From the top of Victory Mansions, it was said that you could see the whole of the world and a few miles beyond that. Mr Edward Shrew was the owner of the highest room in the building and would sometimes charge a penny to any passer-by who wanted to see the ends of the Earth.
On a clear evening it was also the place to watch the heavens move across the sky and for that Mr Edward Shrew charged any interested parties two pennies for the pleasure.
Edward would push his clients through the smallest window in his attic and would then tell them to hold on for dear life. Three of his passers-by had slid off the roof at different times, one killing another passer-by below.
Mr Shrew used to tell the local policeman that the bodies belonged to unhappy souls who had jumped because they couldn’t take it anymore.
Mr Edward Shrew always took precautions, in that he measured the width of a client’s backside in order to establish if they were small enough to fit through the window. On one occasion, Mrs Petigrew had lied about her size and had been well and truly stuck in the window for several days. While up there, she had been hit by rain, snow and on the Tuesday night, some lightning which left her with a permanent bald patch. From that time on, Mr Shrew measured everyone.
It was on one particular bank holiday Wednesday that Professor Grand paid Mr Shrew his two pennies, Grand had his backside approved for size and then he was pushed on to the roof. Professor Grand was the leading light in the country on shiny things in the sky. If ever a person had a question on shiny things in the sky, Professor Grand was your man. And it was on that Wednesday evening that Professor Grand did something very unusual. He shouted out for the very first time in his life.
You see Professor Grand had seen something peculiar in the sky and it had surprised him. It was a shiny thing (of which he knew everything) but it was a shiny thing that blinked and winked.
“Werry, werry, strange,” said Professor Grand. “Werry strange, indeed.”
When Professor Grand was back on the safety of the street, he sent a messenger around to each of his esteemed colleagues, to arrange a meeting in order that they discuss the shiny thing that blinked and winked in the night sky.
Seven of his friends thought that it might be comet on its way to crash into the Earth. Three thought it a sign from the Heavens about something or other that they couldn’t be specific about and one thought it was the start of an alien invasion.
Professor Grand decided to refrain from coming to a conclusion until he knew more. So each evening, he would pay Mr Shrew his two pennies (an income that he was beginning to appreciate), and although he had been there the night before, Mr Shrew still insisted on measuring the professor’s posterior.
“Can’t be too careful, you might have put on some weight in the meantime, Proffy,” said Shrew.
Professor Grand hated being called ‘proffy’ but as long as he needed the roof he knew to keep his thoughts to himself.
Each evening, the professor clung on for dear life and took notes about the way the shiny thing, blinked and the way the shiny thing, winked. Yet there seemed to be no pattern to any of it. It wasn’t getting any bigger in size, which led the professor to think that maybe it wasn’t headed towards Earth after all.
I will place it out before you, dear readers, what was puzzling the dear professor. Sometimes, even when there were clouds in the sky and no other stars were visible, the shiny thing still blinked and winked.
“Werry, werry, werry strange,” said Professor Grand. In fact there probably wasn’t enough ‘werries’ in the world to cover the professor’s curiosity and worries.
Sometimes it stopped, perhaps for a week or more and strangely on Christmas Day.
‘Curious’, wrote the professor in his notebook.
One sunny afternoon when Professor Grand was sleeping at his large house on the other side of town, two police constables called at the building opposite Mr Shrew’s Victory Mansions and arrested the man on the top floor. Apparently he had been going out at night on to his roof, standing on the top of the chimney and using his telescope to look into all the bedrooms opposite. From afar, the reflection from the telescope seemed to blink and wink.
bobby stevenson 2013