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The amazing story of the mysterious magic lantern

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The bulb blew with a loud pop. Angry at the darkening screen, the father ordered his disappointed children to bed. There would be no pictures from that magic lantern tonight.
Next day, he walked from his panelled office several blocks to a less prosperous part of town. There he mounted the bare stairs to enter a shop marked ‘Thomas Wills & Son, Lantern & Cine Equipment’. A man in a brown dust-coat appeared from behind the shelves: “Can I help you, Sir?”
The businessman rhymed off the make and model of his magic lantern.
“Of course, Sir, I won’t be a moment,” said the shopkeeper as bobbed once more behind cardboard boxes.
Shortly, he reappeared bearing two corrugated paper packets.
“Now would it be the standard bulb or the deluxe model?” The customer thought he should purchase the more expensive lamp.
“That will be ten shillings and six pence, please.” The other wrote out a paper receipt to complete the transaction.

That night once more the wood and brass lantern sat on its table and the slides assembled for viewing. However, to the father’s annoyance and his children’s delight, the projector didn’t show them. Instead, it persisted in showing moving images. At first, it showed journeys across the continents before plunging into the ocean and whizzing into outer space. The screen filled with a full-scale orchestra. Next came actors in a Shakespearean play. The lantern then culminated its performance with a football match.
‘This would not do, not do at all,’ thought the father. So, having indulged his family long enough, he switched the contraption off and removed the bulb.
Next day, he returns to Thomas Wills or son and made plain his dissatisfaction to the salesman.
“Oh, I’m very sorry, Sir – most of our customers enjoy seeing the world with the deluxe bulb. I’ll exchange it immediately”
Handing over the standard lamp, the shopkeeper remarked “I am told that, one day, people will see a man walking on the moon with magic lanterns”
The businessman scuttled for the stair forgetting both his change and dignity. Because, he was convinced that the man staring after him was mad – quite mad – quite, quite mad.

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Posted by on 25/08/2017 in fiction, mystery

 

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Blue Balloon

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“I am a blue balloon,

I am a blue balloon not a red balloon,

I am a blue balloon living in a world

Of red balloons.”

 

Perhaps because it was a blue balloon, it was let go. Even the wind was not keen to take it. The balloon bounced along the ground before a gust lifted it grudgingly into the air. It soared higher, hungry for freedom. It was away from that mean town with its traffic aggressive in push through narrowness.

 

The balloon gained height and passed over a park with souls below escaping the shove of their existence. But only the geese looked up and envied its ease of flight.

 

A motorway, a castle and a patchwork of fields followed as the balloon picked up speed on a freshening breeze. Village, farm and hill passed by in the crystal light of that crisp day. No one looked up at the growing balloon skipping high above.

 

Before long, the coast appeared with the blue of the sea flecked with boats braving the tides and waves. Then, just as the balloon knocked on the door of the stratosphere, bloated with expanding gas, it burst asunder. It gave its blueness back to sky leaving the world to the held-fast red.

 

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The Tree

4m1W7GThe tree remembered being planted in the churchyard those many summers ago. For he saw the young daughter of the squire slipping in a copy of that new book on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to wile away the long sermon. This blissful rural scene was oblivious to the battles being fought on land and sea to fence in the tyrant Napoleon.
The tree brought to mind the parishioners chattering excitedly having been told of a war far away over whether humans could own humans; trees never own each other more than they can own God’s sunlight.

He then lived many summers and slept for many winters before Johnny, the blacksmiths boy, proud in his khaki uniform marched off to France.  A few months later, his family came weeping to the yard even though Johnny had no grave there.

It seems hardly any summers at all after the Great War, that his branches were swept back by a gaudily painted plane sprouting smoke and crosses flew overhead with another firing in pursuit. Now he saw the night sky filled with new stars, all talking to each other as they silently rotated above.
More recently, he was overjoyed when a young family came to stay in the disused church which had been converted to a house.  They played in his shadow and touched his bark in games. And so, he felt the pain even more as the chainsaw cut into his flesh to make way for another room for washing, games and fitness machines. But through it all, he knew sorrow for humans who neither live for summer or sleep in winter but destroy or are destroyed in ever season.

 

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Discovering times gone by

This afternoon, I did something terribly old fashioned. I just sat in the garden reading a book with a sun hat on. Old fashioned because everyone else seems to be doing something. In fact, it seems positively sinful to sit at home and enjoy the sun’s warmth. Actually, I was reading the witty an enjoyable ‘The Perfect Summer’ by Juliet Nicolson. Its a social history of the summer of 1911; the last beautiful season before the Great War. No wonder then it is subtitled – dancing into the Shadow. However, despite the growing storm clouds, there was something appealing about those years. In particular, the less pressured life when personal news came through the letter box and world tidings via the newspaper. No social websites, emails, mobile phones and satellite TV for them.

Of course there is much from that age that we would not tolerate for a minute today. Yet their pace of life with its weekly routine must beat our 24/7 obsession. Their seasons must have the pleasure of reacquaintance ship that our unbroken desire for the fruits of the globe dulls. Their joy at a perfect summer must have been greater than ours faced as it is with a constant stream of days that all seem the same in their rapidity of passing. So maybe we should,from time to time, bring some of the peace of nearly one hundred years ago back to our living of these frenetic times. Hopefully then we too will rediscover a perfect summer by visiting times gone just by being still.

 

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Customer Waiting?

“Assistant to electricals – customer waiting!” – the supermarket loudspeaker blares out and that half amuses and half annoys. For the suggestion is that if some unfortunate doesn’t get themselves amongst the kettles ‘tout suite’ then something unspeakable, possibly lingering, will happen to them. It’s all nonsense, of course. They’ll finish their cuppa and amble along in due course. Yet the illusion has been maintained – you are a valuable, even an invaluable, customer whose time is as rubies.  Moreover, the company’s fiction is sprayed around like fake coffee aroma – our clients have status instead of just being till roll receipts.

It’s for these reasons too we lap adverts of smiling call centre staffs, waving shop-keepers and bank tellers who are family friends. For deep down we want to be part of a community of which we are real part – where the people we meet have some sort of concern for us as humans. Needless to say this type of community is possible even sustainable; it just takes investment. That means the spending not of money but time and emotional energy. Since the bottom line is we get what we pay for. The question must be is there a “customer waiting!”

 

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