Sir Gordon Haemorrhage loathed Nat Eb. They’d been in shorts at Oakwick School on the Norfolk Coast. Haemorrhage, the budding biologist, taunted Eb with the entrails of roadkill from country lanes. Haemorrhage, the precocious physicist, manufactured lightning in the dormitory while Eb trembled with fear under the covers. Haemorrhage, the illicit chemist, bleached Eb’s hair in the downstairs bogs.
And now Sir Gordon Haemorrhage, Chairman of Amalgamated Bucket, the ultra low-cost airline, sipped coffee on Wrexham Station. Waiting for the train back to London after an exhausting day of negotiations with the Union. Glenda, his PA, all red and gold, with bag and boots to match, smelt glorious. Absolutely glorious. A cloud of it had just drifted across the beach where Sir Gordon’s reverie had transported him.
“Sir Gordon?” murmured Glenda.
“Sir Gordon,” she said, a little louder. “Sir Gordon, there’s a message.” She laid her hand – flashing nails and rings – on his arm. Then, delicately and discretely, took out a tissue and wiped away the line of dribble from his jacket.
“Darling?” he began, softly. Suddenly the beach evaporated and outside on the platform it was darkening and rain drizzled down the café windows. “Ah, yes, Glenda. Absolutely. You were saying?”
Glenda handed the Sir Gordon his i. The pinnacle of information technology, reduced to a simple and elegant i. He removed the dot distractedly, turning it in his fingers, and withdrew the message. He frowned. “It’s from that fool, Eb, Minister of Economic Decline. It’s that blasted emissions order. He’s playing with us, the bastard.”
If Eb thought he could destroy Amalgamated Bucket, he had another thing coming. Sir Gordon had never dreamt that Eb could muster enough support for the ARSE. Hadn’t the private carbon budget scheme just been unceremoniously dumped? And here it was again, creeping in through the back door in the form of flight rationing. A bloody crazy idea. They just closed another five economics departments in universities across the country. So where was this madness coming from? Who was thinking up all this stupidity? He scrolled down through the ethought.
From 2018 the Airline Rationing System for Emissions will be introduced on all flights leaving the United Kingdom. ARSE units will be allocated annually on an equal per capita basis free of charge to every man woman and child over 12. One ARSE unit represents the right to emit one kilogramme of CO2 from a flight. For each trip the passenger will have to present to the airline sufficient ARSE units to cover the emissions from the flight. ARSE units will be freely tradable on the main exchanges. Each year the government will issue fewer ARSE units until air traffic is brought to a satisfactory level.
Eb meant business and Sir Gordon’s mind was whirring. The little runt! We have to bring down this mad-hat scheme. He handed the i back to Glenda. “Get me Klaxon-Schmitt!” he snapped.
Somewhere in Chelsea, Heinz Klaxon-Schmitt grunted and rolled off a plump, plaited Fraulein. He stretched over to pick up his i.
It was a snarl from Sir Gordon: “What are you doing? Where the hell are you?”
Klaxon-Schmitt coughed. “Back home, something came up.”
“Well get yer bloody clothes on you blasted German Hound and get yerself over to the office. We’ve an all-nighter ahead of us. Eb’s issued the ARSE order. He’s not bloody going to get away with it. I’ll see you there,” – he looked at his watch – “at midnight. Don’t be late.”
Then Sir Gordon turned back to Glenda. “Tell Maloney to sell twenty million.” Glenda blanched. “But Sir Gordon,” she stammered, “that’s…” “Just bloody do it, girl,” growled the knight.
But he was late. ABU had already tumbled on New York and Sir Gordon was down fifty million quid. “The bastard!” he seethed. And Glenda shivered – an angry and impoverished Sir Gordon didn’t have the same allure.