How strange to hear from him after all this time. Not that he has been entirely silent. Having discovered the joys of Twitter, Paul (as @telectroscope) has been regularly updating the nation about his subterranean adventures:
And now ‘Go Norway!’. A reference to the Eurovisian Song Contest, certainly. But also perhaps another nudge, another clue from Paul about where to look next, about where to expect the next ‘surfacing’?
For those who aren’t up to speed about Paul they should know that he is a man who spends much of his time living on what he calls ‘the ground floor’, while the rest of us reside on floor 2.
What is he doing down there? Well, discovering tunnels obviously; no doubt with the intention of installing his Telectroscopes in locations around the world: those large Victorian devices which made their first appearance last year, and which allow people (second floor dwellers) separated by oceans and continents, to stand and wave and smile at each other, whatever the weather or time of day, as if we all lived on the same street and were simply acknowledging each other through a downstairs window or across the garden fence.
But also while he’s down there in the dark (and one has to presume it is quite dark) Paul must be living a very odd life and making all manner of strange discoveries. His existence and his busy-bee-like industry provoke so many questions, most of which Paul chooses to answer at an angle or somewhat gnomically, if he answers them at all.
How do you travel? ‘Anywhere in 42 mins’
Where will you surface? ‘Two locations with the same name and a historical link’
How big is your tunnel? ‘What is grown-up for puddle?’
How do you manage to get Twitter to work from several hundred metres underground? ‘Twitter is the telegraph system of Web 2.0. http://bit.ly/Qmv3M
Why me, Paul?! Why me?! Why of all the people you could talk to do you bother me? [No answer.]
I am no relation, we have met only a handful of times and I have no particular interest in tunnels or tunnelling – or telectroscopy, even. And yet somehow Paul’s story has its hold over me.
As if it’s in my blood. As if in some part of my lizard brain there sits an ancient memory – of sons being sent out by their fathers to forage and make fortunes, of one boy crawling into a crack in the ground or burrowing into soft soil in search of something - buried treasure or gold or food. It’s the story of one boy stuck in the dark forever stumbling his way through a labyrinth of fissures Sméagol-like, sustaining himself by dipping his mouth in underground streams and scooping his hands into vast pools (puddles?) of sweet, sticky nectar (or honey, even?).
It is the myth of a man hiding himself under the mountain like a troll. You see now that Paul has drilled his way into my dreams. Who knows where or when he will choose to go next.