Friday, 1 November 2013

Day 170 Louish’s News

Well that was fascinating!
Louish was as dramatic as ever.
First off, she greets me in a bright royal blue tunic covered in glittery sequins. It was an incredible outfit. It was all sort of rutched up with great pleats in the body of it and the sleeves as well. Mind you, it really suited her. And her make-up! I mean, I’m wearing make-up all the time now, but I try to do it so that it doesn’t show. But Louish! Long curly eyelashes. Thick eye-liner. Bright blue eye shadow that matched her tunic. A huge beauty spot. And lipstick so red it almost looked as if her lips were bleeding.
Then there was all her prodding and poking – trying to get things out of me. So much so that I ended up telling as much about Julien as I dared.
“Well, my dear,” she said. “You’re looking well. Any sign of any new romance?”
At that point, I blushed bright red.
“Ah, I see there is,” she said. “Well, do not fear anything form me, my dear. If that foolish grandson of mine can’t appreciate what is right in front of him, what’s offered o him on a plate, well then he’s even more of a fool that I thought.”
She stroked my hair and then gave me a huge hug I don’t know why exactly, but that set me off. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Was I still sad about Kaleem? Was I pleased she accepted the idea of Julien?
Maybe she defined it herself in the end.
She sighed. “I’m sure he’s a fine young man, whoever he is,” she said. “But he’ll take you away from our family I expect.”
The lunch was superb, of course. Louish is always so cheerful and she tells such funny stories. But as we had coffee afterwards she became deadly serious. 
“I want to arrange a meeting,” she said. “A secret meeting. Between you and Razjosh.”
I couldn’t begin to imagine what Razjosh might want with me.
“Oh?” I said.
“Yes, he wants to discuss the whole post switch-off thing with you.
“Oh,” I replied. I couldn’t think that that was going to be easy. He was so near to switch-off himself. “What does Elder Frazier think?”
“He’s all for it, my dear. In fact he’ll be at the meeting too,” she replied. “You will agree to it won’t you?”
How could I not? Louish is such a well-meaning person. I nodded my head.  
“Great!” she said, and beamed.
The rest of the afternoon was lovely. We went for a walk together. And as usual, she told me such funny stories about what she and the other Elders’ attachments get up to. Despite this rather heavy task she’s landed me with, it always does me good being with her. I really can’t believe she’s a grandmother with an adult grandson.     


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Day 162 Adventure

Well, I’m sorry folks for not posting for a while. The truth of the matter is that I’ve been away. I’ve been away with a very special gentleman. Yes, you’ve guessed it: Julien. He turned up – out of the blue.
It was the day after the switch-off panel committee. I actually chose to walk home. It was one of those lovely mild, sunny almost summer days. The sun was very high and it was warm without being hot. A transporter stopped beside me and this very elegant woman asked me whether I would care for a lift. I didn’t recognise him straight away, but then there was something about the way she looked at me …. I just knew it was really Julien.
He / she had to keep the disguise up until we were well away from the Normal Zones. He took me to a Wilderness Area. Then he was able to take his disguise off and tell me what he could about what he’d been doing. He couldn’t tell me much, of course. Just that they were keeping him busy and that everything was still top secret.
But the Wilderness Area was another eye-opener. It’s not as wild as you would think.
We stayed on an island which used to be a very popular place for holidays before the poison cloud came. It is now a place of rest and recuperation for top workers – of which Julien is one, naturally. It’s actually an old volcano – which looks as if it’s going to go off any minute now. But it’s incredibly beautiful. A lovely temperature – warm, but not too hot. We went swimming and we went for walks. There are some lovely walks there and fantastic scenery. It is amazing that everything has come back so quickly after the Poison Cloud was lifted. And we talked a lot.
The people there really looked after us well. They were just so kind and thoughtful. Everything was up to a really high standard. Wilderness Area seems completely the wrong name. But I guess that’s just another bit of Hidden Information. 
And all that time off work? Arranged by Julien, naturally. He has quite a lot of influence, that young man.

Day 167 3520 Back to Reality

Well, after those three wonderful weeks I’m now back to normal. Plenty of work. That’s going quite well, and I’m enjoying the routine of it all, though I do worry that the problems around switch-off are getting more difficult rather than getting solved.
I can’t believe we used to take it so much for granted. We all knew it was going to happen to us some time or other.  Yet nobody’s ever discussed what it must feel like when it’s getting near. And nobody ever talks about whether they believe that something happens to you after you’ve gone. There used to be religions and people used to believe in a god and a place called Heaven. But we don’t have that sort of comfort any more. Yet some people believe in things like the Babel prophecy. 
It’s funny. Murder is a crime. Yet we were willing to kill off people when they get old.
I know! I know! If we didn’t the planet would get too crowded. But other planets manage with natural deaths. Because they have illness and they don’t fear it.
That was what Kaleem was dealing with. He didn’t realise at the time that that was what the main problem was with the Z Zoners:  they didn’t approve of switch-off.
We have another huge committee meeting next week. Well, we’ll see what happens.
Other routines are going on quite nicely. I’m seeing quite a bit of my kid brother and he’s doing fine. I’m going out with the girls two or three times a week.
I’ll be seeing Louish tomorrow. She reckons she has some gossip for me. Should be interesting.
And all the time, that underlying excitement. Will I hear from him again soon?     

Monday, 16 September 2013

Day 124 3520 Switch-Off Panel

I went to the first Post-Switch-Off Panel meeting. There were a lot of very grim faces. It’s a really tough subject. I suppose, also, everybody’s realising they’re going to have to face switch-off as well.
It is such striking thought .We take it for granted. They always told us on the schooling programme that it was a respectful end to a valued and useful life and it was the price we had to pay for the easy, comfortable time we had on Terrestra. It does sound all right in theory. But I guess when you’re facing it, when your time comes up, it must be terrifying. I can’t imagine not being alive. I guess that’s why people used to believe in heaven and God and things like that. So that they could hope we carry on after our body’s gone.
“We’ll have to limit birth,” said one woman. “Increase the Stopes programme.”
“No point!” replied another man. “The NIZers won’t live to switch-off age. Too much damage has already been done.”
“But what about their children?” asked someone else? “And what happens if they pair up with Normal Zoners? What happens then? The second generation are likely to be as healthy as Normal Zoners?”
Then I found myself speaking.
“Well, why don’t we go even further?” I said. “Why don’t we behave like every other planet and have contact from outside and allow illness back in, so that some people don’t last so long?”
“We couldn’t do that!” shouted one woman. “After all we’ve worked towards over the centuries.”
“Isolation and hositlity,” I muttered.
“Well, she would say that, Peace Child whore,” shouted somebody was.
Unbelievable that people like that are on this committee.
Fortunately the chair soon brought the meeting to order and was kind enough to say: “Mz Lawrence was actually asked to join this committee because of her excellent ability to empathise with two opposed factions. Anyone who is not comfortable with that should leave now and we’ll find a replacement.” Then he turned to me and smiled. “But we do have to take things slowly,” he said.
Gosh, was I angry, when I met the others at the Laguna.
“Good for you,” said Rosemarie. “You just show them!”
They were really sympathetic and they have started to think about the Switch-Off question. I don’t know that they really understand all of the issues, but even so.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Day 119 3520 Spice in My Life Again

Yes, it’s exciting. Everything is exciting. My new job is superb. Later this week I have to go to the Committee on Alternatives to Switch-Off for NIZoners. A few of us have already started negotiating via dataserve messages. And at the bar last night we talked about what it would be like for everybody if we ditched switch-off. More and more people are against it now. But what I can’t work out is whether they’re prepared to put up with disease as a way of controlling population. A bit of a brutal way of looking at it, I know, but it is a reality. I’m getting so much chance to see these sorts of things now.
And it’s great having my kid brother on the block. We’re meeting up every now and then, when our work’s not taking us away. He’s doing well. He seems to have grown up such a lot. It’s done him good to get away from home, though he misses the countryside, I think. He’s actually a really nice sort of guy, even if he is totally disorganised.
And behind all of this that exciting feeling that any moment, Julien might contact me. And I ask myself, is he thinking about me? Is he missing me like I’m missing him? Before I go to sleep I think about him and as soon as I wake up, he’s in my head again. I remember what he smells like. He uses a very masculine body salve when he changes from being Mrs Kettle. I’m almost tempted to buy some to remind myself of him.
I suppose it’s called “being in love”. I’m sure my pulse is racing virtually all the time. This is far more dramatic than what happened with Kaleem. That was deep and sweet. This is sexy and exciting. The extra mystery is great. It gives me something to look forward to, something to get up for every day. It really is adding spice to my life.