Saturday, July 21, 2007

In Form

I'm not here to talk about pecs, abs, and hard bodies. I'm here in celebration of pen-pushers.

There's nothing like filling out forms to clarify the mind and build the character. I don't mean your tax returns, or those of your alien hunk, though that is an idea if I ever decide to write a high finance romance. This week --in the persona of my next alien romance hero, 'Rhett-- I'm filling out certain Ministry of Justice forms in the interests of research.

'Rhett is the "Dirty Harry" of his rogue Royal family. He's Dirty Harry with a sword... and a spade, it would seem. He knows where the bodies are buried, and he is the family trouble stabber. I'd say "trouble shooter" but he prefers to use a long, sharp weapon. Not that he fires blanks. He's as "alpha" as his cousins and half brothers.

He's the Great Djinn who likes to do the right thing.... Of course, it is debatable whether the "camisole plot" to disgrace and destroy Tarrant-Arragon (in FORCED MATE) was entirely ethical, but dirty tricks are an essential part of interstellar diplomacy.

'Rhett crossed swords, albeit verbally, with Tarrant-Arragon again in INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL. Now, he's being sent on a dangerous quest because everyone wants him out of the way. He has to extract something from Earth, and he'd prefer to do it legally.

Not salt. Not a Ring. Not a moon rock. Could be a crashed spaceship? (Or not.)

So, I have obtained lawful "extraction" forms from One Of Her Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State in the Ministry Of Justice, and 'Rhett is endeavouring to fill them out truthfully.

Full name of applicant.

Already this is not easy. If one writes really small, one can fit seven Royal and Djinn names into the box, but should one? Selecting just three would be less startling, but if only three, which middle name should one choose?


Which one? Prince? That's bogus! Great Djinn and lesser god? True, but unwise to tell humans so. Leviathan, Saurian Knight? That would arouse suspicion. No doubt, Mr would be the stealthy choice. Sometimes an alien is obliged to lie for the protection of the person reading the form.

Full address.

One does not have a Post Code or a Zip code aboard a Gravity Class, interstellar war-star. Nor a telephone number. Perhaps 'Rhett is going to have to deliver his forms in person, wave a gentle hand like Obi-Wan Kenobi and murmur "This is plausible." However, even this humble, simple, everyday question forces an alien to decide where he will reside (officially) for the three months that it takes the British civil servants and Principal Secretaries Of State to process "extraction" paperwork.

Time to contact a builder and discover whether it is possible that the house in Cambridge that Tarrant-Arragon burned to the ground on the night of March 31st 1994 (upon the occasion of abducting Djinni-vera) could have been rebuilt. Alternatively, one would need an hotel, remembering that a three-month stay will mean that one --and one's entourage of aliens-- is exposed to the business of May Ball time.

Thereafter, the questionnaire becomes increasingly intrusive and baffling, particularly for an honest alien hunk. With a family tree as complicated as theirs. Should one list one's father's second wife's offspring as brothers, half-brothers, step-brothers, or cousins?

Would a human arrest warrant be issued for one's father, because he broke modern, Anglo-American taboos which did not apply to him, being an alien god-Prince?

And then, one comes to the requirements for the exportation of that which is to be extracted. I have to chortle as I imagine how officialdom might react if, for instance, one submitted a letter from Captain James T Kirk, attesting that the USS Enterprise had been engaged to transport the (mystery treasure) to (wherever).

As one wades through forms and questionnaires, an author --who thought she knew everything about her hero-- discovers details that might need to be filled in. I never thought I'd recommend form-filling as a profitable way to spend ones precious writing time. But I DO!

By the way, I googled "form filling". I recommend you do, too.

Best wishes,

Rowena Cherry

Insufficient Mating Material is in the UK contest



  1. I have to chortle as I imagine how officialdom might react if, for instance, one submitted a letter from Captain James T Kirk, attesting that the USS Enterprise had been engaged to transport the (mystery treasure) to (wherever).

    Laughing out loud at the thought of trying to put on an official form "taking two whales to the future, for the sake of humanity and the saving of said future world" ROFLMO

    Actually Pirate and I get to fill a lot of forms, every year, as each successive child ends up going off to Uni. It's truly amazing the kind of questions that get asked when applying for financial help from the government :)

  2. Thank you, ilona.

    Is Pirate your husband or your cat? Cool name, either way!

    Congratulations on each successive child getting in, and going to Uni.

    Best wishes,

  3. Anonymous9:46 PM EDT

    Googled "form filling"? I'll just bet you did! ::beaming gleefully::

    Oh, the marvelous situational comedy potential! Poor, mundane Culture Clash has nothing on OFFICIALDOM for generating interesting circumstances. I can hardly wait! ::beaming with anticipation:: ;-)

  4. David,

    Thank you! 'Rhett will be "taken" by the end of Knight's Fork, but I am definitely warming to the idea of a future heroine from a bureaucracy... and of course, since 'Rhett is on a Quest, he does have companions with him.

    I did tell you what interesting things I discovered when googling goatees (or was it facial hair?) didn't I?


  5. Pirate is the husband (not his true name - more of a nickname :D). Currently we have no cat and the dog is called Lucy :D
    With 4 out of 5 going to Uni I live in hope that the youngest decides to follow suit :) - even if it does mean more forms *sigh*