Wednesday 2nd December

There was always “Glamour”, but it was once reserved for Royalty and Aristocracy.  Then slowly the Merchant Class emerged, followed by the vast ranks of the Middle Classes and “Glamour” followed in its wake.  “Glamour”, the artificial (or occasionally) natural enhancement of one-self, the attempt to make you look better than you think you might look.

Then between the World Wars “Glamour” really hit the working classes, driven by the ultimate artifice of Hollywood; film stars lit by Kleig spotlights and smothered in white make-up somehow represented a desirability to lift us out of the drab and grime of our mundane existences.  I can remember the early sixties, spending hours in front of a mirror trying to get your hair to look ‘cool’, and begging my parents for a black polo-neck sweater, just like I saw the Beatles in a photo-shoot wearing.  And the girls back-combed their hair and wore bright red lipstick and dark eye-shadow just like Mary Quant.

But the “Glamour” industry really took off in the eighties, where it seemed that looking good was far more important than anything you might be thinking or have to say.  Looking back it was a very artificial time, pop-groups went for “Glamour” over the music, magazines were full of glossy adverts, millions were walking about in Burberry check, and even baseball caps were ‘designer’.  Politics too soon became Style over Substance, and all to appear somehow “Glamorous”.  But if you just paused for a moment, stood back and looked properly you could see the ridiculous shoulder pads, the hair extensions, the false eyelashes for what they were.

The trouble with “Glamour” is that you cannot mass-market exclusivity.  Hollywood stars were “Glamourous” largely because this “Glamour” was simply unimaginable, unobtainable and represented a completely different life-style.  But when “Glamour” is available for all it simply becomes meaningless; just as Champagne would lose its appeal if it were as cheap as Asti.  And so now we have ‘High Street Glamour’ everywhere, where artifice and a bland regime rules; it is now almost shocking not to look “Glamourous”, not to wear bling, not to try to look “Gorgeous, Darling”, no matter how old you really are.  But in truth natural and ageing faces are beautiful in themselves, they don’t need foundation and lipstick and eye-liner (or plastic surgery).  Hair turning gently grey looks lovely – you don’t need to die it.  And younger women too look far better with no make-up, no lipstick and artifice.  Let’s leave “Glamour” up on the silver screen and return to just being ourselves for a change (but I don’t hold out much hope).

2066 – And Janek’s silent watcher speaks again

Monday 1st December

-[There are really no limits to which individuals might subject themselves in order not to have to admit they may have been wrong.  Cold, wet and hungry as Janek might have been, one cannot help but admire, at least in the abstract, his determination in spite of all the odds stacked against him to escape.

He had actually walked about five miles in that drain.  Storm drains had been necessary for the last few years, as one unpredictable element of the Ambivalence was that despite the slow moving sea-currents there were still infrequent but violent thunderstorms, torrential downpours which swept all before them.  Janek had been lucky that the ten metre deep drains were almost empty at the time of his descent into them.

So, we had lost him temporarily, but he hadn’t got that far away.  He had stumbled in his darkness into a secluded area reserved for the AAA** strata level, the top level achievable in our society.   These lucky few professionals had almost limitless cred, and were allowed to become investors in the congloms themselves.  What many people fail to comprehend is that actually not that much has really changed in our society.   Power has always resided amongst the rich, it is just that now the worst excesses of their (and incidentally all strata’s) behaviour is curtailed.  The reward for this element of control is that they have far less restrictions imposed on them.  There is an unwritten but clearly understood contract that as long as they do not threaten the status quo we largely let them be.

Of course, we protect these most valuable components of our new world; BettaBrit has its own private Polis who are dedicated to providing security for them; all entry into their private estates is controlled and no contamination from the lower strata is allowed.   And recently, thanks to Janek who has inadvertently raised our consciousness to this overlooked flaw in our planning, we have managed to seal off all exits from the storm-drain system which may happen to be in these specially designated areas.

There used to be an old saying that every cloud has a silver lining.   It was in fact a simple change in programming so that rather than tolerate mistakes we began to welcome them as a source for further analysis and constant improvement that made possible the big leap forward in computing that the last few decades has seen.  Our new generation of Hypercoms are far better at learning than any human ever was, they simply thrive on improving every system.   And this is better for everyone, man and machine too.  Hypercoms do not compete with each other either; rather they excel at sharing their expertise and knowledge, solutions too, with each other.   So we have a far faster evolution as a result, where the Hypercoms are now educating humans rather than the other way round.  In fact almost all the scientific and mathematical discoveries of recent years are thanks to the super computing power we now have; it would have taken humans decades to reach the same conclusions.

But of course, despite that one sighting of our Janek, we had again lost him.  The Polis soon discovered the old disused factory he had hidden out in.  It had been built as long ago as the turn of the century and with its Elizabethan infrastructure was pretty basic.  It had in fact been scheduled for demolition and redevelopment in 2069, but that was brought forward after Janek’s short residence.  It is now demolished and a ten storey indoor sports complex occupies the space, providing recreation and amusement for the fast growing lower strata population.  I wonder if any of them would thank that dirty old tramp they drove out of their manna-store for his unintended contribution to their welfare.

We had actually expected to re-capture him far sooner, but of course we never expected him to evade us, especially by inadvertently infiltrating this higher level enclave, inhabited as it was by many of the top administrators  of our civil service and criminal justice system.  These valued individuals worked almost exclusively from their own luxury homes, making decisions about regional grants and deployment of resources.  Aided of course by our best computer brains, they were drawn exclusively from some of the oldest, wealthiest and best-crammed families of England.  They were chosen because although many of them had lost fortunes in the third great financial crash, and had their land appropriated in the following state of emergency, they still retained that essence of integrity and understanding which generations of breeding had instilled in them, that special knowledge that they were born to rule.

There are those who insist that we should be a complete meritocracy, but actually they are saying the same thing – who, after all, has more merit than those born into the ruling elite, and trained from childhood to be responsible for the future of others?   In any case, they are backed up by myriad computer brains and can hardly make any real mistakes.  The really clever graduates are all mopped up by the con-gloms straight out of uni these days, and who else do you trust?  Human greed is the problem, and these individuals, by and large, are incorruptible.  Money was never their sole motivation, more a by-product of their natural superiority.  In a strange way, serving the public is the perfect role for them; especially in this most socialist of super-capitalist worlds we have created.

And of course I must confess that I too am one of them, and like them, I am devoted to serving the new republic above all else.  My family did once own vast tracts of land in Scotland and I was educated at the finest private crammers.  All of this meant nothing when everything crashed, but I was determined to help create a new phoenix of a society rising from the ashes of old England.   I was of course a middle-ranking civil servant by then, so had an inside track on things from the beginning.   I was also one of the first volunteers in the ‘select program’ which we collaborated with the Americans on, so I feel that I am perfectly situated to defend our wonderful new world.   Few of us are called to serve; fewer still achieve such success in their field as I have been fortunate enough to be a part of.  And now even that niggling mistake on my watch, the disappearance of operative Smith, was about to be rectified.  Just one more roll of the dice – but even Janek couldn’t keep throwing sixes forever.]-