Saturday, 25 November 2017

Saturday Night Surveillance

Date: Saturday 25-Nov-2017. Time: 20:00 hrs. Locus: South Shore, Blackpool, England...

Surveillance is under way. I have successfully located tonight's target - the one calling himself the Saturday Blogger - and am locked on to his IP address. I am observing him via the screen camera and microphone on his laptop. He is completely unaware of this.

Look at him sitting at his desk in the glow of an anglepoise lamp, black Moroccan notebook open at a page headed Stephanie Re-maps The Stars, glass of red wine to hand, concise Oxford Dictionary there if needed. He looks to be a bit of an aging hipster (late 50s?) with his silver beard and denim shirt, though he's also sporting a tangerine scarf that appears to read 'Oyston Out'. Is it cold in his conservatory? Between sips of wine, he is typing away, making a start on his weekly blog. In the background I can hear music playing, which Spotify identifies as the Small Faces (whoever they are - sounds quite good, actually).

Isn't this a ridiculous way for him to be spending a Saturday night! He should be out drinking with his buddies or dining with a lady friend or taking in a movie, not sitting home alone, without even a cat for company, bashing out liberal opinions and dubious poetry for a (frankly) uncaring world.

Let's see what else I can find out by interrogating his computer files, while the fool ponders and poeticises.

Damn - he automatically deletes his browsing history and cookies; double-damn - he's password-protected his correspondence folders; triple-damn - he's encrypted all his passwords. That's not very open and transparent of him, not very liberal - and now what's he doing? Rolling something between his finger and thumb. Looks like blu-tack to me.

Oh, it's gone dark. I've lost visual contact. It's also gone quiet. The sneaky bastard's only plugged up the camera and microphone - that old FBI trick. Now he's posting a big hand on the screen....

Keep Out!
...maybe he wasn't so unaware after all!

I hope you enjoyed that little surveillance skit. The part about me plugging up the screen cam and microphone is true, by the way. I also encrypt as much as I can and make a point of re-booting my router every couple of days - that way it gets a different IP address assigned dynamically at frequent intervals. The only downside is I have to keep confirming my identity to e.g. Facebook and Google to verify that my device really has changed IP address and I've not been hacked! A small inconvenience, I feel, to minimise the risk of invasions of privacy.

As for today's 'dubious poetry', it was prompted by my thinking about star-gazing - surveillance of the heavens being one of man's oldest pastimes.

We still refer to the constellations by the names given to them by the ancient Sumerians and Greeks (the majority documented by Ptolemy), who fitted their configurations to well-known deities or animals e.g. Andromeda, Aries - the ram, Cancer - the crab, Cygnus - the swan, Gemini - the twins, Orion, Scorpio, Ursa Major - the great bear, Virgo et cetera; but just supposing the heavens were to be re-interpreted by a twentieth-century Fox.  Contemporary representations might be very different. This is a (mostly) true tale (with a dash of poetic licence). Cue...

Stephanie Re-maps The Stars
She was a sky-whisperer, my first love,
a soft-voiced murmurer to heaven above
in the dark hours, bidding the stars
to shine just for us,
and every summer night
naming a few constellations anew
for our innocent delight...

Bright Sirius,
no longer part of the Greater Dog,
became a blinking button on the Radiogram -
I can still see it outlined in my mind.
And Rigel, to Orion's consternation,
was recast for fun into James Bond's Gun,
that licensed agent of modern lore.

And more...
what had formerly been the Ram
she reconfigured as the Watering-can
and as I lay beside that extraordinary girl
other formations were re-mapped in turn
as the Scissors, the Car, the Hat, the Guitar;
there was even the Tractor as I recall.

Stephanie Fox held me enthralled for a week.
She was the daughter of the village char
and for one so young, her knowledge
was astronomical.
I hope that somewhere she's sky-whispering still.
I'd like to think she went far.


Thanks for reading. May your stars shine bright, S ;-)
Reactions:

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

First I laughed, then I was delighted. Another great blog.

Anonymous said...

In Norton We Trust! Really enjoyed this Steve.

Steve Rowland said...

Thank you. I'm a McAfee man myself, bundled in free with myBT.

Anonymous said...

What a great poem. Very original.

Anonymous said...

Funny and fabulous :-)

Anonymous said...

Love this Steve.

Anonymous said...

A funny blog and a brilliant poem. Loved this.

Matt West said...

Great blog Steve. Keep them coming lad.

Anonymous said...

Top blog!

Steve Rowland said...

How weird is this? Less than two weeks after I'd written this blog and poem, I was listening to the radio while driving and there was a news article about a group of astronomy graduates from Birmingham University who are in the process of re-mapping the constellations to make star-gazing more interesting/relevant to school-children, devising such new stellar configurations as Usain Bolt's thunderbolt pose, David Attenborough etc etc.

I contacted the group and was sent a beta-version of their digital re-mapping which will be unveiled as part of the Big Bang Festival in the new year. If you want to check on what they've been doing, here's link to their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UoBAstrosoc

It's a bit of a moebiu(s)trip - life imitating art imitating life ;-D

Matt West said...

So did Stephanie Fox become an astronomer?

Anonymous said...

Wonderful.

Anonymous said...

What can I say Steve? I wish I had your imagination! (Truly I do.)

Anonymous said...

Wise and witty. Absolutely love the poem :-)

Anonymous said...

A mighty fine blog and what a fabulous poem. Here's hoping your Intel chip hasn't been compromised!

Anonymous said...

Love this blog Steve.

Anonymous said...

Most entertaining read. Love the poem!

Anonymous said...

Yay! Star blog *

Jools said...

'...and love will steer the stars'. (This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.)

Anonymous said...

As others have said,the poem is a delight - a lovely concept beautifully unfolded.

Anonymous said...

A funny blog and a fabulous poem. Love it.

Anonymous said...

I love this poem. I checked out the Birmingham Astronomy Society site and your/Stephanie's 'new' constellations were a bit more imaginative than the AstroSoc's book, tennis racket, mobot et cetera!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! So imaginative and beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

I've bookmarked this blog and have been back to read it a few times. I have to say I think your poem is wonderful. Are you published?