Scene From The 21st Century – Issue 23

A dimly lit room somewhere way short of the rainbow, way down low. The eco-friendly bulb finally lights up the immediate area wherein we see a thin, gaunt figure at a desk, scratching away at a parchment, muttering to himself.

Sounds can be heard off-stage: sleigh bells singing, hooves clicking and the chattering teeth of children whose noses are pushed up against a TV shop or should that be electrical shop window.

“Bloody Christmas,” Dick Charles says to himself, not expecting an omniscient narrator to hear him.

“Why say that, Dick. What do you have against this time of year?” says the omniscient narrator.

“What the…” Dick ejaculates in surprise.

“Don’t worry, we’re not your conscience, nor will we give you a temporal tour. We only ask so as to ascertain what you feel is less than satisfactory about Christmas. To be honest, we are involved in market research and are garnering the opinion of all employers so legislation can better reflect the ruling economic class.” The narrator adds at length.

“Why should I believe you?” Dick countered, with a healthy scepticism of disembodied voices.

“You don’t have to believe me but you will regret not putting in your two-penneth worth when the results are manifest in parliament’s next raft of bills to support your social and economic milieu.”

Dick shifted in his seat, looked around but couldn’t see anyone else, even in the darkest recesses of the stage. In fact, he began to wonder whether this was a drama at all. There being no boom microphone, no best boy and no make-up artists. There weren’t even any groupies banging at his back door for an autograph.

“So, I don’t need to do anything to bring about social change for the better. You and the parliamentarians will organise society as if the pre-revolution Scrooge himself were Prime Minister.  I can still keep Christmas at alms length and invest my money rather than spend it on local orphanages and the new workhouses for those on Zero-hours contracts and Workfare?” Dick had to restrain himself from ejaculating again, this time with glee at the good fortune his hard work was promising to deliver him.

The narrator cleared his throat before booming out, “Of course, don’t get your portfolio in a twist. You will take the credit but will not need to lift a finger to become richer and more powerful. Only the working turkeys will suffer. You will be renamed an entrepreneur. No longer will you be ironically labouring under the yolk of nomenclatures such as industrialist and/or capitalist, and certainly no one will be allowed to criticise you as a corporatist. No more moral or ethical guilt-trips for you, Dick, me lad. The only trips you will be making are those to the Seychelles and that island you’ve always wanted to aquire from your earnings. All tax-free and now morality-free too. We’re changing the rules of expression and controlling how people even think about luck and value and endeavour. It’s taken a few hundred years but we’re finally shaking loose the shackles of moral and ethical thought and ploughing full-steam ahead with revisionist politics that constitutes time-travel. We’re taking industrial relations back to the beginning of the industrial revolution. The next phase will be to persuade Australia to take the feckless and out of work. One thing in our favour is the fact that so many of our desperate working-class are so well educated and skilled that Australia might not mind accepting them.”

Dick sits there dumbfounded at his luck in still being alive in such an age of enlightened exploitation.

“Perhaps it is time I invested in a pen and tablet, rather than using this quill.”

“Sure thing, Dick. Go ahead, it will be tax-deductible. In fact you could probably push to take it out of your employees wages.”

“But I don’t pay them any. They are fully subsidised by the public purse.”

“That doesn’t matter. Now you’ll be rewarded for employing people. The state will give you money on top of money for even condescending to give even one of the highly-educated but unwashed because of lack of adequate bathroom  facilities, a job of any kind.”

“Is there a catch?” Dick enquired, still a little reluctant to believe his luck at being healthy enough to hang around while his niggardly character and inhumane orientation to the world was being legitimised by legislation and destruction of any moral compass.

“The only obstacle would be if you grew a conscience. However, we both know that is as likely to happen as legitimate representative democracy in England.” The narrative voice confirmed.

“Well, I’ll be.” Dick said as he stood up, threw away his quill and pad, intending, without further ado, to buy himself an electronic gadget to bring him into the 19th 21st century.