Hectic Clanging

On Tuesday morning I was woken by the hectic clanging of the bells of St Bibblybibdib’s. I had been dreaming about a monkey as big as a planet, as I sometimes do. Using the Blötzmann technique, I squeezed the sleep out of my brain, clambered out of bed, and threw my windows wide open. I was rather disconcerted to note that, as Milton put it in Book IV of Paradise Lost, “the starry cope of Heaven… or all the elements / At least, had gone to wrack, disturbed and torn”, for Monday had been mild with sunny intervals and there had been no sign of cosmic cataclysm. Indeed, I had made a point of watching Daniel Corbett’s early evening weather forecast on the BBC, and that always reliable and beautifully well-spoken presenter had said nothing at all about wrack, disturbance, and a tearing in the heavens, as far as I could remember.

I had, however, taken the precaution of making a copy of his forecast on my bakelite televisual simulacrumating device, and the steam would have dispersed overnight, making it ready for viewing, so I went into the parlour and depressed the starting knob. I was keen to see if my memory was playing tricks, for there seemed to be no other explanation for the disjuncture between Daniel Corbett’s prognostications and the foul reality outwith my windows. While I waited for the valves to warm up, I recalled that the monkey in my dream had been about as big as the planet Mercury. In earlier dreams it had been the size of one of those gigantic gas planets you read about, and I wondered if this shrinkage was something to be welcomed or, indeed, feared. It was hard to tell.

I sat down on my stool and pulled my crumpled hessian nightshirt tight about my torso, and the simulacrumating device hissed into life. There, as if by magic, was Daniel Corbett again, telling me about the weather, dumbfounding me. For as he moved his arms in graceful scooping gestures, like a meteorological ballerina, his words were not those I remembered from yesterday evening, but those of Milton. Dan said that “the starry cope of Heaven… or all the elements / At least,” will go “to wrack, disturbed and torn”. And he was right, of course, for that was precisely what was happening outside.

I had concentrated like mad watching him the day before, as I always do, and I was absolutely convinced that what his simulacrum was saying now was not what I had heard then. The bakelite device could not be at fault, for I had had a person from Porlock come to give it an overhaul but a week before, and he had pronounced it to be in full working order. Was my brain being monkeyed with by the planet-sized monkey of my dreams? I watched Dan Corbett again, three times, and three times he spoke of wrack. Shutting down the device, I changed into my crumpled hessian outdoor clothing and hurried down the lane to St Bibblybibdib’s. The bells still clanged as I staggered into a pew and prayed as hard as I could for my immortal soul, on Tuesday morning.

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