Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Episode 25: Conspiracy has a theory

Having filed his article for the Daily Word, Correspondent ambled into a café in Murray House where he sat next to a table occupied by a group from the Meteorological Society. Their conversation ignored the announcement about Meaning as they chatted about a topic close to home.

‘Always the same,’ said Celsius. ‘In winter, the temperature is only ever referred to in Celsius but come summer, people insist on talking about 70s, 80s, 90s or even 100 degrees.’

‘Human beings are pretty simple,’ replied Fahrenheit. ‘But even I can’t see anything terribly exciting about it being 32°F whereas freezing point or zero degrees Celsius is clearer. It’s not true, though, to say that Celsius temperatures are never mentioned in the summer; it’s just that 100°F is a lot more evocative than 37-point-whatever-it-is.’

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Episode 24: IT'S A GIRL!

In July, 2013 summer finally arrived in a sustained period of unbroken sunshine. As words basked in the balmy conditions, rumours swept around Wordsdrow that Meaning was on the brink of retirement and about to appoint a successor. Universally acknowledged as the über word of the OED, he – historically, Meaning had always been male – was both well-liked and deferred to by other words although there were occasional grumbles over his “pseudo-shaman” status. In reality, Meaning’s powers were limited and he was scrupulously impartial in using them.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Episode 23: Lobster Thermidor or Curry?

Clever glanced at the couple sitting at an adjacent table and realised this was the first time he’d seen somebody actually using the ATM app on a mobile phone. A proprietorial pride coursed through him and he tilted his head to one side in an attempt to over-hear the couple’s conversation. He was especially intrigued as both appeared to be using the device surreptitiously. Unable to catch any more than a few words, Clever couldn’t piece them into a conversation: more’s the pity.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Episode 22: A place where 256 is the equal of 414,825

Change was everywhere and when Crusade and Treason implored colleagues to look beyond their own world to the wider community, they found the plea already echoing around Wordsdrow. New friendships began, visits were made to buildings never hitherto visited and dinners hosted with the guests selected to ensure they represented the component sections of Wordsdrow.

‘I never really thought of numbers or punctuation marks as, you know, equals but actually meeting some has been eye-opening,’ was Coin’s conclusion. Punctuation marks were the focus for much attention and the detached insouciance which both Treason and Crusade noticed was identified as part of their charm. They weren’t restrained by the behavioural parameters within which words were expected to adhere and their enthusiasm for innovation was infectious.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Episode 21: Punctuationists, punc rockers and Never Mind The Name Change

‘Hello, I’m &. I believe you were looking for me.’

Treason introduced herself and Ubiquarian and asked & if he could spare a few minutes. & nodded and led them along a corridor to an office which the occupants left without any fuss. Ubiquarian was struck by the cheery detachment and unfazed bemusement towards himself and Treason from the punctuation marks they’d so far seen. He’d expected something more deferential and immediately berated himself for doing so: this was precisely the school of thought he’d come here to overcome.

‘So? What can I do for you?’ asked &.

They both answered together, paused, laughed and Treason demurred to Ubiquarian.

‘We’re visiting sections of Wordsdrow we haven’t been to before. We’re aware of the insularity which words can be prone to and we’d like to change that. There must be areas where we can all – words, numbers, punctuation marks and limbo words – help each other, work together.’

‘Straight from central casting,’ & mumbled and smiled at the frown which flitted across Treason’s face. ‘Forgive me, I’ve heard this sort of stuff before and I shouldn’t rush to judgement but we've had lots of visits from words. Let's just say that not all of them have been for the right reasons.’

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Episode 20: A stately pleasure-dome? No, just the punctuation warehouse

Onesie watched the hostile couple as they disappeared through the café door, this was turning into a bad morning. When he’d woken slumped on an uncomfortable bench in Fibonacci House and found that his quarry – Onesie didn’t even know his name but thought of him as Scowl – had disappeared, he gulped. How could he tell Criminal and the others that he’d failed to keep tabs on Scowl? Onesie wandered around the building in the off-chance of a sighting but soon realised this was futile and contacted Criminal. An angry rant later, Criminal made his way to Fibonacci House where Onesie was searching the publicly accessible places.

Although he felt uneasy in the presence of Criminal and his friends, he knew they were likely to ease his passage to acceptance. Truth was that Onesie felt uncomfortable among most adult words, he struggled to follow conversations and always seemed to laugh at the wrong moment. It was different in the company of younger, more frivolous types with whom he could relax and engage in banter. The circles among which manufactured pop groups moved were most to his liking….and they liked wearing onesies! But for the moment, his fate seemed in the hands of those guys from the C-block.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Episode 19: For the betterment of everybody...

Treason left her mug down on the table and casually turned towards Ubiquarian. She nodded, smiled and her eyes narrowed as she peered more closely at him and then gestured towards two free chairs taking in both 13 and Ubiquarian in the gesture. She hadn’t recognised him! Ubiquarian hesitated before sitting down, his throat felt dry and he was aware that his face was flushed.

‘Treason, this is Ubiquarian. Ubiquarian, this is Treason,’ said 13 and, with a final glance towards the door to ensure that 1 hadn’t returned, he sat down. ‘I do not think you know each other.’

‘I don’t believe we do,’ said Treason, smiling as she extended a hand. ‘Nice to meet you.’

Friday, 7 February 2014

Episode 18: Ennui and lethargy...but don't let that deter you from reading this

To Ubiquarian, it felt like a hangover without the prior enjoyment of a good night out as he awoke with a stiff neck and aching limbs. He’d walked to Fibonacci House after his encounter with Onesie, found an empty room and stretched out on a sofa. After a few hours of fitful sleep, however, he abandoned any further attempt at rest and shuffled along a corridor where a dishevelled figure wearing a hooded top was slumped on a bench. Surprised to see a resident of Fibonacci House in such condition, he shrugged and continued his walk towards an exit and fresh air but the early morning chill soon drove him back to the warmth of Fibonacci House.

A receptionist helped him to contact 13 and they arranged to meet that morning in a café on the 13th floor. 13 said that another unnamed word would join them; Treason, Ubiquarian hoped. He went to another café to while away the time and as seemed the case throughout the building, the clientele treated eating as something of a chore, not to be enjoyed or savoured, merely performed. There was no bustle, just a muted clang of crockery, a barely audible clink of cups and minimal conversation. He was weary, disoriented and longed for a return to normality…the same normality he’d opted to escape from so recently.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Episode 17: Dangerous liasions - Piper and 11, Drummer and 12....Treason and 13?

Stunned, Ubiquarian slowly walked away from the door where he’d spent a full minute listening to the muffled giggles, laughter and clinking glasses from within. It was clear that Treason, the catalyst for his disappearance, was cavorting with a number. A number! Treason’s individuality was one of the things he liked most about her but this was bordering on the perverse and hadn’t 13 said something about “kinky”? It didn’t bear thinking about.

He’d heard stories of such liaisons, stories he’d assumed to be apocryphal. There was that bawdy song about relationships between words and numbers, a song which was banned from airplay on Radio Word and one whose author remained unknown. It told of sordid goings-on between Swan and 7, between 10 and Lord, between 11 and Piper and others. If memory served him correct, this litany of scandal ended with 12 and Drummer. Would it now be updated to include 13 and Treason?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Episode 16: So many questions in the home of answers

Tempers were fraying in C-block.

‘Look, I’m not comfortable about this either but I don’t really see what other options we have,’ sighed Clever. ‘We either see if Traitor can help us in T-block or we might have to resort to contacting Crook or Criminal or some of that mob in our building.’

‘Er, guys,’ said Conspiracy, hesitantly. ‘I was approached by Crook and Coercion earlier. They knew we were...sorry, they knew I was asking about Onesie and quizzed me about it. I asked them if they were aware of anything about Crusade’s disappearance. Maybe we shouldn’t rule out getting some help from them to track him down. I know, I know…we don’t want to mix with the likes of them but wouldn’t we take help from any source?’

Friday, 24 January 2014

Episode 15: Not the answer to life, the universe and everything

‘This is irregular. My only interaction with a word or words has been formal. That is my preference. I do not fully understand your world. It is nice to meet you. My name is 42.’

‘And it’s good to meet you, 42. Like Statistics said, I’m Ubiquarian. I’m not officially in the OED yet so I thought this was a good opportunity to sample a bit more of the world around me.’

Friday, 17 January 2014

Episode 14: Treason, cardinal numbers and digi-brothers

Incognito nodded to the woman sitting alone at a table in the I-block café, certain that this must be the mysterious caller. She matched the description provided earlier to Incognito: youngish, raven-haired and tinted spectacles.

‘Incognito?’ Treason asked.

‘Yes, that’s me. And I take it you’re the woman who called me earlier?’

‘Yes, thanks for taking the time to come here. My name is Treason. You’re highly regarded by friends of mine so I wanted to sound you out about a few things. Well, just one thing, really.’ Treason paused. ‘I’m thinking of getting a new identity and would like to find out more about it.’

Monday, 13 January 2014

Episode 13: Name? Number?

Ubiquarian, though familiar with descriptions of Fibonacci House and its inhabitants, was still surprised when he walked through the building for the first time. All around was the hum of machinery as pale-faced men and women stared fixedly at screens or tapped at keyboards in staccato bursts; conversation was minimal with only the occasional few words puncturing the hum and tapping.

Coffee mugs were visible on every surface with dark rings underneath indicating the position of their predecessors and it seemed that eating at one’s desk was the norm; empty pizza boxes protruded from rubbish bins and the smell of processed cheese and pepperoni wafted around the room as the resident numbers munched them mechanically, scarcely looking away from screens and keyboards.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Episode 12: Going underground

Ubiquarian, as he now thought of himself, was finding good and bad aspects to his new existence. Until he was accepted into the OED, he would be unable to reside in one of the letter blocks…something which wasn’t without its own advantages as he relished the novelty of his anonymity and wandered around Wordsdrow without tasks to perform. On the down side, he had to seek temporary accommodation in one of the small sanctuaries for unregistered words which had sprung up on Wordsdrow’s hinterland.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Episode 11: Good cop, good cop

‘I don’t know. Something’s not quite right here. Words have disappeared before; remember when the stigma of association became too much for Politician and he went to ground? Now, that case was easy enough to work out but Crusade’s disappearance? There’s nothing to indicate why and we’re left with that odd scene in his room. A mystery.’

Constable leaned back and stared at the ceiling as if the answer might be found there. He wore a blue suit – he considered a full uniform to be overkill – and liked to carry a notebook on his person at all times: a notebook which he now flicked through with a frown. Across the table, Cracker sketched meandering doodles on an A4 pad and pursed his lips.