Another World






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Entry 8: Some welcome visitors drop in for a stay

Message in a bottle - the future of transatlantic communicationsIt’s been a marvellous week for us here with a period of unseasonably warm weather.

High above, the flights from America and Europe drift past silently, their criss-cross smoke trails dumping the tonnes of carbon and ash over the island that we need to preserve our cosy and hauntingly dreary local atmosphere. My Scandinavian pen pal Mikka and his children decided to pay me a visit, which came as a great personal surprise given that I failed to receive his message-in-a-bottle notice.

As there are no planes that stop here, Mikka and the kids managed to arrive by hitching a ride from a British Airways flight from London to New York, smashing the emergency exit window open at the appropriate moment and leaping out towards us in a precision jump which ended with two of them in my garden and one lodged upside down in the slats of the garage roof.

Once we’d managed to salvage one of these children from the garage, I decided that we would take a trip down to the Municipal Health Museum in town. The museum is renowned for its exhibits on local history and its oddball range of scientific artefacts on display. Mikka also reasoned with admirable logic that it might be a good place to search for an expert to assess the seriousness of the nasty gash that child had received from a jagged piece of roof which had initially become embedded in his upper back.

The museum proved to be a big hit with my visitors, who had never seen a real museum up so close before. On the second floor there was an exhibition on life in Ketsbaia in the 18th century. It all looked pretty much the same as now except that apparently there was no civilisation at all back then. No trees or anything either, just plenty of sheep, which from their reconstruction appeared to be made mainly from balls of cotton and pipe cleaners.

I allowed the children to roam about freely, which actually turned out to be a bit of an error in hindsight. One of these kids I heard cry out in surprise before meandering back around the corner to where I was standing (admiring as I was how large sheep used to be compared to today’s ones). He was clutching his forehead and holding back the tears. Then I went round to see what had happened – a large crack in the glass casing of one of the exhibits suggesting to me the child had misjudged the distance of the display from his all-too-inquisitive head.

Not to worry I told him, trying to cheer him up, it happens to us all the first time we visit a museum.

The problem of course with communication using the message-in-a-bottle system is that invariably you won’t ever actually receive any communications with the other person. After all, I didn’t even know I had a Scandinavian pen pal until he fell from above.