Mornings in Fogsworth

An early draft of an opening scene from "Molly Whiskers and the Blue Tentacle".

Mornings in Fogsworth
Photo by David Cain / Unsplash

By the ancient and official rules of Fogsworth, morning cannot be said to have begun unless it has been heralded by the Dawn Chorus: a band of talented musicians, whose job it is to wake up the town and get them ready for the day ahead.

The Head of the Chorus is Sir Philip Overture, a huge cockerel with a dangling, dusty red wattle and tufts of unruly, dark hair at his tail. He is by all accounts an imposing figure, which is a word adults tend to use to describe other adults they find scary.

In a moment, he will take up his position on the dirt road that leads from the Meandering Forrest to Fogsworth’s high street, and assemble the band by clambering up to the Speaker’s Stone and reciting the ancient Words of Waking:

Friends of Fogsworth, hark and hail,
Now brush aside sleep’s dusky veil.
Lift hearts and voices t’wards the sun,
Good morning, good morning, everyone!

A few minutes will then pass, which Sir Philip will spend muttering to himself about the youth of today and how they simply don’t value punctuality, but slowly, tired heads will emerge from houses, with one or two from the forest to the south of the Speaker’s Stone. These are the birds of Fogsworth, and it is their job to sing.

Once they’re all assembled, the band will warm up their voices. Many carry hot, sweet drinks that not only coat the throat, but also put a little spring in their step. Then the chorus will harmonise, singing together to create a beautiful chord of notes, low and high.

The song they sing is passed down to each and every bird within the chorus, and has been for countless generations. There aren’t any words, but somehow the song feels comforting, and promises a bright new day full of possibility.

As the chorus sings, they march slowly down the cobbled high street of Fogsworth, bringing sound to the previously silent shopfronts, the houses behind and the flats above them, just as the sun wraps its arms around the town, gently bringing it to its feet.

The band will march all the way up the high street until they reach Unicorn Square, with its beautiful stone fountain, the horned animal statue standing guard over a shallow trough of cool water.

The fountain was built many years ago, to honour the last of the unicorns. It doubles as a public swimming bath for some of the smaller animals, but it’s so shallow that now people mainly use it to wash their feet.

The chorus will gather around the fountain, and end with a final chord, Sir Philip gesturing with his wings, encouraging a little swell of bass notes here, or picking out the rhythm for the sopranos there, before finally spreading his wings and bowing his head, bringing the morning song to a close.

He will then point out the bird who wasn’t singing quite on key this morning, and the rest of the band will throw them in the fountain.