Future Views Magazine
University Fees and Debt
Who is the main beneficiary of university education, the student, the employer or the nation?
Units of measurement and the end of space.
Six Point Pollution Solution
Part One: "Flowers In The City"
brighten our cities with many tiny garden?
Six Point Pollution Solution
Part Two: "The Transformation of Waste"
Instead of landfill, waste could be a valuable resource.
Hidden blueprints for the new cities of the sea.
Arabian Mights & Maybes
Plans for the future carefully copied by Brenda.
Arabian Might May Raise The Sea
Desalinated reverse rivers powered by nature
The Unpublished Manuscript
A hint as to what may lie in the future.
A curious twist to the laws of perception.
The Slop House
an alternative to the traditional public house
You Are A Winner
A willing victim is the best victim.
Maybe our prisons are not as wonderful as all that.
The Bright New Pants Manifesto
The hilarious solution to invevitable change
A raging argument is discovered
MEET THE CREW
My mate Euan, Sir Keith's nephew and my assistant, got me the job as sound recordist.
Others on set include Brenda, Lotte, Eta, Tosh and Arri (so called because it is short for Arthur and also reflects his love of the Arriflex cameras).
Sir Keith funds the entire operation, or so he would have us believe.
His friend and business partner, Saleh el Moharbi undoubtedly has a lot to do with it as well.
Then there's Acey, Ed and Igvarts Lobermann from Lithuania or some other country, I think he's from a place I've never heard of.
That's us, sometimes we get together outside work, often we pass each other in the course of our work and barely exchange more than a greeting.
Euan and I stumbled across evidence that pointed us towards a bizarre plot. Our two benefactors, Sir Keith and Saleh el Moharbi, are heavily implicated as being at the centre.
Six Point Pollution Solution
Part Two: The Transformation of Waste
Euan extols his ' brilliant ideas' for making our cities cleaner and healthier.
We stood at a junction waiting for the Green Man, the lights changed against us, a big, lumbering vehicle trundled past, changing gear with a belch of exhaust perfectly timed to smother us in fumes. Normally I am fairly tolerant of vehicular by- products but this made me cough and turn my head away.
The Green Man appeared and we crossed.
"Dirt! " remarked Euan, "city air is constantly being filled up with dust and fumes and it never has a chance to settle - except, of course, on us! "
I laughed, he had a point.
"Why not have air filters?" Euan continued, "We could have low- cost, self- cleaning filters, lots of them, paid for, say, by a levy on every new car produced or imported and, over time, there would be so many of them that they would have a noticeable effect on the quality of the air we breath."
"Oh yeah, as simple as that?" I asked as we turned down a side street, "on top of the purchase price you' ve got all the expense of maintenance and new filter elements."
"Not at all," countered Euan, "no moving parts, no maintenance, self- cleaning, no power. Bash ' em out a mould, absolute doddle." He waved his hands as if everyone knew what he meant.
"Who' s going to pay for it?"
"Car buyers. Buy a new car and one percent goes towards a new filter."
"One per cent?" I asked, somewhat incredulously.
"Yep, that' s about all it would cost. That' s a hundred pounds in every ten thousand and I reckon these filters would cost about a hundred quid each. Not much when you think about it."
"Sounds like you've got it all worked out."
"Certainly have, drawings, plans, the lot."
"How does it work?"
"I'm not telling you that! " he exclaimed.
"I think it will take a lot more than just a couple of air filters to clean this stuff," I said.
"Surveys have shown that cigarette smoking in cities makes a noticeable contribution to air quality. If thousands of tiny cigarettes can make a difference, just think what thousands of filters could do. There could be one on every lamppost. Each time a new lamppost is put up, it is fitted with a filter and within a few years every lamppost would have one."
"Self cleaning, no moving parts?" I chuckled, sceptical. Euan nodded, he was serious.
Euan shrugged as if to say ' take it or leave it.'
"Why not every pole from traffic lights to ' No Parking' notices?" I asked, "they could all have these filters."
"Absolutely," replied Euan.
We were approaching a bus stop, I glanced over my shoulder. A bus was at the lights.
"Bus back?" I said.
Euan looked, "good idea," he replied.
We waited a few moments, as we both had ' All Day' tickets there was nothing to pay.
The bus lurched as we clambered the stairs, we were thrown against the sides and had to grab the rail.
We sat near the front. Swinging round a corner I could look straight down at the pavement, the bus was leaning over at quite an angle.
The driver slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a car that decided to stop on Amber and we were thrown forward.
"If there weren't so many cars," said Euan, "more people would use buses and not only would they be quicker, but they would be more comfortable as well."
"I don't follow," I said.
"I'll start again," he paused to collect his thoughts.
"Every household that is up to date with council tax payments could receive one travel pass for each member. Free- On- Entry - or prepaid - transport is quite an incentive, especially when it also removes road rage, parking tickets, bumps and scrapes - and allows you to read or even write."
"Or look out the window," I remarked.
"Quite - do you know how many accidents are caused by drivers turning their heads to ogle?"
"Residents would be given a sense of privilege and belonging," Euan continued, "while the reduction in car usage will ensure that those who need to use private vehicles will travel more easily."
"Yes," I exclaimed enthusiastically, "and the pigs might start to fly too! "
Euan snorted and looked away.
"You' re right," I added quickly, "you' re dead right but it'll never happen."
Euan looked at me, the corners of his mouth twitching this way and that.
"Everyone on this bus is having similar thoughts," I continued, "but the people who have the power to make decisions are from another planet, they don't think rationally or linearly or logically, they don't think, in fact - ".
"They only react, I know. Knee- jerk sycophancy," said Euan. "Pressure group obedience politics, accountancy worship. Still, I am right, aren't I?"
"Yep," I replied, then hesitated and looked away, "well, I mean, er," I wasn't sure how to continue,
"You mean they' re not as bad as we make out?" Euan had read my thoughts.
I shrugged, "they' re hardly likely to buy a massive, seriously risky proposal from people who' re hurling abuse! " I laughed.
Euan laughed too, "you' re right."
"Slight adjustment in attitude required, perhaps?" I chuckled.
"But just imagine it," Euan continued, if all the toffs and posh people began using buses, there would be an outcry! They would demand better service, greater comfort, more facilities. Passengers today are regarded as third class citizens, buses are little more than glorified cattle wagons. If Bentley owners and Ferrari drivers started using buses their levels of expectation would force dramatic changes."
"Sockets for headphones, power points for lap tops and DVD players - " I remarked.
"Vending machines for magazines, drinks and snacks! " Euan interrupted.
I shrugged and finished my sentence, "- it would be too expensive."
"Not really," Euan quipped, "if everyone had a bus pass the annual cost would plummet from four hundred pounds a year to about fifty. Think how much the bus companies would have to play with - paid in advance too." Euan was radiant.
"Phone the bus company, maybe they'll bend the council' s ear," I said.
"Yuck, look at that," said Euan. The lorry in front had driven over a plastic bin bag which had blown into the road, much of the contents was discarded food from a restaurant.
"That' s disgusting," I said, "and I bet it'll lie there for ages before it gets cleaned up."
We looked at the paper bags, cigarette packets, leaves and other debris that characterised our streets and pavements.
I smiled, "no doubt you have theories about what to do with our rubbish, too?"
"Absolutely," Euan replied, "but do you want to hear them?"
As we had several minutes left on our journey I replied, "why not?"
"Well," said Euan, gearing up, as it were, "a friend of mine once said that everything can be reduced to a powder. I'm not so sure about mercury or battery acid but you get what I mean."
"So?" I asked.
"Our rubbish is made up of three kinds of materials: rigid stuff like metals and hard plastics, organic- type stuff like food, wood and cardboard and soft gooey materials like plastic bags, foam packing and rubber."
"Well?" I asked.
"Well, reduce all this to a fine powder and you have the ingredients for ye, To- Be- Patented ' Magic Paste,' a miracle material for transforming our drab cityscapes into colourful ecosystems where toxins are converted into oxygen."
I burst our laughing, Euan blushed, momentarily.
"It works, its been tried, I' ve seen it." He was scowling.
I calmed down and listened.
"Look," he said, confident once more, "reduce all our rubbish to a dry powder and mix, mix, mix till everything is an even consistency. Apply heat and all the soft plastics melt, forming a binding agent, while the harder plastics and metals combine to form a rigid base material. It will probably be necessary to add some kind of solution such as is used for paint but that can be sorted out through experimentation. The point is, the powder can be mixed into a paste which can then be painted onto external surfaces- "
"Such as lampposts," I interjected.
"lampposts and sign posts, exactly," Euan replied, "and railings too."
I looked out the window and tried to imagine how it would look.
"The hard materials create a rigid framework, the soft materials hold everything together giving pliability as well as apply- ability and the organic material - "
"Rots away and goes smelly," I laughed.
"Not quite," retorted Euan, "the organic material becomes home to miniature flora and fauna, it provides a microscopic eco- system in between the ridges - a bit like the surfaces of trees and cliff faces."
I looked at him askance, waiting for elaboration.
"The organic material rots away leaving a porous surface full of earthy residue where fauna can grow. All our air here on earth was originally generated by microscopic organisms, without them life wouldn't - "
"The pores gather dust thereby cleaning the air," I interrupted again.
"Yes," added Euan quickly, "but more than that, tiny fauna can grow there. All oxygen on earth was originally generated by microscopic organisms, without them we wouldn't be here. These pores give life to our inanimate street furniture."
"Hmm," I tried to imagine what he was describing, "interesting," I muttered.
"It's been done!" Euan exclaimed defensively, "it works, I' ve seen it. In fact, in the future lampposts and sign posts might actually be made out of this stuff instead of just being painted with it, that's how strong it is."
I raised my eyebrows, shrugged my shoulders and hummed non-committally. I began to imagine curly-wirly tree-like street furniture, the idea was hilarious. Euan thought I was laughing at him.
"Obviously it would take some experimentation to get it right but all innovation has to start somewhere."
I had to agree with that.
"Chuck the muck into a kind of dry-dock sized container, reduce the temperature as much as possible using liquid nitrogen or whatever, blast with sonic power at different frequencies till everything crumbles, whisk it up - "
"There are lots of ways of creating powder," I interrupted, "I know a man who knows a man who says he can turn anything into powder. It' s a highly refined technology."
"Excusing the pun and all that," added Euan.
"Quite," I smirked.
Our stop was next, I hung onto the hand rail as the bus once again played its trick of seeing how far it could swing without actually toppling over. We pulled ourselves to the stairs and clattered down to the exit.
As I alighted I nearly stepped into a plastic bin bag that had found itself a new home in the gutter.
Euan laughed as I awkwardly hopped past it onto the pavement.
"There' s another thing," he said as we walked, "people could be more directly involved in rubbish collection and street cleaning."
"Oh yeah?" I replied, "press gangs?"
"No-o," Euan protested, well, actually, sort of, now you mention it. Every citizen between the ages of sixteen and sixty could be obliged to contribute one hour a month in free labour to collect waste and clean the streets."
"Wipe out every cleansing department in the country?" I smiled.
"An hour a month isn't much but it would change the way people feel about the city. It would engender a sense of ownership and belonging."
"I'm not sure it would go down very well," I said.
"Probably not but the money saved could go towards the subsidised transport - and the cleansing staff could be given new jobs in the burgeoning horticultural business."
"Not to mention bus drivers," I quipped.
We crossed the road and turned the corner,
"Are you serious?" I asked.
"Why not? Think about it. Everyone from the unemployed to millionaires would muck in, emptying bins, sweeping and washing down the streets. People who never normally have a chance to meet would get to know each other, contacts established - "
"Cross pollination," I laughed.
"Taken all together such a package would make city life healthier and more pleasurable for locals and visitors alike," said Euan.
"How did it go again, this grand scheme of yours?" I asked, "a flower box competition, a lamppost air filter, free bus passes for council tax payers," I opened the stair door and we entered the hallway, "a magic paste made from rubbish," I unlocked my door, "and finally you're suggesting dustbin collection and street cleaning rotas. That's five, what's six?"
"Er, it'll come back to me. Oh yes, rubbish recycling and the 'flora paint' made from it count as two, both reduction in waste and regeneration of oxygen. How does that sound?" Euan asked.
"Brilliant," I replied, "but it'll never catch on."
"Who can tell?" Euan answered as we hung up our jackets.
"You've got an indoor lavvy haven't you?" said Euan.
"Yes but that's different," I protested.
I filled the kettle.
Euan was undeterred, "a lot of people are pretty fed up with blackened shirt collars, stuffed nostrils and endless queues of slow moving traffic."
"True," I conceded.
Free on entry bus travel has been shown to be the most effective way to reduce car traffic in towns and cities, other countries have already tried it," Euan was watching as I switched on the kettle and reached for the cups. "Fifty quid per year per head, I guess that would be the revised cost of a bus pass."
As I spooned coffee in the mugs I tried to think of something else to say.
"No doubt you have ideas about about that as well," I remarked, looking at the kettle.
Euan nodded and grinned, "pure water, what a luxury," he said and left it at that.
We took our coffees into the sitting room.
1. Flower box competitions
2. Air cleaning filters on lampposts & street furniture
3. Bus passes included in council taxes
4. Waste ground up and turned into a slurry
5. Slurry used as a base for 'Fauna Paint'
6. Street Cleaning & Waste Collection Rotas for citizens