It is time for each good citizen of this fabled land to retake control of her/his life.  And then sell it.

What does the future hold for those of us living on the borders of independent Rutlandshire and bankrupt Northants with wild Leics looking on?

Such was the question asked of a panel of experts at this month’s “Inside & Out Forum” held in the Executive Suite of the Toppled Bollard, high on the hill looking down on our neighbours.  As, of course, is our right.

The keynote speech came from Sir Hardly Anyone (whose budding relationship with Marianna Trench was the hot topic of the public bar throughout the day).  And in keeping with the gossip, Sir Hardly made the point that we are all heading for an identity crisis.

“You might know your name,” he said, “but you might not be sure what you stand for.  And if you don’t know, how will the next person know? How will the innocent passerby know to doff his cap to me, a member of the Ruttish aristocracy, if he’s not wearing a cap?  It’s a vital question.

“What we need,” he added, “is to get our identities back, and once we have done that we should stop letting data brokers sell our identities for a mess of pottage but instead flog ourselves.

“Today, I say to big business, ‘Do you want to talk to an up market artiso who has just had a bit of bad luck at the races and so is willing to earn a penny giving lectures?  Then here I am and here’s my email address!’ And here he glanced nonchalantly at Marianna who smiled demurely and wrote an unintelligible post-it note which immediately appeared on the screen and was misinterpreted by every man in the hall.

“We must reclaim ourselves,” Sir Hardly added.  “We should be free to sell ourselves, not let others sell us.”  And strutting to the front of the stage he proclaimed, in perhaps slightly too loud a voice, “I’m here, take me if you need me, but it will cost.”

There was much applause and a certain banging on tables.

As the cheers abated Sir Hardly continued, “Everyone who buys a computer from now on should be given a house and free medical support for life – all financed by McDonalds who should also pay for the NHS.  They have destroyed the old world and they should build the new!” (More cheering).

“Of course in the new world run by Amazon we don’t need government any more, so all MPs, councillors and the nobility (cheers from the floor) should get pensions for life – and for their descendents too.   I know some of our leaders have been perhaps mentally lacking of late, but many of them have hearts of gold (cries of “Surely Not!”)  Who surely has not been moved by the sight of them packed in their debating chambers baying and jeering quite unaware that the rest of the country is digging holes to hide in when the great denouement of Leaving or Arriving or Staying or Going or whatever it happens to be, happens.

“And I can tell you, I have been investing heavily in the shovel industry!” (More cheers).

“Some of these poor souls are utterly lost,” he continued.  “Why I saw one the other day at the House of Lords where I was taking luncheon with my pal the Duke of Doncaster.  He spent the entire meal staring at himself in the mirror and wondering what he was looking at. A complete glutton for punishment, of course, but this is our nation’s heritage and it is up to the data companies to protect it.

“Thus our cry should be, ‘No more data until you pay us’,” he concluded.  There was wild cheering as the man from Facebook tried to creep out of the chamber unnoticed, but was seized and rolled down the hill into the Leicestershire swamplands where he was instantly eaten by a domesticated octopus.

And that, I rather think, heralds a bright future for our society.

Tony Attwood

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