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Editor’s note: mild language.

Hallo my dearest Strange fam, wishing all three and a half of you an auspicious and prosperous 2023, I hope it hasn’t been too terrible so far. Today, we continue on our journey through the BBC sci-fi stories of the past, with a radio drama called The Slide which came out in 1966. It was Victor Pemberton’s first science fiction story, and was apparently rejected for the Dr. Who series before finding its way to becoming its own radio drama. Maurice Denham and Miriam Margolyes are both in it, and frankly, that is why I’m listening to this. I think it’s about an earthquake in Southern England? Which is not that interesting for me honestly. So here is The Slide, Part One, Moment of Silence. Come on, Maurice and Miriam!

 

 

They didn’t mention Miriam Margolyes in the opening credits, probably because of 1966 sexism. Or maybe she doesn’t have a very big role.

I don’t like either of those scenarios.

We open with a Ken and a Janet climbing a hill, admiring the town and the air and other such things.

Someone called Hugh Deveril built the town and went from sweeping to building aforementioned town just so y’all know.

Ken doesn’t like him. Anyway nobody cares, Ken.

Wow so before they get married, Ken says he needs to fix Janet’s political views #feminism

Why does that sound painful?

Now Janet is hearing something but Ken and I don’t hear anything.

She’s hearing that it’s super-quiet. So Janet technically didn’t hear anything either.

She’s like omg it’s so quiet look at the grass Janet grass is generally quiet.

She means the grass is not moving. Ok, we’ll allow that.

Apparently there is no breeze and no birds but Ken has pointed out that you can see the English Channel which I guess is practically the same thing.

Janet is like fuck this, I want to go home, I’ve had a headache for a week.

I heard that “having a headache” was once code for constipation.

Now Janet is complaining that the sun is too bright because Janet just wants to complain about everything today.

Now we are in a meeting in the aforementioned town called Redlow I think. A dude is talking about how he took the farmers’ lands and gave them homes.

Although the farmers probably already had homes on those farms.

I’m guessing Deveril is the bad guy.

He claims that Redlow used to be a swamp and he has now brought them into the future before the future. Yes he said that.

In a shocking turn of events, none of the local farmers agree with anything Deveril is saying.

By the by, all the main characters seemed to have posh accents while the locals talk like that guy from Mary Poppins.

Anyway, Janet has fainted.

You really don’t sound well, Janet.

Conveniently, Ken is a doctor.

Janet just said that it’s too late but I think we can all agree that it is never too late for proper hydration and a high-fibre diet.

Ah, here comes the earthquake.

It’s over now.

A constable has just received a shocking phone call about a crack in a road.

Not sure if that’s shocking after an earthquake?

In my youth, we used to use crack as an insulting term of endearment. Like, “why are you such a crack,” or “are you a crack,” or “look at you standing here like a crack.” So this whole situation is taking on a new dimension for me you see.

Everyone is saying that it’s impossible to have earthquakes in England.

Is it really?

“Between 200 and 300 earthquakes are detected and located in the UK, by the British Geological Survey annually.”

And to add insult to injury, I also see that the British Geological Survey has recorded about 13 instances of earthquakes happening before 1966 with the earliest one being in 1382.

Anyway, that crack lol in the road is a whopping 100 yards long.

Janet has concussion but they don’t know how she got it because she went down before the quake started.

Maybe that’s when she got the concussion? Whatever I don’t care.

Can Janet foresee earthquakes? I SURE HOPE SO.

I haven’t heard Maurice or Miriam yet #sad

Oh Mr. Deveril is Maurice! Wow, he’s missing that gravelly tone he had in Maigret.

Someone who I think is supposed to be a scientist just said that the tremors were a degree 6, which I think is something he just made up.

Maybe the Richter scale didn’t exist in 1966.

“The idea of a logarithmic earthquake magnitude scale was first developed by Charles Richter in the 1930's” wtf you guys.

I guess this would explain that whole ‘earthquakes never happen in England’ school of thought.

An actual cravat was occurred in the earth’s crust.

I know it’s supposed to be crevasse but this is my column so I can do whatever I want. And it’s funny. I see now that it is not funny.

Anyway, so there’s all this major devastation and stuff but Deveril has just said he wants everything up and running ASAP.

Everyone is telling him to check with Whitehall first and he, like me, is saying that he can do whatever he wants.

What is Whitehall?

I’m not that invested in finding out.

A professor, who I have to say seems like kind of a dick, has just said that these tremors were not unexpected.

Just wanted to keep that info to yourself, did you?

He didn’t say anything because he knew it would happen someplace in Southern England but he didn’t know exactly where.

What the actual fuck, bro.

Check this out fam! Some time ago, there were strange explosions in the English Channel. Now they have happened in this village. And Ken said they could see the English Channel from that hill! COULD THERE BE A CONNECTION.

A Chilean professor named Gomez has now been added to the mix because he has been studying these things but mostly because he’s a suspicious and mysterious foreigner.

Deveril is like I won’t allow this dangerous person into my country dammit!

You know why? Because Prof Gomez is a pacifist.

Apparently Gomez might seduce the entire farming community into engaging in pacifist terrorism BUT NOT ON DEVERIL’S WATCH HE WON’T BY GOD.

Enter Prof Gomez because Deveril is not as hot as he thinks he is.

Now, for some local colour, we are listening to a folksy woman watching television and engaging in conversation with a folksy dude.

Their dog is barking and driving folksy dude bananas and folksy woman has suddenly slipped into a reverie, saying that the dog is going to die soon anyway.

Wtf folksy woman.

Folksy dude is now heading outside to inflict some low-level animal abuse on said dog wtf don’t do that!

We are now listening in on someone called Old Ted, who is unconscious with concussion but has no visible injuries and is breathing like he has terrible asthma.

Old Ted is opening his eyes!

Old Ted has closed his eyes.

But we have no time for this scintillating drama because now, we are listening to Prof Gomez explain how he discovered two large cracks lol in the English Channel.

Are the cracks lol moving from the sea to the land?

Now Ken and the constable are taking Old Ted to the hospital.

They see mysterious lights near the crack lol in the road!

It’s folksy dude looking for his dog.

So the good news is he found the dog and managed to jump across the crack lol to safety. The bad news is that now Old Ted is missing.

Weird sounds are happening now.

Ew, it sounds like indigestion.

Fam there is a bunch of mud slowly creeping out of the crack lol whaaaaaaat

The mud is going to eat everyone, isn’t it?

I don’t hate this idea.

The show seems to be over but where was Miriam??

She was the folksy woman! Oh wow, she sounded really different.

Despite my smarminess, I have to say I liked this. Unlike a lot of the American radio sci-fi which tends to go all over the place a lot, the British shows seem to be a little more focused. Just a little though. This one is pretty good so far, in my opinion. Do join us another time, when we will find out more about the mud and the crack, lol. Bai.

 



Kuzhali Manickavel's collections Things We Found During the Autopsy, Insects Are Just like You and Me except Some of Them Have Wings, and chapbooks The Lucy Temerlin Institute for Broken Shapeshifters Guide to Starving Boys and Eating Sugar, Telling Lies are available from Blaft Publications, Chennai. Her work has also appeared in Granta, Strange Horizons, Agni, Subtropics, Michigan Quarterly Review, and DIAGRAM. She used to blog at http://thirdworldghettovampire.blogspot.com/. She's now at https://www.kuzhalimanickavel.com.
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