“You know”, said Aristophanes Brown, walking arm in arm with Alexia Laplace along a quiet stretch of the Thames near Richmond, “this is had been the most appalling summer for bees I can remember. No wonder the flowers have been dismal.
The moon-a-muck, trailing behind Carina on a lead, in its doggy disguise, hooted to itself. It felt that songs, not bees, ought to be the key to a successful summer bloom.
Alexia admired the winter waterfowl out on the river, then looked up to take in the graceful sight of a swan in flight, no doubt searching for inspiration for her design and gadgetry.
“This is true Ari, although I’ve never figured you for a botanist. It’s been a year short of colour anywhere where our moon-a-muck hasn’t sung its song.”
The moon-a-muck skipped along, delighted to hear its name in conversation.
“Well, at least we won’t get stung” Aristophanes opined.
“That is small consolation for world starvation when all the crops fail, Ari.”
“Surely not, my dear?!”
“Surely too. Without these pollinating insects, we are, to be frank, bloody well doomed.”
Alexia adjusted her flaming hair, and lit a cigarette.
“Do we know what’s behind it?”
“No, I don’t. But if we don’t find out, then no matter how much our mucky sings, we are going to be eating each other in a few years.”
They walked on in silence.
Not so many miles to the North West, under the grounds of a family country estate just outside of Oxford, a man releases a thousand bees from an enclosure in an underground chamber where there buzzing echoes with apocalyptic feedback from the concrete walls. Then another thousand. And a thousand more. And he wades through the swarm, happily allowing himself to be stung as his mind homes in on the centre of the galaxy.
I’d completely forgotten I’d taken these photographs of our July gathering at the delightful Flying Circus, so I thought I’d whizz them up for you. I still feel like a bit of an outsider as my literary interests and ability outweigh my dressing up ability, not to mention finances.
But luckily, other talented members of the group make of for this, and we always look a striking crew when we are doing our “Steampunk Outreach Work” – i.e. drinking in busy pubs. STeven in particular was keen to show off his spoon playing, although the photographs may be unclear in what he is actually doing.
I’m pretty sure it was spoon playing.
Well. How remiss it is of me to not get the report written sooner. I know I have been studying and blogging away, gosh my nature writing empire expands, but it is no excuse, is it?
To compound my literary errors, I was on shift at work at the time of the meeting and couldn’t stay long, in the cosy little venue that is “Just Beer” on Swan and Salmon Yard. Next door to where a murderer kept women in wheelie bins, trivia fans.
The conversation I remember concerned religious relics – fragments of the true cross, the fingers of Christ, Noah’s Ark, all that sort of thing. The idea that occurred was that if all the supposed fingers of Christ, and wooden frangments of the Ark or the Cross were collected and reassembled, in the way the reconstruct planes from wreckage after a crash, then Jesus would be a hellish beastly figure, with 838 arms tipped with a thousand, probing fingers crucified on a cross a thousand feet high.
And as for Noah’s Ark, it would have been bigger than the sea it was supposed to sail on.
“Well, rather expected that would happen” said Lady Alexia Laplace in her usual dry as dust manner, as the tumbler of Tom Collins Aristophanes Brown had been playing with rather than drinking on a warm spring afternoon, met its maker on the tiled floor of the Warehouse kitchen.
“Bloody thing, always should have known to buy cheap glass that bounces instead of decent crystal, Alexia. We’ll be getting cuts if we are not careful, and as for the moon-a-muck’s feet, poor thing.”
“Ari, your concern for the creature is touching, but there is no cause to worry. I’ve been working on something, allow me to show you while that ne-er do well Carina is out taking the muck creature for a walk.”
Clad in her khaki-gold overalls, hair knotted in a scarf, she clomped across the flagging to the door of her small laboratory, reserved for her more lightweight projects. The sound of clinking, chinking and a gentle clattering could be heard, as Aristophanes made up for his clumsiness by taking a sneakful pull from Alexia’s glass, hurriedly replacing it just so as she returned, carrying a ceramic white tube about a foot long.
Sher pointed it at him, exclaimed “Observe!” and then set herself down onto the floor upon one knee. As she waved the rod around, Aristophanes noticed with a start that it was attracting up shards of glass, from large to tiny, without any effort like the attraction of static electricity.
A couple of self satisfied sweeps from the Lady Alexia, and there was not a trace of any glittering glass splinters on the floor.
She straightened her back, looked at Aristophanes across the table, and pressed a button on the end of the device. All the accumulated glass dropped nicely onto a dish Ari had been eating cake off just shortly before.
“Alexia! You are truly even more of a genius than I ever realised! We shall call it, we shall call it, “The Glagnet” – and more funding for our good work shall come our way.”
“Not “We’ll make millions!” Aristophanes? You surprise me.”
Aristophanes just shrugged.
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 20.05.15
Overall, written in about 20 minutes, inspired by a conversation I had with a colleague where the concept of “The Glagnet” erupted into shattering life.
Spring poured in through the windows, yet no-one wanted to play with the moon-a-muck, all Cleopatra eyed and sad as sad can be on its purple velvet bed – stolen by Carina from a dog owning worthy in Mayfair after they left their door open to clear the room of the legacy of a “gift” left by their four legged delight. The same Carina was now running the flower stall on the Embankment today, while the Lady Alexia Laplace was making welding based repairs to the Poincare machine. Beyond the locked door, magnesium sparks illuminated the gaps round the frame in erratic crackling bursts.
Aristophanes was out, who knew where.
Bored, the moon-a-muck trundled across to a small box of crystals Alexia was making jewellery with. They were’t Alum, so they creature had little or no use for them. Instead, it rummaged with its nose trumpet into the box until it found a lump of liquid green peridot, the size of a golf ball. which it held in place with a constant inhalation.
It dropped it to the floor, before seeking out another crystal, this one of smokey yellow citrine which found a home next to the peridot. Finally, another snuffling sort out unearthed a huge amethyst nearly the size of a tennis ball.
With all these gems in a line, the moon-a-muck pondered momentarily, as yellow flashes lit up its dark dark eyes. Then, it snaffled up the peridot, and with a sharp “Hooo-eeee PHUT!” puffed it up into the air before catching it again with a sound like a cork being pulled from a bottle. The satisfaction evident in the extra-terrestrial’s eyes was evident. “Hooomp!” it said to itself. It then repeated the act with the crystal of citrine, caramel yellow comet lighting the sky from trumpet back to trumpet.
Finally the moon-a-muck eyed up the larger amethyst, glowing with the colour of empire, and chuckled to itself. “hoo-heee-hoo-eee-hooooooo”. Then it moved in…
….an hour or so later Lady Alexia Laplace of the auburn hair suddenly remembered her act of neglect, and shutting off her welding torch and pulling of her micah coated facemask, grabbed a handful of alum crystals and opened the door from the Poincare chamber into the large kitchen. And there, her elegant mouth dropped open in a most unladylike fashion, surprising for a lady who made her boiler suit look like the height of Ascot style.
For the moon-a-muck, perched upright on its stocky little hind legs, was spitting the three crystals into the air in turn before catching them back in its nose trumpet. And as it did so, the crystals actually flashed with inner light and left glowing paths in the air.
All the while, the moon-a-muck sang. “Hooo! Heeee! Haaaa! Hooo! Heee! Haaa!” as the crystals drew colours on the sky and even hummed in resonance with the creature’s song.
Catching a glimpse of Alexia, it didn’t stop, merely blew the three crystals higher above its head, and cheekily snorted an alum crystal out of her pretty hand before she could move.
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 13.05.15
When I’m short of inspiration, I can always imagine the moon-a-muck doing something.
Aristophanes had played both real and lawn tennis, but had never felt comfortable with his sporting prowess. This year would be different. He was determined to appear in some amateur open events in London and the Southern Counties; Queens CLub, Eastbourne, Hurlingham and needed to get in shape without necessarily exposing himself to the public.
Ergo, one of the larger rooms in the warehouse complex had been changed into a simalcrum of both a lawn and real tennis court, complete with markings and galleries of impermanent plywood. The net came courtesy of Carina, and even Hampton Court palace did not notice it gone until the day afterwards. Carina was a thief and no sportswoman, and the Lady Alexia thought sport beneath her and verrrrry boring, so finding a practice partner was difficult. The wall was acceptable, but rather predictable and also terribly unenganging.
What was sport without an opponent to spar with.
Thus, on a spring day with sun streaming in, the moon-a-muck padded around as fast as its short little legs would carry it, fielding Aristophanes hit tennis balls with its nose trumpet, and launching them back over the net with a sneezy “Poo-HOOOO”.
For now, it would suffice…
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 02.04.15
5 minutes of retro mind wandering as a buzzard struggles to0 find a thermal outside the window
A moth flew in through the open summer window, and the moon-a-muck awoke from a light slumber from atop its cushion in the warehouse.
Feeling like a stroll on what was clearly a nice day in the world outside, it padded across the warehouse floor to where Aristophanes Brown was at work at his accounts on his difference engine before looking up at him with a hoot.
The response was a pat on the moon-a-muck’s grey head, but not a positive one. “Hello fellow, I’m rather busy at the moment…would you not rather have one of these and do some singing.”
Brown proferred a crystal, to which the creature only gave a derisive “Phooot!” before ambling off towards Carina, who was at work sewing repairs on a shawl. She just gave a wave of non-disturbance, altering the creature’s course towards Lady Alexia Laplace in the Poincare chamber.
The aristocratic mechanic was atop a ladder, fixing the vectoral psytransponder atop the Poincare Sphere.
“There’s nothing I’d like more than to have a trot outside and get away from this machine, but I can’t leave this undone. What about Aristophanes or Carina?” asked Alexia, her hair a blood auburn nest pinned atop her head.
The response was a sad hoot and a lowering of the moon-a-muck’s sad eyes.
“Oh dear. Well, I’m sure you can wait a little longer. It’s not as if you need to “empty” anything like a dog.”
“Huuuh” was all it said to this. But rather than trot back off back to its bed, the moon-a-muck looked bak to the open window.
Reflexively drilled in the need not to attract attention, it slinked quietly across to an open utility room, and found its dog mask sitting on a low table. It pushed its face snugly within, then, claws retracted to silence its approach, it made its way over the floor to the window.
Climbing up was no effort, and lit by the sun, scaling the 3 storeys vertically down to the ground was even less so with claws extended, and the moon-a-muck’s cunning and as yet unsuspected ability to vary its weight.
It knew that the normal social walk would head East along the river, but it wasn’t a very map savvy animal, and it soon ran off course, confused a little by the friendly pats of passers by. It entered narrow streets, and, occasionally frightening dogs and cats with its surprising size – nearly five feet nose to tail, took in what it could.
It could make no sense of what it saw. Houses were not all big and spacious like the warehouse, or tidy and in order like the master’s flat. Everything was close together, uncomfortable, awkward angles and falling-apartness. The moon-a-muck’s trumpet twitched, it could smell disease in the air. Unpleasant liquids flowed along the street. People not as friendly as master and mistresses pummelled at each other in doorways, pushing themselves up against each other. Some seemed to have more money, dressed in black with tall things upon their heads. They seemed rougher. Despite the smoothness of their voices.
At the end of one such road, the moon-a-muck encountered a young girl,a flower seller. Er dress was streaked with dirt, as was her face with the addition of tears. A bruise rose up above one eye, and her brown hair was stringy and tangled.
Her flowers were wilted, dead, dying daffodils and tulips. A little beret was empty of money save coins of the dullest metal and smallest denominations. The moon-a-muck looked at her sadly. “Hoo-hee?” it asked. In response she reached up and stroked its head with a grey hand.
Then, as hand moved through silver-ash fur, the moon-a-muck was struck with its concept of an idea. It looked around, then spotted what it required spilling from a sack nearby. It pottled off, slipped off its muzzle, and returned with several lumps arrnaged around its trumpet.
Then, as the child looked wild eyed, the moon-a-muck dropped the lumps of coal on the slimy cobbles. It then sucked them up, hooting and hee-ing as it did so.
Then it sang. Sang not to the young girl, but to her worthless, ragged, dead-on-their-stalks flowers. And as it did so, people gathered. The flowers rose themselves up on their dying greenery, their petals brightened and what was dull brown turned bright green.
There were audible gasps from the watchers.
Crocuses were purple as amethyst and tulips so stiff they could have drilled through concrete. The moon-a-muck sang on, and daffodils glowed almost as the sun, and lilies smelt as the wings of an angel.
When every plant looked like it had come from The Garden of Eden, the creature ceased its song and backed away, giving the girl a cheery “Hoo-hoo”.
The moon-a-muck went un-nticed, as people crowded in to buy flowers as glorious as the wold had ever seen.
Copyright Mulberry Lightning 17.03.15
I’m actually cross posting this from my nature, astronomy and Tourette’s blog, but it is equally home here, I’d say. I really hope you appreciate it
The piece is pretty self explantory, and me feeling I ought to comment on the passing of a sci fi icon, but wanting to take a different approach from the usual tribute.
Many better writers than me have already been pretty eloquent in expressing the impact Leonard Nimoy and his creation of Mr Spock had on their lives.
I’m not going to bandwagon jump, nor am I going to pretend that Spock was some kind of inspiration for my love of sci-fi, spaceships and astronomy.
I’ve written elsewhere of where that came from – the artist Donald Rudd – but what was actually going through my mind on hearing of Nimoy’s death was a piece by Oliver Sacks in his collection “An Anthropologist on Mars”. Sacks writes of two autistic people in that anthology, the artist Stephen Wiltshire, and the animal behaviourist Temple Grandin. I think it’s in the Grandin piece that Sacks talks of how autistic people often stated that their favourite character from TV was Spock, and his latter day successor Data.
Sacks, who incidentally himself has stated recently that he is not long for the world – theorised that it was the portrayal of a person with very non-human emotional needs trying to make sense of a very human environment that appealed to folk with autism. I think also that the fact that the tremendous contribution these people to those around them, and the fact that their colleagues valued them and treated them warmly when they were perhaps not able to respond likewise, would also be influential in this.
Perhaps also the Aspergic love of knowledge and information too would be an attraction.
Seven of Nine, a character who would also would have had “AS Appeal” in addition to her other obvious charms, was not around when Sacks wrote the article. Certainly sat where I am upon my Tourette’s spectrum, where it dances with that of Asperger’s, I found all these characters fascinating, and enjoyed their relationship with the neurotypical world, although I was and still am very suspicious of how the terms “Neurotypical” and “NT” get thrown around sometimes.
There is a whiff of contempt about it, I occasionally find…albeit a rather understandle whiff.
Still these are terms that have entered common (ish) usage. And it is to Leonard Nimoy “and the character I created” that a huge amount of credit must go to for making not just autistic – or non-neurotypical – people perhaps feel more comfortable in their skins, but anyone who felt that maybe you know, “knowing stuff” was more important than having cool hair.