How to nail Valentine’s Day. With Ellie White. Shot by thewagon.
Some photos from MCA heat at The Black Heart, Camden. John Wilson
Carollers, with Jessie Cave, Rhys James, and Adam Hess. Shot by thewagon
Photography by Ollie Ford
Youtube Playlist of bespoke ballads
Daniel waited for Troy to continue. He had pointed to his chest before saying it, like he was going to list, going to name all the parts of his body. After a while Daniel nodded and Troy clambered up to the top bunk. It took him no time at all, stretching his left foot high to the middle of the ladder and yanking himself up like onto a horse.
There had been no discussion, no calling of the top bunk the night previous. Daniel had correctly assumed Troy would want the top bunk and duly crawled into the bottom, where he had changed into his pyjamas under the duvet. Troy had either fallen asleep straight away or not felt like chatting, and Daniel had lain awake for hours having slept on the plane. Tonight he was tired. Troy’s head hung down and stared at him.
“If you want to read here’s a flashlight.”
It was only in the following silence that a question occurred to Daniel, that hadn’t the night before. Why did Troy have a bunk bed? He didn’t have a brother. Maybe they had planned for a brother. Or maybe he had had one but didn’t anymore. Actually… Daniel had one as well. Do all children have bunk beds?
“Why do you have a bunk bed?”
Maybe that’s what Daniel’s Mum had meant his to be used for. Daniel aimed his flashlight at the slats above him. Written on the one above his head were the words ‘cock’ and ‘boobie’.
“What are you reading?”
Daniel turned off his torch as quickly as he could, which involved the beam becoming very wide before turning off.
“Oh… I’m reading… my adventure book.”
“Adventure? Like where you choose the book? Read it out to me Danny boy!”
Daniel opened ‘The White Dodo’. He was right at the end, and wasn’t sure he wanted to share the big moment with Troy. What if he had made a wrong decision early on and the ending was bad? Plus he had had to decide early on how he was going to pronounce some of the names in his head, but had never been confident about them. He turned to page 28, which was actually quite near the front of the book. Daniel never would have guessed he had been so close in pages to the end when he had started the book two weeks ago.
“Tahin (taa-hin) pushes back a branch and you see before you The White Dodo. You’ve finally found it! You stifle a cheer and grin to Tahin. He looks at you for instruction. You
A. Ask Tahin to pass your gun.
B. Ask Tahin to pass your net.
C. Perform the dodo call you learnt from Brescha (bres-ka).
A – turn to page 57
B – turn to page 100
C – turn to page 71”
Daniel paused, waiting for an answer. This was way too big a decision to leave to Troy. He hadn’t even been in the hut when Brescha had cooed in his sleep.
“Why do you want the White Dodo? Like, what is the story? It seems kind of weird.”
Daniel thought for a second about how much to tell Troy of the story, and then decided that the more informed the decision was, the more likely it was that they would get the Dodo. He read from the back of the book.
“The year is 1660, and YOU are the intrepid explorer tasked by Queen Victoria to find and bring back the fabled White Dodo before the animal dies out. The island of Mauritius (moor-it-ee-us) is a dangerous place, and many different paths lie ahead of you. Choose wisely!”
“Are you sure?”
“A, the gun.”
“If we miss we could scare it off. We might never see it again.”
“We won’t miss Danny.”
“It’s not that big.”
Daniel turned to page 57, and prepared for the worst.
“You ask Tahin for the gun. He looks at you, disappointed. You remember the countless times he has shared his respect for the animals of the jungle, and how you had promised him you were not a hunter, like the other vicious men who killed off most of the beautiful birds on the island. Still, you hold out your hand for it, reminding him who is the master and who is the servant. He sheds a single tear and passes you the gun.
You raise the gun and take aim. You can hear Tahin, the man you called brother, weeping gently. You
B. Put the gun away.”
“Troy, I really don’t think we should fire.”
“Come on Danny, we got this.”
Daniel sighed and turned to page 148.
“You steady the barrel. If you miss, it could scare away the only White Dodo in the world. You squeeze the trigger and fire.
A direct hit. You run through the trees to where the bird lies, dead. You think to yourself, ‘Well, at least now it can be stuffed and people will know it ever existed. It would have died anyway soon enough, being the last of it’s kind.’ Just then, you hear leaves rustling and into the clearing waddle two White Dodos. A mother and daughter. They are nudging the dead bird. What have you done! Now the White Dodos surely will die out! You fall to your knees and look around for Tahin. He has disappeared, taking with him the supplies, and the map. You lie down on the jungle floor and cry. You coo softly to the birds, and the baby Dodo comes to you, its father’s blood on its beak and face. You are alone. There is no way out… THE END”
Daniel turned off his torch. He could just go back and change his answers for the last two ones. No one would know. It was quiet for a while.