Sirenidae, the sirens, aquatic salamander. This is what lonely sailors saw, not creatures of that sham order, Sirenia, which includes dugongs and manatees. There is nothing in that, thus spake the lowly pipefish of the family Syngnathidae, still living in the same house but a little older now.
Round one, let’s begun. As hydraulic actuators caress the wheels and make steering a joy, you learn to turn holding the wheel with the thumb, ring and pinky fingers, a cigarette caught between the index and the middle. This is no fait accompli as the middle finger provides the strength of the hand, and the thumb is a poor substitute.
Round two. Silk Road as metaphor. China, in the words of Adam Smith, for whom we have so much to blame, “It seems, however, to have been long stationary. Marco Polo, who visited it more than five hundred years ago, had no trouble finding it because it just wasn’t quick enough to move out of the way.” Yes. There is a chill in the air.
Round three. Again cigarettes, again between the index and the middle finger, but this time on a toilet. Take a drag, the thumb rests lightly on the jaw and touches the hair there. The hand moves away from the face and still clutching the cigarette and the palm now rests on the forehead. You feel a hair on your tongue and pluck it gently away with the thumb and ring finger. From there the cigarette has only a small journey to make before it is back in the mouth.
Round four. We real cool, me and my cricket mates, celebrating by way of stridulation. SWISH. I rub one wing against the other and announce my presence. CHIRP. A cigarette comes down slowly and I lose myself in the orange cauterising glow. Burnt out by my own petard.
Written on Tuesday, 15 October 2013