domes bulging down from the ceiling. "See those dark bumps? Those are hiding the in-store security cameras. The images will be going to a telly somewhere in the back or perhaps the basement of the store, with a security guard watching them at all times to catch anyone trying to steal the smaller items from the store."

"That's… a rather sobering thought," Fudge admitted as he looked around. "What are some of the other things here? Are those also cameras? They look similar to these, but different too," he asked, gesturing to another display a little further down the aisle.

"Home video cameras," Sirius said. "These days muggles don't just take photographs of events and places they visit, they make amateur moving picture films of them that can be played back either on special film projectors, or with a thing called a VCR which connects to a telly. I've heard the VCR cameras are getting more popular than the others, because the VCRs can be used for more than just the amateur moving picture films… they're now selling copies of cinema films that people can buy and watch through their VCR and telly at home. I've no idea how it works, although my friend showed me how to operate his VCR. We've watched more than a few films over the last few months." He gestured towards another section of the store which featured a large display of the newly-released film Back to the Future II. "Anyway, these cameras most often run on batteries so that they can be taken anywhere, as opposed to the security cameras which need to be plugged into an electrical outlet."

"Can anyone use these things?" Fudge asked.

Sirius nodded with a grin. "Sure. In fact, sometimes the news programmes on the telly purchase film bit from tourists who happened to be filming their visit to wherever and accidentally film something newsworthy, such as a driver losing control of his car and striking a building. I've heard that a new fad is for men to film the birth of their children, assuming their wives agree." He snickered. "Puts me in half a mind to buy a camera for myself and suggest to my cousin Cissa that I film the birth of her baby, just to see the expression on her face when I suggest it! I probably won't, though, because I don't even want to know what she'd do to me to retaliate."

Fudge chuckled. "You do have an odd sense of humour, you know."

"And I take pride in it, too," Sirius grinned. "Anything else you want to look at?"

"Not right now, no. I've got a lot to think about already, and I still want to get that typewriter thing before we head back," Fudge said. "And whilst I did reschedule some of my meetings, I do have some work to do this afternoon, so I can't stay out all day."

"All right," Sirius agreed.

They headed back to the office supply shop, where they purchased a manual typewriter and a ream of typing paper before making their way back to the Ministry. Sirius helped the Minister set up his new typewriter and install the ink ribbon correctly before taking his leave. Fudge spent the time before his next scheduled appointment looking over the instruction guide for the typewriter and thinking about the nearly overwhelming amount of information he'd learned on his short visit to muggle London.