The invitation to submit an obituary for planet Earth drew a smallish but varied and heartfelt entry.
The usual culprits were in the frame — asteroids, global warming, hubris, Trump, Brexit… But Basil Ransome-Davies reckons the Martians have got it in for us, which struck me as altogether plausible given how Elon Musk and co. already have their beady eyes firmly fixed on the red planet. He earns an honourable mention as do C.J. Gleed, D.A. Prince and Duncan Forbes.
John Whitworth snaffles the bonus fiver and his fellow winners are rewarded with £25 apiece.
In an obituary
There’s no room for bitchery,
So let’s say the earth
Had some things of worth.
Angels and fairies,
Cats and canaries,
Camels and kiddyoes,
Woodlands for walking in,
Teashops for talking in,
Kitchens for cooking in,
Mirrors for looking in.
Pity you blew it,
But how did you do it?.
God alone knows,
And that’s me I suppose.
We are sorry to learn that Earth has passed away. She was 4,540,000,001 years old, and one of the many children of Chaos and Vacancy, who still live at the far end of the universe, and to whom we extend our sympathies. In recent centuries, she had been a little erratic in her orbit around Helios, an instability variously ascribed to excess weight, and the shifting of her polar ice-caps. Towards the end of her short life, she fostered a number of surprising life forms, having been until then happily dormant, and content to cultivate some common minerals and sturdy vegetation. These new life forms will have proved irritating, what with their penchant for burrowing, and also multiplying. According to observers, some areas seem to have been blotted out entirely by parasites. We will remember her gently as a long-suffering victim of ambition. She leaves a moon.
I, Donald J. Trump, ultimate President of the United States, have to tell you — whoever, whatever you are — the Earth is dead. It was a Good Place. Amazing golf courses. Fantastic hotels. There were animals: dinosaurs, for example. Later, pussy. Earth had a long history, but that’s all in the past now. Earth was 4.6 billion years old. Incredible. How much is that in dollars? Not as much as I’m worth, even at post-apocalypse prices. It had to go sometime. Gonna bigly miss some stuff — Scotland, pizza. Water, maybe. Survived by one Sun and a whole amazing family of other planets — I love this space stuff, love families, too — Earth will be remembered for the Trumpocalypse. I did that. I won. Never again will North Korea doubt the word of Donald J. Trump. Team Trump is off to space now. We’ll never forget Earth’s amazing beauty; we have selfies.
Earth’s demise was regrettable but inevitable. The planet might have been destroyed by natural events: tsunamis, pandemics or asteroids. Its end might have come from self destruction: atomic warfare or climate change. But from such catastrophes Earth was saved by we who valued the planet, not for its human folly nor for its vulnerability but for its polysyllabic language nurtured from Shakespeare to Shaw and revealed to us through the Doctor. Such words, peculiar to Earth, appealed to our alien tongues and would have guaranteed your survival but for one who sought to debase them and trump them with tweets. ‘Con and fake’ were crude expressions which forced us to expedite Earth’s destruction. Yes, we stand at your grave and weep, not for your loss but the loss of your glorious polysyllabic words. Lamentably now Earth’s empty space must eternally echo our final cries, words learned from you: ‘Annihilate! Exterminate!’
BECAUSE YOU WEREN’T WEARTH IT
The Sun says: I hate losing a planet. I was there when Earth exploded into life. I gave it heat and light and watched it settle into shape. But I didn’t know it was infested with life.
The creepies and crawlies seemed harmless, so I let them be. But I drew the line at giant lizards and zapped them with a meteorite. But then some of the creepies started standing up and looking around. That was fine while they worshipped me. But recently they’d started getting nosy.
At first it was only spying on their neighbours. But that turned into stalking, then physical assault. Meanwhile they were littering their space with junk. I turned up the heat but they carried on.
If I had not acted they would have infected the universe. So I burnt their planet to a cinder.
After a prolific career spanning eight billion years, Planet Earth has passed away, peacefully, at home. Fondly remembered for ground-breaking early works including Primordial Soup, Dinosaurs Rule and Mankind, Earth’s later output was less well received: Uninhabitable Hellhole Of Boiling Oceans and Swallowed By The Sun generated little interest although Jonathan Ross described the latter as ‘a high-octane edge-of-your-seat thrill ride — don’t miss!’
Earth was born eight billion years ago, the third of eight children (a ninth sibling, Pluto, was subsequently disowned by the family and never mentioned again). Mankind remained Earth’s best-loved work, although contemporary critics have been less kind, questioning the plausibility of protagonists who obsess about their author’s premature death. Nevertheless, Earth’s contribution to the comedy of the cosmos will be missed. It is survived by five siblings, although with the Sun’s ever expanding waistline possibly not for much longer.
Your next challenge is to provide an answer, in verse or prose, to a famous literary question of your choosing. Please email up to 150 words or 16 lines to email@example.com by midday on 24 May.
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