Perfect Blue
Kona Macphee
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Commentary: Paranoia

Years ago, I stayed in a youth hostel in the city of Seattle, which lies on a major geological fault-line. Just as I was unpacking my bag, the room jolted and then rocked back and forth, as if a large truck had bumped into it (which was my immediate, if somewhat implausible, assumption). It wasn't until a good few seconds afterwards that I realised I'd just experienced my first proper earthquake; the event itself was so unexpected that I couldn't think clearly. Similarly, I'm so accustomed to a reliable electricity supply that when it shuts off suddenly, I always experience a moment or two of utterly blank confusion.

An interruption to the taken-for-granted (such as the recent freezing-up of our domestic water pipes) often sends me off on a slightly paranoid apocalyptic train of thought. I don't know who it was that opined that "any civilisation is three square meals away from anarchy", but it seems all too imaginable. (Perhaps ours is three nights' telly away from it, if you suspect, as I do, that TV might be the new opiate of the masses.)

The poet Matthew Francis explored an ordinary-becomes-apocalyptic scenario to wonderful effect in his long poem "Blizzard", which is the title poem in his excellent 1996 poetry collection.

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