Gone A

When will this solitude ever end? 

Orbiting Venus, cut off from Mission Control until I emerge or my oxygen runs out.  Full scoop of dust from the ionosphere.  Survey completed before time.  On the clock.  Even this work becomes routine.  I journeyed here to flee my own ennui, believing myself to be the heroic explorer.  I see now this is mere work, drudgery of the different sort.  Even out here, who is truly free?  It could be only the void, only the bitter end will set me free. 

Sounds in my helmet's comm: my rescuers, or whispers in the void.  Ghosts of my mind?  I've seen the studies, the slow shutting down, how those cut off out here drown choking in their own delusions. 

The timer tells me I've got fifteen minutes left unless someone comes for me.

The clock is ticking…

It Ain't "E"asy

"Banish all such symbols containing an F-plus-a-footbar" said King Dward.  "My minions will chop off any noggins of folk found using - or so much as thinking with -this symbol."

But his good lady Consort, Dwina, was much fond of said symbol.  Oh, a sad wringing of high-born hands was had in Dwina's royal boudoir that awful day, and copious gnashing of royal incisors and molars.  "I will kick up a right storm!" was a far-flung shout.  "Just you wait, you foolish old nitwit!"

King Dward's flamboyant Court Clown, Wiggo, was also put out.  "How am I going to act all amusing and whatnot, plying His Kingship with witty sing-songs and stuff, minus said aural construct?" Wiggo thought.  "It will turn out profoundly difficult and no inaccuracy, or my tag is not Wiggo."

King Dward, happily ignorant of such mutinous co-habitants, was glad to rid his palatial stronghold of all Fs-plus-a-footbar, having had such ill luck as to trip upon a handful of uncaringly thrown-away symbols of this ilk, in his royal grounds, on many prior occasions.  Said pictograms had put down roots and soon a small but annoying woodland of Fs-plus-a-footbar had shot up, disturbing him muchly.  It would not do. Woods would go too.

"Cut down all cops," Dward's booming cry rung out, caring to say it so. 

Quick to clock wrong, Big Bill, royal arborist with waxy lugs ran as fast as a buck down towards local City Guards and swung his ax, chopping cops till not a guard still stood.  Such mishaps of cognition would only amass now.

Woods fall with a sound of crashing trays.

On ponds kids skim and slid on ic.  Yuck. 

Brooks flow and ducks swim, but such birds thin, sink, as birds' only food is brad.

And Brad is short.

Drunks still throw up in pubs.  But nightclubs stay calm without sad lost F-plus a footbar.

Wiggo knows it will not do. "A plan is what I want," said Wiggo to Dwina, hid as a pair, at arras's back.

"Oh, Wiggo," sighs Dwina, "I want a bit of hop…"

"Don't start," says Wiggo, now monopod and bouncing.


A plan is laid by Wiggo.  "Slip it in his coff."



"Oh, cough.  His mouth?"

"No, no.  His coff.  With caff in.  In a cup."

"Oh," says Dwina.  "I got it!"

So a cabal is go: Dwina, Wiggo, Big Bill with his ax, and Short Brad.

That night as Dwina and Dward watch Wiggo's pranks, Big Bill and Short Brad slink down to a parlour.  On a top King Dward's cup stands.  Short Brad slips in a pill, a pip, a tiny F-plus a footbar, full of joy.  Dward drinks.  Drops.

And rising sings.  "I got it wrong!  Plant, plant.  In spring woods will grow.  And who knows what is to com.  In fact my amour grows, banish all but my joyful E."

Not I

My crosses are conundrums
That make me wonder Y
Not a man - nor a woman
But human nonetheless
Between the sexes
The chromosome X's
Call me Jo
Or call me Joe.

Oh? No!

Walk in the Rain

In the park, rain dripped in my ears, misted in my eyes and trickled under my hat.  Salt against my lips, it chilled my feet and my fingers, making me wish I had stayed inside, in the warm, by the fire, like the cat, lazy and languid.  Never again, I decided.  Whatever they say I will stay in my seat as fiercely as a tiger defending a cub.  I will shut my ears and remain implacable, until they give up and fade away.

But I'm here.  Skirting the line, lips pressed in tight displeasure at the mud slick that just yesterday was fresh, clean grass.  The ref's whistle pierces the air.  I can't see: dad's hulk, punching the air, yelling gruff unintelligible advice.  David will be scanning the bedraggled parents, his face scrunched up, expectant and yet a little afraid.

'I'll be there,' I'd said.  His impish grin capturing my heart, as always.

A gap-jab with the walking stick and I'm in.  Blink away the rain, and there he is, smiling straight at me.  I smile back, teeth gritted against aches in hips and knees.

David kicks the ball.  Grandmas can be trusted.

You Who

In the back row someone giggled.  That didn't seem like the right response to a letter blight. 

"I haven't got any idea.  We will try very hard to find something that fills the bill," I said.  "What we need now is a new vowel.  If we find it we will let everyone know.  Watch this space."

Life as lexicographer wasn't as easy as it seemed. 

In earnest, we persevered.

Monday was a good day, the next not.  Things improved on Wednesday; the day after we flagged again.  Things improved on Friday.  The weekend, however, was a complete disaster.  Why was that?  How strange this intangible escapade was becoming.  Perhaps an impish vowel was sabotaging the search.

BBC Nws rprts Brtsh vwls shrtg:

The Constraints