‘The final frontier’ by Ali Smith


Jess Robinson: Back Garden.., 2013 (CC)

From the European Review of Books:

Here’s a joke from the 1970s, the days when people used to say I say I say I say before they said the first line of a joke.

I say I say I say. What do you do when you see a spaceman?
I don’t know. What do you do when you see a spaceman?
Park in it, man.

I say I say I say. This happens two winters ago, a bit before the pandemic we’re in hit home. One of our neighbours knocks on our front door. I can see her through the door, the door is made of glass. She’s not one to cry easily. She’s a teacher, and one of the soundest people, very steady and unflappable. But there she is at the front door and she is crying.

I open it. She says, all in a rush:


A bit of background. We live in a very narrow road, a cul de sac of eight small houses. Between us, we all communally own the scrubby space up by the bin store where, if there’s ever an emergency, a fire engine or police car or plumber’s van etc can pull in. The whole neighbourhood is crowded, it’s a fact. There are way more cars than these old streets can cope with, and we often have parking wrangles with people who don’t live here who leave their cars in our cul de sac for days, or even weeks.

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Image: OSIRIS True Colour Mars (CC)

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