Sunday, 2 September 2012

Alien Alan

Coming back from my walk, I began thinking about
that weird film my daughter made us see recently in Bristol, which was supposed to be a precursor to Alien, but, since I haven't seen Alien, was simply a film to me.

I couldn't really understand the opening scene, although it was oddly beautiful, and as I walked I was trying to work out where it came in the scheme of things - ie was it something that happened before the action of the film I was watching, after the action of the film I was watching, before the action of Alien or after the action of Alien.

I'd been led into these thoughts by the fact that I'd tried to take the advice of a book I'm reading called something like 'Quiet your Mind' which advises you to stop thinking from time to time and start paying attention instead to the sounds of the world around you.

I quite like doing this, although whenever I do I find that I end up wondering if human beings are in fact some form of alien. The more I concentrate on the physical detail of each moment - the brightness of the light, the variety of noise that I usually choose to ignore, the solidity of the trees and rocks and land around me, the more it strikes me that we must be the only creatures on earth who are capable of being aware of our environment, if that makes sense - capable of having an understanding of being here, rather than not being here, which makes us odd and therefore possibly not actually of the place but outsiders.

Actually, this is all getting a bit dotty isn't it, so back to my walk and my thoughts about the time frame of that film I mentioned (Greek name, something mythical, determined not to look it up on the Internet, must try to remember it - Prometheus possibly? No, that's not it).

So there I was listening to the wind and the birds and the sound of my feet and thinking about time (and, to some extent, in a rather muddled way, the human condition) when I spotted a small boy (about three foot high, including his bike helmet and polka dot gumboots). A bicycle lay beside him and he was walking in circles slightly aimlessly banging his helmet with his hands.

There was no-one with him so when I got close to him I said, 'Hello, are you all right? Are your mummy and daddy [and as I said the words, I thought, 'is that a bit patronising - I should have said "your parents" shouldn't I, oh well, too late now'] around?' and he looked up at me and his rather unprepossessing face instantly reminded me of someone I haven't thought of in years (in fact, in several decades) - a boy called Alan (the only Alan I've ever met, come to think of it) who was in my class at primary school and had the same pale skin and reddish hair and rather colourless eyes as this boy and, most particularly, the same rawness beneath his nose, because it was always running, rather disgustingly - these things seemed very vivid when I was five or six (and, to be honest, I'm scarcely more fond of snotty noses even now).

Anyway, the boy looked up at me and said, 'Yes' and pointed down the track to a rather hopeless looking pair of girls, one in a fairy's outfit and the other making heavy work of pushing a bicycle. 'Those are my friends', he added and so, deciding there was safety in numbers, I went on my way.

But then, as I passed through the gate that leads from the mountain to the suburb, I heard the little boy's voice ring out. 'Come on, you chaps,' he yelled at his friends.

'You chaps', I thought. No 21st century Australian child says, 'You chaps'. 'Come on, you chaps', I heard him shouting again adding this time, 'buck up.'

'I've slipped through time', I thought. 'That boy doesn't just look like Alan - he is Alan and I'm in some kind of time warp.' And, guess what, when I looked round, the boy was nowhere to be seen.

Mind you, there was a whole lot of shrubbery between me and him by then. And I still can't remember the name of that film.


  1. More than Alien, it sounds like you may have stumbled into the midst of the Midwich Cuckoos . . .

    1. I am a John Wyndham fan so perhaps something of his work has seeped into my reality - imagine if fiction did that; it might make one careful what one read

  2. That boy will go far - Governor General in 2059?

    I refuse to say 'guys' and have stubbornly stuck to outmoded words and phrases like chaps, swiz and jolly good, but I've noticed that during the last few years, people in their 20s look at me as if I'm mad.

    I want to tell them that I was brought up by people who were born between the 1890s and 1920s and that's the way I speak. Saying guys or cool sticks in the throat.

    Maybe I just need to chill out.

    1. My older daughter has been known to tell me to 'take a chill pill'. As my sister-in-law pointed out, it would be nice if there were such a thing.

  3. What a creepy story. Alan Gyngell?

  4. Loved this story, both parts. Methinks you are ripe to be zenned. [Don't mind me; lately I've taken to the habit of inappropriate verbing.]

    Very enjoyable. But funny, isn't it, that to transmit all this, we still must come back to words.

    1. PS I don't think it will spoil your story to say that your memory regarding the movie's name was pretty good.

    2. I have just been told that I was mistrusting myself and it really is called Prometheus - I have a habit of paraphrasing, so I assumed it was really called Iliad or something