Thursday, 27 August 2020

Inconvenience


I was at the airport when it happened, waiting to fly out to the UN Emergency Conference on, well, everything. Failure of all the Covid vaccines. The Indo-Chinese war. Escalating threats from the other nuclear powers. Then the Yellowstone supervolcano.

An announcement came over the PA system. “Attention all passengers. Civilisation has fallen. Passengers should only embark if travelling directly home. Once all remaining flights have departed this airport will close permanently. Personal message for Dr. Brezoianu. The conference has been abandoned, because what’s the point? Apologies for the inconvenience.”

I walked out of the airport and drove home, to wait for the end.



Image credit: Marcin Bajer, abandoned airportCC BY-NC 2.0

Friday, 10 April 2020

Querkleyhew



The querkleyhew (Querculus arrigiosus) is the pride of the tree-lined avenues of London. It sheds its boughs wherever they extend more than a few yards from the trunk, and at a certain height, the upthrusting members terminate themselves similarly. The exposed wounds heal into lumpy nodules that host nitrogen-fixing bacteria. It is the only tree known to do this. Every spring it grows clusters of thin shoots from these terminations, shedding them in autumn.

The nodules exude resins which are harvested for use in incense. In former times they were also, by the mediaeval doctrine of signatures, favoured as a salve for amputees. The shoots would be gathered by basketmakers and woven into charms against wounds in battle.

The uninformed mistake this curious habit of growth for over-zealous pruning.



Image: Quercleyhews on London streets, not far from the Tate Britain gallery.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Tant con je vivrai


Grey fingers of dawn opened the sky. Dew lifted from grass into drifting mist. The body of a man, three crossbow bolts protruding from his armour.

More bodies, hundreds, scattered over the meadow.

One lay against a tree. He gasped and opened his eyes, grimacing as his hand tightened on his sword. A body lay across his leg, too heavy to shift. 

"As long as I shall live..." he began. He paused, drew breath again. "My right hand shall defend thee."

"As long as I shall live, our love shall live."

"As long—"

Above the silent battlefield, the crows began to arrive.



This was inspired by the song “Tant con je vivrai” (“As long as I shall live”) by Adam de la Halle. The song is about something completely different, but the cold performance linked here fits the mood.

The story has also appeared on Laurence Simon’s Weekly Challenge.


Image credit: Gunnar Lundström, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0