Saturday, 26 February 2011

The Girl Who Went Bing, Part Nine

Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight

"Right," said Mr Bonathon, feeling about his person as if looking for something. "Now where did I put that scrap of paper?"

Spotting it, he picked up a huge sheet of paper from his desk, and lay it flat on the floor.

"Now Zena," he said, holding out the tracheavinator. "I want you to take this device and write your name and your age on this piece of paper."

Zena nodded and took the tracheavinator from Mr Bonathon. She knelt down and wrote in her very best handwriting:

"BING BING BING-BING BING. BING, BING BING BING."

She stared at her own words in stunned silence. She was even WRITING in Binglish now!

"Right," said Mr Bonathon, taking the device from Zena. "Now I want you to write that again, except this time..." Mr Bonathon flicked a tiny switch in the side of the tracheavinator. "This time it's going to be turned on."

He handed the pencil back to Zena, and she settled down to write on the enormous sheet of paper once more:

"BING BING BING-BING BING. BING, BING BING BING."

"Oh," said Mr Bonathon, his brow frowning and his features creasing. "Oh dear."

Zena looked up at him. What was so wrong? What SHOULD have happened?

As if reading her mind, Mr Bonathon answered her question. "I've never seen that before. Normally the tracheavinator would translate at least some of the Binglish back into English. So it might have read, "BING Zena BING-BING, I am six BING." But in your case it didn't translate anything at all. I am afraid that this is the worst case of Binglish I have ever seen."

"Bing, bing-bing?" asked Zena.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. I'll arrange for him to call round immediately after school."

Mr Bonathon began to usher Zena out of the door but, when she turned around to thank him, she found that she was already standing back out in the corridor. She was stood in front of Professor Wallace's very plain and ordinary-looking office door.

The whole event had been so bizarre that Zena rather fancied that she had imagined the whole thing, and that next time she opened her mouth she would speak perfectly normally.

And so she went back to the classroom. Mrs Kate told her rather abruptly to sit back down in her seat and so Zena responded in the only appropriate manner.

"Yes, Miss," she said politely. Only, as I am sure you must already have guessed, it didn't sound like, "Yes, Miss." Zena was so upset that she burst into tears and ran from the room.

"Come back here, you naughty child!" bellowed Mrs Kate furiously.

But Zena didn't come back. She kept running, and she kept crying, and she didn't stop until she arrived home. She left a trail of tears behind her, down corridors, through doors, across the playground and all the way down the road to her house.

All the while Mrs Kate yelled after her in an increasingly angry voice, and Zena even thought she could hear her, albeit faintly, from the end of her road.

Zena went through her front door, slammed it shut and leant back on it on the other side. She breathed in and out. Slowly, and deeply. In. Out. In. Out. In-

*DING-DONG!*

The door bell! Who could possibly be ringing the doorbell? There had been no one behind her as far as she could see. But then, she hadn't really been looking. Besides, how could she answer the door in her state? She couldn't possibly tell them anything they needed to know.

*DING-DONG! DING-DONG!*

Well, whoever it was, they weren't about to walk away. So Zena turned, slowly, and carefully opened the door.

It was a man. A very tall man. So tall that he had to stoop to make his face show in the doorway. He was wearing bright blue overalls, like a plumber. Bizarrely, given that it was early summer, he also wore a pair of pink fluffy ear-muffs.

"Hello there, young lady," he said, pulling his ear-muffs down around his neck. "You must be Bing - erm, Zena." He offered his sizeable hand for Zena to shake. "I'm Mr Jamin."

To be continued...

***

Link of the Day: An Objective Version Of Reality

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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Snap Dragon

It's half term, so I'm doing the family tour with Laura this week. No Hungry Caterpillar, as I'm posting via my phone, but you do get this poem, written after we saw my nephews on Tuesday.

The Snap Dragon

I'm a card-playing,
picture-matching,
fire-breathing lizard
from medieval times,
and this poem
may not rhyme
on every line
but I more than
make up for it
with my mad skillz.

Cos I'm the Snap Dragon.
Take me on and
I'll beat you with ease
as long as I remember
to try not to sneeze.

(Perhaps
I should get
my next set
laminated.)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Girl Who Went Bing, Part Eight

Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven

Zena squeezed herself out of the small doorway, and was amazed to see that there was another, much bigger door right next to it. She tried the handle, and it clicked open.

She stepped through into an office identical to that of the Head Master. The only difference was that she now stood waist-deep in hundreds of coloured plastic balls.

"Sorry about the mess," said Mr Bonathon. "My cleaner has been off sick all week and ... well, you know how it is. Take your eye off the ball for one moment and things just sort of build up, don't they? It's surprising you can see any carpet at all."

Zena looked around to see if she could see any carpet at all. She couldn't.

"So," said Mr Bonathon, pressing a big red button on the wall that sucked all but a few of the balls into a hole in the middle of the floor. "Take a seat. Tell me what's bothering you."

Zena started to make her way to the chaise longue across the room.

"Look," said Mr Bonathon with a slightly anxious air about him. "It's not Binglish, is it?"

"Bing," said Zena.

"Oh," sighed Mr Bonathon, sounding very disappointed indeed. "Another one. Oh well, I'll see what I can do, run a few short tests, that sort of thing. It's usually just a case of asking you to avoid eating postage stamps. On rare occasions, however, I have to call in Mr Jamin. But don't worry, I'm sure it won't come to that."

Zena swallowed. Who was this Mr Jamin, and what would he do with her? And what tests? She was no good at tests. What if she failed? Would she have to leave all of her friends and mover down a class? Two classes?

"Oh for goodness' sake, take that look off your face and stop being such a wet blanket! Now," he said, picking up a very rusty, dusty and fearsome-looking contraption. "Let's see how you far against The Tracheavinator!"

He began to wind the handle of the contraption, and it squeaked and creaked into life. Now that Zena could see it working, it appeared to be built entirely from kitchen utensils and gardening tools. The handle seemed to be part of an old egg whisk and, as he turned it, blades from a food processor whirred round and a rusty pair of garden shears snapped open and shut.

Zena winced.

"I haven't used this in years," grinned Mr Bonathon with an almost demonic look in his eyes. "Oh well," he said, chucking it aside and turning back to the spot where he had picked it up. "Now, where's that tracheavinator? Aha! Got it."

Zena gulped. What would he bring out this time? She didn't have to wait long to find out, because no sooner had she thought that thought, than he turned slowly around, brandishing...

...what appeared to be nothing more than an ordinary pencil. And not one of those fancy ones with an eraser on the end of it. Nor one of those big bendy novelty ones. Just a good old-fashioned HB pencil.

To be continued...

***

Link of the Day: Raphael

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Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Girl Who Went Bing, Part Seven

Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six

Last time, on The Girl Who Went "Bing"...

Professor Wallace merely took off his glasses and looked intently at Zena. "Bing?" he said quizzically. "My dear, did you say 'Bing'?"

...will Zena ever say anything else again? Will Professor Wallace get that hearing problem seen to? Will, oh who cares, just read on will you?

*****

"Yes," said Zena, although it actually came out, "Bing."

"Yes," muttered Professor Wallace to himself. "Yes ... yes, I ... Well, thank Mrs, um, Mrs?"

"Kate!" boomed Zena's teacher.

"Yes, well, thank you Kate. I've seen this before you know. I'll take it from here."

Mrs Kate scowled at Zena before reluctantly leaving the room and slamming the door behind her.

"Bing, bing-bing?" said Zena, meaning to ask if he really had seen this before.

"Oh yes, many times. Awfully, awfully common, actually. And so easily preventable. It's a wonder I ever see any cases any more, and yet here you are stood right before my very eyes. Third one this week!"

Third case this week? thought Zena. But surely this can't be common at all. She peered at the Head Master.

"Oh, I know what you're thinking, but yours isn't the only school in this building. There were three hundred and fifteen of them at the last count, in fact. There used to be many more, but they've all closed now. Cutbacks, eh? The latest one," he said, raising his eyebrows and leaning in conspiratorily, "was re-opened as a hospital for stick insects."

He noticed Zena's confused expression.

"You can't see the other schools of course," he said, as an afterthought. "But you can rest assured that they are here."

"Bing."

"Ah, good question! Well, it's an affliction that I call 'Binglish'."

"Bing-bing? Bing."

"Well, quite. I'll arrange an appointment for you with Mr Bonathan right away."

With that, Professor Wallace turned, bent down, and rapped on a door that was not two-foot high. A dull thud was heard from the other side, followed by a series of very loud footsteps. The door opened sharply, and in the doorway stood an eighteen-inch tall ten-year-old boy.

"Oh for goodness' sake Professor! I was just about to make it onto level fourteen!"

"This," said the Head Master to Zena, allowing himself a little chuckle. "This, is our resident child psychiatrist, Mr Bonathan. And this," he said to the miniature shrink. "This charming young lady's name is Zena. She has something with which you might help her."

"Oh alright," said Mr Bonathan, standing aside from the opening. "But only because I still owe you for the incident with the kitchen apron. Come on in Zena. Let's get it over with."

Zena crouched down and began to crawl through the tiny doorway.

"Look, you silly girl!" said an exasperated Mr Bonathan. "Why don't you just use the other door?"

***

Link of the Day: Rockface

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Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Girl Who Went Bing, Part Six

When I sent this to Zena, I apparently prefaced it with the short message, "This is what happens when you put me on a train for 3 1/2 hours."

You have been warned...

Shortcut to: Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five

The next day at school Zena was in a maths lesson with her teacher Mrs Kate.  At one moment, Mrs Kate asked a very difficult question indeed, and suddenly Zena had a brainwave.

No, she didn't know the answer to Mrs Kate's question.  She did however realise that Mrs Kate couldn't possibly understand whatever answer she gave, so she wouldn't know that it was the wrong one.  Zena's hand shot up in the air.

"Erm, yes,... er, Zena," said Mrs Kate, very surprised at who would attempt to solve her cruelly confusing and complicated conundrum.

"Bing!" said Zena enthusiastically, beaming from ear to ear.

"Pardon?" asked Mrs Kate, in a slightly-taken-aback kind of way.

Zena panicked inside.  She hadn't anticipated being asked to explain herself.  She j ust hadn't thought that far ahead.

"Well?" said Mrs Kate.  "What's the matter Zena? Cat got your tongue?"

"Er, bing?" said Zena sheepishly.

"What kind of answer is that supposed to be?"

"Bing, uh ... bing."

"Are you trying to be funny, Zena?  Is this some pathetic excuse for a joke?  Do you see me laughing Zena?  Do you?"

Zena decided it best not to answer Mrs Kate this time.  She was beginning to look very angry indeed.

"WELL?" bellowed Mrs Kate.  "DO YOU?  Come on, I'm waiting!"

Zena sat fixed rigidly in her chair, her legs crossed as tightly as she could manage, making herself as small as she possibly could.  She could feel all of the other children's eyes on her back, and began to feel very ill.

"Bing," she pleaded with Mrs Kate, her eyes welling with tearwater.

"Right!  That's it!  I'm taking you to the Head Master's office."

Oh no, thought Zena.  How am I ever going to explain this to the Head Master?   I'll be expelled!

Mrs Kate marched Zena ear-first down the corridor, the class behind erupting into excitable chatter the moment they left the room.   Within seconds they arrived at a very grand-looking oak-panelled door much unlike any other door in the school.  It had the following words engraved upon it:

PROFESSOR D.J.M. WALLACE Esq
HEAD MASTER TO THE SCHOOL

Mrs Kate rapped firmly on the door.

"Come in," said a voice quietly from the other side.

Mrs Kate threw open the door, pushed Zena through it, then slammed it loudly behind them both.

Zena's jaw dropped.  She had never been inside the Head Master's office before and, now that she had, she forgot all about the trouble in which she had landed herself.  Well, momentarily, at least.

The walls were lined with books.  Old, antique and beautifully hardbound books, all the way up to the ceiling, which was at least twenty foot high.  This looked very peculiar because the room itself was little more than four feet wid in either direction.   Although, it seemed to get wider the higher she looked.

From the ceiling hung a huge crystal chandelier, which would not have been out of place in a stately home.  In fact, this description could have been used for all of the other items in the room.  It could have all come directly out of a big country house: the fireplace, the leather armchair, the writing desk, and ... and even the Head Master, Professor Wallace himself.

"And what can I do for you young lady?" said the old gentleman, putting down his quill pen and peering over his reading glasses at Zena.

"She's been disrupting my class, Head Master," said Mrs Kate firmly.

"Oh dear," muttered Professor Wallace, shaking his head slowly from side to side.  "That won't do, will it?  Won't do at all.  So, exactly what have you been up to, hmm?"

Zena looked apologetically into his face, and nervously glanced at Mrs Kate, who was glaring angrily down at the little girl.  She swallowed.  Twice.

"Bing," she said, sorrowfully.

Mrs Kate's face turned from red to purple, and swelled as if about to explode.

Professor Wallace merely took off his glasses and looked intently at Zena.  "Bing?" he said quizzically.  "My dear, did you say 'Bing'?"

To be continued...

***

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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Trophy Wife

Laura asked if I'd mind if she pickled my hand when I die.  Of course not.

Trophy Wife

She keeps the
jar inside
his study
just below
c'tificates
proudly screwed
to the wall.

It makes it
onto the
mantlepiece
only on
most special
occasions
when guests stare,
resist the
urge to gag,
words stop and
refuse to
arrange them
selves into
sentences.

They never
understand
but it's so
important
for her own
sanity
that they see.

That she shares.

Her husband's
pickled hand.

The rest of
him, she keeps
for herself.

***

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