In Xanadu …

Dear Mr. Khan:

Further to your application for planning consent (ref X/COL/1797), Xanadu City Council cannot at this time approve the plans for your proposed development. Full documentation detailing our reasons for turning down the application are attached, but in summary our objections are as follows:

  • Twice five miles of fertile ground is far too large an area to hand over to private ownership. Further, all fertile ground within the city limits is designated green belt land, and protected from development.
  • Our officers were greatly concerned with the description of your development as a ‘pleasure-dome’. It was felt that such a description might attract undesirable elements, seeking some of the more illicit forms of said pleasure. (See item on trees, below).
  • Concern was also expressed at the proposed height of the dome. Calculating from a base of ten square miles, as per the application, gave an estimated height at the apex of the dome of some three and a half miles. This is significantly higher than the building limits imposed by city ordinances.
  • It is entirely unacceptable that the river Alph, a public amenity much enjoyed by walkers and fishermen, could be culverted and covered over by a privately owned development.
  • The proposed system of caverns through which the said river would run do not have accurate dimensions provided, as laid down in the Rules for Planning Applications. The definition ‘measureless to man’ is not a metric the Urban Regeneration Department is prepared to accept.
  • Incense bearing trees are, as I am sure you are aware, not permitted to be imported into this country due to the health risks posed by the unlicensed use of incense. The suggestion that such trees might be incorporated into the development only strengthened our fear that this pleasure dome would be of an undesirable nature.
  • The refrigeration system proposed to be installed, to generate the projected caves of ice, does not meet with the current guidelines on renewable energy, and would need to be considerably modified. It may be that the mighty fountain issuing from the chasm (see next item) could be adapted to some type of hydro-electric scheme.
  • The proposed depth of the chasm also gave grounds for concern, and led some officers to suspect the proposal as being nothing more than a cover for fracking operations, which, given the nearby issuance of the river Alph into the sea, may lead to serious depletion of local fish stocks. (We note your false description of the ocean as ‘lifeless’).
  • The site of the dome so close to the shoreline, recently designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is problematic. Having the shadow of the dome of pleasure floating midway on the waves would constitute a serious loss of amenity.
  • The mention in your application of Ethiopian immigrants playing dulcimers leads us to note that no licence for musical performances has been applied for.
  • Nor, be it noted, has any application been received for the serving of food and drink upon the premises, despite items in the application mentioning both honey-dew and milk of paradise. Should such an application be made, we note with concern your intention to source the milk from outwith the locality.

On all these grounds, and more detailed in the attached documents, we feel constrained to deny the application as it stands. We might add that we found your claim that your ancestors prophesied war to be both bizarre and irrelevant, and your performance at the presentation was also very disturbing to some of our officers. Miss Abora has still not quite recovered from the sight of your flashing eyes and floating hair, and has suggested that if you should return to our offices adequate security measures must be taken. To that end we must inform you that on your future visits, if any, we will have Security cry Beware! Beware! at your approach, and weave a circle round you thrice.

Should you wish to submit a much reduced and revised application, that addresses the concerns we have raised herein, the Urban Regeneration Department may be disposed to look more favourably on your scheme.

Yours faithfully

Watchet Porlock, Chief Planning Officer


10 thoughts on “In Xanadu …

  1. Funny thing, on my old blog this piece generated far and away the most views, by several orders of magnitude, and it got shared and linked in all sorts of unlikely places. This time round … zilch. Strange.


    • Very strange – because this is excellent and I chortled aloud several times during my reading.

      Particularly liked:

      ‘The definition ‘measureless to man’ is not a metric the Urban Regeneration Department is prepared to accept.’

      Liked by 1 person

      • It did actually slightly annoy me that it *was* so popular, as I knocked it off in about half an hour and thought it a very easy piece – I just went through the poem and then added fairly obvious gags. I was a bit surprised nobody had ever done it before. Whereas pieces I’d sweated buckets over got zero attention …

        Liked by 1 person

      • Maybe that’s it – perhaps you’re trying too hard and blocking things.

        For me, the best pieces here are the two planning office riffs and the Jeeves and the Impending Story dialogue.

        I’d say they really hit the mark in a way that your other pieces just quite miss.


      • I don’t see why you shouldn’t get published. I’d say you can definitely write – whether you can write, at the moment, as well as you want to is another matter.

        Having had a look at the first of your Inkitt short stories I’d say you definitely have something and could probably be very good but you’re not there yet.

        I don’t know how long ago you wrote it but I found the tone quite uneven as if you weren’t quite sure what you were aiming at.

        Very nice story though – a bit Pook’s Hill/Grimm’s with some Pratchett-y resonances in the dialogue but I felt it would have benefitted from being fleshed out a bit more. I would definitely have been interested in other work from that writer though.


      • I could *never* write as well as I want to 🙂 I’ll tell you what I need to be a better writer – a better work ethic. I really don’t do enough, and the writing muscles aren’t kept fit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thinking about this further – I think a lot of it depends on what you want and whether getting published is the priority for you.

        I knew a writer who was very good and, I thought, capable of something outstanding. She did get published, much sooner that I thought she was ready, and when I read her first two I thought they were good, but not good enough for what she could do.

        I’ve no idea if she did better work later on, as we lost touch, but I always felt that she’d ‘settled’ in her desire to get published.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s