The Secret Protocols of the Elders of Golgafrincham.
This is another guest article by Graeme No3, one of our regular contributing writers. There’s an old adage, many a truth is spoken in jest and this piece in its own light-hearted way, ticks a lot of very serious boxes. Exploitation of idealism, hypocrisy, a loss of innocence, deceit and yet I still couldn’t help chuckling. It’s artfully done – enjoy.
Golgafrincham is a beautiful sight from an airplane; a multi-coloured jewel set in a turquoise sea. Looking out the window as we came into land I could see the whole island spread out below from the Mount Arrium volcano in the hilly east to Jonestown at the flatter western end. It was clustered around the almost circular Hansen bay, with the curving Holdren peninsula forming one side of the circle. On the other side an artificial construction ran out straight sided for some distance then turned towards the peninsula in a sort of crook. From the air it looked just like an ice hockey stick, but for some reason was always called The Way of Mann locally.
Looking at the hills I was a little surprised at the emphasis given in my briefing at the IPCC on the problem of rising sea levels. It seemed quite safe from that danger, but I thought I would learn more during my 6 months stay. My IPCC posting was a temporary one of 6 months, but could be converted to a permanent one depending on how I went during that time. Fresh out of University I was very keen to do well.
The airplane landed at Hanson Airport and I was greeted by the Manager for the IPCC here. The formalities were minimal and I was taken to my apartment in Jonestown. The Apartment block was called SnowChance, surely an ironic pun as ice and snow would never be seen here, at the corner of Wadham and Viner Street in the tropics. Certainly the apartment was spacious and well-appointed and I thought that my fiancée would be pleased with it when she arrived, as she planned to do, to escape the heat of the english winter as she put it.
That night I was taken to a party at a luxurious house called Mike’s Trick on The Way of Mann, right at water’s edge. I met many people, all of whom seemed to have important positions with the government or international organizations, and/or owning the luxury yachts moored close by. I remarked what a glorious site the house occupied, and wondered how it could ever be threatened by any change in the climate. There was a brief silence, then the conversation resumed without anyone referring to my apparent gaffe.
I reported to work next morning to find that I had been assigned the task of setting up a series of tidal gauges to measure rise in the sea level. Some readings had been taken late in the nineteenth century by an unknown referred to only as EC, but the original documents had been lost and all we had was an incomplete transcription. Enough figures were available to indicate that the sea level was rising quite fast, and the IPCC needed confirmation.
Over the next few days I explored the island, although outside of the main town all the roads except the one to Arrium were quite dreadful. Yet I recalled that Golgafrinchan had received a huge lot of aid from the USA a few years ago to boost communications. Looking at the only TV channel or listening to the two radio stations it seemed unlikely that much had been spent on them. As a consequence I tended to take the road to Arrium as far as the police barrier before branching off onto the goat tracks that led to the villages. I was surprised by the lack of interest in my arrival in these habitations, indeed the local peasantry seemed almost hostile. I may have imagined this, as without an interpreter I couldn’t explain my occupation.
It did strike me that the area near Arrium was very fertile with deep volcanic soil but was surprisingly very sparsely settled. When I mentioned this back in Jonestown I was told it was because of the many eruptions by Mt. Arrium which often came with little warning, so the peasants preferred to live in safer spots. I wondered what the little town at the foot of Mt. Arrium that I had seen from the air was like and whether it would be a good spot for a tidal gauge. I was told quite firmly that it was not possible to drive there as the road had been cut by a recent eruption, and the only way there was by boat.
My social life had dried up as there were no further invitations to the luxurious homes on The Way of Mann. I grew tired of looking at the only TV channel or listening to the two radio stations, with their seemingly never-ending tales of coming disaster from climate change, and took refuge in a local bar in the evenings. There I met a number of visitors to the island, mostly from the few boats that traded to and from the island.
One was Polish, the first mate on a regular visitor to the island as it carried both cargo and passengers in the few cabins. After a few evenings he became less taciturn and more open and startled me with his stories about the island. He claimed that the population was oppressed by a minority who used lies and scare tactics to gain political control and personal wealth. I found this hard to believe but he was adamant. He asked me whether I had visited the village at the foot of Mt. Arrium and when I explained that the road had been blocked by a recent eruption he snorted and said that Mt. Arrium hadn’t erupted in more than 100 years.
All those stories were just made up to scare the peasants away from the most fertile land, so it was available to the Elders, as he called the upper class. When the scares about the volcano started to lose their punch the Elders called on the Circling Poets of Arrium, who made up tales of disaster such as plague. According to him he had once chanced on several of the poets putting on make-up and painting blue spots on their skin in order to frighten the peasants.
When I asked in the Office what had become of the Circling poets of Arrium which I had heard about when relaxing in Jonestown’s night spots, it was explained that they were fiction based on an old folktale poorly remembered by the illiterate peasantry. It seemed odd to me that such was the case, as illiterate folk were usually good at retaining oral history but let the explanation pass without comment.
Besides I had other things to claim my attention with the arrival of my girl friend Dianna. I met her plane and watched with pride as she made heads turn as she entered the Terminal. I had never understood how I had been so lucky to attract such a glamorous girl, but I was delighted to see her. When she commented how wonderful Golgafricham looked I told her that it was Paradise now that she was here. She smiled and said it was lovely to be where it was warm and sunny.
Dianna was welcomed enthusiastically by local society. At first I was glad of this as I had to spend more and more time working. The Manager went on leave and his replacement was useless, not arriving at the office, if at all, much before lunchtime and departing early in the afternoon to the local bars and clubs. So I had little free time and there suddenly seemed to be many things requiring me to spend a lot of time out in the countryside, not least recommending sites for the wind turbines the island intended installing to “fight global warming”. Every recommendation resulted in requests for more information, and almost seemed to me that somebody didn’t want me in Jonestown, but I told myself that was ridiculous.
I should have listened to my subconscious as all work and no play led to my losing my girlfriend. I came back one evening to be told that she was leaving me because I was boring and taking her for granted. I tried to explain but found she had already removed her belongings, so I barely got two words out before she left. I later found out that she had moved into one of the luxury villas on The Way of Mann.
My response was predictable, I headed for my local bar to get drunk. I may have overdone it a bit for I woke up next afternoon not feeling at all well. I didn’t go to work that day or much of the next which may have caused my temporary boss to believe I was away up country, and made him careless. When I finally went to the office he had already gone and left an old leather-bound notebook lying on his desk. Picking it up I was astounded to see the name Rev. Edwin Connebeare on it. Inside this was the information on tides that I had been told was no longer available.
I took the journal back to my desk and found there were far more records than we had available. A series of figures caught my eye, as they looked familiar. Yes, they were the ones we were relying on but I suddenly realized that they were low tide readings, whereas we had them down as readings at high tide. No wonder the sea level seemed to have risen so drastically. Thoughts that my correction of an obvious error bringing me “hero status” may have affected my prose as I was quite definite in my interim report about the lack of evidence now for any rise in sea level. My superior must not have read the report before dispatching it upward, for there was a complete lack of response.
I had nothing to do for several days; I wasn’t even required at the office as there was some redecoration & alterations going scheduled. I spent the days looking at the TV showing a seemingly endless series of documentaries about glaciers melting and huge chunks of ice crashing into the sea or deadly tsunamis. The disaster warning came over the radio & TV on my last morning in the apartment; a great tidal wave was moving out from Antarctica, caused by a huge glacier collapsing into the sea. All citizens were urge to head for high ground immediately, just in case. I stuffed my laptop into my briefcase and headed for the hills.
As I passed the front gate I saw a grizzled elderly man going down hill, with fishing gear. Thinking he hadn’t heard the warning I hastily told him of the tsunami warning. “Bah Humbug”! he said, I‘m a Circling Poet of Arrium and I know what that danger story means. I’m going fishing.
I never saw him again.
I kept climbing the hill to the top, and took shelter beneath some trees as the wind was suddenly rising to near gale force. As I turned to see if this was an ominous sign of an approaching wave of destruction, a gust of wind brought a tree limb crashing down on top of me. Fortunately help was at hand, and I was evacuated to hospital, and later for recuperation in the UK.
While I recovered physically from broken bones, and mentally from a broken heart, I had a Visitor from the IPCC. He explained that all copies of my report had been destroyed, and they felt that I did not really suit their requirements. They would pay the hospital bill but after that there would be no more money. He did ask if there was any of my belongings left behind that I would like forwarded but I told him I had my laptop in my old briefcase with me and that was all I needed of my experience on Golgafrincham.
There was nothing I could do, and frankly I never wanted to see Golgafrincham again. Indeed it was unlikely I ever could. As I recuperated I sought what little news was available about the revolution raging in Golgafrincham. It appeared that a story was put out about Mt. Arrium becoming an active volcano again. The down trodden peasants saw it as another attempt to steal their land and rose in revolt. The Elders panicked and fled The Way of Mann, some to a ship and others to Arrium. The mob were enraged by the luxury in the villas, and the realization that the wealth had come from them.
The new Revolutionary Council cancelled all contracts for wind turbines. The BBC reporter there was almost incoherent with rage, and few details appeared after his unfortunate, and costly, haranguing of the revolutionary leader. I asked my Doctor what were the chances of a successful tongue replacement but he thought it unlikely to happen.
Those Elders who fled to Arrium were killed in a series of volcanic eruptions, which completely scoured the area with red-hot gases and then covered it with lava. How ironic that their last prediction turned out to be their only true one. Others took ship to look for the rising warmth in the Southern Ocean but overshot Macquarie Island and became stuck in the expanding sea ice. They were rescued by the NZ Navy and settled on a wind-swept, rabbit infested, offshore islet SW of Invercargill where they could preach to the penguins.
Perhaps that location might appeal to some in the UK after the surprise win of UKIP in the general election. The collapse of the Conservative & Labour vote came as a complete surprise because the main stream media had failed to mention that possibility, although to be fair they couldn’t have anticipated the interview on the BBC four days before the election. All seemed to be going well until the Dutch Minister stated that several east European Union members were in discussions about leaving the EU.
This cut the ground from under the main parties as voters realized that they had been lied to about the problems of leaving, and the Tories were wiped out in rural areas and their vote in urban areas was split, so many seats fell out of their control. Nor could Labour be happy with a wipeout in Scotland and the defection of so many northerners to UKIP.
A strange thing happened to me as I left the hospital. I was approached by a reporter for details of Golgafrincham, but when I turned on my laptop I found all my photographs, notes and my report had all disappeared. Fortunately I found my backups on a USB stick in the bottom of the briefcase, and I gave it to him suggesting he copy anything he was interested in. He came back the next day with the USB stick and a cheque for £5,000! And all he asked about was my report.
I assured him it was genuine and he said the cheque was in gratitude for a scoop. Too late I remembered several photos of Dianna, but as she was now presumed dead and it was most unlikely that any British newspaper would publish them, I thought that no harm would result. I used the money for a brief trip to Europe and never heard anything more about his ‘scoop’.
UKIP moved decisively by banning the burning of wood chips from virgin forest. This split the Green party into factions, so many in fact that some Green MP’s had to represent 2 or more factions. The move by Drax to import Polish coal, and the subsequent EU veto led to further trouble following the outburst by the Polish PM in perfect english explaining precisely where he had told the german Chancellor to put her advice. Not even the BBC could gloss over that. The UK government promptly announced it was withdrawing from the EU.
Realizing that Scotland would never get EU subsidies and become independent, Alex Salmond drowned himself in Loch Ness, giving rise to some rude jokes. The dumped former leader of the Conservatives wasn’t available for interview. Annoyed at losing their bonuses, some ‘carbon traders’ wearing Dale Vince masks dragged him out of his car and tarred and feathered him on the median strip of the M4 motorway. Ed Davey sought political asylum in the Swedish embassy claiming that there was a plot to extradite him to Ecuador.
Myself I have got a new job, with a blunt old-fashioned Yorkshireman who owns a metal recycling business. His firm has the contract to demolish all the wind turbines, except those left to act as roosting sites for bats, and recover the various metals; copper, rare earths, even the steel of the towers. I can look forward to years of settled employment.