Sunday 10 July 2011

Well Oiled Triffids

An ill-conceived early night was ruined in the wee hours this morning by all the fighting. The Supreme Being And Templar doesn’t turf out much before 2am and being a Saturday all the local farms were in, then out in the dark and fighting. Slapping each other mercilessly (and largely pointlessly) it’s the Triffids that are the trouble after ten pints poured about the roots, shouted on by the wobbling tribe of smeared young women that just plain sprout in these fertile fields. Shouts of “E’s right in front’a yer, Dean!” and, “What did ‘e call yer, Darren? Clickity-clickity-click? Rip ‘is fahkin stamen aht!” echo still. The colour of uncooked chips half-coloured in luminous hi-lighter, the ungrateful children of feminism whose very name they’d spit on just want to see sap spatter the ground and fibrous stalks splinter.
John Wyndham never went into what would happen next. I liked that, just as I liked that we never really know where the Triffids came from. We didn’t need to then, although last night I would have quite liked them to bugger off back there.
Wyndham’s 1951 novel is a classic, and rightly so. Tight, well drawn and very well written. It’s been held up as the very example of Cosy Catastrophe, and I would respectfully disagree. This isn’t The Survivors where most people die and conveniently vanish. Where earnest nice people can roam the land living a lovely life all told without many nasty ruffians to interfere with their being fabulous in the country. I loved dystopian fiction as a boy and The Day Of The Triffids had a marked impact on me, at a very early age. It is after all about people, most not doing very well and indeed making a disaster, worse. Bill Masen is a long way from being an action-hero, although he’s competent enough. Rather like many people I suspect were in the late 40s when the novel was written.
Post war, my grandfathers worked on their own engines, sharpened their own tools, mended their own electrics, planted, built and made – and just plain got on with things. And they were both Londoners, one a working-class clerk and the other a middle-class something-in-an-office so neither especially engineers or farmers, neither by profession practical.
So maybe today and tired from being kept up half the night by first the fighting and then, worse, the coupling (where from the heath the tortured sounds of vixens are not foxes at all) it might be a Wyndham day.
Up here where I live on a hill. In the Lakes.

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