Thursday, 10 September 2009
...And Tomorrow The World
The following scene comes from Chapter 11 of The Tomorrow Windows which, if I remember correctly, was the last part of the book to be written and was written in one 24-hour last-minute rush fuelled by red wine and diet coke. What has affectionately become known as the Lidster method. As a result, I know I wrote the chapter but have little recollection of what I actually wrote.
The chapter was a (heavy-handed) satire on the democratic process, that it tends to lead to political short-termism – in the book’s example, no-one is prepared to spend the money to build a rocket to destroy the asteroid that is going to destoy the planet. A deliberately absurd reflection of our own world and global warming:
‘I could say that my opinion was a fact too,’ Dreylon sneered. ‘The point is, we live in a democracy, which means that my opinion is as good as yours. You are perfectly entitled to believe that we are going to collide with the moon, just as I am perfectly entitled to believe that we won’t.’’
And people vote for people they trust – but unfortunately sometimes confuse trustworthiness with credulity. The following scene is about Vinkle, the President of the planet Mineau (re-named Jarkle in the finished version). It was cut down, I think, largely because it seems to drift into an 80’s edition of Spitting Image or an episode of Dead Ringers... Vinkle being the President of the planet Mineau.
Vinkle became distracted, and picked up his desk phone. ‘Hello?’ he said to the receiver, then shook his head. ‘No-one there.’
‘And now,’ said the advisor. ‘From the beginning…?
Vinkle read. ‘The oppositional policements are additionally deficitious. Their proposed increasements would require ten per cent tax!’
‘A ten-percent tax increase.’
Vinkle frowned. ‘Increase?’
The advisor sagged. ‘We’ve been though this. Either a ten per cent increase in income tax, or an increase in stealth taxes.’
Vinkle blinked as he tried to remember. There was a pause of what seemed like a hour. ‘What are stealth taxes?’
‘They’re taxes you know nothing about.’
‘Isn’t that all of them?’
The Doctor approached the desk. ‘President Vinkle, a word…’
Vinkle looked up, and then over his shoulder. ‘Is the President here?’
‘You’re the President,’ said the Doctor.
‘I am?’ A smile dawned upon his face, then he pulled out a stubby whistle and blew. It gave a loud quack. Vinkle looked around expectantly.
‘What’s he doing?’ asked Charlton. The Doctor gave a search-me gesture.
‘I’m trying to attract the attention of the duck,’ Vinkle confided.
‘What duck?’ said the Doctor.
Vinkle turned to his advisor. ‘I thought you said there was a duck here?’
His advisor deflated. ‘I said the buck. The buck stops here.’
‘Buck?’ said Vinkle. ‘Isn’t that some sort of goat? Not sure I want a goat in my office. Might scare the duck.’ He slurped at his carton again. ‘Mmm, I like my juicy drink.’
The policy-under-advisor diplomatically ushered the Doctor, Prubert and Charlton out of the office and drew the double doors shut. ‘The president is, as you saw, hard at work, and does not wish to be distracted.’
Charlton sputtered for words. ‘Distracted?’
‘The President is… very easily distracted. People, noises, movement. Reflective objects. It is best that he is left to his… highly demanding schedule.’