By Brian Robinson.
Poppy Harper awoke to find the sun streaming in through her bedroom window. Today was going to be a good day. She knew that instinctively. Then, out of the blue, a thought entered her head. It took a few seconds to register, but she soon realised this was the most profound thought she had ever had. This was the single thought that was going to change her life.
Then, her musings were interrupted by a knocking on her front door. She grimaced. A trip to the window revealed a green works van sitting outside. More persistent knocking rattled around in her head but she was not going to be rushed, not at this time of the morning, and not with this thought in her head.
Suddenly, she was gripped by fear, “What if I forget the thought?” A wave of anxiety ran through her. Still fighting the demands created by the knocking, she scrambled for paper and pen. Feeling much better, she carefully placed her thought in her jewellery box which sat on the dressing table.
She opened the door to be greeted by two men one holding a clipboard. “Sorry to interrupt you Madam. We’re here to turn your water off.” The man who spoke, was slim, tall and clean shaven. Not like a workman at all! She brushed the thought from her head.
“You’re joking me! I’ve got a mountain of washing to do. It would be a sin to waste such a lovely day. You might have given us a warning.”
“We put a notification through every door three days ago. We thought for a minute that we were going to have to force our way in.”
“Can you do that?”
“Yes madam. We have powers of entry.” The man then nodded to his colleague who continued into the house lugging a tool bag. Poppy wanted to follow but the tall man continued talking.
“This is not such a big deal. Compare it with the most famous interruption of all time?” He said.
“You’ll have to enlighten me,” Poppy said. “I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about.”
The man then began to recite the first verse of the Kubla Kahn by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
His voice had a wonderful lyrical quality about it and he recited the poem beautifully. “I’m impressed,” Poppy said. “But what’s that got to do with being interrupted?”
“Well, Coleridge composed this poem while in an opium induced sleep. When he awoke, he set about writing the poem down but was interrupted by a knock at the door. He was kept talking for an hour or more, by which time he remembered only a fragment of his poem, which in his dream had been some 200-300 lines long.”
The man smiled and Poppy smiled back. She was trying to think of what to say next when the man with the tool-box returned. The poet with the clipboard made his entry on his board saying, “Brilliant! I can now tick you off.”
Poppy picked up on this immediately and said, “Yes, you have ticked me off, but I’ll forgive you.”
He pointed his pen at her saying, “Nice one. I see what you’ve done there. We’ll see you in about an hour to turn your water back on. Then you can wash to your heart’s desire.”
Poppy went to her kitchen and sat at the table. She tried to recall her earlier thought but it didn’t come to mind straight away. She had to wrestle it to the surface. Thoughts are like that. One minute they are effervescent and bubbling: the next they can be like dead weights sinking back into the subconscious.
She sat for a full twenty minutes dwelling. Every few seconds a smile would bubble to the surface and she would shake her head at the wonder of it. She decided that a nice cup of tea would round off her contemplation perfectly. She went to the tap and filled her kettle. As she moved to the cupboard to get a cup she stopped dead in her tracks. Hang on a minute, she thought, the man turned the water off . How strange!
Her thoughts were interrupted by yet more knocking. That’s them back, she thought. But when she opened the door she found a policeman standing there.
“I’m sorry to trouble you Madam. I hope I’m not interrupting. But we’re trying to track down a couple of distraction burglars who we believe are operating in this area. I don’t suppose you’ve seen anything.”
Without saying a word, poppy turned and rushed to her bedroom. She could see straight away that someone had been there. The jewellery box had gone. She gasped as her hand came to her mouth. “Oh my God! My Jewels! And then she let out her cry: my thought!