Good science

I’m sure there’s potential to waste some European funding on a study of teenage drinking and the elbow-jerk reflex. That’s not my remit just now. Today I’m writing in the interests of a higher goal.

There’s a small bridle path running along one side of my garden that meanders down the valley to the village. It’s a favourite place for local youth to throw beer cans. Recently, one of the aforementioned young citizens extended his/her repertoire by tossing a dead cat over my hedge. Having once seen that crackly old Frankenstein prototype test with animal parts, I thought I should use this golden opportunity to push back the frontiers of science a little.

The cat was still quite fresh when I brought it in from where it had landed in the middle of the west lawn, so I prodded it a bit with a stick first, just to be sure. After all, when you’re about to create life in the lab, it’s only fair to start off with something that’s decently dead. The feline was definitely defunct, as my assistant will corroborate. Unfortunately I didn’t get to work more on the atmospherics (dark attic, tall shadows, and sputtering arc lights) as time was crucial. Harker was currently sorting the linen cupboard, two floors up, but would be down soon for a cup of Nescafe.

Jean-Michel, my parachuting friend, who has so often played Watson to my Holmes in the past year, was playing Igor to my Doctor that day. He was kind enough to take the following notes:

10:05              cat placed on kitchen table, door locked to keep out Mme Harker

10:07              cat tested for vital signs – negative

10:11              stereo system rolled into kitchen from study

10:15              plugged and playing

10:16              time wasted making necessary modifications to headphones

10:18              Harker rattles door, wants to know what we’re up to (so hard to get good staff these days [Edwin’s parentheses, not mine])

10:22              modified headphones placed on cat (volume set to eleven [ditto])

10:25              test track engaged: “The Sundays” doing the Stones “Wild Horses”

10:25:45         no sign of life, cat noticeably stiffening

10:26:05         first chorus: cat appears to shiver

10:26:11         fur begins to rise on cat’s back

10:27:38         first signs of respiration – gradually strengthening

10:28:21         “Let’s do some living after we die” – cat observed to stretch and wriggle

10:28:30         last chorus: cat leaps from table, rushes headlong out into sunshine

10:29:00         Q.E.D.: Harriet Wheeler can raise the dead

10:30:00         close dossier, open door (enter Harker with halberd, stage right [ditto])

Not having any other defunct creatures available, and unwilling to kill just for the sake of corroborating my findings, I shall have to let this result stand alone. It was all I wanted to prove anyhow. Whatever is left of my battered heart was lost to Ms Wheeler long ago.

If further evidence be needed (and you happen to know someone who likes a tingle down the spine now and then), here is a link:

Addendum: It should be noted that the headphone modifications were of a purely ergonomic nature and did not in ANY way involve the wiring! Btw., the halberd usually stands in the hall with a suit of Jacobean armour (19th century copy, I’m afraid, rather naff). Harker was merely concerned that something terrible might be going on in the kitchen and thought it wise to arm herself, before someone ‘armed ‘er. Oops, sorry for that!

Edwin Drood

PS: Some of you are probably wondering why I have not taxed my pen with the fall from grace (was he ever in it?) of Rupert Murdoch or the demise of the “News of the World”. Other than the fact that a couple of Beano Arnolfini’s less salubrious friends are now without a crib, I really cannot find anything particularly inspiring to say about the whole tawdry business, except that I fail to see what all the bloody fuss is about!

Police getting phone taps from the press, press getting tapping authority from the police, journalists hacking into the phones of the living and the dead, government profiting from all this (at least tangentially), so what else is new? UK secret services have been doing exactly this for decades on behalf of the NATO security project “Echelon” and it’s even more subversive sister “Gladio”. So let’s get real here, this was just another excuse to kick Rupert and hit the tabloids. Monitoring and cross-referencing all our phone calls, instant messages and emails for the benefit of the world’s major economic and political power has long been a standard tool of the covert and overt policy kit.  So please don’t go getting all your knickers in a twist about the callous invasion of a privacy you never even had. Politics has become the art of the plausible, my dear Otto.

Uncle Edwin

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