Just A Quiet Evening In Eymet

Monday 20th April

My plane touched down at 2.30 French time on Saturday.  Half an hour ride into Eymet and a bit of unpacking.  Then over to the café and moving tables for tonight’s soiree.  One of our Eymet friends, Dennis, was having a book launch.  He actually wrote the book a few years ago.  It is a tale of a road trip he and a friend made to Libya in the early sixties and is quite a good read.  He had invited a few people and in all there were about twenty-five gathered for our second event in the café.  Wine and nibbles and good conversation, then Den talked a bit about his book.  We then had a mini-concert; Hedley playing acoustic guitar and Den singing four or five well-known songs.  We all joined in on the choruses to “Streets of London”, “Hallelujah” and “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.”

People stayed for a couple of hours or so, and talked about the paintings and Den’s book and of course Eymet gossip; our favourite topic.

Five of us then went off to the just-opened new restaurant in town, Andine, a small but smart place specializing in Peruvian cuisine.  None of us really knew what to expect but it was great.  A small menu which is usually a good sign as it means that everything is freshly cooked.  Three starters; mussels, guacamole and patatas in a spicy sauce.  I chose the mussels which were gorgeous but very different from the usual cooked-in-white-wine French variety.  These were cold and covered in finely chopped onions and tomato and lime juice.  My main course was bavette steak strips cooked in a thick onion, red pepper and ginger sauce, and absolutely delicious.  With wine the bill came to about 25 euros each, so very reasonable too.

As we left the restaurant we ran into a sudden downpour, and shared two small umbrellas, though the amount of wine we had consumed certainly insulated us well.  Another quiet but very enjoyable evening in Eymet.

The Unseen Observer’s Thoughts on Janek’s 2066 Journal entry

Sunday 19th April

Back to Eymet for barely three days.  I will write about France again soon but for the moment this will have to do…

When we left Janek a few days ago he had just finished his third journal entry on his secret laptop.  He was totally unaware that he was being observed.  But someone was watching.  Back then in good old 2066 someone was always watching….

[Janek closes the laptop, almost forgetting to close the document, before he is reminded by the little grey box asking him if he wants to save it.  We got rid of that nonsense decades ago; now any com-unit doesn’t need to ask such a silly question.  Everything is saved automatically as soon as is it created and every time it is amended too, and more importantly – nothing is delete-able, everything is forever.  Every command, every nod, every flicker of the eyes, every word whispered or shouted is here forever.  Harboured, lovingly stored, safe, and saved for eternity.

I am watching Janek in backtrack, zooming in to read on his actual laptop screen, blurred and at an angle the words he has just written.  I keep returning time and again to watch him, even though I have the full transcript in front of me.  I cannot seem to stop myself, it is really fascinating watching him, even if it is in backtrack mode.  The words on their own tell only half the story. It is as if seeing him, even in 2d without holo-tech I am getting closer to the man.   Humans are all so elusive, multi-faceted, complex and contradictory, that it is hard to pin them down, to really understand what they are thinking, but I believe in Janek’s case I am beginning to understand.  Understand, not empathise; I must make that clear.  Pleased do not begin to imagine for a moment that my attempt to understand excuses his digressions in any way.

Janek looks around, listening hard, just in case. But no, his wife is fast asleep, dreaming sweet product-filled dreams he is sure.  Janek had woken at three in the morning, and had lain in the bed for ten minutes with his eyes wide open, wondering whether to get up and switch on the machine.   He didn’t move a muscle, just laying there, eyes open but not moving.  Wondering if the words would still be there; he can still remember writing them, but not exactly what he said.  It doesn’t really matter anyway, the content was almost unimportant to him.  Janek insists to himself it is the doing of the thing not what he is saying that is important.

Some of us may beg to differ.

But nothing has happened for three days; no little message on his screen asking him to speak to his supervisor; no polite reminder to ask him if he has read and agrees with compolicy.  This is of course a sure-fire way to trap guilty people, if they blink the yes box, then they know that they may have transgressed in some way, maybe so tiny that they haven’t even noticed, although undoubtedly we will have.  So, by admitting that they agree to compolicy they are admitting that any possibly ‘innocent’ transgression should have been avoided and is now compounded by their complicity.  If they were ever stupid enough to blink no, then their transgression is two-fold as the main condition of their employment, besides turning up for work every day, is that they agree to compolicy.

We like to think we have thought things through thoroughly.

But no – no messages at all.  And Janek works on steadily, even more assiduously than normal; his hit rate is up about 7% on most days.  Not too high to raise eyebrows, but undoubtedly a good day at the office, and one which I, his ultimate employer, will approve of.   Even as we record his almost indecipherable jottings and his rapid eye-movements we still cannot work out quite how he does it.  The smartest hypercoms cannot spot any pattern in his detection of these minute irregularities.   If it were that easy a computer would have worked it out years ago, but somehow, almost like water divination, Janek seems to be able to spot or maybe sense that a number is wrong, or suspect in some way. And he is right about 20% of the time, which given the millions of digits flying past on his four screen matrix is quite amazing.

In the rest room he chats a bit too much with a couple of colleagues, everyone on this floor is involved in some sort of com-analysis, and in general are a pretty nerdy bunch.  Slight misfits; those who prefer not to talk unless spoken to, the shy, the diffident ones, the ones who always felt a bit substandard at crammer, the ones who have difficulty in sustaining any long-term relationships.  Some have given up any real contact with other people at all, preferring to live alone and use the porn channels and syn anonymity to any human touch.  But Janek isn’t one of those, he is ‘happily’ married, he is far more normal, and after a hard day searching and running numbers and symbols past his brain he likes to chat, even if it is just about a book he is reading, or some music he particularly likes at the moment.

Lying in bed, he wonders if he has been dreaming all along, and in a minute he will wake up and realise that it has all been nonsense, the imagined whimsy of a fifty-five year old who really should have known better.  At least in that case he wouldn’t have to worry, he could just carry on with his life, rather than this paranoia, this constant fear that he will be discovered.  But no, he is wide awake and sweating again (three times the average male secretion, for the record) and it never was a dream.

We later discovered that he had spent weeks of waking in the sleeping hours and waiting until the familiar sounds of his wife’s sleepy snuffles and the occasional swishing of tyres on the road outside told him it was safe to get up.  He worked night after night on converting the laptop, remembering all those old lessons in IT when he was a teenager, adapting it to run on micro-power and restoring its ram and re-configuring the hard drive so that it wasn’t connected in any way, dismantling the auto-wireless connectors and cleaning the stuck down and broken keys so that he could type.  He was good, it was completely undetectable.  He test-drives it a couple of times, just using notepad, and deleting each sentence straightaway, then he hides it away every night, behind all that old camping stuff they never use anymore in the tiny third bedroom that is mostly used as a store these days.  He wraps the grey laptop in three black disposer sacs and places it in the metal camping cooker box, leaving the reversible grill on top. To a casual eye, even to our hi-res-surv-cams, it looks just like some old bits of camping gear.  Then he tucks the metal cooker box under the super-lightweight inflatable tent which he, Cathy and the kids used to take to France each year back in the forties.  His routine is quite hypnotic, no matter how many times I re-watch him he always does it exactly the same way.

They stopped those little excursions when the kids got to their teens and didn’t want to go camping anymore, but sometimes Janek misses those holidays when they had no set itinery, no plans at all, just driving where the fancy took them, stopping at small campsites and inflating the tent, and cooking out in the open air.  He misses that overwhelming feeling of freedom, out in the fields, away from the masses.   Now they holiday in exclusive bubble resorts, in West Africa or maybe Iran or Burma.  He leaves it to Cathy to choose, she craves the sunshine more than he does, and is quite happy to just sit around the whirlpools, read gossmags and sip drinks all day.  He would rather explore what is left of their individual cultures, he especially likes all the old buildings and temples.

He loves the feeling of solitude and contemplation and the cold stone walls and high vaulted ceilings, the frescoes and the intricate carvings of an earlier age.  He wonders what devotional madness drove these people to spend so much time and effort on objects of worship to a god of which there was no rational proof of existence, just centuries of unquestioning belief.  He wonders where this belief comes from, is it just indoctrination, the words passed down from generation to generation and never questioned, or is it something deeper.  Or am I imagining all this, as I re-play again and again these sometimes blurry images of Janek’s life, trying to understand what he was thinking, what might have turned him into the reb he is fast becoming?  Is there a hint in his fascination with earlier religions?   In the rational world he inhabits that sort of belief is fading fast. Scientific discoveries are leapfrogging each other; the origins of the Galaxy, the nature of matter itself, the beginning and ever growing tendrils of the Moebius strip-like convoluted Universe, the incredibly complex details of atoms are all becoming clearer and better understood.

Consequently there is less and less room for the Unexplained, which is at the core of belief and faith itself.   Mankind did not comprehend so they turned to ‘god’ to explain the unexplainable; but now as more and more secrets are revealed, and the physics of the Universe are being revealed by the day there is no room for ‘god’.  Or no room for him to hide from human gaze anymore; there is rapidly becoming no place left for ‘god’ to exist except in the minds of a few stubborn individuals who refuse to accept the truth.   But Janek is no secret believer either; he has no delusions about religion though he does wonder what drove people to build Cathedrals and Temples to such unseen and unknowable entities.  Almost as now he considers, where we have built an edifice of sustainable wealth governed and controlled by Hypercoms that are just as unknowable and just as unseen.  But, he constantly wonders to himself, who is behind the edifice, who is controlling the computers?   Or so I like to think as I watch my little Janek running round and round in his little world.  Of course I am watching in back-track, not real-time, but fascinating even so.

Unfortunately for him he may have let his mind stray into places he would have been far more content to have ignored.  If only he could just enjoy his life – that is what it is there for, after all.  Enjoyment and procreation are the only two possible meanings of existence.   For most species it is simply procreation, the passing on of genetic code, the slow unravelling and replication of atoms so that the programme, the code can continue.   The mammals were the first group of animals to actually experience enjoyment as a thing itself, rather than a consequence or a side-effect of survival.  And humans managed to refine this into an art-form.  But a contradictory one at that; enjoyment, that most un-definable of states, is constantly being self-analysed.  And therein lays its downfall, as soon as you start to examine enjoyment it dissolves like sugar in your morning cup of tea. Just drink it and enjoy it while it is there – try to work out why it tastes so nice and the flavour starts to pall.

And so it is with Janek’s life at this stage.  For now he cannot relax his brain enough to simply enjoy all the wonderful benefits of our society.  He is a deeply troubled soul and one we will soon be forced to deal with.]

***

The Challengers Election Debate

Saturday 18th April

What was strange about this one, and largely because of Cameron’s refusal to take part was that for once we had four left wing speakers – and Nigel Farage.  And the role of Centrist candidate fell squarely on Ed Milliband’s shoulders, a strange reversal of fortunes as he had to defend what the Right-wing press insist are far left policies from those even further to the left of him.   Farage disgraced himself even further by not only attacking immigrants and HIV patients but the BBC and even the audience itself.  Not that he will care a jot, he was (wink wink nudge nudge) appealing to the bigoted uneducated people he hopes agree with his racist views and will vote for him whatever.  And he may be right, of course.

We had the predictable love-hate-in, with Nicola Sturgeon taunting Ed with an anti-Tory Coalition.  Ed of course had to insist that he is aiming for a majority.  If he even hints at an accommodation of whatever nature with the SNP he has to admit defeat.  I thought he resisted her steely charms quite well, and gradually won over the audience.

What I thought was the strangest was the “worm”.  This is a slightly delayed record of people’s reactions; they press buttons 1 to 5 when they agree or disagree with the speakers comments. It is shown on screen as a wavering line going above or below a line, so the higher the worm goes it is supposed to reflect agreement.  The “wormers” were apparently a control panel of neutral or undecided voters.  But the “worm” was consistently responding positively to the left-wing opinions of the three women and Ed, and hardly ever responded, except negatively, to Nigel.  Does this indicate that actually the pubic are far more left-wing than political commentators and indeed the result of elections would indicate?  I still feel that Ed’s best policy would be to say that although Labour do plan to get rid of the deficit as soon as practicable they will do whatever it takes, including putting up taxes, to defend and support the NHS.  He would be crucified by the right-wing press undoubtedly; which is strange as they have only praised Cameron for saying he would give the NHS 8 billion (unfunded) extra a year.  By the way Ed won 37% of the poll of how the public thought the challengers fared in this debate.

Elton John – The pre-fame albums

Friday 17th April

Well, I met Elton once.  Before he was famous, though as an avid reader of music mags I had not only heard of him but had just bought his eponymous album (this was actually his second release but I had to really search to find his debut).  There was a tiny record shop just off Oxford Street near what used to be ‘The Hog In The Pound’ pub.  It sold a lot of what might now be termed “Underground” music, recently discovered bands, a lot of heavy and prog rock, and new exciting artists like Elton.  Surprised to hear me describing Elton as exciting?  But back then pre-fame he really was exciting, he was breaking new ground with every record.  Anyway, there I was flicking through the racks, looking for something I might have read about lately.  I was on my lunch break and used to regularly trawl the smaller record shops which in those days peppered the West End, even the original Virgin record shop down near Tottenham Court Road.  I was deep in the racks when I heard this voice asking if anyone had bought his record, then he said his name and I turned round.  It was Elton alright, long hair and flared trousers and dark rimmed glasses.  I said something like “I have” and Elton actually asked me what I thought of it.  I must have said that I liked it, especially the ballad “Your Song.”  Anyway he was quickly out of the shop.  Strangely enough our paths have never crossed since, though I have been in the same theatre with him on a few occasions, but we have never spoken since….hahaha.

And yes I did love the “Elton John” record with it’s rocking and weird songs like ‘First Episode at Hienton’.  I did find his first record “Empty Sky” which was okay and a bit flat except for the two stand-out songs Lady Samantha and Skyline Pigeon.  Then he quickly released “Tumbleweed Connection” – a collection of songs about the Wild West, and fabulous too with almost every songs a winner.  Incidentally on the strength of ‘Love Song’ I got into Lesley Duncan as she was the writer of that one.   “Madman Across the Water” soon followed with those first two brilliant tracks “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon”, he was really motoring now, no fillers just great melodies and a strong band behind him.  His next offering was “Honky Chateau” with the incredible ‘Rocket Man’ on it.  By now Elton was hitting the singles charts, but nothing was guaranteed and still he wasn’t a household name.  All that would change with his next record “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player”. This had two huge singles on it – the sublime “Daniel” and the ridiculous “Crocodile Rock” which was surely meant as a tongue-in-cheek pastiche.  So now he was famous and was quickly conquering America just as The Beatles had a decade ago.  But I still love those early pre-fame albums best though, there was an innocence about them, an honesty and almost his best songs too.

Elton John

Thinking Ahead

Thursday 16th April

It seems so simple, doesn’t it?  Every action creates a reaction.  So, before you do something quite different just pause a moment and think of the consequences. If you want to move the furniture around fine, but think ahead; if you are moving that sofa from the wall opposite the telly – where are you going to move it to, and if that requires moving something else then where is that going to end up.  It is no good ending up with all the furniture in the middle of the room and then discovering that where they were in the first place was actually the most sensible arrangement. And so it is with both Government and Business; short term and ill though out ideas are pursued with vigour and intense pressure from above, ignoring any possible hint of criticism, and then when it all goes wrong the ideas are shoved under the carpet quickly and no-one is allowed to mention them.  A little long-term planning might have saved a lot of heartache, to say nothing of the money lost.  I have seen many company bosses rush into quick decisions without consultation, often ruining the companies in the process and many workers have lost their jobs through this stupidity.

We rush into decisions which may have long-term consequences, a little slower and a bit more thought and the right decision might be made.  Gordon Brown and the 10p tax rate springs to mind but the last Tory administration were just as stupid.  The previous Labour Government had started an ambitious school rebuilding programme, partly because many schools were dilapidated but also to stimulate the moribund building industry after the financial crash and to create jobs.  Within weeks of taking office the Tories cancelled all these contracts, despite the fact that millions had to be paid out in compensation. A couple of years later they decided to put money onto re-building schools and the whole process had to start again from scratch.  They had a hugely complex top-down re-organisation of the NHS, which resulted in thousands being made redundant and paid large sums from the public purse only to be re-hired by the new bodies.

Maybe permanent coalitions as are common in Europe would mean that a few wiser, less doctrinaire heads would be around for longer.  Compromise would be the order of the day, rather than the pendulum swing of UK political decision making. But we all know that the biggest priority of all Politicians is to be re-elected, so ridiculous un-costed promises are bandied about and nobody stops to think about the long term consequences.

 

A Game Changer ?

Wednesday 15th April

Yesterday the Tories unveiled their manifesto, and there was a rabbit in the conjurer’s hat.  Imitating Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Council House Right To Buy’ Cameron is extending this opportunity to tenants of Housing Associations.  I have never quite understood the nature of Housing Associations, are they a creeping Privatisation of council housing or a great non-profit making system of providing cheap housing for poorer people?  Whatever your views on them they have been slowly taking over what used to be council housing, often taking over the management of difficult old council blocks.  And on the surface it does seem a popular policy. But actually, just as Maggie’s was before, it is a bribe.  Great for those tenants able to buy their home, but quite honestly if you were living in a run-down flat in an old block, would you want to be living there anyway, let alone pay a mortgage for the privilege.  But it will inevitably make it even more difficult for those at the bottom of society to ever get a decent home.  Almost all of the decent council houses have all been bought years ago.  I know a few people who were lucky enough to buy their council houses, and yes, great for them (though there is a slight resentment as I along with many others never had that discounted start on the housing ladder), but what about those left behind?  Millions now stand no chance of ever getting a council, or soon in the future if the Tories win; a Housing Association property.

The real policy behind the policy, as well as hopefully being an election winner, is to put an end to the whole idea of social housing.  The Tories have always hated any public provision of anything, education, health or housing, despite their paeans to the NHS.  Public provision goes completely against the grain of their thinking.  They are for the individual and against society and always have been.  So, will it be a game-changer?  We will have to wait and see.  To be honest I think most of those in Housing Association homes will not be in a position to buy these homes, even at a huge discount.  Some may vote for them, but it won’t affect the millions renting privately or who already are buying.  So, we will see,

The Truth About The Economy

Tuesday 14th April

We are in the middle of an election and all the parties are concentrating on the Economy.  They are all parading their policies, infinitesimal differences in wording but they are all promising the impossible, that they will balance the books without hurting any of us at all; no extra taxes, no swingeing cuts – it will all be done by magic.  And if we still had a decent dollop of inflation magic would have happened, or if we had a huge rise in GDP and productivity.  But that aint that likely either.  The truth about the economy is that actually Government doesn’t affect it very much at all.

The recession was a worldwide calamity, and Labour are blamed for crashing the car – unfortunately it was out of control traders mostly in America who were in the driving seat.  And Osborne has engineered a recovery, which would have happened anyway and possibly far sooner had there not been so much talk of austerity.  Governments can make us feel better by tax cuts or worse by spending cuts, but whether these actually affect the economy is debatable.  The economy is far more driven by international events which are far out of control of politicians than they would like to admit.  The whole world economy is driven by Debt.  The rise in living standards since the War has happened because Governments have borrowed wildly, as have companies, as have individuals.  Most of us older people have benefited by the rise in house prices and not by any financial acumen, or even hard work or saving.  And it has been at the cost of the younger generation who have become even more indebted to fuel our pensioner spending frenzy, which of course may help the economy in a strange obscene way.  The truth about the economy is that nobody has any control, not Governments certainly or Central Bankers or large corporations.  It is like the weather, influenced by hundreds of small actions all over the world and very unpredictable over any significant length of time.  Nobody saw the financial crash coming and nobody will see the next one, even our supposedly wise politicians….

A Strangely Flat Day

Monday 13th April

For the second day of the weekend I was back at work.  In a strangely deserted office too.  No disturbances all day, no phone calls and barely an e-mail either; maybe I should choose to always work at the weekend.  I did get masses of work done, but it was a strangely flat day too.  Was I just going through the motions, repetitive tasks are just that, and I have been doing these particular tasks for over six years now, so even thought the finish line is just two weeks away I felt not even the slightest sense of achievement at knocking them down.  The tube was disrupted this morning, no jubilee line beyond Waterloo, so a bit of a slog to get in.

And coming home the Bakerloo line was suffering signalling failures (again), so another tedious journey.  And home to an empty house, which is always a bit sad.  Looking at the TV listings there is really nothing I want to watch either.  Too tired to even go for a walk.  The lawn is overgrown but the mower is stranded at another house, so it goes.  I do have a couple of chores, watering the plants and a few shirts to iron so it will not be a completely wasted day.  Strange that the Victorian work ethic still kicks in, why should doing nothing make the day a wasted one?  But whichever way I look at it I cannot get over the mood of flatness pervading the day.  Even writing this blog is becoming overwhelmed with flatness.  Maybe that’s just jet and train and work lag…  tomorrow (today for you) is another day.

2066, continued and Janek tells us of his working life

Sunday 12th April

“At work I sit in front of a bank of four screens and watch as numbers and the occasional letters and symbols zip up and across the screens.   While it is the work of an instant to stop a screen or go back in slow-mo; just by raising your hand in front of a screen it will freeze and wait for your instructions, I find I work best by scribbling down numbers and references and backtracking later when I am sure.  My eyes never leave the screen, my hands are scribbling on auto-pilot.  When I have detected some sort of a pattern, something uneven, a slight ripple, a whisper of a flaw emerging through the weave I ask the screens to scroll back and I check. This takes far longer I am sure, and sometimes even I have trouble deciphering my own scribbles, but somehow that’s the way I work best.  So I still use a pen and paper at work.  I order these special thick pads of A4 from a specialist paper maker and always make sure I have several pads in reserve as they take a few days to be fed-exed to my office.   I have several times thought about taking a pad home to use for my own use, and I am not sure if it is actually prohibited, but whereas the general consensus is that you are not watched (but no-one can be sure) in your own home, it is also absolutely certain that you are watched at work.   And let’s face it counting my pads and even the sheets I use and discard is hardly astro-physics, now is it?

And anyway I like the feel of this laptop, the way you have to hunch over it to see the screen properly, the way your hands hover over the keys.  I quite like using a keyboard again, even this old-fashioned ‘qwerty’ one.  It is years since they too were consigned to the scrapheap along with the mouse and all of that slow-command-tech.  We all use the spoken word, or rather the whispered word now.  All screens can accurately lip-read, so there is no need to shout, like you used to fifty years ago.  And they are so clever they can almost always tell what you are saying, or more importantly what you mean, long before you have finished saying it.  This is as close as the tech has got to the human mind, this ability to learn and mimic an individual’s language usage, but actually mimicry is all it is, as no-one would ever dream of actually trying to talk ‘with’ a screen.  We talk, or whisper at it, to make it do our bidding, to control the programs, to try to win at games, to ask for info, but actually conversing is out of the question.  Even though they can string words and sentences together remarkably well, confirming your commands, or giving you info, there is no inflection, no emphasis, no meaning behind the automated words they use.  Much like a lot of human conversation has been reduced to now incidentally.  (Irony again folks, sorry – can’t stop myself.)

No, the thrill of what I am doing is that I am using tech for my own self, and keeping it safe and away from prying eyes.  Unbelievably I am not connected in any way to any other human being (or machine), and you cannot imagine the freedom that gives you, how exciting that is, to just be on your own with your own thoughts being recorded.   I can go back and read them again as many time as I like and change them knowing that no-one else has ever seen them (the edited or the original either, because of course, even when you change things your first version is just as visible as the final one).

The beauty of this machine is that it still has a hard drive.  Unheard of now as every machine since the mid-teens has stored all your stuff in the ‘ether’.   Com-units are merely portals to the connected world and have no storage facility of their own at all, and now, of course, no-one has computers of their own, no-one buys or owns a computer.  What would be the point of that?  Screens are everywhere.  You don’t own them, they just are.  They are as essential to life as running water and no-one pays for them, or of course has any choice but to use them.  One screen is the same as all the others.  They are all completely interactive, and any screen anywhere will recognise you wherever you are, and accessing all your stuff is only ever a silent-mouthed request away.

I deliberately waited three days before even switching this machine on again, just in case.  But it’s all here, all the precious words I committed to its tiny internal memory, and I had to really search around for any of that old-fashioned ‘ram’ stuff they used before everything was on upload and so needed no internal memory at all.  I have always loved markets and there are still tech enthusiasts around who play at building antique machines and wondering at the old-fashioned and slow chugging processors they used to use, just as there are collectors of 2dtv sets and old ‘bluray’ players just so they can watch stuff in really lo-tech pre-holo mode.  So I started going to a few antique markets in the last couple of years and gradually found out enough of the old tech to rebuild this baby and make it sing.

So what do I want to use it all for?  Why all this subterfuge, this dicing with death, or at least being down-strata-ed or clagged?  Because I just want to record this stuff, for me, for my kids maybe when I am gone, for someone a hundred years from now who maybe might just wonder what our primitive society was really like.  The unofficial version, if you like.

Because as always the official history is being written elsewhere, and will never ever get near to the truth of stuff.  And what I want to write about isn’t really that amazing, maybe, just my sad little life here in the middle years of the twenty-first century.  Just another bit of human flotsam swept along in the tide of the Universe. But being washed up on a different beach perhaps.   Maybe it is a tiny attempt at some whisper of immortality.   Man’s final and impossible quest; the desire to leave something behind, some tiny record that I existed at all.  In the complete knowledge that my whole life is recorded and retained forever in some vast databank somewhere anyway.   But none of that, believe me, is me.  It doesn’t even come close.

All a bit grandiose isn’t it?  I wonder if Samuel Pepys ever felt so self-important.  And maybe I am dreaming all of this anyway, maybe it’s all part of some super game, like that ancient 2D film they are always showing – ‘The Matrix’, with its world of illusion and game-playing.  Who knows?  Anyway, for the first time in years I am having fun.  No, fun doesn’t come anywhere near to describing it.  Alive is what I am, and believe me I have been dead up here, in my mind, for years.

And maybe I am not so all alone, maybe there are thousands of us out here on our own in lonely little cupboard rooms secretly tapping out our pathetic dreams.  The screens always tells us of reb-orgs being broken up or discovered, so maybe some of that is true and there are millions like me who don’t want to live like this.  Weary fools who don’t really want to be a part of it anymore, but don’t want to be a hobo or a nonperson and have to try and survive in the direst of poverty either.  No-one wants to exist like the scags you see living off the rubbish dumps in Southern Russia or those derelict city-slums of middle-America.  We have to do it this way, in isolation, a meek sort of an apology for rebellion because in our world, there is absolutely no way of getting cred unless you are part of the system.  They got rid of actual money decades ago, and now that everything, every transaction, is electronic and connected, there is just no way of surviving without being part of the system.  Without cred you might as well be dead.

The few nonpersons are the drop-outs who have slipped steadily down the strata and then don’t even exist, selling themselves or begging for crusts or booze on the streets until they are eventually picked up and euthenased completely.  Disnews occasionally shows them being rounded up and taken away; no-one ever tells you where.  There have always been rumours of tiny communities on remote Scottish islands or in mountain caves who somehow live off the land, but you can never really know if they are real or not.  Like everything else, they might be real or they may be made up so you think they are real; you have no way of telling.  Our lives are lived indoors mostly, and we rely on the screens for all our info.  It isn’t safe to walk the streets at night, so you stay in and get drip-fed whatever passes for the truth these days. The only way to live any sort of private life is to comply on the surface, give them no reason to suspect, and do it all in secret.  And tell no-one at all.  Not even my wife.  No, for fucks sake; especially not my wife!  She would kill me if she thought I was threatening our strata level in any way at all.”

Last Day in Eymet for a While

Saturday 11th April

Well, it was meant to be ten days but thanks to some rather militant air-traffic controllers complaining about their working conditions and striking it has stretched to two weeks.  I was a bit irritated a week ago; well to be frank I was more than irritated, I was mightily pee’ed off because I had to deal with cash-flow issues in England via internet banking, but that has now subsided and I am more relaxed.  Of course missing two working days, though nice, is still a bind because as I have said repeatedly to the deaf ears of my bosses that if I don’t do my work I have to do it.  Not a single keystroke or data entry will be done in my absence – it will all be waiting my return.  And I ain’t exactly sitting there twiddling my thumbs during normal uninterrupted weeks.  The only saving grace is that I am about to retire, well almost.  I have had to extend this by one month anyway but at the end of April come what may I will be finishing.

And the last three days have been so nice here.  The sun has emerged at last and that slightly added stress of having visitors to entertain has passed.  Not that we disliked having them – a great time was had, but now just the two of us, my long-suffering wife and I have been able to relax and slip into a pleasant routine.  Tonight someone will be playing live in the Gambetta and we will go about nine in the evening to see them.  Then on Saturday (today for you) I am flying into Bristol and am facing a rather tedious journey back to London.  One week of almost solid work and back out again, strikes permitting next Saturday.  It’s a funny life….