I was never a huge fan of the nineties sci-fi show, Sliders. For those who missed this particular series, it involved the protagonists “sliding” from one parallel universe to the next by means of wormholes, generated by a handheld device. The world visited tended to hold some element of sociological interest: well, I suppose visiting a world which differed from this one only in the colour of my front door would be quite hard to convert into an hour (or, this being the US, a smidge over 40 minutes) of riveting television. However, the result did tend towards a sci-fi field-trip from Thinking Allowed, with John Rhys Davis (who later went on to still greater success playing a dwarf, despite what might have been considered the insurmountable impediment of his height) playing the part of Laurie Taylor.
Although the only wormholes in the vicinity of Fish Towers have been made by worms, principally members of the Oligochaeta, I am beginning to wonder if I have inadvertently passed into a parallel earth.
I read in the news that workers in the UK work the third longest hours in Europe (obviously, I’m bringing down the average somewhat – perhaps with greater application on my part, we might have gained the silver). Not so shocking, but wait until I tell you by whom we were trounced: Greece! No, that’s not a typo – the Greeks work longer hours than do my fellow Brits. I’m sure the Greek economy had collapsed last time I looked. How to explain this apparent contradiction? Is it that Greeks do work very long hours, but it is only a very small proportion of the populace that work at all? Or are they just spending long hours at their desks to avoid having to go outside? For, if there is anywhere in the world where agoraphobia is likely to be a problem it must be Greece, where there lies an ancient agora around almost every corner. Or, have a slid (slided? slidden?) into an alternative time line?
But this is not the only strand of evidence I have glimpsed in today’s news. I’m sure at the beginning of the week, I lived in a world where the excesses of the financial services sector – and in particular the City, as it is known – had plunged the world into financial meltdown. In this world, I’ll call it E1, our hospitals, schools, libraries, the Arts and their employees where bearing the brunt of attempts to fix the mess. However, in the world of today, I’ll call it E2, our government has decided that the one promise it must keep is to protect the financial services sector from any form of restraint. Surely, there were more important promises to keep – and, indeed, to fight for? Was the world economy in E2 destroyed by rogue teachers and librarians? If so, I’m worried about the new robot librarian at Sawston library – if that goes rogue we could be in trouble that goes beyond the merely financial…
Has the Coalition decided that the economy has bottomed out, so our rogue financiers can only improve matters if left to their own devices? If so, I fear their understanding of statistics and probability is even poorer than I had imagined (and I can, and did, imagine pretty poor). Or, perhaps they have confused their financial backers with the people who vote for them – which may not prove to be such a good idea in the longer term as financial institutions cannot vote in the UK (yet). Still, if Flanders and Swann have not steered me wrong, I believe the late General De Gaulle will be thrilled by the UK being pushed a little further out of Europe – though, as with financial instituions, dead French military figures are (currently) unable to vote in the UK.
No, I think I need to have a stern talk with my worms and see if they can show me the way back to my own world. E2 is too strange for me: Cambridge Heath is just not Cambridge, despite the nominative congruence.