Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nightmare (posted to My Telegraph)

Preamble: the following was conceived on the spur of the moment yesterday evening, written at high speed - approx 45 mins- and posted to My Telegraph under my single username, ColinB.

It was visible on the Home page for less than an hour, NTS, before being flushed away by the deluge of new submissions. During that brief spell of maximum exposure it managed to attract just one comment (thanks Mark), who awarded it a mark of ? out 10. I deign to mention here the score he gave it.

A hour later I made a few alterations and additions, using MyTel's Edit facility, which may or may not have improved it. What are the ethics of that, I now ask myself ? Would Mark have given the revised version the same score ? Hmmmm. Food for thought. Maybe MyTel needs a facility for editing one's comment (or adding a rider). He could maybe add a second comment, I guess. Comments welcome.

Here, then, is the edited version, entitled NIGHTMARE.

I was walking along Buckingham Palace Rd. for the first time in many years. There had been lots of changes. I passed a handsome arched entrance, behind which, offset asymetrically to the right, was a gleaming modern building. I took a small video clip on my digital camera.

Lots of staff were going in and out through those arches, checking their watches, speaking into their mobiles, then making that sharp right turn into the new wing .

Yes, you guessed it. You're looking at the Daily Telegraph's new HQ . The paper spent years languishing in the Docklands while scouring Central London for a suitable building whose architecture would deny its staff any left-wing views.

As I walked on, I suddenly began to lose my bearings. First, the street name changed abruptly to Richmond Avenue. My confusion and disorientation became complete when further along it became Higgis's Way.

I was then amazed to find myself looking at a perfect replica of Buckingham Palace, but over the huge ornamental gate was a wrought iron sign reading "Blog Central". I heard someone say it had previously been known as Buck House.

Here's my second video clip, in which I'm heard to say "now there's a splendid residence". That was before I knew it had changed hands.

I then entered an avenue lined with dead trees and quickly overtook a party of Chinese tourists, doing the Serpentine tour. Something had been lost in translation, methinks, judging by their determined snake-like progress up the street, weaving around lamposts and other street furniture, with self-conscious grins on their faces, and passers by all shaking their heads in wonder. I heard one of them mutter "I can see now why it was called the Long March."

The group was being escorted by a silver-haired gent, staring in disbelief at the antics going on behind him. He had a Telegraph name badge, and was sporting an RAF tie. "The dead trees were intentional," I heard him say, "being symbolic of a previous era. Now PLEASE I ask you again, walk in a STRAIGHT line. STRAIGHT ".

I then heard him ask if anyone had with them an English-Mandarin phrase book. Everyone shook their heads, bar one who said in halting English "No Mr. Slogum, but I have other little red book here in Mandarin. That help you yes ?"

Finally I came to a vast green area. Above the entrance, manned by security guards, was a sign reading "My Soapbox Inc". As I was being checked in, a cheerful bespectacled lady stepped forward. "Would l care for a chocolate ?" she asked. I and some others were then led off in the direction of Old Speakers' Corner. The nice lady led the way, with her Scotty dog on a lead.

It was a long walk, during which we passed ( I kid thee not) thousands upon thousands of soapboxes, all neatly set out. Around each was a cluster of people, all in earnest debate. Some were applauding the speaker, while others, sad to say, were getting a bit hot under the collar, wagging and pointing their fingers, with a few hurling abuse and insults.

An attractive young blonde with a Welsh accent was rushing around, telling certain people to turn down the volume of their megaphones.

We finally arrived somewhat footsore and deafened, at Old Speakers Corner , where we were shown a few chained-off soapboxes - the originals we were told- with Tussauds waxworks of the great names of a bygone age.

There was also an artistic tableau of Richard Coeur d'Orléans at fisticuffs with an irate John Bull, whose bowler hat had been knocked askew. I was pleased to see that the pigeons preferred to perch on Richard.

Suddenly there was the sound of an emergency vehicle, with an old fashioned bell. How could that be, I wondered ? Bells were replaced with sirens a long, long time ago.

The sound of the bell got louder, and louder, and louder. Suddenly a voice broke in.
"Do stop snoring dear, and switch off that damned alarm clock ! ".

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