June the 30th
We're all feeling depressed this morning after hearing Chris Hammond collapsed while he was on air last night. He's in the QA at the moment. Given the new emphasis on 'Natural Health Outcomes' and 'Not artificially prolonging end-of-life suffering' we fear for the worst.
Chris started his career way back in the early 1970s; way before most of us were even alive. He dabbled in pirate radio for a while before becoming a legitimate broadcaster. His was a varied media career before the "That Was Then' archive show broke through to prominence and even won an award before the Connies started sniffing at it.
It began as a community local history project (one of his many interests) and as a way of stimulating memories in older people; but its popularity spread, soon reaching a national audience. We found it astonishing at the time how some people should find an inoffensive series of reminiscent documentaries so threatening, but in retrospect we shouldn't have been surprised. It was a sign of the way things were going; but like so many other warnings it went unheeded.
From our perspective it seems scarcely possible to believe those old films dating from the late 1950s to the 1990s were real. Yes, it was another time; but could it really have been that different; so far removed from the way we live now? The people of those times looked so much happier and better dressed than we do today; they seemed to take a greater pride in themselves and their appearance back then, despite our New Modestly. It was a time of plenty, and there was a palpable sense of optimism the future really would be something to look forward to.
Of course life in the past had its fears and problems, real enough to the people of the time, but they were inconsequential compared to what we live with now. In retrospect they lived in a golden age and they didn't realise it. But how could those modern ghosts captured immortal in the video image have known that from that peak, imperfect though it was, our quality of life would go sliding inexorably down to the level we endure now? Or their bright tomorrow become our worn-down, hand-me-down, reliant on charity, not quite enough, constantly peckish, shiveringly energy poor; held together with glue and tape dystopia?
We had to fight hard to keep the show on air; the record of past abundance being too much of an inconvenient truth for some influential people to allow to be seen. Though they tried as hard as they could the Connies couldn't do any more than vociferously complain, not being as strong then as they are now. They are bullies at heart, and as bullies are they are fundamentally weak inside; they will back down whenever they are faced with someone who has the courage to stand their ground and push back with equal force against such unsubtle attempts at intimidation.
Chris was such a man. He kept making the shows, but after a while the audience declined; people finding it too painful to be reminded of what they had once had and now lost: The implied question of why we collectively allowed this national decline to happen too uncomfortable to ask or answer.
So he returned to his first love of radio; his night-time eclectic stream of mixed genres from the 60s to the 80s developing a large and loyal following. He lived up to his punk pirate principles, never backing down when controversy sought him out. He had a resurgence of infamy when he innocently played a request for the eighties song by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin - 'Busy Doing Nothing'. An over-zealous Connie complainer objected to the newly-established OMS claiming the song parodied the Consensus' employment policies - 'An Assignment for everyone and everyone to be Assigned'. The regulator agreed and ordered it not be played again. That was a red rag to a bull, so Chris kept playing it whenever it was requested despite their ruling. James to his credit rallied the IMS board to back him all the way. It was due to get protractedly legal when the Connies, realising that all they were doing was making fools of themselves and giving the opposition to their unsteady rule a rallying song, cut their losses and quietly retreated.
It was an automatic alarm after thirty seconds of silence that warned Lena Skibinska, the night duty supervisor that something was wrong. She found Chris slumped incommunicative over the studio console. We're all hoping you can pull through mate. I don't think he has any local relatives so I'll drop in and visit him tonight.
This is bringing back some bad memories. Hospitals are never pleasant places to visit, but seeing someone who was once so full of life just lying there, kept alive by machines, is heartbreaking. It was just the same when Mum was losing her battle with cancer. As Chris had no nearby next-of-kin, only a sister living in New Zealand and a daughter in Canada, I appointed myself his advocate and assumed the powers on his behalf. That should keep the vultures from switching him off for a while.
It transpires he'd lodged a living will; and if there was no sign of improvement in his condition after a week, or any hope of a recovery then he was happy to let the doctors do as they thought best. He was adamant though that his organs weren't to be harvested. He was so opposed to the principle of Presumed Consent, saying that his organs were his to donate, not the State's to appropriate, that he carried an opt-out card.
I wonder how he would've reacted if the ever-circulating rumours about the introduction of implantable health record chips to replace the cards were to be substantiated, as he was even more vehemently opposed to any form of ID card or tag. Not that I think they'd be able to use many of his organs, given his multiple health problems caused by a life well lived. "Yeah, so it'll all catch up with me in the end - so fucking what!" was his response to any criticism of his excesses. He knew where his lifestyle choices were leading him, and rebel that he was he didn't give a shit.
As tobacco was gradually and surreptitiously outlawed he tried growing his own, but eventually he gave it up. It was too energy intensive to cultivate and when smart meters began to automatically report any constant over-quota use of electricity, drawing unwelcome attention to home growers, he decided that it was no longer worth the risk. Besides, it was cheaper and easier to buy it from the drug dealers who had easy access to the latest strains of genetically modified cold-tolerant plants that could be grown outside on waste ground. They were only too pleased to profit from the latest misguided efforts of the Nanny State.
In the end even he gave it up. His body started rebelling against a lifetime of abuse, and it was more trouble than it was worth to continue. Smoking began to irritate his lungs. I think he was surprised to have lived as long as he has given his heavy drinking, as well as his heart and liver troubles. He always shrugged-off thoughts of his mortality, but in the end death always catches up with you.
Here I am talking about him in the past tense. It seems a rather pathetic, undignified way to slowly let go of your grip on life; beep by beep by beep, in an impersonal little cubicle under a dim, timeless light. Just in case he can hear anything I have a one-way conversation with him, and tell him I'll look after everything: But I get no sign of a response. The displays on the life support machinery keep on with their metronomic, mesmerising rhythm.
After sitting with him for twenty minutes I promise to return again tomorrow and leave. There can be no doubt that Chris has but a few tomorrows left, poor sod.
July the 1st.
It's the lead story this morning, and PushCred as well; which means we'll have to wait a prudent interval before dropping its prominence. So what is this item that the OMS insists we all see? It's the start of another DOA campaign against guerrilla gardens and verge farms.
The justification given is always the same: To prevent the cultivation of drugs, as well as the use and spread of unregulated Genetically Modified seeds; for only the Department Of Agrivironment in its all-knowing wisdom can licence what may be sown - be the seeds organic or transgenic. Food production must be as planned and regulated as the rest of the economy, with cultivars chosen only from their Approved List of varieties.
We hoped we'd freed ourselves from this bureaucratic nonsense when the Transitional Council negotiated the Federation's partial withdrawal from the European Union. Instead we exchanged corrupt collectivist control from Brussels for incompetent collectivist control from the local office in Basingstoke.
Such is the state's obsessive-compulsive need to control every aspect of horticulture that even individual gardeners must pay a fee to register, report their plantings, and account for each item of produce; whether lost to the weather, pests, or harvested. Successful growers are then assessed as to how much of their crop must be 'donated' to their local Community Food Store, or be counted as 'income in kind' to be offset against their ComCred. And not forgetting the inevitable losses to confiscation of produce deemed to be 'contaminated' by fallout or pollutants.
Unsurprisingly, what happens in real life is very different. Despite the ever-present risk of an audit from the eager and mobile Agriviroment Inspectorate the returns submitted bear hardly any resemblance to what is actually grown, with losses being grossly overestimated. So what it results in is a black market in illicit vegetables and erroneous statistics of food production.
We could probably put up with it and laugh it off in times of plenty; but these aren't times of plenty. The cost of food spirals relentlessly higher, with constant shortages of official produce, and an increase in demand for dark veg. With a shortage of land to grow on people try to supplement their income, or even avoid starvation or rickets, by growing greens and roots on any spare patch of ground they can. If it is possible to grow on, it'll be used by clandestine farmers and Ferals as a source of uncontrolled food.
The DOA claim their actions are there to protect the public by discouraging people away from potentially dangerous areas such as motorway verges or railway embankments; and the prohibition of private foraging for wild food is to protect the environment from over-exploitation. Yet the state approved, Connie dominated foraging parties inevitably strip bare any areas they are allowed to harvest.
Yes, it's logical to preserve the 'linear reserves' of wildflowers so vital for pollinating insects, or to prohibit invasive plant varieties potentially harmful to the environment, or even to prevent the cultivation of drugs. But that isn't their reason.
If the DOA really cared about the environment their hazmat-suited staff wouldn't liberally be spraying weed killers the department themselves have condemned as unsafe; confiscating any 'legacy stocks' they come across for their own use for this, and only this, purpose. Instead theirs is a darker, ulterior motive. It is that of control.
Whoever regulates the source of your sustenance has absolute authority over you. Having managed to get the majority of people food dependant on the state, and therefore more susceptible to its domination; the Consensus intends to keep them that way. Cutting-off alternative sources of supply reinforces their power. (Remember the furore there was when the Irish charity, Hands Across The Sea, tried to organise food banks and Community Canteens in the Fed? And how they were told they couldn't do so unless they 'cooperated' with the authorities and abided by strict 'eligibility criteria' for the recipients of the aid, among other stipulations?)
No, the random, mobile checkpoints on rural roads aren't only there to search for 'illegally' foraged plants or 'unsafe' game or road kill. They also reinforce the assertion that one eats only by the state's munificence, with its permission; and by no other means. Denial of wild food supplies is also a means to try to starve the independent, wandering Ferals back into society.
So it's no surprise to see land which might have been used for growing food rendered temporarily poisonous and barren; the state using hunger as a weapon against its own citizens, and its bureaucratic stubbornness plumbing new depths of obduracy.
Yet despite their best destructive efforts, new strains of unlicensed, untested GM seeds are easily smuggled into the Fed and distributed. No amount of searching or scanning at ports and airports can stop virtually undetectable GPS guided stealthy drones from flitting at low level across the Channel or the Irish Sea laden with the latest varieties of cold-tolerant, pesticide resistant cannabis or tobacco plants.
But the DOA still go on doing as they do because that is what they do and are used to doing. What I can't understand is how they are allowed to get away with it.
I think I'll let that 'Cred drop down the running order a bit sooner than would be politic; if anyone wants to resist the pervasive DOA intimidation and grow their own unregistered food, than the best of Feddish luck to them! I for one am getting sick of IMS being used as a state mouthpiece. I think there will have to be a few more unfortunate 'technical issues' in the future.
July the 6th.
Things must be bad; they're hoisting the Alban scare flag again. It's semi-official PushCred speculation and absolute bollocks as usual; yet some people still swallow it.
We have to 'cast it without comment of course; but judging by the feedback we're getting, few of those brave enough to comment on public spaces take it at all seriously. Usually we get an outburst of anti-Alban propaganda on the 30th of November - St Andrew's Day - along with video of the habitual 'border protection' exercises, and the opposing forces glaring at each other through the pelting Reiver country sleet; as if the Albans would push south beyond Hadrian's Wall... But this is an unscheduled 'Cred so something must be up.
The unattributable background briefing claims that Alba's resident community of expatriate North Korean weapons specialists have been busy. They've dismantled the Trident sub, HMS Valiant, they managed to seize while she was docked at Faslane prior to her disarming and decommissioning as part of a vicious commando operation which took place during the secession blitzkrieg; mercilessly slaughtering the crew who did their best to resist the boarding.
Thanks to Commander Bannister's and Senior Weapons Officer Franklin's heroic acts of self sacrifice - they were both awarded the Victoria Cross for simultaneously blowing each others' brains out on a count of three to prevent themselves being captured alive and revealing the mnemonic component of the launch codes under torture - the Albans were denied a fully armed SSBN. Not that they have the resources or technical capability to run a sub like that in any case, but that hasn't stopped them from dismantling the warheads and reusing the plutonium to make an estimated fifty or more viable nuclear weapons of varying yields thought to be as high as 100 kilotons. The spent fuel from the reactors is said to have provided material for over a hundred Radioactive Dispersal Devices, or 'Dirty Bombs' as they are commonly known.
Not only we're told do they have the weapons; but they also have the means to deliver them as well, thanks to the cargo of crated Nodong medium range missiles the Nodong gyegeub-ui cheol-ui uiji (The Iron Will of the Proletariat) delivered when it docked in South Leith. Though regarded as dated by current standards they still remain potent and reliable weapons. What components the Alban government can't make for themselves they have been very astute at getting made for them in defiance of the selectively ignored UN arms embargo. They've also been wiley when it comes to deploying their arsenal. Along with the squadron of Typhoons captured before they could be flown out from Leuchars, they've deployed road mobile Transporter Erector Launchers, and adapted cargo ships as standby launch platforms. In addition numerous hardened launch complexes have been constructed for their rocket fleet. Not all of the bunkers are occupied all of the time, but even when unoccupied they are guarded by the Alban army as if they contained live missiles or dirty drones; with regular movements of both real and decoy launch vehicles to enhance the uncertainty. Such a shell game and dispersed arsenal, as well as the availability of Radioactive Dispersal Shells to the Alban long-range artillery units renders a decisive first strike by the Fed an impossibility.
Some of it may well be true but to me it appears to be a desperately pathetic piece of scaremongering: Not that I'm a military expert, but I know bullshit when I see it. No doubt fedologists here and around the world will be reading the story with interest, trying to work out what the release at this time says about the relative strengths of the various fractious elements who have been forced together by circumstance to form the Consensus.ns220.127.116.11da2