Monthly Archives: November 2016

Life in Dystopia…

There’s a long tradition in both science fiction and satire of predicting real-life events way in advance. Typically, when they manifest in reality, it’s in an even more ludicrous form then was previous jested.

Take the news for example. In the 90’s ‘The Day Today’ was a deliberately over-caffeinated parody of the emerging 24-hour coverage that is now commonplace – with unnecessarily grandiose graphics and brash, coiffured presenters. One of its creators (Armando Iannucci) has often been asked if he would ever consider bringing the show back, but has always cited Fox News as being far more pantomimic than anything he ever did as a joke.

In the 70’s Demon Koontz wrote ‘Demon Seed’- a book about a super computer that traps a woman in her automated house using an internet-like entity to take over all the applications in her house. There was a story in the papers last week about Russian spies hacking smart kettles and toasters (In the book the woman is also impregnated with a robotic abomination, but give the world time…)

The moon landing, cyber space, mobile phones, micro-waves, the atomic bomb and drones – all written about by HG Wells, Isaac Asimov et al long before they arrived.

And sixteen years ago The Simpsons did a sketch in which Donald Trump was president of the United States!

Here’s a dystopian thriller for you. It’s about a bunch of people who find out the most powerful country on earth’s been taken over by a monster and respond by going on social media and sharing comedy memes about it…

No, wait…That was Facebook this morning!

What has happened in America is insane. What is happening in the UK is equally crazy – not just Brexit (which I’m fervently opposed to), but also how vociferous many of the remain voters are about broad-brushing their opposite numbers as ‘idiot, racists’ and momentarily forgetting that we live in a democracy.

In-keeping with tradition I wrote a story last week that, this morning, happened exactly as described. It’s about a white, bald (Donald would hate him) male who rings up an energy company to complain about his gas bill. After speaking with a call centre agent he gets escalated up to a man with a Spanish name and a Spanish accent.

‘Could you go outside and check the meter for me?’ he asks.

‘Not currently,’ the bald man replies, ‘I’m in the bath.’

‘At this hour?’

‘Yes. I’ve got flu and I was up all night watching the end of the world on tele.’

‘Ah yes, the orange apocalypse.’

The Spanish sounding man calls back once the bald man is ensconced in a beanie hat and other apparel, and they continue to talk about politics rather than the bill. The Spanish man is an immigrant who voted Brexit, but now has buyer’s remorse. The bald man asks if it’ll even happen with all the anger and legal wrangling. No conclusion is reached.

At some point they resolve the bill discrepancy without partisanship or abuse.

‘Good luck surviving the nuclear winter,’

‘You too buddy.’

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Your Empathy Amuses Me…

Mid-way through a particularly dry conference call one of the participants fell down a flight of stairs. The sound quality was unusually crisp and we heard ‘…We should be able to hit the milestone, but a note of cau…CHRIST [Two category A swearwords] followed by a tumbling ‘Huhhh,’ then silence.

We already knew the speaker was in the fire escape as he’d told us moments before.

The guy running the call said ‘Hello?…[NAME]? Oh…well I guess he’s gone…shall we carry on?’

‘Are you two in the same building?’ I replied.

‘Yes.’

‘How bout maybe checking he’s OK?’

‘No, I’m sure he’s fine.’

‘Probably, but let’s take five minutes to be certain.’

‘I’ve only got ten minutes before my next meeting.’

‘Seriously?’

Yes, I thought, you definitely said that out loud.

My mind wandered to a TV programme many years ago featuring Phillip Schofield talking with a circus knife thrower and his ‘fabulous female assistant’ strapped to a spinning table. After a big build-up the man threw his first knife straight into the woman’s head. Rather than help her Phillip stood directly in front of her to shield the garish spectacle from viewers – The consummate professional / massive prick! Others scrambled in behind him to untie the woman (who was later revealed to be shocked and scarred, but otherwise OK).

The incident annoyed me a little. At what point did it become OK to place making a sale over the well-being of a colleague?

When five minutes became ten I thought: Yep, definitely dead, or else hideously deformed.

But when we finally reconvened it transpired that the man in question had suffered minor cuts and bruises and had broken his phone. We were now free to find the whole thing hilarious / mock and abuse him.

Proper etiquette MUST be observed.

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