The Lost Dimension

“Simon, so lovely to hear your exquisitely melodious voice. It’s been so long: too long.”

“Did you get the voicemail I just left?”

“Yes but it sounded boring.”

“If you’d bothered to listen you’d be aware we have a problem.”

“We don’t: you do. Everything’s fine where I am. What have you cocked up now? Are we going to hand over the building on time or not?”

“Yes … after a fashion.”

“Is it a structural problem?”

“No, it’s…”

“Electrical, mechanical, engineering?”

“No, not material, supplies, foundation, water, subsidence, snagging, water ingress … anything like that.”

“Then it’s not really a problem.”

“It’s highly embarrassing though.”

“Really, Simon? so it must have been you!”

“There’s a micro-crane in the Greco-Roman folly.”

“Interesting. I don’t think many people have ever had that said to them. What is a micro-crane?”

“A thing that picks things up and puts them down again.”

“How I yearn for the sort of adventurous lifestyle such a wonder promises.”

“Listen, will you? It was used to lift the columns of the folly. Now it’s stuck among them.”

“And during a two-year build you’ve only just noticed it?”

“Admit it, it’s the sort of problem you don’t see because you can’t take it seriously.”

“I disagree; I don’t take you seriously but you stubbornly still exist. Sometimes I feel you could be more thoughtful.”

“Be serious! I’m looking for solutions – not infantile snash.”

“At risk of sounding very slightly offensive, have you thought about using the crane to move columns aside, drive it out of the folly the way it was driven in – and replace the columns? Notice I’m trying very hard not to imply you’re thick as shit.”

“Thank you for your concern. It won’t work. What was a gentle mound has been sculpted to accommodate stairs all round. A crane on short tracks would plummet down them, turn end-over-end and smash at least one of the very expensive fountains below.”

“Does our third-party insurance cover goldfish with PTSD?”

“Even in the highly unlikely event of it not falling over, the crane would have to be driven back up the stairs its tracks have crushed so it can replace the columns. The only way it can do that is from the centre of the folly and we’re back where we started. I’ve thought of building a ramp but that would take too long and we’d end up paying fines for missing the deadline. I’ve thought about chopping the crane up with welding equipment but the fuel tank needs to be dry and free of vapour or the folly would end up looking like the Parthenon after the Ottoman Turks said ‘Let’s store our gunpowder there – what can possibly go wrong?’ Any suggestions? I’ve been working all morning on this.”

“Give me a few seconds.”

“But apparently you can solve it in seconds…”

“That’s why I am project manager while you are only the site monkey.”

“I’m the site manager because all you can do is sit in an office reading horoscopes. That’s why you are the office … donkey or something.”

“Sorry, did you just say ‘ookity-ook-ook’? If so, is it the ook during which you whack your head with a banana or the one that requires armpit and belly-button scratching?”

“I phoned you because…”

“And I have the solution. Get some paint brushes fast.”

“What? Have you gone mad? You can’t paint something out of existence.”

“You can partially. Your ‘not seeing it’ idea was a clue. I’m going to place an emergency order for that black paint which doesn’t reflect any light. It makes 3D look like 2D.”

“Just admitting you’re mad would have been sufficient.”

“Then we call it contemporary art: the modern Greek god of poorly plagiarised parthenons.”

“Ridiculous! You want me to give it a helmet and sword or what? You can’t … it’s not going to work.”

“It will if you put a penis on it. No one notices anything else.”

“It still won’t work.”

“It will because of the clever bit – this is the local council we’re dealing with.”

“There’s no cleverness there. If there was they’d be off doing real jobs.”

“Precisely. The clever bit is that I … adjust … the original specification agreement and add £14,000 to pay the artist. The councillors will be so panicked over wasting taxpayers’ money they’ll go for a political solution which means blaming the opposition or finding scapegoats among their own juniors. These are the only ways councillors can deal with anything.”

“That is actually quite clever.”

“It’s genius which is why, my darling husband, you’ll be treating me to dinner at Antonio’s this evening.”

“Why do I have to treat you?”

“Because I’m cleverer. Wash any paint splashes off: you are pretty two-dimensional at the best of times.”


“See you at seven. Bring nice flowers.”

©Gary Bonn, 2020