A Short Story from the February 1984 issue of the Socialist Standard
Good news and bad news. First the bad news. You are diagnosed as having a serious illness which will kill you in six months unless you are prepared to sell your house and car, your home computer, and all your furniture in order to pay for an expensive operation in a Swiss clinic. Now the good news. A team of British surgeons have just perfected this operation which can be obtained on the National Health Service.
P.S. There is a seven month waiting list.
A tall stranger appears on your doorstep today, but don't rush into something you might regret. Be ruled by your head rather than your heart. Before opening up to him ask yourself these relevant questions: have I paid the television licence? Did I reconnect the gas-meter?
You will have trouble at work today. It is discovered that you have sent a letter to a local paper complaining about the fact that the management have nice soft toilet paper while you grubbers on the shop floor have to make do with torn up pieces of the Sun. You are immediately branded as a red mole and suspended. The media has a field day. You are denigrated, castigated, and generally regarded as a not nice person. (You should be grateful that hanging wasn’t re-introduced.) After all. what better use could you find for the Sun?
Turmoil in the home. You are visited by a burglar who contrives to separate you from the rent money secreted behind the biscuit tin, along with the twenty-pence pieces nestling in the coffee-jar. He also takes some of the family heirlooms, including the picture of the green Chinese lady, and the three plaster ducks.
A letter bearing bad news arrives today. Don’t even open it and you’ll feel all the better for it. Throw caution to the wind and tear it up. (You can always get reconnected when you pay the bill.)
A slight bit of bad luck. You arrive back at work after your winter holiday week only to discover that the owners have dismantled the factory and scarpered. (Who says that you can’t take it with you?) This means that not only do you no longer have a job, but you don't get any redundancy money either, in spite of your twenty-eight years' service. Ah well, it never rains but it pours. Still, every cloud has a silver lining, and for you this comes in the form of a consolation prize in a corn-flakes competition: a bike. Unfortunately, while out foraging for a job you fall off and break your ankle. Stay in bed.
You receive a summons to appear in court as a witness at the trial of six policemen accused of attempting to murder an innocent bystander by filling him full of holes. You tell the court how you saw the policemen sneak up on the victim who was bending down to tie his shoelace, and empty their guns into him. The judge remarks that anyone can make a mistake and commends the officers for remaining cool while reloading for a second volley, in spite of the potentially threatening gesture the suspect made by twitching his left ankle. He also recommends the policemen for bravery citations. You get six months for perjury.
A marvellous time for you, the very pinnacle of your life. Your child is one of the seven and a half thousand children whose stories have been selected to be published in a bedtime book of fairy-tales to be presented to Prince William. (And with a bit of luck your husband could be one of the lucky handful of unemployed hired to lift the bloody thing.)
You are in a spending mood and Asda are doing a real bargain basement in collapsible nuclear fallout shelters at the amazing knockdown price of £39.50. This gets you the nuclear family (no pun intended) size shelter which can be assembled in forty-five seconds flat. (It can be de-assembled even quicker.) It comes complete without groundsheet allowing you quick and easy access to the soil enabling you to dig your own private little loo (and also to dispose of anyone foolish enough to stick their face out beyond the mock whitewash sides). There is also a compact little pocket complete with zip, to store all those little necessities that you might require after all the fuss had died down, like money, a first aid kit, or even some cyanide capsules.
You are developing some strange habits. Asking questions and reading papers that don't have page three cuties. No good w ill come of this. Leave the thinking to people who can decide what's good for you. After all, if everybody started to get these ideas into their heads, where would it all end?