Found in the Attic
Sometime during my previous life, as part of an investigation into the relationship between the development of language and thought, itself part of my studies for a teaching diploma in special needs, I set up an experiment in an infant school in which a crystal ball on a perforated metal base was placed on the work surface of one of the classroom storage trolleys. The base of the crystal ball concealed a microphone and the line from the microphone was passed through a small hole in the centre of the worktop to a tape recorder in the lockable storage space below. Other items that I thought might catch a child's interest were placed around the globe and the whole was then covered with a large cloth.The tape recorder was set running and the cupboard locked just before the children, chosen for the experiment by the headteacher (I suspect primarily on the basis of dependable behaviour), were admitted. They, and I, sat round the trolley. I introduced myself and gave them an edited version of what we were going to do, before removing the cloth to a muted chorus of "oooh"s. At this point, and by prior arrangement, the school secretary entered the room and, as per our arrangement, pretended to whisper in my ear. I thanked her, she left the room. I apologised to the children and said I had to pop out for a minute. I told them they could talk amongst themselves, but they were not to touch anything on the trolley. I then left the room. Just recently I found the following transcript of what occurred when it became necessary to turn out the attic preparatory to the insulation being beefed-up.
June: Which way ee go?
Janet: 'Wards Mrs Smith's room.
June: Don't go the office that way!
Janet: I know... ssstaff room.
June: Phone's in office.
June: When she comes in and whispers like she did, is always urgent, 'coss they's wanted on phone.
Michael: No, t'aint.
April: Anyone hear what she said.
April: Sounded to me like "bananas, bananas, bananas..."
Angela: Would have been rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb.
April: I never heard you say you heard what she said.
Angela: Don't 'ave ter.
April Ow you know then, what she said, if you never heard?
Angela: Well, I do know, then, see! I know 'coz I know that's what they say,
April: Who say?
Angela: People who aren't saying things, but want you to think they are.
June: What are you on about? What people saying things?
Angela: No, people NOT saying things.
June: And how comes you happen to know so much?
Angela: My mum's in am dram.
April: Where's that?
Angela: It's not a place, silly, its acting. They dress up and go on stages and do stories and things. Then people pay to go and watch them, and sometimes they like pretend they're whispering to each other on the stages, but really and truly truly they got nothing to say to each other, so they just say "rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb".
Alfred: Incredible absurdity!
April: Could just as easy say bananas, bananas, bananas!
Angela: No they couldn't, then. That's quite wrong!
April: Oh? Is it then? Why?
Angela: Wouldn't sound right. When people whisper, words sound all smooth, like. Like rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb, but bananas, bananas, bananas sounds lumpy. Don't sound right.
James: Sounds like rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, if you ask me! What about... What's these things here we mustn't touch?
April: Get orf! Don't touch any of them - not 'till ee comes back
James: I aint!
April: You are - you nearly did!
Michael: It's a crystal ball ...
April: Tells you what's going to happen in your life.
Michael: I was just going to say that! My mum's had hers done.
June: 'Er what?
Michael: Her future. This woman told her all what's going to happen to her.
Alfred: Incredible absurdity!
Michael: She had one of them. We could now. You look into it and you can see the future.
June: All I can see is the windows upside down!
James: They aint upside down, just bent at the edges.
June: Round this side they's upside down!
Michael: You have to cup your hands, see, like this. It cuts out earth light so there's only light in the ball what's came from the future. See, like this... now I can see the future.
Michael: Yes I can, I see a cloudy path...
Sally: Oh yes, so can I...
and you are walking along it my dear,
things will get difficult for you, I fear!
April: That rhymes, it's like a song.
Michael: That's how they speak, singy-songy - fortune tellers, that is.
June: Had one at the fete last year.
April: Sally's a poet!
Michael: Now it's getting misty!
James: Let's see.
Michael: Don't push!
April: Now see what you've done!
June: Oh! You've moved it! You've done it now. ee'l arf be cross with you now, we wasn't meant to touch it. We never touched it. You did!
Alfred: Incredible maladroitness!
Sally: 'Snot much. 'Ee won't notice that...
Michael: No? Well, I jolly think he will... Hey! Hold on a blinking half a mo'... What have we got here?
Michael: Only a wire coming out the bottom of it, that's all, my men!
James: What sort of wire? Is it electric?
Sally: Electric! That's why he said not to touch it! We could all get eletrocooted! Shocks an' all - or something!
Michael: Don't think so, not from this, not the sort of shocks thatflings you across the room. It's a thin wire, not dangerous. I know! - Could be a bug, P'raps ee's bugged us!... It's going inter the cupboard... See?
Sally: Miss Piper (the head) wouldn't let 'im do that, would she?
Alfred: Incredible misdemeanour!
Angela?: ??????????????????? (indecipherable)
James: So lets open the door, see what's inside.
Jake: Trying to - it's locked. Dodgy, that. They never ever ever locks these cupboards.
Michael: Oh, well, that's it then, we's all shot. No good pretending we didn't do nothing - eez 'eard it all!
June: I didn't do nothing!
Sally: 'Nor me. Who saw me do what? (long pause) See!
At this point I decided to return - and they all with one accord began to chat about the other articles on the trolley.
The Man Born Blind
They built an eye for a man born blind,
they gave him underwear prickly with pins,
with tingles in low resolution, whims
of the software, rogue pixels were there,
dragged like fish from the deep,
mapped from the lens and laid into skin.
Imagine a door or a tree in braille,
the edge of a wall, the shape of your chair,
think of your partner's face in your chest,
and suppose for a moment you took it all in
and imagined the world was exactly like that...
You do that exactly. Every day.
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