the opening of Attu:
‘My fellow Americans, good evening or good morning or good afternoon: I’m speaking to you from the Oval Office and
this pre-recorded address is to share –
Bryan, am I going too fast?’
‘Your delivery is a bit rapid,
‘Hell, this is harder than I thought. When I’m live I have rhythm, when I record I always go to friggin’ pieces. And I was smirking, right? Bryan? Goddamn. The smirk. And Harry: this stuff about morning, afternoon, it’s lame, I’m cutting it, you’re fired, I need another speech-writer. Just kidding, I love you, you’re terrific, you’re the best. All right, teamsters, let’s try it again.’
‘Three. Two. One. Mr President.’
‘My fellow Americans. I am speaking to you from the Oval Office. This pre-recorded address is to share with you the gravest news I, or any of my predecessors, have had to bring before the great American people.
‘Yesterday morning, 22nd August, a previously unknown comet was observed in the constellation Hydra. The discovery was made by a secret U.S. military telescope, which has been in orbit since 2002: a massive telescope designed to detect hostile military activity in space. Quite incidentally it sighted this comet, which has a metallic core sixty miles across, and is travelling at a velocity of, let me see, nearly a thousand miles per second nope I mean a hundred.
Fair clip either way: whoo-hoosh – no no, keep the camera rolling Bryan. They get the idea.
‘Because this comet is coming directly at us, it’s just a pinprick in the sky, and as far as we know no
terrestrial observatory has detected it.
‘At least, no astronomer’s seen it and grasped its significance.
‘Or seen it, grasped its significance, and bothered announcing. Who can say? Funny guys, scientists.
‘Speaking of which – and getting back on-message. Given the urgency of the occasion, I am preëmpting the usual role of the International Astronomical Union and naming the comet myself. I flirted with the idea of calling it Wormwood, but that seemed a bit of a downer. At moments like this what we need is uplift, what we need is oomph, n’est-ce pas vrai?
So I hereby christen it Comet Muffy,
after my belovèd sister Muffy Trevelyan Chillers.
‘An hour ago scientists from NASA briefed me on the object – that is, on Comet Muffy. They informed me that it
will come closest to the earth at 11:23 tomorrow night, Eastern Standard Time. At which point it’ll probably shoot
past us. Lighting up the sky like a tinsel Christmas-tree outside a truck-stop strip-bar, way out on the lonesome chaparral.
Not their words.
‘That’s the good news.
‘But there is, I regret to say, a 3% chance that we’ll be hit. If so, the result will be cataclysmic – naw, scratch that, cataclysmic’s a podunk word, it’s what I say
when Congress gets uppitty about the budget. Apocalyptic, that’s what we’re looking for. Ay. Pock. A. Lipso. Now.... Where am I? Here we go....’