So there’s a lot of these ‘Things That Should Stay In 2014’ tweets floating around. There’s been some awful trends this year, some awful people and some news stories that frankly, shouldn’t have made the headlines at all. I’ve written this in an effort to highlight just how ridiculous we all are. In no way is it meant to be taken to heart – it’s SATIRE. i.e. if you can’t take a joke? Stop reading now.
I stand at the window, the curtain fortunately shrouding me from view. I am watching a girl being dragged away; her white American Apparel skirt is obviously above regulation length and even from here I can see her pale skin has erupted in goosebumps because of the cold winter air. She has broken the rules, and she will be punished accordingly. I know this because I overheard Mum talking to her parents, yesterday. She was found to be taking more than the regulatory weekly selfie and posting them online. The Self-Esteem Police will put an end to that, Mum says. Everyone knows it’s unhealthy to be so happy with your own appearance. They’ll probably take her to the Confidence Institution and put her in a room without access to a camera, maybe beat her up with a selfie stick so that she doesn’t look half as pretty as she thinks she does anymore.
That’s how things have been run around here since Judgement Day: at the beginning of the year the government set up a new scheme whereby the local ‘Judges’ determine what the residents of their district wear, what they like, what they talk about. Our district head is called Brand, and he’s a peculiar fellow. I went to see him speak when the scheme first started, and he told us that we can wear what we want because all clothing is just a sign that corporations endeavour to asphyxiate us for their own avaricious whims. He made thesauruses mandatory – you have to carry one on your person at all times, substituting on average three words of your vocabulary a day for a more abstruse synonym. He thinks it’ll make us smarter, so that one day we’ll have the tools to overthrow the regime.
If you ask me, I think he’s talking utter bollocks.
Then again, we’re fortunate compared to the district my cousin lives in. She hasn’t dared go outside for months because of the lurid remarks men make about her when she does. Their Judge seems like a nasty piece of work; a bloke called Farage who seems to always have a pint in his hand and some derogatory comment on standby. Women and ethnic minorities have been smuggled in their hundreds to safety in our district since he stomped into their area with his ignorant ideology. Hopefully we’ll be able to save a lesbian couple, Mum says. We’ve got a bookshelf that conceals a hidden attic in our house; we’ll put them up in there she says, until it’s safe for them to go back to their friends and family.
I can hear my Mother shouting me for breakfast so I retreat from the window and go and join her in the kitchen. My father sits at the table, reading the Daily Mail and smoking an eCig. The front page of the paper reads “eCigs Found To Give Smokers Immortality”. Yesterday’s headline read “eCigs Will Kill You and Your Loved Ones”. Nobody believes the paper of course. They just buy it for a laugh and a joke. Mum says that’s always been the case, so I don’t know why I’m telling you that.
“Here’s your cereal,” my Mother says as she proffers a bowl of dental cavities. I take it eagerly, digging into my pocket and pulling out the £3.50 I pay her every morning. She doesn’t agree with the idea of breakfast, as she works for the Ministry of Health. Their latest policy is an attempt to combat obesity, and she’s sticking to it devotedly: Don’t Eat. It seems to be working; whenever she walks down the street she usually gets someone telling her that her thigh gap is to die for. This brings a flush of colour to her skeletal, gaunt face.
“Oooh,” my Mother exclaims emphatically as she flicks the pages of the woman’s magazine she reads like it’s the Bible, “Looks like Depression is out for Spring and Anorexia is back in.” She glares at my bowl of cereal like it has offended her entire being. “We really ought to book you in for an appointment you know. Doctor Vice has some wonderful tips for how to make an eating disorder stick.” I glare at the bottom of my cereal bowl: chew, swallow, repeat.
It’s at this point that my brother comes bounding into the dining room. He’s against the regime, has been since day one. He does everything in his power to rub Mum and Dad up the wrong way, and I can tell from the monstrosity he’s wearing on his head that today will be no different.
“I’ll be back late tonight, Dad.”
My Dad looks up from his paper and his upper lip curls in disgust.
“What is that on your head?”
“It’s a bucket hat.”
“A bucket hat. We’re protesting this evening outside the Houses of Parliament. Everyone’s wearing them.”
“No son of mine is going out dressed like that,” my Father’s tone is menacing and I know very well that my brother is treading on dangerous ground. “And I want you back by dark.”
“But Dad,” he whines, “We were going out for a cheeky celebratory Nandos after –“
“Excuse me?” My Mother butts in, “What did you just say?”
“A cheeky … celebratory Nandos?” My brother replies, cautiously.
My Mother promptly bursts into tears, and my Father’s face drains of colour. Because of course, ‘cheeky’ is on the list of banned phrases and vocabulary. Every house is fitted with a Ladometer that tells the government when the language has been used, against their orders. The police will probably be on their way as we speak.
My Mum is crying and shouting hysterically, my Father’s knuckles grip the table, drained of all colour.
Me? I just carry on eating my cereal. I paid £3.50 for it, after all… it would be a far greater crime to let it go to waste.