Brian felt a bit strange as he got up that morning, his bed seemed much more comfortable and his teasmade, whilst brewing his favourite mug of Yorkshire Tea was operating effectively, the radio seemed to be switched to a channel he didn’t recognise.
He knew the programme, his favourite ‘Today’ on Radio 4, but Brian Redhead wasn’t discussing the events of the day, it was some woman earnestly talking about the ‘gender pay gap’, and then another woman talking about how London was safe and there were no ‘no go zones’.
He mulled over what a no go area might be whilst checking his calendar, admiring the bikini clad young lady astride a set of Pirelli tyres. Nup, not April 1st, but it was Monday, March 14th, which heralded, each day lovingly highlighted in yellow felt tip, Careers Week.
For Brian is a Careers Officer.
He walked the short distance to the secondary modern school which had been his place of employment for the past fifteen years. “Oh” he thought, they’ve built a fence over the weekend. Uncharacteristically fast work for the local education authority.
He skipped the conflab in the staff office, it would be the usual, PE teachers bragging about the birds they had shagged over the weekend, and went straight to the careers office.
He readied himself for the first candidate. This was his moment to shine. He took no, ok, some, pleasure in damning some candidates to a lifetime of fitting gas appliances, some to work in the supermarket, and, very occasionally, the exceptional bright spark he could recommend to take ‘A’ levels, and perhaps make it to university.
He shuffled the folders on his desk, and opened the first one. ‘Chantelle’. Who the hell was Chantelle?
He prided himself on knowing intimately the cohort who would be coming to him that day, he was a professional after all, he worked hard to make sure that the local companies would receive a prospective employee who would match their needs, and that the candidate would get a job they could do, and in some cases, do well.
Must be a new girl, a transfer from another school perhaps. The next folder ‘Hermione’, where the hell do they get these names, and who is she?
Before he had chance to open another folder, a tap on his office door. Before he had chance to say ‘enter’ a pupil walked in and slumped on the chair opposite.
Another unfamiliar face, oh well, best crack on.
“And you are…”
“I was actually expecting sir, but at least now we know who you are”
Locating the “Robbie Fowler” folder in the pile on his desk, and having a quick perusal of his expected grades, Brian’s heart sank. Another no hoper. Ah well, he thought, there’s a British Leyland plant nearby.
“Well Robbie, what sort of job do you think you would be good at?”
“Job sir, I ain’t doin no job, I’m goin’ Uni like me mates”.
“OK, and which university do you think you will get to with predicted grades of C’s and D’s?”
“Grades don’t matter man, I can get in anyhow”
“OK, and lets assume your grades improve, what would you like to study?”
“Films an shit?”
“I’m not sure your grades are going to get you to university, for example, you are in the bottom sets for maths, English and… triple science. Where did that come from?”
“Triple science, that’s chemistry, biology and physicality”
“You might mean physics?”
“Yeah man… that’s it. Anyhow, grades don’t mean nuffin, I’m going to oksford”
“Oxford…. The university of….”
“Yeah man, they got to let me in”
“Look, there’s a job going at Leyland, on the line, you might be better suited to that….”
“Leyland, leylines, im going to ocksford, man, otherwise racism innit”.
And with that, Robbie took his leave.
It took a couple of minutes for Brian to reshuffle his papers, and his composure, and a deep breath, before he answered “enter” to the next knock on the door.
“Sir, its Chantelle”
“Oh,erm, excellent, Chantelle, I’ve been looking forward to seeing you”
“Yeah, great, so I was wanting to go to uni to do gender and that”
“Yeah gender studies”
“You want to study zoology?, your grades aren’t really up to …..”
“Nah man, gender studies, feminism at that”
“Ah, great, yes, feminism and that. What?”
“You know, study of how wimmin are oppressed minority and how the patriarchy have suppressed them and how we will rise up and take over white men and then run the world and that”
Brian’s head swam. He’d not really been prepared for this.
And he hadn’t.
You see, as a slight twist in the normal course of things, we, the real masters of the universe, who happen to be a slightly right of centre group of scientists, have taken Brian from his happy, late seventies life, right up to the cusp of the year 2020.
We should probably explain to him that the whole human life, civilisation thing was a massive experiment we have been working on, aeon after aeon. We usually run the thing on a Friday afternoon, it takes from noon until four o clock to travel from the creation of the universe to humans reaching their demise, which is handy as we can all knock off early.
It’s always the same, a strong civilisation goes through multiple incarnations of power, various intelligent civilisations creating amazing things, then the soft ‘intellectuals’ somehow take power, and the world is allowed to be taken over by barbarians, adhering to some made up philosophy or religion, and boom.
No more civilisation, no more electricity, medicine, democracy, computer networks, artificial intelligence, space travel, nuclear power etc.
We’ve run this thing countless times, and it’s always the same, no matter how high civilisation climbs, it always ruins itself by ignoring facts, economics, science, and listening to people who really are the same as those who were at the dawn of time dancing round with sticks and telling fantasy stories.
Every time it’s the same. Every time we watch the experiment we have run from lunchtime, get to teatime and go dark. And then we press the reset button, try again the following week and hope, one day that this experiment will at least get past 2,100 years of civilisation, and our research funding will continue.
Bleep and Booster out.
© Paul Wicker 2019
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file