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August 22, 2016 / hbrowne4

A Never-ending Loop of Happiness by Andrew McFarland Campbell

[Prompt: The town planners had never planned for this.]

The parade has entered into its third year. Not, you understand, its third consecutive year. The parade has entered into its third continuous year.

The original route started at Custom House Square. From there, it went up High Street, across to Royal Avenue, through Castle place, round the City Hall, back through Castle Place and back down High Street to Custom House Square. The parade had used that route for many years without any problem. You might say it was the traditional route.

It was the way that the parade crossed over itself that lead to what the police called the “ongoing situation”. Every year the parade was a short parade. There was a good ten minutes between the end of the parade passing through Castle Place and the head of the parade crossing over it again. Although there was the theoretical problem that the parade could collide with itself nobody believed it could actually happen.

Then one year, one fateful year, a few days before the parade, a local politician made some comments that, I’m not sure how to put this, probably hadn’t been approved by her party’s press officer. She didn’t like this parade. She didn’t like the people who would be in the parade, and she didn’t think the parade should be allowed at all. These comments were widely broadcast on the radio, and were repeated in the newspapers. By all accounts she thought the people would listen to her and the parade would be stopped. As we all know, the people did listen to her, but the effect was not what she had hoped.

That year there were a lot of last-minute applicants to join the parade. The organisers, being a conscientious lot, were careful not to allow too many people in. Calculations were performed, and spreadsheets filled out. The parade would be almost long enough to collide with itself, but not quite.

Of course, the general public is the general public, subject to no authority. That year as the parade left custom house square, many people joined it. They were unauthorised, of course, but the parade organisers couldn’t stop them. Secretly, they found it gratifying that not only were more people out to take part in the parade, but that so many people were showing their opposition to the politician.

The parade went up High Street, across to Royal Avenue, through Castle Place, round the City Hall, and back across Castle Place, where it collided with itself. It was at that instant that the ongoing situation began, although nobody realised it at the time.

You see, the thing about a parade is only the person at the front needs to know where they are going. Everyone else just has to follow whoever is in front of them. When the parade collided with itself, the brave flag-carriers at the front paraded on back down High Street to Custom House Square. Sadly, in the confusion, the people behind them got mixed up. Rather than following the flag at the head of the parade, they followed the people who were at the end of the parade. Suddenly, there was no beginning and no end to the parade. It was an infinite loop of celebration.

Initially, the police were irritated, and the parade organisers were embarrassed. They tried to break the loop, to direct the people back down High Street and towards Custom House Square. Sadly, the organisers of the parade had done their job far too well. Before the parade had left Custom House Square, they told everyone to follow the people in front, no matter what happened. Nobody was prepared to disobey that instruction, so the eternal loop kept going. And going.

After a couple of hours, some people in the parade started to get tired. Gradually, they dropped out of the parade. The police were relieved. The parade organisers were relieved. It was going to end itself.

Of course, that didn’t happen. The parade had many people watching it too, and as they watched they saw how happy the paraders were. People from the crowd quietly slipped into the parade, wanting to be happy too, and by miracle of politics and psychology the number of people in the parade remained pretty constant. Night fell, and the parade continued. The next day, it rained, but the parade kept going on. The police were now pretty impressed, and the parade organisers were somewhat at a loss of what to do. The parade lasted 24 hours. Then 48. After a week everyone began to accept that the parade was going to be there a while. A month after the parade began, the politician admitted defeat, retired from public life and started to raise begonias, and the parade showed no signs of stopping.

The parade has entered its third continuous year. Long may it continue.

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One Comment

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  1. Matthew Tonks / Aug 23 2016 2:03 am

    It was fun, I imagined the parade from Paprika, great little story.

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