November 3rd – The Festival of the Fog Moon

It can get quite stifling on the second day of the November fog. Whilst some enjoy the feeling of anonymity, privacy and peace that the dense fog imparts, others long to look at a distant view, or even just to the end of their street. It can get a bit much, the feeling of constant enclosure, so much so that those Buentoillitants who suffer from claustrophobia are offered temporary MHS funded residence outside the City in a country retreat.

For those of you looking to have a breather of your own, who don’t want to travel far, there is another option; the BBS Television Tower. Today and yesterday there will be special viewings inside the cafe near the top of the Tower; an odd, brutalist structure that was built on top of an existing tower block due to be knocked down. The block was mostly filled with concrete for structural integrity, but still outwardly maintains the illusion of being inhabited, even down to a number of lights in the windows that turn on and off randomly throughout the night. The tower itself is formed of three ‘needles’ poking out from the tower block, all angled in so that they meet just above a hexagonal viewing platform and cafe.

Being the tallest structure in Buentoille, the Tower just pokes out above the banks of mist that fill the Buentoille basin, only petering out when they reach the moors and the western forests. Coming up from the whitish darkness below, it is searingly bright for new arrivals, what with the bright white clouds hovering below, reflecting the sun. Still, these short sessions (kept down to ten minutes per person as the platform can only hold 500 people safely and there are plenty queueing down at the innocuous street entrance) are not only a spectacle but something of a lifeline for those getting increasingly fed up of the strange sense of entrapment that has spread across the City.

It’s not often that the full moon coincides with the November fog (the last instance was 2009), but when it does they tend to make the most of it in the BBS Television Tower. Whilst the moon isn’t technically full until early tomorrow morning, it looks full enough tonight to make it worth the celebration. The lights inside the viewing platform are turned down very low or off entirely to eliminate excess reflections in the glass (there is no outside section due to safety concerns), giving the richly mosaicked space a quiet, relaxed feel. The gold and silver tiles laid out in intricate and representative designs still have a residual lustre in this low light, but even with this added glamour, all eyes will be fixed outside.

At night, under the light of the full moon, you can better see all the swirls and eddying currents atop the pearlescent fog ocean below. The moon herself is as always mesmerising, her reflection catching on the spectacles of the open-mouthed viewers inside the cafe, which sells moon-themed cocktails to the assembled masses. To keep the feel of the night ponderous and calm, there is no ten minute rule tonight, merely a very small guest list, chosen by randomised selection from the electoral register. The invites are delivered via post, but also, obviously, by television; the names were drawn and read out live on BBS1 two weeks ago. Apart from the prestige that this lends the invites, it also discourages folk selling their invites for vast amounts of money.

At about 8:00pm the band, Cerz Mayer’s Players, will start up, playing relaxed jazz and mournful folk songs. They know they are the sideshow, and don’t seem too bothered by it; if you’re going to be upstaged by anything then it might as well be an amazing natural spectacle that only comes once every 5-10 years. The event is filmed and broadcast live on BBS1, as part of the BBS’s new Relaxation Season. There are no annoying interruptions from presenters, no commentary; it’s just shown as it is, the camera occasionally cutting between the inside and the out, a shot of the band, the tower from the ground, the hands of two lovers entwined.

To top it all off, the bats arrive at about half nine, usually. They dip in and out of the mist like playful dolphins, they scatter up and around the tower, they skim of the mist’s swirling surface, creating ‘spray’ that splits the moonlight beautifully. Nobody’s ever studied this behaviour in depth, but it’s likely they aren’t just going it for the cameras; presumably they find navigating in the fog tricky, given that they use sound, which is dampened, to see their way. Perhaps these elated-looking aerobatic twirls are simply attack-patterns, ways of hunting moon-led moths and other insects that aren’t easily visible to the humans, or perhaps they, like those humans, are just happy to see the moon, the view, the white swirling sea below.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of the Drinker’s Call
  • The Festival of the Retreating Herd
  • Blankets and Hot Chocolate Day