Crush and Big Ben…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s colors are: red, white, blue, red, white, blue, red, white, blue, brown.

I had a postal communication 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) this morning. She included a new and unusually long ‘story’ for us. For some reason she seems to like to set her pieces here in the UK, you’d think she might write about life in the USA wouldn’t you? Perhaps she is bit homesick?…

Chantelle Mouser hadn’t tried one of the devices before; she’d seen them advertised on the TV, but she was worried by the basic idea; she had always been afraid of heights. Still, nice Uncle Brandish had taken it upon himself to order one for her; it had arrived in the post that morning and was now unpacked from its difficult cardboard box and was sitting next to her laptop on the desk in front of her.
She reached out with both hands and stroked its smooth domed top, letting her fingers explore for a moment the oval ventilation holes in the top, and then let them slide down to the sides to touch the perfect round curves of the earpieces. She picked it up; it was as light as two feathers; she turned it upside down and looked inside. Yes, there were the two little screens for her eyes, and at each side the soft padding around the earpieces. She wondered if the device was adjustable for different sized heads – or whether you had to buy one in your size, like a hat… There was no mention of head size on the box, at some point she must get around to reading the impressively thick instruction booklet which was lying there in its unopened clear packet.
She raised the device above her head and carefully lowered it on. As soon as it sensed her presence a gentle male voice from the stereo earpieces greeted her; the screens slowly lit up to display a wonderful three-dimensional digitally generated scene: a lake, distant green coniferous forests, blue hills, and snow-capped mountains against an azure sky, which melted to yellow and tangerine at the horizon, as if evening was just moments away… The sky filled up with words in letters of gold, lists of destinations. The gentle voice whispered, it was as if someone was close behind her, ‘And where would you like to go today Ms Mouser?…’
Somehow she let the list pause on ‘London’ and she nodded.
The voice returned, ‘There are 512 Drone-ettes available in the Greater London area Chantelle, is there anywhere in particular you would like to go?’
She felt a sudden wave of anxiety well up, but the voice responded, ‘There is no need to be nervous Chantelle, there is no danger whatsoever, you will be in complete control of the Drone-ette. Just let your eyes take you… How about the historic and architecturally interesting and popular Palace of Westminster?’
The sky and lake faded to black… Her ears filled with the sounds of urban traffic, and close by, to left and right, the sound of pigeons cooing and scratching about. The blackness was gradually replaced by an incredibly detailed, live, three-dimensional view of the Houses of Parliament; familiar bells chimed and Big Ben in the Clock Tower assertively announced ten o’clock. Mouser seemed to be sitting perched on a high ledge, with Westminster Bridge, the Thames sparkling in the morning sunshine to the left, and Big Ben and Parliament to the right…
For twenty minutes Mouser sat mesmerised and just gazed at the scene – the effect was far more realistic than she had ever expected, but of course there was more. She raised her eyes as if to look up at the sky – she rose from her perch on the parapet of the Victorian building, and with little difficulty made the drone rotate slowly through 360 degrees for her to view the whole city, it was breathtaking. She glanced down to the noisy traffic-filled streets below; she descended and swooped over roofs and around office blocks, all her fears having now evaporated, she was flying free, but she was also still sitting at her desk in her little room at home, yes, she could feel the carpet under her slippered feet.
The gentle voice cut in again, ‘You have only ten minutes of your trial session remaining Chantelle, I can feel that you are enjoying the experience…’
Mouser turned and drifted over the Thames looking down at the river traffic and the tourist boats, she sidled up beside the London Eye and examined the people in their pods. What should she do with her remaining few minutes? Should she go and peek in the windows of 10 Downing Street? No, a better idea…
She ascended to clear the high buildings and then sped across the great city; with only minutes to spare she found the main road, then the side street – she swooped down to the black of flats, yes, the sixth floor window with the red curtains. That’s the one, there she was, sitting at her desk. She waved cheerily to herself, with only the slightest discernible delay in the image…

Veronica Crush. 2015.

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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