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Showing posts from July, 2013

Interlude - six of five thousand blades of grass

I can see approximately five thousand blades of grass from my window. The first is about six centimetres long, tapered end, bending slightly to the left, about the same angle as a man who's walked six miles through a shopping centre with his wife, following her from shop to shop as she tries to find the perfect pair of shoes, and has just stopped to take the wait off his right foot. It's a sort of darkish green, approximately Pantone 355 EC.

The second is slightly shorter. I think it comes from the same root. It's roughly the same colour, but a bit more yellowy.

Number 3: It's considerably longer, maybe two centimetres which doesn't sound like much but it's a lot when you're that small. I'd say that the colour was more of a yellow, something like the shade of a jaundiced cauliflower.

It's difficult to talk about the fourth. It's hiding behind its brothers. Or sisters, I'm not sure how one sexes a blade of grass. The French would know. Either wa…

Art Pact 277 - In the rush

In the rush to close up shop - to lock doors and set alarms and ensure that those electrical implements that were to be turned off were turned off and those that were to be turned on were turned on, that all the windows were closed except for the one in the staff toilets of the first floor - the mechanical counting machine was forgotten. It was obvious that it would be, from the moment that it had been placed on the floor to the right of the counter. People came and went there, and so the machine was nudged further and further under the counter until it was at the back and Rebecca's tote bag had fallen across it. The counting machine had sat there all day, under the soft beige canvas, slowly counting off the seconds since it had been left. When the doors were closed behind the last customer it had got to nineteen thousand six hundred and three, when the lights went off twenty-one thousand and seventy-four, and when the door clanked shut behind the last employee - Brian, who had be…

Art Pact 276 - Reviews

"Christ," she said, scanning the column. "I've read hostile reviews before, but this is ridiculous. What did you do, strangle his mother?"

I hadn't strangled his mother. I hadn't run over his cat. I hadn't even (and this had been the source of at least three bad reviews in my university comedy group) gone out with him once and then blocked his calls on my mobile because he turned out to be a massive douchebag. In a life that I have spent inadvertently offending or injuring people, in fact, Martin St. Severan was one of the few people I had met personally who had no ulterior motive for writing me up in such scathing terms. If it wasn't for the fact that Caroline had assured me that my act was gold, I might have assumed that my initial fears were correct and that everything that came out of my mouth was a steaming pile of shit.

"He's not one of those arseholes who thinks that women can't be funny, is he?" she asked. "I hate …

Art Pact 275 - Dry Garden

The previous weeks had been unbearably hot, and it was not just me that suffered. In the early morning, when the sun had risen but had not yet had time to heat the air, I unlocked the door to the cabin and walked barefoot on what had in May been the lawn. I had lain there, reading, the soft moss at mattress beneath me and grass blades borders around my arms and legs. It had been comfortable - lush, almost - but now I could feel nothing but scratchy hay pricking at my soles, and the moss had dried out until it was nothing more than kindling. I sipped at my lukewarm cup of acorn coffee and flexed my feet, scratching at the dry surface of the ground with my toenails. It was time to cut them, I noticed.

"When do you think it's going to end?" asked Milla. I'd not noticed her sitting in the shade of the big oak that marked the boundary between her land and mine. She was still in the long ragged shift that she slept in, and she held a block of ice in her hands, shifting it …

Art Pact 274 - Early Morning

I woke up this morning to the sound of lorries reversing. The beeping had made its way into my dreams as the ringing of a phone I couldn't get to, then transformed itself into the sound of my/an alarm (I say that because in the half-dream it felt like the alarm was for me, but it's actually nothing like my real alarm: I have the Dies irae from Verdi's Requiem). Finally I heard the recorded words "This vehicle is reversing." and I twigged that it wasn't yet time to get up. My eyes were still covered with a film of that gunk that gets there while you sleep, and I blinked it off awkwardly. The right eye cleared faster than the left one, making me feel slightly nauseous. It was 6:15, still another half an hour until I had to get up, and probably the earliest I had been awake in seven or eight months. I lay down again and tried to squeeze in the rest of my sleep, but the lorries were relentless. Either there were ten of them and more coming as each one left, or th…

Art Pact 273 - In the dust

I like it out in the dust. You can float there, surrounded by nothing more than the glow of your own suit lights reflected back at you. Kidderminster tells us that it's like fog back on the ground, and when we ask what fog is he just waves his hands and tells us that we should already know stuff like that.

"How can we know it if we don't know what we don't know?" Peppi asks. She's ten as she asks this, then eleven, then twelve, and now that she's thirteen she stops asking because she knows the answer - there's no way to learn these things except by listening to old people like Kidderminster and then immediately searching for any word they say that we don't understand.

So, this is what fog is - it's water in the air, so dense that you can't see it. Now Peppi wants to know why it is that the scrubbers let this sort of thing happen. Are they broken back on the ground? And Kidderminster shakes his head and rolls his eyes and says "kids!&q…

Art Pact 272 - Seven Aspects of Animals

One: Seven hundred of the world's finest swans will be performing in a lake tonight. The swan ensemble comes from all corners of the world and includes the famous whooping swan choir of lower Germany, plus (controversially) a dance routine from the black swan group of Australia. Swan society has become considerably more open in the last hundred years, but this still marks the first time that black and white swans have performed together on water in public - certainly on such a large scale, arguably ever (our reporters have been to several mixed performances in the past, but they were all small affairs marked specifically as rehearsal spaces to get around the strict swan segregation rules that still exist in some states). The performance is expected to be attended by several well-known swans.

Two: In some cases, rabbit warrens have been found to extend for hundreds of miles underground, right down to the lower edge of the Earth's crust. There are several theories about the exist…