Richard Pierce

Life, Politics

Day 303

The day when the clocks go back is always a sucker punch. At least we tried a new psychological ploy last night, which was not to put the clocks back before we went to bed, to avoid the false sense of having an additional hour. As a result, I think M, A, and I actually got some high quality and long sleep. But the gloaming comes early now, and will keep coming earlier and earlier for the next seven weeks, and will then start to creep away in tiny increments for the remainder of winter until the end of March. Even more important for me to walk mid-day to absorb as much day light (though not Vitamin D, because England gives you no Vitamin D) as possible. And I will have to try to find again what I found in the old village – lots of weekend day light activities.

It is frustrating that we’re not on the same time as Europe (and even a lot of Europe is getting frustrated by this meaningless habit of putting the clocks back come mid-autumn). Thise in the north of the UK saying it’s important to be on a different time AND to put back the clocks are seriously not very educated – most of Norway is north of any part of mainland Britain, and it’s aligned to European time, and there are no issues there. For me, it’s just yet another expression of British exceptionalism, rooted in the corrupt and destructive imperialism of old. No more, no more. Junk this along with the monarchy, the forced deference of the masses to that tripartite power of royalty, class, and wealth. Ridiculous. We’re in the 21st century, folks.

Talking of such things, the can of worms in politics has now been well and truly opened. More allegations emerge about Suella Braverman, the racist Home Secretary (including that she shared extremely sensitive information with a hard-right MP who didn’t have the appropriate security clearance, and who has extremely close links with even harder right private individuals seeking to steer the course of UK politics from the dark recesses of new money); there’s news of the hacking of Liz Truss’s phone when she was Foreign Secretary (which Johnson was allegedly aware of and did nothing about); news of more Tory MPs misleading standards watchdogs; Maria Caulfield, the Tory MP who backed cutting abortion time limits and agitated against having buffer zones outside abortion clinics, being appointed Minister for Women. To say Sunak was lying when he said he was all about governing with integrity, professionalism, and accountability, is not being inaccurate.

And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. The world is a space we’re having to watch. Terrible things are afoot.



The attendant withdraws, still shooting questioning glances at Aggie.

Aggie shakes her head again. No need for the woman to be worried about her. Aggie has everything she needs in her head.

Valentine tucks into the food as if he hasn’t eaten for days.

Aggie remains fascinated by how Valentine’s robots have to eat and drink, how indistinguishable they are from humans. Perhaps Valentine has found a way of getting his machines to convert food and drink into the fuel they need to operate, which would make them entirely independent of the need to be recharged. She gives no sign of these thoughts, doesn’t even watch Valentine’s mechanical doppelganger for  any length of time. Not worth it. And she’s glad of the silence, which continues even when he’s finished eating but she hasn’t. Buying herself more time, avoiding useless and provocative talk. Daylight starts to filter into the cabin. ‘We should sleep,’ she says when she finally does push the crockery away from her. ‘And stop drinking.’

‘It doesn’t affect me like it does you humans,’ he says.

‘Stop anyway unless you want to draw attention to yourself, to us.’

‘You’re a very boring person at heart, aren’t you? I really don’t get why he’s so interested in you.’

‘Then ask him,’ Aggie says. ‘He’ll illuminate you.’

The robot doesn’t talk, but cocks his head as if he can hear something else. His mouth opens in a small O, closes again rapidly.

‘You can talk to him, just like he can hear you and me, right?’ Aggie says.

Valentine nods. ‘He says to let you sleep, and to sleep myself. Nothing about the game or the proof of your capabilities.’

Aggie thinks she hears a click that’s inaudible to normal people, and watches the man next to her slump back into his seat, eyes closed. ‘Thanks for that, at least, Sir,’ she whispers.

‘Is everything alright?’ The attendant is now by her side, knees bent, whispering.

‘He’s just an old acquaintance I’ve not seen for a long time,’ Aggie whispers back. ‘I didn’t know he would be on this flight.’ She fakes a sigh. ‘Not a very pleasant man, but you know how it is.’

‘I could move you.’

‘That’s not necessary, honestly. It would cause you more trouble than he’s causing me. With any luck he’ll sleep the rest of the flight.’

‘It’s a long way to go yet. And we do have an air marshall on board. You shouldn’t really stand for being harrassed.’

‘Nor should you,’ Aggie says.

‘We’re under specific instructions not to react to roaming eyes,’ the woman says, and smiles. ‘Sometimes talking to these creeps gives them the oxygen their fires need to burn.’

‘Thanks ever so much for being so observant and concerned. I really appreciate that. But I think I can cope with him. If I do need your help, or your air marshall’s, I’ll let you know.’

‘Just so you’re aware, our air marshall is a tough woman,’ the attendant says. ‘No messing.’ She straightens up and walks away.

‘That’s good to know,’ Aggie says, and is more pleased than she thought she’d be to hear the air marshall’s a woman. She looks at Valentine’s robot again, has no doubt that the real Valentine will be able to hear what she’s saying, what she said, and that perhaps he can still see her as well. All she’s interested in now is making sure she gets this human-looking machine off the plane in London without running the risk of Valentine blowing up the plane like he blew up the room in the basement of the White House. She closes her eyes and pretends to sleep.

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