My dear Tychy.
It has been over five years since I last sent you a letter but when I look back over this time, I cannot think of a single incident that was worth putting pen to paper about. I admittedly went through a period when I became violently addicted to the computer game Fortnite. All of my hair fell out and I briefly lost my vision in colour and I developed life-threatening anaemia and I also spent virtually the entire GDP of the Moon on dances. Luckily, I was gradually able to use my willpower to rescue ever more hours of each day back from the game.
On another occasion, I purchased a Fitbit and I set off walking frantically, determined to complete the recommended 10,000 daily steps. After over forty circuits of the Moon, and fewer than a hundred steps, I started to wonder whether the Fitbit could operate correctly in lunar gravity. Thus disheartened, I quickly discarded my new device.
There was also a bad-tempered exchange of letters between myself and your editor James. He accused me of disloyalty, since he believed that I had abandoned my position as your lunar correspondent to appear in a sentimental John Lewis Christmas advert. I confessed that I had allowed John Lewis the usage of a small piece of land at the bottom of my garden, for filming, but that their “Man in the Moon” was actually a pompous thespian who was somehow judged to be more telegenic than myself. I had tried to advise him on adding some authentic touches to his performance, but he snubbed me and told me to “keep out” of his “creative space.” The crew left the filming location strewn with coffee cups, fag ends, and avocado husks. Eventually, I flattered James into thinking that John Lewis had stolen the idea for their advert from my original letters to your website.
I am always an enthusiastic reader of your website and lately I have been very struck by your inspiring exhortations to leave the European Union. How indeed can anybody put up with these unelected bureaucrats who are stealing power from the people and deciding everything immensely far away, at the top table? Finally, in a spirit of solidarity with the UK, I resolved that the Moon should leave the EU as well. So I put in a phone call to Brussels and explained that I had invoked Article 50. The Moon would be leaving the EU on March 29th 2019.
They sounded very surprised. “Are you sure?,” they asked uncertainly.
“Oh yes,” I sang. “It’s time for the Moon to take back control!”
Very well, they would tell Donald, they said, but I should be prepared. He was quite a tough character to negotiate with. You had to get up before the sun to get one over on Donald.
A little later, Donald Tusk phoned me personally. I was thrilled to be negotiating so high up. I had read on the Tychy website that Donald was “the biggest arsehole in the European Union, which is saying something” and “even more of an arsehole than Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi.” I remembered not to say this though, because I knew that I was conducting diplomacy at the highest level.
“Hi Donald,” I said breezily. “It’s such an hon…”
“I am highly displeased,” Donald snapped. “EU negotiations are supposed to comprise enormous, stupendous lunches and dinners. I don’t get out of bed for less than a smoked salmon and caviar cocktail. But if I am negotiating with the Moon, then this is by telephone and so there is no lunch, no?”
I gulped. I did not have any answer to this.
“I am giving you five minutes of my valuable time. In these five minutes, the negotiations must be finished.”
“Yes sir,” I replied with dutiful alacrity.
“So you want to leave the EU? Looking at my notes, it seems that only 0.000000000000001% of the EU’s trade is accomplished with the Moon. And this is all cheese?”
I was scandalised to hear my craftsmanship described as “cheese,” which is a word that I have not uttered for years. “Fondue, sir,” I piped up. “I engineer an artisanal premium fondue experience…”
“Cheese!” Tusk growled. “My valuable international time is being expended on cheese. Well, how would the Moon like it if a 30% tariff was slapped on its artisanal gunk?”
This was outrageous – how could he? I could feel myself blinking back tears but I was determined to put on a show of negotiating strength.
“The Moon does not merely send you all cheese. If the Moon leaves the EU, then it will no longer appear above European countries. Its great lamp will be dimmed, though there will be a few cheery flashes passing over Switzerland. And the Moon is a critical part of European culture and literature. It features in almost every great poem and it has inspired every great poet from Sir Philip Sidney to Sylvia Plath. The Moon shines down on your quaint European capitals, rendering their fairytale perfection complete. Whenever lovers are alone together in their boudoir, drunk on their love for each other, the Moon is usually peeping over them. And when you, sir, stagger out of a European Council banquet, fumbling with your flies, to relieve yourself behind the back of some ghastly fibreglass office, you are not alone. The Moon is looking down on you, lighting the way for you to aim.”
When I paused in my lyricism, I was disconcerted to hear Donald chuckling.
“It will be very sad if we no longer have access to the Moon,” Donald crooned icily. “Here in Europe, though, we do not have access to many beautiful things. We cannot enjoy Niagara Falls or the herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically. But somehow we manage.”
I could not believe what I was hearing. Was he really comparing something as indispensable as the Moon to a bunch of wildebeest? “I will only light up the world’s true democracies…” I maintained.
I was cut short by a sneer from Donald. “I get rather fed up with these people complaining about democracy. Looking at my notes, I see that there is only one elderly resident inhabiting the Moon. One person cannot be a democracy!”
I had no reply to this. I felt the humiliation rising to my face, so that my cheeks began to blaze like a waffle iron. Donald was continuing to harangue me and he was gaining ever more ground. “Why is it that we are speaking in English? The British, eh, they are meant to have left. So while you are still a member we conduct these negotiations in a proper European language. How does French sound to you?”
“Please, sir,” I began to beg, “I cannot speak very much French. Please don’t talk to me in French. And I’m sorry sir that I had cast such aspersions upon the democracy of the EU…”
When I had stopped speaking, I was dismayed to hear my sobs still continuing. This pattering, rustling sound was isolated in the cup of the phone line with an unbearable clarity. Donald chuckled to himself with satisfaction. Next, he had assumed a friendlier and more relaxed tone. “Cheer up, you’re still doing better than Theresa May. Looking at my notes, I see that the Moon has a generally rural economy.”
Desperately, I tried to marshal my straggling thoughts and pluck a useable voice back out of my snivelling. “I… I believe so, sir.”
“It’s almost as unspectacular as… what is that country called? I can never remember its name. One of the new ones.”
“No!,” he shivered with irritation, “the other one.”
He laughed. “It never seems to stick. Well yes, your economy is even weaker than Bulgaria’s. You would be hit very hard by the tariffs and you don’t appear to have any sort of plan for how to counteract them, do you?”
“No sir,” I agreed. “I did not think this through and I have no plan.”
“So it would be best if you decided to stay in the EU. This would be the happiest outcome for everyone.”
I wanted to appeal against this reasoning but my mind felt as if all of its moving parts had dried up and become immobilised. I did not know how I had arrived here or where to begin in trying to excavate myself again.
Donald was now hissing with agitation, but with each word icy and viciously precise. “To consolidate our renewed friendship and international… I mean interplanetary… partnership, the EU requires certain treaty commitments. Firstly the Moon will conduct all of its future transactions in Euros.”
What a humiliation – all of these ugly ersatz banknotes proliferating around the Moon and clogging up its craters. “Yes sir,” I conceded, my heart aching miserably.
“Secondly, the Moon will join the Schengen Area. This will provide an advantageous outlet for Bulgarian labour surpluses.”
I did not know what this meant but it was easiest to agree to it, if only to get these negotiations over as quickly as possible.
“Finally, as a display of European unity, the whole Moon will be painted bright blue and encircled with twelve, five-pointed yellow stars. This means that when your lovers or urinating men look up into the night sky, they will see something far more inspirational than a meaningless slice of rock.”
This was a bitter draught to swallow but I did not want to provoke his sarcasm and contempt again, so I agreed. I thought that I might be able to negotiate my way out of this commitment at a later date.
Donald bid me a good morning and hung up.
I called to my dog and we went out to collect some sticks for the fire. The air was very crisp. Glancing up at the Earth, I was startled to see that it appeared to have stopped spinning in its orbit and that it was frozen with Europe pointed directly at the Moon. I looked away, feeling mounting paranoia and as though the EU was drilling down into my very soul. I wondered if I had enough blue paint in my garage to start with the painting.
Yours in despair,
The Man in the Moon.