ThinkTank by Chris Green

I have an incoming call on my cassette recorder. Yes, I do mean my cassette recorder, a 1980 vintage Hitachi. A few months ago getting a call on anything but my phone would have phased me, but lately I am becoming used to technology around me behaving strangely. I live round the corner from the secret monitoring base, and my son, Gregg, works there. I don’t know what he does exactly. He will never tell me. My sister, Agnes suggests he might be developing a new edible listening device.

Why, you are wondering, do I still have a cassette recorder in the house? Technology has moved on. What is wrong with CD or mp3 or a streaming service? When I moved to Goldfinger Mews, CD was the first media I had problems with. I would be driving home in my Rambler listening to an acid jazz CD and suddenly The Brand New Heavies would be replaced by Why Don’t We Do It In The Road or Hava Nagila. Mp3 files would simply play Morse Code. I do not use my PC any more, because the content of my documents gets changed by a mysterious third party and the virus checker complains every time I switch the machine on. On the positive side I can pick up an awful lot of stations from all over the world on my satellite dish. Infiltration from CGHQ is getting worse. Last week when I turned the hoover on, it started talking to me in Russian.

By pressing a series of buttons on the cassette recorder, I succeed in answering the call. It is Billy Golding. He wants to know if I will go for a drink later. I tell him I will meet him at The Whistle Blower at seven, so long as he doesn’t go banging on about Gaia. I had that from Jimmy Lovelock last week and I had the helicopter hovering over the house for hours afterwards.

Sometimes Ellie and I go walking on the stretch of barren land that surrounds the secret base. Even before you pass the last row of town-houses adjacent to the complex, you can hear the banks of cameras whirring. Every month or so an anonymous contractor digs great trenches in the land that leads away from the grey towers of the base. I’ve never seen the crews that carry out the cabling work. I’m told by my neighbour, Eddie Hubble, who is a keen stargazer, this takes place at night under huge portable floodlights. The light pollution from it makes it impossible to see anything in the northern sky, he tells me.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. I do not believe that Prince Philip was behind Diana’s death or that 9/11 was planned by George W Bush, but there is definitely a lot going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Are bees disappearing because radiation from mobile phones is interfering with their navigation system? Are there only one hundred cod left in the North Sea? Many questions remain unanswered. Julian Assange still has a lot of work to do if he ever gets out. Why for instance is the idea that the Earth is living system where organisms and their inorganic surroundings have evolved together, so problematic for anyone, that searching for Gaia in WebCrawler cripples your computer.

Daisyworld is a planet the same size as Earth, orbiting a sun just like ours. In the beginning, it is entirely covered by an equal number of dormant seeds of black and white daisies. The black daisy, is better at absorbing light for photosynthesis than the white daisy. The white daisy’s petals are better at reflecting light than the black daisy, so it can avoid overheating and dying. The temperature of Daisyworld warms up as time passes. The seeds germinate into plants. The black daisies are more efficient at photosynthesis than the white daisies and so they suppress them. Because the black daisies are so good at absorbing light, there are so many of them that they heat up the entire planet. Due to the high temperatures, the white daisies are now able to suppress the black daisies since they are better at reflecting away the sun’s light and so prevent themselves from overheating and dying out. The white daisies are so successful that they spread throughout Daisyworld, but now the planet is covered with white daisies, so that so much heat is reflected away that the temperature begins to drop. And so it goes on.

I am on my way now to The Whistle Blower now. I am driving round the long way as there are roads closed off because of the protests against the badger cull. My Satnav is chattering away in German and I am being tailed by a big black BMW. No, wait! I think its a tank.

Copyright © Chris Green 2014: All rights reserved


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