Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the word baboon.
I received one of those 3-D postcards in the post this morning, the ones that look about half an inch thick, but aren’t – they look and feel very odd in the hand. It was a brightly coloured photograph of two kittens, one up on its hind legs, playing with a ball of light blue wool. It came in an airmail envelope from Australia. There was nothing written on the back of it, but also in the envelope was a peculiar story on two sheets of paper; it was badly typed on an old-fashioned typewriter. I suspect that it is from Veronica Crush, writer from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League, now living in New York with tall tree surgeon and heir to a multimillion dollar fortune, Monty Tick. The ‘story’ is very in much in her deliberately weird style. Why she might be in Australia I have no idea.
Arthur Smang & Sons stood in the hall; he had stood there for many years, almost a century. It was a nice evening outside and his big white face smiled. He could see a full moon through a clear pane in the corner of the transom window over the front door. It reminded him of himself; slow-moving, round-faced, and yes, reliable. Arthur Smang & Sons was a grandfather clock; he was confident and felt that he was in control of his world. He knew from past observations that the silver moon would soon slide past the lead glazing strip and turn deep blue in the next pane before disappearing. He and the moon had exchanged glances over the years, but had never made proper eye contact; even a slight nod of acknowledgement by either of them would be unthinkable. The consequences could only be guessed at. It was a matter of time.
Upstart Hall Stand Bob was rich brown silver grained oak, and all brass hooks, he had an elliptical bevelled, but flyblown mirror. He spent his days standing opposite and slightly to the left of Arthur Smang & Sons; they didn’t really get on that well, even though Arthur Smang & Sons used Upstart Hall Stand Bob’s mirror to get a glimpse into the withdrawing room when Danny Door was ajar. Upstart Hall Stand Bob knew that, in a timepiece sort of way, Arthur Smang & Sons had a soft spot for Betty Ormolu who sat and ticked on the white marble mantelpiece in the withdrawing room. Everyone enjoyed hearing her chime; she often coincided with Arthur Smang & Sons to the half second.
Sometimes in the night, if Danny had been left open, she would whisper of things that she had observed in the withdrawing room to anyone who would listen, but it was mainly directed at her kindred spirit Arthur Smang & Sons. When she did this tale-telling Upstart Hall Stand Bob would notice a slight change in the period of Arthur Smang & Sons’ pendulum and the next day Arthur Smang & Sons would be a few seconds ahead of time. Upstart Hall Stand Bob would watch in glee at Arthur Smang & Sons’ discomfort as he strained to slow his escapement to get back to Greenwich.
Frank Plump Footstool for some reason, and to his complete puzzlement, was always kept at the back of the hall next to Francesca Door Down to the cellar; Francesca was never open, for any reason. Frank Plump Footstool was too far away to get any view of the great outdoors, the moon, or anything as exotic as that, and he was too far away from Danny Door to hear Betty Ormolu’s gossip. He was unhappy, little used, and suffered a long-term sense of decorative redundancy. One night though, or rather as Arthur Smang & Sons struck a half-hour in the early morning, he boiled over, only as a neglected footstool can, and throwing centuries of convention to the wind, he set off, and galloped around the house… upstairs, downstairs, in and out of bedrooms, the kitchen, the bathrooms, but he didn’t venture into the cellar as Francesca blocked him with a very stern look. Lights came on, voices raised questions on landings, and Frank Plump Footstool froze in terror on the thick Axminster outside the master bedroom. The humans were very puzzled, and eventually one of them took Frank Plump Footstool back down to his place the back of the hall. The lights went off again and quiet slowly filled the house. Frank Plump Footstool crouched in the dark and thought deeply as he never had before… Should he, could he, go back to life as he had known it… or should he…? It was only a matter of time…