Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the island of Parallelica

On the nearly square island of Parallelica, the citizens have so arranged their habitations that there are neither villages nor cities, but only seven long streets that span the country. Each street, which runs for the full seven hundred mile length of the island, has along its right side private homes, and along the left places of work and supply. Behind both sides stretch for perhaps twenty miles farms and countryside linked by narrow lanes, until one comes to ten miles of dense forest, and thereafter the farms and hinterland of the next street.

The advantages of this system are these, if one is lucky one's place of work will be across the street, and the countryside is always within a days walk, anywhere on your street can be found by walking, if one only walks for long enough and there is no part of the street without the possibility of human contact, or the availability of goods.

The disadvantages are these, increasingly the seven streets have adopted their own customs, and the different tribes who at various times have come to Parallelica, have chosen also to settle in the street their kin have most favoured. Now there are occasional raids between streets and expeditions into the dark forests, spy on the street next door as on a different country.

The Church of the Third Street, is at odds with that of the Sixth, and although both claim that, when extended to infinity their respective streets will meet and be reconciled, each suggests to its own worshippers that the reconciliation will favour them. Meanwhile the planners of the Second street, envious of the fishing docks
to be found on the seaward side of First Street, mutter of their 'historical right' to a seacoast beyond the tiny docklands of the Two Ports at either end of their domaine.

The Seventh streeters, propose to achieve a greater harmony of peoples by driving a new steet - 'the road of harmony' at right angles from their coast through the very centre of the island. There are parties in each of the other streets who bitterly oppose this, and even the Seventh Parliament is itself unsure. The leader of the opposition has denounced the plan, arguing that it will in time lead to other 'un-natural roads' until the whole island is squeezed into the ever narrowing gaps in the net of dwellings and of utilities, and nature is finally throttled.

The sacred animal of Parallelica is the Zebra, the windows of its houses favour blinds over curtains, and its national flag is seven lines of black, seperated by green.

1 comment:

Stuart Douglas said...


Best one yet.