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Woman hood smoking in dark

Cousins.  Long-distance-mysterious, or next-best-thing-to-a-sibling – sort of bonus family members that you’re always intending to be closer to.  But not always successfully. In our family, it’s usually the latter. Never a terribly close bunch, and with the usual Irish emigration issues thrown in, they’re always people I would like to be closer to, but the best laid mice …

Three-thirty a.m. of a post-Saturday night sortie:  girl talk at the too-brightly lit kitchen table, over tea and ridiculous biscuits.  April and me having the long-overdue cousinly catch-up.  We remove to the patio outside, to indulge April’s still-bad-girl-at-heart cigarette habit, hovering in the seaside darkness, with dawn getting ready backstage in the far clouds.

Conversation stumbled on a communication issue, where one of us is having a problem getting through to an official entity and encountering increasing bother.   April pulls on her nicotine stick, which momentarily illuminates her bright, last-gasp-of-the-night eyes.

“Yeah, open the pod bay doors, Hal … “ she says.


“Open the pod bay … ah, never mind, it’s a …  “

I put my hand on her arm, with cousine affection, and slowly whisper:  “It’s what you read just under the password text box on my log-in screen.”


“It’s been there since I upgraded to 10.9 …”

“I’ve always used that phrase, I love it … “

Bowman “Dr Dave Bowman … “

“Yes! “

“Hal gets stubborn … “

“The sudden realisation that he’s completely and utterly fucked …”

“The way it builds … “

I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow happen … “

“I use it like people use ‘don’t panic’ from Hitchhiker’s.”

“It’s such a perfect expression of sheer, hopeless terror!”

“In any communication  … “


So, with random lack of logic, for my cousin April, this phrase from a 1968 movie finale means exactly the same thing as it does to me.  A useful expression to denote fear when confronted by denial, especially in the context of an official body or even a person.  Used separately, by said cousins, down the years, with no previous mention.  I have never, ever heard anyone else use this phrase in a similar context.


We stand in the dark garden as April finishes her cigarette.  Ah, yes … the possibilities of gene-sharing, inter-cousinly connections blaze.  The music comes up – and the pair of us link arms, burst into a rousing chorus of “Daisy, Daisy” and hail the nearest alien craft, ascending into the lime-tinged beams just as the dawn breaks.

Well, not really.

“Anyway,” she says.  “10.9!  I wish you wouldn’t spout that MAC crap.  And how do I know when you installed 10.9?”

“Nah, that’s another thing.  You have to switch to MAC, obviously … “

“No, listen to me, I’m telling you …. “

And it’s five o’clock before the two of us actually get to sleep.