A NEW ENGLAND

A man who claimed to have seen twin shooting stars last night was forced to admit they were satellites.

The claim by William MacColl, 22, had initially excited asteroid specialists, who have been seeking an explanation for the puzzling twinned lines on shooting stars, a rare occurrence even during a meteor shower, with the traditional thinking being that the twin streaks are part of a single tube of hot, glowing gas made as a meteor barrels through the atmosphere.

Professor Andrew Kershaw, of New England Meteoritical Services, told Barking Gazette: “We’ve been looking for an opportunity to prove that the double trains are the result of a separation between glowing gas, created as a meteor speeds through the upper atmosphere, and a sprinkling of bright space dust settling through the air like mud grains. We were sure studying this phenomenon would change the world but then it turned out they were just satellites he saw.”

“He’s an idiot, to be honest,” added a flustered Professor Kershaw. “Meteors, or shooting stars, move in less than a fraction of a second across the sky, whereas satellites move in a straight line and take several minutes to cross the sky.”

In a press conference held earlier today, a deeply ashamed William MacColl admitted he was “wrong to wish on space hardware”, adding: “I’m just sorry for letting you know.”

A close pal of MacColl, who asked not to be named, said: “He’s been weird since his girlfriend left him. He was 21 when it happened. It won’t be long before he’s 23.”

He added: “Frankly, I think it’s time he moved on and found another girl.”

By Shihab S Joi
Hat-doff:
Billy Bragg

DON’T LOOK BACK INTO THE SUN

The paper doesn’t mention any of their names. It never will. All they will ever amount to is a number, and not an exact one at that.

Almost 700 feared drowned…

The photo that goes with the story shows some of them, or others like them, (they’re all the same as far as the paper cares), and you’re drawn to the only girl peering out from the deck not wearing a headscarf, in defiance of wind and criticism. The strange life she leaves behind has left her looking rough, but you sense her dreams are polished, can almost taste the prayers on her lips. She’s cast her plans and she’s on the run. But there’s no denying it. Her time has come.

In the photograph, she will always stay that way. You don’t see the moment the vessel overturns in the unforgiving sea, or hear the shrieks weave into the wind, a sea of arms and legs flailing on a liquid dance floor, a death disco.

Inside, a woman who claims to be the voice of your people says it’s good she’s dead, they should all be dead, that the dreams of cockroaches are of no concern to real people like you.

‘Liar!’ You scream at her. But you know that’s what she wants. Making you angry is how she wins. You have to let go.

You take one last look at the girl in the photo, beg for her forgiveness, hoping her last moments went fast and didn’t end too slow. Then you tear the paper into shreds and make a vow to yourself.

Don’t look back into The Sun.

By Shihab S Joi
Hat-doff:
Pete Doherty/ Carl Barat

THE GREAT GIG IN THE SKY

‘I miss my mum,’ says Syd, holding onto the steel rail.

Great, thinks Jimi, like being caught up in another one of Jim’s rambles on lizards wasn’t downer enough already.

‘Is there anybody out here…’ he demands to know, ‘whose feet are howling to dance?’

‘What’s going on?’ You want to know. You want to know a lot of things but this one will do for now.

‘Well, hello there, baby!’ Jimi cries, beaming like a cat that’s just seen the gates to the cream factory unlocked.

‘Early comer, I like that,’ he ruffles your hair. His hand feels tingly, electric. ‘For you, little man, the highest chair in the house, you dig?’

You don’t dig.

‘Well, son, have we got a great show lined up for you tonight! There’s Bill doing the warm-up, same old routine but it never gets old, we’ve got Janis and Amy together on stage for the first time, then Bob, you can always count on Bob to bring that sunshine right on in, and finally, Kurt, wouldn’t you know it, Kurt pulled out, let me get an echo on that surprise, so instead headlining tonight, it’s the ‘Dead, man. Don’t be surprised if Jerry doesn’t play a single damn tune you or anyone here can hum along to.’

‘That sounds great,’ you say, unsure.

‘It is great,’ assures Jimi. ‘Not the greatest, mind. That’ll be the day when Don and the last of the good ‘ole boys ride on up in that Chevy. The levee won’t run dry on that day, you can bet your life on that. Man! That’s gonna be one hell of a gig.’

‘You look like a terrapin,’ says Syd. Everyone always forgets he’s there.

Add that to the digging pile.

‘Where am I?’ You wonder. Jimi sees you tremble. Like a harp, he thinks.

‘Why, you’re home, little butterfly,’ Jimi smiles his biggest smile yet, winking at an angel who blushes a shade too fiery for a place like this.

For Pip (—13 Apr 2010). By Shihab S Joi
Hat-doff:
Roger Waters/ Richard Wright