The other day, looking down from an upstairs window at my North London street, I noticed a lush green tree with huge scarlet blossoms - how could I possibly have not seen it before, and whatever was it? And right now, in my garden, there's a shimmering turquoise veil over part of my fence, almost iridescent. A stage magician pulls a flock of doves out of a top hat, and they fly away - it has to be magic, but we know it isn't. We want it to be magic, though, and once there's an explanation, what we've seen is somehow spoilt, however clever. We feel cheated.

My exotic tree in which I totally believed for a few moments was an ordinary London plane seen against a scarlet car, scarlet and green being complementary colours, the combination of which produced the dazzling 'blossoms'. The shimmering veil on my fence was old, green netting catching the sunlight against deep shadow. A few years ago, someone wrote a book about the proliferation of magical 'healers' in places like Jerusalem at the time of Christ, so might He have been just one of many, but the One who really made it career-wise? Such a cynical suggestion, but we so much want to believe - the sweet wrapper carelessly thrown away in the street which sunlight turns into a precious jewel, the careless scattering of waste paper in the grass which from a distance just might be flowers, the glittering comet which turns out to be just rocks in Space - what exactly is it that we're responding to? When all that glitters turns out not to be gold but something else, something possibly banal, what's the difference? It's not an easy question.

Recently I've been watching the futuristic TV drama series: "Years and Years". It's brilliant, but at the same time deeply disturbing, because the 'future' it's set in is so uncomortably close to our 'present'. Economic and political migrants herded into 'camps' is already happening, and climate change will only make it more likely. Political unrest and war have always been with us, but now we have the means to annihilate both the 'enemy' and ourselves, as the end of the first episode so scarily shows us. The teenager typically unhappy with her own body wants to change, not her gender but her whole self, because a digital self can do so much more - why go on bothering to be human when you can become a digital transplant of yourself, and what confused adolescent wouldn't jump at that? Might I?

Way back before the age of phone zombies, I wrote a novel: THE GAME, published by Walker Books. The plot grew out of my increasing frustration with radios in shops - strangely, this doesn't much happen any more, but did then. One day, I went with my daughter to buy her some shoes, and in the course of our browsing, we learnt about the brutal murder of two old ladies in North Wales (among other things.) So shopping, murder, sex, political dialogue and possibly the weather went into those moments of information soup, and all of them on the same level. 

So I dreamed up a fantasy in which one of the ancient Greek Furies took over the world, for a wager, using the media as her weapon of choice, and flooding it with "The Queen's Music", a mind-dumbing, empty but vaguely pleasing sound which could not be turned off. Fast forward to Twitter and its ilk which I have to admit I use myself, but with extreme caution. Go figure.

The book's currently available as an ebook: if you're curious.


Bill Kirton said…
I’m not surprised to find that I share your delight at the ‘magic’ aspects of what turn out to be entirely explicable, ‘normal’ phenomena, Enid, and I still believe that there are some things (especially lurking beneath the surface of cleverly combined words) that transcend the mundanity of ‘common sense’. However, the strongest memory triggered by your very enjoyable blog was of my own visit to the shops with a 6 or 7 year old daughter to buy shoes. Dad wanted sensible school shoes, daughter wanted fashion. The trip was cut short in the very first shop we tried and we caught the bus home in simmering silence (sans shoes). She now has four children of her own who, I hope, are reaping (or have already reaped) my revenge.
I'm just wondering what an 'ordinary London plane' is... have you done away with cars? But yes, seeing things out of the corners of your eyes can often seem magical. I had one of my heroines see a glittering sweet wrapper in the carpark and pick it up, only to discover it was actually a spell... that book became Spellfall. And the Queen's Music! That's 5G, on its way to a city near you soon...
AliB said…
Re your Queens Music, I loved Patrick Ness ya novel tThe Knife of Never Letting Go) I think). In his futuristic universe everyone's thoughts are heard aloud - the mania of social media! Also a dog who talks. Magical and believable at the same time.
Enid Richemont said…
Katherine - the 'plane' in question was, of course, a London plane tree. Maybe I should have made that clearer? And it was my conflicting aesthetic reactions to what I was seeing that were confusing: Oh, what is that amazing tree with the scarlet blossoms? Then: Oh,it's only a combination of the leaves of a London plane tree against a bright red car. Same image, but different responses.

Bill - pleased that my blog brought memories of shoe shopping with your stroppy daughter. It was the mind-deadening effect of background music, though, that I found disturbing, and still do.

Ali - I haven't yet read Patrick Ness's novel, and must. Thanks for mentioning it.
Sandra Horn said…
Where would we be without those magical 'mistaken' perceptions?
I hadn't come across The Game before,and will now get hold of it, but promise me it won't plunge me into dystopian gloom!

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