Sunday, 22 December 2013

What If...

Look What Santa Brought : Makeshift 2013


In a funny way, I kind of feel the world can be such an absurd place. Sometimes, I am convinced the way the socio-politico-economic universe glides on and evolves is somewhat surreal. I have never been convinced of the argument that economics is a science but rather, like our global financial system, it is, in fact, an art.

Master that my friends and you - master the universe - thank you Tom Wolfe ( author of Bonfire of the Vanities, fantastic read and recommended if you haven't already worked your way through it.)

I like thinking about these kind of complex features, these really intricate nuances of existence and I like to think sometimes way out beyond the universe to other places, social, political and economic....

So, you sometimes have to think, what if?

What if the world suddenly lost all of its power sources?

Outages are nothing new, of course, but can you imagine if suddenly, in the middle of a blizzard ( let's crank up the tension here) everything failed, but not only failed, but never ever actually return. No more power of any description at all?
The lights on the Christmas tree blink off, the family gathered around the modern shrine of the television utters a collective 'awwww'. 'It is not Christmas without the Christmas lights' you might mumble to yourself. This all happens as we are gathered around that magic box, and then just at our favourite part of our favourite sit-com, when the star prepares to deliver his most famous, belly-laugh catchphrase...'Well bless old'...everything is reduced to absolute blackness.

In that instant, we might have been typing a rather long and rambling email to a distant friend we have not heard from for years...'damn' we'd probably hiss having just lost all that effort.

Pubs everywhere would fall momentarily silent as everyone thought at the same time what's happened? Football (soccer) games would have to be abandoned as floodlights failed.

The whole world goes into meltdown, including the cell and land phone apparatus. Text fingers working at the speed of light to no avail as every battery in every mobile phone is rendered useless. Neither will there be anymore deliveries of petrol...

Cars would become rusting sculptures to what was. Their streamlined features pointing, in muted fashion, to a new, unknown tomorrow.

Without power there will be no more email, text, television. No more brand advertisements, no more sickly sentimental and multi-million pound John Lewis ads at Christmas with bears and hares and sweet little, innocent, tearjerking, children who plead to get what they want with a really schmaltzy twist and it all works, it really does. In fact it is quite brilliant.

The adverts start a stampede. People in their droves rush off to John Lewis as if their frontal lobotomies depend on it and willingly part with their hard earned wonga.

"No, please John Lewis Saleperson, take my cash - I simply love that little animated cartoon of the bear and the hare - I'll have that coffee maker please, just think John that will do Auntie Bessie."

"Look at the price of it woman, £864!" John the husband replies in alarm.
"Oh John! Don't be a grouch, she'll love it! It has come from John Lewis, and you know you can't get better than that, it is written all over their ads. I think the bear and the hare one is my favourite." and then she sings a few bars of Somewhere Only We Know , "Isn't that just wonderful?"

Without power we would be reduced to depend on fire for light and warmth. We would have none of our modern technologies which make our lives so much easier, no white goods like microwaves, washing machines, fridges, or entertainment and communications equipment, music would stop playing unless, of course, it was live.

The coloured lights that flicker across computer screens would black out...the market capitalisation of Google would go from $367.70 billion (£224.97 billion, €268.84) to zero in a split micro-second. Stocks and shares would no longer exist, they would be gone in a flash.

"What was the latest price on Starbucks? Hey buddy, latest price on Starbucks, say what ? You are saying $77.66 (£47.51,€56,78) are you sure... I mean how are we going to check that out?"

Would there be violence? Looters raiding retail outlets for what? Stealing the latest gaming consoles, the Xbox One? Plasma televisions? Don't you think that's just a bit shortsighted, if not weird, even for thieves?

Without power there would be no more leverage, all computerised records would be gone. At last the damn house belongs to us and there is no bank breathing down our necks, there is no longer any record of a mortgage... Who would bother flicking through paper to find out?

Would we need money? If...

In the darkness of your home, you shiver in the cold, pull an extra coat around you, stare out your front room window at the snow falling. In your sleeping bag you fall asleep to wake on Christmas morning and open your presents.

"This one's from Aunt Gillian," You tell your partner.
"What have you got?"
"An? Electric toothbrush..." You groan in the realisation you won't be able to use it....
"Oh that's nice..."
"And you?"
"A DVD..." Your partner frowns, you look at each other.

And say in unison - "Useless"- and throw your presents down and sigh...

Outside, in the snow, two mice shelter from the biting wind near to an empty plant pot.

"What's the drama?" One says to the other. "What are all these humans whinging about?"
"I don't know, all they ever do is moan, so the lights went out so what? You haven't got an Xbox have you Roberto?"
"No senor, never had one..."
"Well then...Merry Christmas Roberto"
"Feliz Navidad, Miguel."

(Can't promise that our philosophical mice will re-appear. Written at home 21/22 December between Christmas shopping.
"Excuse me" I call over the sales assistant, frustrated because I can't find what I am looking for. "Have you got that really expensive perfume with the price pumped up eight-fold because a z-list celebrity puts their name to it?"
The sales assistant thinks for a moment. "Ah, you mean ; 'You Can Fool The Public All The Time'?"
"That's the one!" I clap my hands in delight. "Yes, that's it, my wife loves it." ")


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