A couple of years back, a friend who lives in New Zealand sent me this picture. “Please knock, and wait with imperturbability.” You don’t often see a seven syllable word on a notice like that, not in the middle of a field, not correctly spelled. Seven syllables – the middle line of a haiku waiting to be written.
But it’s the combination of “wait with imperturbability” with what is written underneath that fills me with delight: “If you see Flash, our pony please give him a pat.” Every time I see ponies I think of poor old Flash, hoping for a pat and as I sit here now I’m wondering when I’ve ever waited with imperturbability. It sounds like a good Buddhist type thing to do, but I’m not a Buddhist and I’m rather subject to perturbation (provided it means what I think it means). Maybe that’s the secret of enlightenment: “Knock and wait with imperturbability.” If only I could be sure there was someone at home.
Anyway it’s a word I intend to start using. I could sign my letters “Imperturbably Yours.” Or “How are you feeling today?” – “Quite imperturbable, thank you.” Or song lyrics: “Imperturbable, that’s what you are.” Or maybe I’ll create a new super-hero with imperturbability as his super-power. When trouble comes around, he doesn’t do anything, he just doesn’t give a fuck. “What’s that flying high in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?” – “Fuck knows.” – “Well you don’t have to be rude, I was just asking.” – “No. That’s his name: Fuck-Knows.” He could have a side-kick with the power of insurmountability. “What happened to him?” – “He died tragically. Fuck-Knows never got over him.”
There would have to be something like Kryptonite to counteract the power of Fuck-Knows’s imperturbability. Apprehensivite would do the trick. Fuck-Knows walks down the street, cool as a cucumber busy not giving a fuck as buildings collapse around him; a train races towards a group of smiling schoolgirls sucking lollipops; an aeroplane is falling out of the sky.
Suddenly a man wearing a yellow fedora with “villain” written all over him (otherwise known as The Calligrapher) sneaks out of a side alley and opens the lid of a box containing a nugget of pure Apprehensivite – a still-glowing fragment of a comet once part of the shattered planet Dread – under the nose of Fuck-Knows. It’s powerful rays permeate his otherwise impenetrable personhood and bingo! “Oh dear,” says Fuck-Knows as if noticing the mounting chaos around him for the first time. “This isn’t so good is it? I’m slightly concerned about how this will turn out.”
Buildings crash to the ground; the train ploughs into the buxom sixth-formers, despite the efforts of the younger girls to save them by forming an outer cordon; the doomed 747 makes a benighted and unsuccessful attempt to land in a car park.
“Bugger,” says Fuck-Knows, just a bit perturbed.
© 2014 Geoff Mead
Written during a Freefall Writing Workshop with Barbara Turner-Vesselago