12 February 2003
Went for a walk today with my old friend Simon. One of those serious country walks: over hill, over dale, thoro' bush, thoro' brier, all of that. Up and then down some exceedingly steep and muddy bits, to the endangerment of my corporeal coherence and the ruination of clothes, a deal of falling over being done. I tend to regard such days with trepidation; I like walking, I walk everywhere (being a non-driver and hating buses, I have left myself small choice), but I'm not big on heights and falls and anything that borders on climbing. As usual, though, I had a completely good time outside the worrying (it's a bit like advancing into the dark with a candle: 'well, this bit's okay, and this bit's okay, but who knows what lurks just beyond this little light...?' - the story of my life, actually, not just the story of a walk), and once it was safely over, did that thing of happily agreeing to do more, harder, longer...
And then I saw this poster for a film, called Final Destination 2 - and I have been trying quite hard, and I have so far completely failed to think of any title that could demonstrate greater contempt for its audience. It's like those fantasy series where a ragbag of characters come together to battle ultimate evil, and win - and the series is so successful that the author writes another, in which the same group have to fight, 'um, oh, I know, even ultimater evil, how's that sound...?' If 'fairly unique' is the heresy, these things, these objects are the churches built upon it. Final, ultimate, unique: these are words, they have meanings, and meanings matter. If we blur them so badly, we will lose the ability to say anything of any significance, and end up being able to say nothing at all. Ian Watson wrote a story, ooh, twenty-five years ago or thereabouts, about a race whose language is confined to a single word; I fear that we will go the other way, we'll have many words but they'll all mean the same thing, which will be nothing more than 'I have spoken'.
And okay, I exaggerate, of course I do, I do it for effect; but I am serious also. But - because I am a frivolous and superficial creature also, who is easily amused by paronomasia, or puns - I will take this chance to point out that Ian's story has one of my favourite-ever titles, 'On Cooking the First Hero in Spring'; and I've just been asked to submit a story for an anthology of erotic retellings of ancient myths, which gives me a chance to use a title that I've been hoarding for years, against just such an opportunity. I shall do it, and it shall be a retelling of Acis & Galatea, and it shall be called ''Tis Pity He's Ashore'. I thank you.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.