Thursday, 3 December 2015


I used to work for a large city council, one of the largest in the UK. I did various project related things and, as is my modus operandi, I also interfered in areas I had no right or reason to be involved with. One evening, I was poking around in the central CCTV room, the ten floors up eye in the sky where a kaleidoscopic monochrome summary of the daily drama of the city was played out on fifty flickering screens. All human life down there was up there, constantly monitored for flash points and flare ups, traffic accidents and human collisions. Mostly, people drifted silently around, floating past the various cameras like flotsam, the unintentionally discarded rather than deliberately jettisoned. 

After about twenty minutes, I turned to the silent operator and, half-invigorated by our God like view of the world and half-appalled at the pathetic diorama, decided to ask a question:

'Where is it?' I said.  

'Where's what?'

'The vaporise button', I smiled.

I expected him to either laugh or to look at me as if I were an idiot. He did neither, instead, his mouth an unrelenting line, his eyes never moving from the screens, he put his fingers to his lips and said ‘sssshhhhhhh’.

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