Monday, 25 July 2016

A Double Row of Shaving Brushes

He bought fourteen of them: seven for him, seven for his wife.

'What?' he said. 'They were on special offer.'

'The only problem, darling,' his wife pointed out, 'is that they're identical. How will you know whether or not the bristles you're running over your face in the morning were lathering my armpits eleven hours earlier?'

He pondered this, stroking his (smooth, stubble-free) chin. 'I shall label them' he announced, and immediately left the house in search of a stationer.

That afternoon, he lined up the brushes in two neat rows: a mini-platoon of brushes bearing a small red sticker, facing an equal number of green-stickered comrades.

His wife nodded approval. 'Red and green. Like it,' she said. 'Which am I?'

'Whichever you like,' he replied. 'I avoided pink and blue,' he added. 'I know how you feel about pink and blue.'

'Quite right. Thank you.' His wife picked up a green brush. 'I'll take red,' she announced.

Neither the stickers nor the rows lasted long:  wet hands rapidly wore away the coloured dots, and his wife had never been one for keeping things tidy. So he was never quite sure where his morning brush had been. And, despite several furtive Google searches, he never worked out how common it was for women who objected to pink and blue also to shave the many, intimate body parts that his wife did.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Earth addresses the Convocation of Planets

Hello. Yes, Earth here, Sol system. Sorry it's been so long since I attended the Convocation. I've been feeling ill; got some sort of autoimmune condition. Nonsense happening all over my crust.

Oh don’t worry, it's not catching. The pathogens – well, I call them pathogens but they're really part of me, I'm afraid – haven't learned to jump that far. Not yet, anyway.

What's that? Oh yes, quite right, Moon, they have jumped to you. I'm afraid they've got you in their sights too, Mars. Yes, that thing rolling around and tickling you? That's made by them, but it's not one of them. Well yes, I suppose it is entertaining for you, given there's nothing else going on in your part of the system, but believe me, you wouldn't want billions of the creators of that little vehicle swarming all over you. It's a nightmare. Luckily for you, they're a long way from being able to survive on you for any period of time, even if they've managed to land things on you. Well, I say that, but they move very quickly. It only seem like yesterday they climbed down from the trees – my beautiful trees! – and started walking upright. Which was a bad idea; I thought so at the time. Their spines clearly hadn't evolved for that kind of movement. Mind you, them moaning about their back pain is the least of my worries.

I realise this is difficult for most of you to relate to; you're largely lumps of rock or gigantic balls of gas. In fact, has anyone else evolved conscious life forms? Just three of you? And how are you finding it? Yours did what? Oh dear, I am sorry. Yes, I can see the hole from here. And they're gone now, you say? Gone where? Oh, just … gone. That's rather sad but, you know, probably for the best.

Pardon? Right. So yours went through a phase like mine but got past it? So what are they like now? Fewer, but peaceful? That's nice – gives me a bit of hope.

And what about yours? Just started making tools, eh? Oh you are in for fun.

Look, most of them are all right. The ones that don't walk upright – there's loads of them, different kinds – they just get on with their lives, reproduce and die. Well, OK, a lot of them eat each other, but sadly that seems to be part of the system I've developed. I really didn't mean to. 

Even most of the upright ones are decent enough, though they're not very nice to the not-so-upright ones. Arrogant, really. It's just that there are so many of them, and they have a tendency to huddle in tribes and look at other tribes as if the others were a disease and they were the immune system. So they attack each other. 

What's that? Oh, mostly with words, which is unpleasant, but also with laws, which is more unpleasant. But the thing that really worries me is when they attack each other with weapons. That's painful. And they create new, more powerful weapons all the time. Excuse me? Yes, exactly – the sort of weapons that did that to your face. I really am sorry about that, by the way. Does it still hurt? Good lord – right down to your mantle? Blimey. Well, I'm glad it's getting better. My lot appear to have pulled back from that for the time being, but – as I say – they move very quickly and things are changing all the time. So who knows? I can't say I relish the prospect of that kind of pummelling.

But do you have any advice? How do I get them to understand that they're all a part of me? Yes, please, by all means – if yours have moved beyond that phase, tell me what you did. Oh. Right. You let the violent ones evolve out of existence. Lots of casualties along the way. Hmm. And how long did that take?

Ah. I see.

No, no, it's not that I think they're going to destroy me completely, though they probably could. It's just – I'm not sure they'll last that long.