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My Favourite Planet > Blogs > Edwin Drood's Column > April 2013
back Edwin Drood's Column
16 April 2013
Everyone aboard for the next wave at the Mysterious Edwin Drood's Column
In which Edwin demonstrates the Mexican Wave, apologises for the World Peace Machine
(well, sort of) is suitably contrite over the regrettable failure of the Great Jump Sideways
and altogether finds the job of planetary dictator fraught with awkward responsibilities.

After the Droodikator had solved all the world’s immediate problems, he decided to have a little fun. Ah, sorry, you must have blinked and missed the moment when the Droodikator smoothly took over the reins of power, nullifying your vaunted military might with his menta-ray and proceeded to implement his six-point plan for total supremacy. Yes, maybe it was a seven-point plan, but you shouldn’t interrupt. He’s an old and toothless dictator now and can’t really remember, so don’t bother him with these questions about where he was on what date and who else was in the room when the annihilation command was given.

Oops! Perhaps I should explain the annihilation command, in case some of you missed being annihilated. Ha, ha, the old jokes are the best. You see, the Droodikator didn’t want to have everyone vaporized, which is why you were passed over. No offence intended, and of course he didn’t personally annihilate anyone as he was rather against it, initially, when his boffins first suggested researching the Mexican Wave effect at the genetic level.

Haven’t I told you about the discovery of the Mexican Wave receptor? No, maybe not. Well, after finding out, quite by chance, that people who enjoyed a nice mexican wave were quite incapable of destabilizing the government blowing up girls’ schools or any of those nasty things some folk insist on doing, the Droodikator decided that representative colour coding for the Mexican Wave receptor be integrated into the parameters for the Durable Genetic Programme. Some of the Droodikator’s advisors were against it, of course, so he menta-rayed them. “Keep moving”: that was always his motto. We couldn’t afford to be squeamish. What’s wrong with a little social engineering? And anyway, it was so very tempting to try out the World Peace Enforcement Machine once we’d gone to all the trouble of running the gene tests and then building the thing in strict accordance with the parameters of the Plan.

Oh, yes, perhaps I should mention the World Metabolic Peace Plan, which preceded the machine and was directly founded on the analytical data culled from the Durable Genetic Programme. You shouldn’t get the idea that the Droodikator took power for anything but the purest of motives: to save us all from ourselves. World Peace was something we could mostly agree upon, right? So a research plan to come up with real scientific solutions, not more of the same old, happy-clappy BOMFOG [brotherhood of man, fatherhood of god (editor’s note)] mumbo-jumbo we’re generally stuck with, was definitely a step in the right direction. After all, this was something we’d all been promising ourselves for so long, millennia even. The Peace Plan begat the Peace Project, which begat the Peace Machine;

And of course the machine worked, brilliantly! That’s why we’re here today talking about it. All the non-Mexican Wave people were instantaneously zapped. It was clean, it was quick, it was painless ... What more could you ask for? And the really brilliant thing was that none of the people who were zapped were even missed or mourned by any of those left alive. There was a smug sense of relief throughout the planet. The Mexican Wave is such a watershed divider of populations, tribes, families, etc., that wave-type people NEVER find any of those grouchy, humourless, fanatical grinches - who hate Mexican waving and only do it as camouflage - any fun at all, but think them rather boorish and unsympathetic. Which they are, end of argument: zap!

Now you may say that just being a bit pedantic and not enjoying Mexican waving should not incur a death sentence. Yes, you’re right, it is a rather broad brush stroke and we probably annihilated any number of Tolstoys and Kants and makers of serious documentary films for public TV and stuff, along with the nasty, raggle-taggle, riff-raff rest. But that’s just too bad. Fact is, I don’t see anyone crying for them, so let’s not get emotional after the event.

However, the Droodikator now found himself faced with a quite different problem: how to keep all those insouciant Mexican Wavers happy? There is a limit to how many reality shows you can programme for them, how many viral videos of skate-boarding dogs they can consume before even they begin to feel that life has served them too much dessert and not enough main course. There is a certain background level of critical seriousness that is endemic to the human condition. If you remove all the boorish and over-serious trouble-makers, the malaise will merely filter into the minds of the erstwhile careless and debonair, the skate-boarding dog owners and the people who know twenty-seven different ways to make guacamole. Gradually they will begin to ask themselves those existential, trouble-making questions: what’s it all about, Alfie? Must happiness be pursued and at what cost? How long is a piece of string? Why kill a tree, just to count the rings and see how old it was?

The Droodikator, like all good dictators, was terrified of failure, yet found it hard to question his own policies. “Enlightened Dictator” is just another way of saying “the big enchilada”, but with a college degree. A heavy dose of narcissism is normal in such cases. He decided to install an even more radical regime of fun-loving, delightful living. The menta-ray-wielding guardians of the Peace Machine power were ordered to programme new parameters. Anyone who couldn’t whistle with two fingers or make fart noises with their armpits after a three-day training period was summarily zapped. The population began to seriously dwindle once the Droodicator began to demand that anyone over the age of thirteen must be able to tap the top of their head while rubbing their tummy anti-clockwise.

At a certain point all these fun things weren't  much fun anymore. The remaining billions - oh, yes, there were still billions, it’s amazing how quickly an old dog can learn new tricks if you put a menta-ray to its head - began to show signs of fear and stress. They were also mourning loved ones and friends. It was a disaster. It was like Princess Diana’s funeral running in an endless loop. There’s nothing more soggy and maudlin than happy people when all the bounce had gone out of their bungee. Something had to be done to distract everyone’s attention from the pressures of learning new and useless trivia. A major unifying project was called for.

This was how the Great Jump Sideways was decided and put into action. At some time or other we’ve all wondered what would happen if the entire world’s population were to stand in the same place and jump, haven’t we? Droodikator’s boffins had done the maths and decided that nothing much would happen at all. The earth would not be wrenched out of its orbit. The planet’s inertia was far too significant to be troubled by a puny little bump on the hip. The project could therefore be quite safely undertaken for purely political and unifying motives, much like the population of ancient China all taking part in the construction of their great wall. The Great Jump would keep people occupied and they would learn something valuable from it: humility ... always useful. The Droodikator set great store by humility, so long as he was not expected to practise it himself. Everyone was enraptured with the chance of aiding scientific enquiry while featuring in the video footage of the biggest open-air event in the history of big open-air events.

Of course, we all know the rest. As you few survivors can testify, everybody - well almost - was dead even before the Great Jump took place. Simply getting to the jump site and surviving the logistical horror of mass feeding with food that nobody was left to produce (since they were all travelling), did for about 80% of them. Two thirds of the remaining population either died of cholera at the jump site or else died trying to get home again after the jump, when all the world’s transport media were stuck at the Jump without fuel and with no visible means of supply any time soon. The remaining tiny percentile survived their first post-Jump year only to find that there was nothing left of all those things they had taken for granted, such as cotton, shoes, electricity and running water.

Well, not to beat around the bush, and to come back to your first question, Kenny ... yes, you and Evron and Mikhaela and Omigala and Vic and Sally and Hans and Roberto and T’sang Hu and Nina and Vlad are the last few subjects remaining of the once proud New Empire. The Droodikator is seriously sorry he messed up and asked me to convey his apologies. He wants you to know that he thinks you’ll manage very well without him now, having got this far. He said I should tell you that he will be ending this meta-interview with a simple, but heartfelt goodbye before climbing into the mouth of his own Machine. If you look to your left, you’ll see him smiling bravely just before he fizzes out. Don’t forget to wave. Whoooooaaaaahhhhh!

True, it’s more impressive when there’s a few more of you. Please go forth and multiply.

© Edwin Drood, April 2013

Above: "The Droodikator"
Below: "Droodikated"

Photos by © David John

Droodikated at the Mysterious Edwin Drood's Column

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