So here is the first bit of my NaNoWriMo project. Be aware that this is a first draft, there has been no editing and I'm making it up as I go along.
I hope you enjoy it and find it interesting – not every blogpost will be self contained, it'll just be as far as I have got during that day. In other words, I'm not writing to any sort of cliffhanger, or short form structure – it's just a wall of text.
If I do finish this draft it'll be interesting to see how it differs once I start editing it.
For some reason I find myself awake at this ungodly hour. I can’t see what time it is as, although my brain is awake, my eyes are yet to get the message and so I can’t see the digits on my alarm clock.
I’ve had less than five hours sleep and while I can’t remember dreaming I’m guessing that the reason I’ve woken myself up is because I’ve been having one of my dreams again.
Eyes still stuck closed with sleep I reach down one hand and try and find an unopened can of energy drink on my bedroom floor, I manage to find three empty ones before my hand closes on a full can. I pop the lid, drag myself somewhat upright and take a swig.
The bones in my back crack and pop as I feel the sugary drink hit my stomach.
As ever I’m reminded that the caffeine in the drink doesn’t so much wake me up as it does just reactivate the starving receptor sites on my nerve cells. Like a junkie I need a certain amount of this chemical stimulant to remain normal.
A couple of minutes of rubbing my eyes and they can finally focus on the alarm clock.
5:26 in the morning.
I suppose I should be thankful that my flat wasn’t hit by one of the rolling brown-outs, it’s always a pain in the arse when the power goes out in the middle of the night and you wake up late for work with the clock flashing 00:00 at you.
Sometimes I wish I knew what it was about my dreams that woke me up, mostly I’m glad that I don’t.
I grab my phone and pull up my newsfeed – checking the news sites, the blogs, Twitter and Wave, my phone pulls all the information down for me and then a clever little programme called an agent on my phone sorts them by relevance. There is too much data for me to follow personally, but my phone can sift through it for interesting stuff.
Nothing unusual today, some young celebrity diagnosed with CLDB-7 who’d gone crazy and stripped naked on stage, some small countries still fighting a war and the usual government spin about the second generation ID cards.
My local feed, made up of blogs, waves and tweets geographically near where I live are full of the same old stuff – once the personal stuff is filtered out by my agent most folks just want to know what we are going to do with the Olympic park.
I walk over to the window of my flat and look down at the Olympic stadium and swimming pool. I wonder how different my world would be if we’d actually had the games in 2012.
My phone tells me that I’ve an appointment with Steve this morning down in the Kings Cross offices, he’s not told me what he wants but as I work from home most of the time it’s got to be something special.
I shave, shower and shit – the water is hot so I silently thank whoever got up this morning to make sure the national grid is still working and then I get dressed.
I keep most of my daily kit in a grab bag by the front door, so I sling it over my shoulder and leave the flat for the tube station.
Despite the virus, Stratford remains the same, graffiti, dog shit, stolen cars dumped down back alleys. The main door to my block of flats is broken, I don’t think I’ve ever known the door to be lockable. Some folks would blame the virus, but I’ve been here from 2008, before the virus, and I’ve never seen it locked.
It’s a short walk down to the tube station, thankfully last night’s rain has stopped and so I reach there without getting wet. I queue in the ticket hall with the other people being held until the train arrives. I’m surrounded by people, aware that any of these people could be contagious. It’s not an uncommon thought, which is why half of the people are wearing masks over their faces. It doesn’t matter that the virus can get through it, or that the masks keep getting reused despite the outside being contaminated – what matters is it makes people think that they are doing something, anything, to protect themselves and their families.
For all the good it’d do they may as well tie a dead frog around their neck.
So I stand in the ticket hall, waiting for the guards to let us down onto the platform. A train arrives and the guards throw up the barrier, allowing us onto the platform. It’s an orderly crush, although you always have a worry that someone is going to pickpocket you, that or something worse. I flash my RFID at the reader and, without checking to see if it’s read it right, I get onto the train.
The train is packed with people and it amazes me that with the amount of people who have died, and the drop in the population of London, let alone the world, that the trains are still overcrowded. Of course people’ll remind you that train drivers also died, and so there are less trains, but it still seems that the universe hates commuters.
Some people are reading their feeds, they have the new glasses that link up with the display of your phone – the train is crowded so there is no way you could read a newspaper here. Instead the carriage has a handful of people, early adopters, focusing on the blue or green text scrolling up in front of their eyes.
All I can see is a bright blur, their focusing makes it impossible to read over a person’s shoulder.
Sometimes their lips move as they read.
I reach Kings Cross and leave the station, as always my eyes are drawn to the memorial plaque for the fire here in 1983 – I was five years old when it happened and it’s one of my earliest memories. I sat under my mum’s ironing board, the smell of hot, damp clothing surrounding me while I stared at the pictures of blackened firemen stumbling up the stairs into the air. I wondered what it was underground that had made them so dirty. I asked my mother if their mums would tell them off for getting so dirty.
“I doubt it”, she said softly and continued ironing.
The Finsbury Group offices were a refurbished old build, grey and imposing on the outside, only somewhat less so on the inside. Thankfully it’s only a short walk away from the station so I only have to ignore three prostitutes and two beggars. Somewhere down one of the side streets I can hear a familiar wailing cry. It’s there every time I visit the office.
The Finsbury Group was formed five years ago and is a collection of three of the larger ‘old’ media companies and a handful of media startups. Not forgetting the two PR companies and one marketing firm that it swallowed up in those early years. It’s purpose, besides making the shareholders plenty of money, is ‘media’ in all it’s myriad forms.
The section that I work for was once called ‘journalism’. It’s now called ‘Comment’.
Back in the bad old days, when media companies were collapsing under the trifecta of the internet, lack of sales and lack of advertising the precursors of the Finsbury Group realised that being first, having that scoop, was no longer the point. Instead it had to create the news while having the resources to investigate it more thoroughly than a citizen journalist with a Freedom of Information request.
It also recognised that this in depth analysis needed to have a ‘voice’. It was no use writing some passive report when people could Google the blogs and twitter feeds of the people for who the story was actually happening.
That’s how I got my job. I have a writing ‘voice’ that resonates well with a key focused demographic.
I told you about the PR and marketing components, right?
I walk in through the big wooden doors into the main reception, another new face sits behind the desk – for some reason the receptionists here tend not to stay too long. She’s pretty and I try giving her a smile as she takes a look at my battered work pass but I don’t think that she notices me. Pushing a clipboard towards me I sign into the building and make a note of who I’m here to see – Steve Hughes, sub-ed of ‘Comment’.
She tells me, or rather reminds me, that Steve’s office is on the fifth floor and that I should go right up.
I debate between the stairs and the lift. I’m aware that I’ve been putting on a bit of weight lately, too much typing into a computer while eating unhealthy take-away meals. I’ve almost forgotten myself, I’m thinking of the future, a future, that I’m not guaranteed to have. With CLBD-7 around, do I really have to worry about looking after my health? In six months from now I could be dead, a drooling vegetable, or worse – the old worries of coronary heart disease seem a lifetime away.
I punch the button for the lift.