<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/interplanet-janet/”>Interplanet Janet</a>
a new planet
WHAT A WAY TO PLAN IT
We are very lucky having a family with seven such very imaginative children and I hope a lot of you will have heard some of my stories about them. Well one very rainy day during half term in the Autumn of 2014 they were left with a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do. Alright, they said they had nothing to do but my wife, Francesca, assumed that homework did not count so she asked me how we could entertain them in our house on the lakeside in Geneva. I didn’t have a clue but my nine year old twins, Violetta and Lucia said they had seen something on my computer called a ‘wordpress prompt’ and this sounded quite good fun.
“David,” my wife scowled at me,”have you left the main computer un-password protected again? How many times do I have to tell you. They are aged between twelve and a half and five and three quarters. They could read anything!”
“No they couldn’t, Cara, it’s only open at a writing competiton page I was looking at for fun. Nothing they shouldn’t see. What makes you think I’d read anything like that myself anyway?” I won’t describe the georgeously cheeky look on her face.
“Je n’en sais rien, mon amour. But honestly David, is it a puzzle or something that the kids could do? It would pass the time.” Actually it was, so I explained it to them and they thought, to quote Giovanni,
“Sounds Ace Papa. Invent and design our own planet? Great!”
Dido, a very good, budding little artist of seven, shot her hand in the air. “Can I do the people, please papa? I do very good people.” But Maria then thought of a problem.
“Well, yes, that could be your task, Di, but first of all we would have to decide what the people on this planet would look like. Also, Mummy, how would we know what language they spoke?”
“Children, children. Calm down. If this is going to be both fun and interesting, you might even learn something from it, I’m going to divide different aspects of your new planet up between you to work on in teams. Now firstly the twins should be split up, they do too much together. So Lucia you will work with Aeneas on the geography of your new star and be really imaginative in deciding what the landscape and towns look like. Okay?
“As the youngest, Edgardo, I want you to help Maria, the oldest, to decide the type of life that exists on your planet. This must include how the inhabitants communicate and what they look like. You get the idea? Right that leaves the whole way of life that is lived on the planet. This will need really deep and clever thought so Giovanni and Violeta can use their very unusual imaginations on this. Yes, John you do have a great imagination and Vi has a great sense of humour so you should be an ace team to use your own words.
“Then finally you, Dido, will be artist elect to the planet and do a set of drawings showing what the planet, its people, its buildings its food everything in fact would look like to a visitor from outer space who did not even know your planet existed and stumbled across it in a spaceship by accident. But you must stick to the basic descriptions the others have thought up.
She was interrupted by a question from her youngest child. “No, Eddie, you can’t have guns and swords and dead people all over the place. Incorporate that into your political history if you like, but that’s all. Ready? Okay off you go and you’ve got until dinner time at 7.00pm to finish.” She then walked over to me and gave me a loving kiss as she said, “What a great idea, David, that should help develop several aspects of their little personalities. What a good plan of yours.” I smiled and squeezed her waist as I acknowleged my genius,
“It all comes with being a leading international diplomat, Cara, but seriously it should be great fun seeing what they come up with. Meantime, shall we just watch the rain battering down on the lake? Nothing much else to do unless the embassy calls me.” And so we left the children to six hours of what we hoped would be good fun. I had some papers to deal with for the red Cross so I decided to get them out of the way, and Francesca spent the day marking university essays she had set for her second year language students.
Ever since my work had made it necessasry for me to be based in Geneva in June 2006, when Francesca was pregnant with Dido, we had lived in our twenty three room house just on the northern edge of the city on the shores of Lake Geneva. It was a lovely place and we spent the year’s academic weeks there to fit in with the children’s education, and the remaining almost four months in our villa on a hillside outside Lucca in Tuscany. I had been very lucky and extremely unlucky when I was sixteen years old. My parents were killed in a plane crash, but my sister Helen and I had each been left more than $15 million US dollars. By the time I met Francesca, when I was 23 at Pisa university finishing my PhD, I was worth more than US$25 million and from the time of our marriage just after the millenium we had always had plenty of money to meet our needs. Our careers, I was an ambassador to the United Nations global agencies, and Francesca a lecturer in languages at Pisa and Geneva Universities, insured that that side of our life was never a problem. Seven children, however, did keep us on our toes the whole time. We had two servants but they were almost members of the family now. The largest room of the first floor of our lakeside house was a playroom cum homework room which had a 30 foot long table down the middle with places reserved, rather like a cabinet room set up, for each of the kids. And heaven help anyone who encroached on anyone else’s space.
But today we agreed the table should be cleared so that the planet could be designed and set up on it while leaving one third of its space for writing and drawing as the various tasks demanded. I can honestly say I was astounded when I held Francesca’s hand and, as ordered, kept my eyes shut while Dido led her parents into the playroom at just after 7.00pm. What they had created surpassed all expectations. It was like entering a mock up of an exhibition room in a science museum. With the help of our chauffeur cum butler/handiman, Carlo, the lights had been dimmed and a set of blue tinted bulbs replaced the normal ones. Then we saw a huge Notice, printed in the largest possible font on the computer in alternating coloured letters,
“WELCOME TO THE PLANET TROY“
The first thing to strike us was a sort of docking station in which two rather classic earth style spaceships were displayed on stands. Two large explanatory captions were placed next to them which read.
“The first proof that life existed outside Troy was attributed to the landing of these weird machines on our planet some 234,871 miliquadriseconds and a half ago. Prof. G.Watson.”
“You will notice the two very unusual small rooms on the inside left of these craft with strange markings on the doors. One is ∇ and the other ∏. I am still trying to decipher these. Professoress V.Watson.” On realising the joke that Violeta had worked out Francesca went into fits of laughter.
Moving on we saw a beautiful landscape of what looked like mountains and valleys. But the valleys were pure white and the peaks green. What looked like a road or path then led to a large building and we could open its doors and look inside. There were paintings on the wall, very obviously Dido’s work. What could have been people were depicted leaning against chairs, but not sitting on them. They had no middles, just five arms a hooped stomach, and three legs. Their heads were triangular, they had five eyes each, all looking in different directions. Two of them were talking. A cleverly rigged up audio system projected the following sounds.
“Oh, mais ne me fait pas rigoler, coco. C’est pas possible”
“Ogni uno per si medesimo, a dio per tutti.”
“En boca cerrada no entra mosca.”
“Cada ovelha com sua parelha”
“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far, old chap!”
By this stage I could see how they had got over the language problem but really did want to know whether it was Maria or Eddie. Eddie was too young to have produced the conversation I had just heard but he could have done the Italian and maybe the Spanish. It was so clever I just looked at Maria and smiled. She couldn’t help grinning back.
The geographical and architectural side of the planet that Aeneas and Lucia had worked out reached its zenith with a building, well it looked like a building, somewhere between a church and a town hall. But what I couldn’t work out were the people, just like those in Dido’s drawing, looking glum as they went in one side and incredibly happy as they came out the other. Lucia couldn’t help whispering to me, “Papa, Aeneas said God created everything no matter where, in the universe, so all planets must have a religion too so they could know God. This depicts sinners going in one door, glum and sorry for being absolutely dreadful, and then finding God smiling at them inside, and jumping for joy as they came out. Good , isn’t it?” I looked at my second son with a definite tear in my eye. What a wonderful proof that he really had understood what he had been taught. But understood in such a unique and spiritual way.
The whole scene included strange food, dwellings, over-imagined languages and some incredibly delicate craftsmanship in assembling the rooms, roads and rivers. As we finished our tour of the table and therefore of ‘TROY’, we got the greatest and loveliest surprise of all. As we turned to leave the room we saw a notice on the back of the playroom door which read
DOS EST MAGNA PARENTIUM VIRTUS
Well everybody with a basic knowledge of some Latin would understand as beautiful a message as that. Francesca was in tears as she hugged them all.