1.  The Politician Speaks

As a government, as a country, we have so much to celebrate.  The dark days where people's economic potential could be squandered in unemployment or sickness are now firmly in the past.  Wasted lives are in the past.  Wasted time is in the past.  Even wasted space is in the past, as earlier today in the farthermost reach of the north the last remaining piece of common wasteland was purchased and then monetized with an advertisement for home insurance being burnt into it. 

Today we celebrate both full employment and Total Commodification.  Regardless of gender, age, infirmity, ability, every single person in the land is producing an income and paying their fair share, from cradle to grave.  

At last we can truly say everything is for sale and every man woman and child can contribute, from toddlers in wheels producing battery energy to the recording of elderly people's dreams in care homes for upload to TV. 

Not a single person will breathe without paying rent on that air to pay for reforestation in Nottinghamshire and Hampshire.  No-one will urinate without paying per cubic centimetre, nor walk through their front door without paying the toll. 

(You have been charged for the time taken to watch this broadcast, however on proof that you are not a member of any political party or organisation other than The Party this will be reimbursed.)

2.  The Sandman Works Nights

They'd called Tim unemployable, said he was not financially viable.  He didn't want a job, but the Party were committed to full employment and the Job Centre didn't take 'No' for an answer.  With the withdrawal of all benefits he'd accepted the need for a job, and with the pavement tolls and air rent he needed the money.

Walking to work with a spring in his step as night fell, Tim contemplated that it had worked out well for him.  He'd never thought he would even have a job, much less that he would learn to love it, but then he'd never contemplated this sort of job.  He carried a sports bag over his shoulder, with the tools of his trade. 

Those without recognised experience or qualifications were given tests and then allocated jobs.  He had scored low in literacy and numeracy, but well in fitness and combat.  He also was used to staying up nights which was a prerequisite for a Sandman. 

His clients tonight were Mr and Mrs Brian Thomas.  He used his work pass to enter their house, before they would get home from their jobs.  Walking around the piles of clothes on the floor, he set himself up in their bedroom cupboard.  It was Tim's job to enforce Sleep Fees.  Mr and Mrs Thomas were behind on their fees, and after a written notice had still failed to pay.  It was up to Tim to enforce the Insomnia Order, empowered by section 21 of the Sleep Commodification Act.

In the wardrobe were suits that smelled of stale sweat, dresses mended with needle and thread, moth-holed jumpers.  He grinned, inspecting his teeth in the wardrobe mirror.  He heard them come in the door; their voices were stressed.  Although he could not make out the words, the tone was clear: worried, argumentative.  Waiting was the worst part of the job.  He heard them talking, changing clothes, brushing teeth.  His heart beat faster as he heard them in the bedroom, still complaining to each other, they had turned on each other in their financial difficulties, something he had seen so many times.  They didn't have sexual intercourse, Tim found it hilarious when clients did but it was rare as if they could not afford Sleep Fees they could probably not afford intercourse, set at the additional rate of Intimacy Tax.

They did not put their clothes in the wardrobe, again they piled them up in a corner.  Tim was glad.  Although it was good when people found him in the wardrobe and he could then prevent them from sleeping it was best when he let them sleep at first, but never enough for a full cycle.  Tim waited until he heard them both snoring, then quietly opened his sports bag.  He didn't touch the baseball bat and Stanley knife, the procedure was never to escalate that far on the first night, but then if the clients got difficult he was allowed to use them for his own protection.  He took out the water pistol and ostrich feathers, then put on his Mr Punch mask, with its long pointed nose, chin, and fixed grin, looking as pleased as he felt.

As he sprang out of the wardrobe chuckling, Tim knew it was going to be a great night.


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3.  The Front Page.


This morning the last house sale in the UK completed.  Mortgage intermediaries Englishman's Castle, speaking at their insolvency hearing said "This is unprecedented news for the market, and with Total Commodification having been achieved land is so expensive it is unlikely any more houses will be built, so the only movement in the housing market will be based on homeowner death."

Dimitri Petrova, Chair of the Assassins Guild, was quoted as saying that first time buyers should consider what they are willing to do to realise their dream of a home.  "Our assassins operate in full confidentiality.  In this day and age of rapidly escalating prices a good assassin can be considered as important as a large deposit (continued p.4).


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4. First Day of the Xmas Sales.

The overflowing boxes of stock had been pushed to the sides to make way for the boxing ring.  The challenge had been set up: only one Suprema Soup Maker was left at the knock-down price of £1.99 (R.R.P £53.48).  Both Mrs Tilda Hathaway and Mrs Brenda Thorpely were determined to have it for their families.  The loser would be left with the poor alternative of a Toledo Soup Mixer, which was not only full price but coloured a matte brown, rather than the Suprema's glossy silver.

Mrs Hathaway took the red corner and the shop assistant helped to lace up her boxing gloves. A crowd of shoppers gathered.  The deputy manager collected tickets and bets.  Mrs Thorpley laced up her own gloves, a hardened sales veteran, she had earlier won the Argos Sale opening cage match, taking only a few bruises and a sprained wrist.  She was smaller and older than Mrs Hathaway but had the rhinestone glint of determination in her eyes.

Mrs Thorpley glanced outside the ring: insurance loss assessors, nurses, blood drips; oxygen masks, and the stretcher which waited to take away the loser.  Instead, like a true winner she focused on the prize of the coffee machine and the way her family would look at her in admiration and the jealousy in the eyes of the other consumers. 


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5. The Library.

The library had not been the same since Total Commodification. The trouble was it had become illegal to lend or borrow, unless interest was charged at the statutory minimum.  In addition, as a publicly-owned building the door toll had to be strictly enforced.

Minnie Selwood, Chief Librarian of Burnham Wood had discovered a loophole.  She agreed to change the library's name to the Woodfield Community Bookshop, removing the need for a door toll as it now technically became a commercial venture. 

Books were sold, and on return the costs were refunded on production of a receipt and book shop 'loyalty card'.

(The Woodfield Community Bookshop model worked well, pending the tax enquiry.)


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6.  The Daily Commute of Brian Thomas.

It was morning; this despite passing the night with very little sleep due to periodic tickling from the Sandman, which had later escalated into being squirted with a water pistol.  Despite his bulging wallet Brian Thomas had been unable to pay the Sleep Tax; he had to save the money in his wallet for the commute. He swore however that he would have to find a way to pay before the third night of the Sandman's residency when he would become authorized to escalate collection activities to include use of nail clippers and safety razors.

Brian slotted a coin in to open the front door then walked down the drive.  Swiping his debit card, the car started.  At the end of the lane, he stopped at the toll gate, it was not change-giving but he had prepared, folding in a five pound note and dropping in a pound coin and nine pennies.  Again, he stopped at the toll gates at the beginning and end of the motorway, and at the traffic lights paid the mandatory three pounds to the windscreen washer.

Followed by this there was parking, train fare, a premium to get a seat, as he needed to sleep during the journey, a loophole the Sandmen had not yet considered.  Then at the other end he paid the platform fees.  His journey almost over and his wallet now considerably lighter, he stopped at the crossing.  The light was red.  He opened his wallet: five pounds ninety nine left, but he was also almost late and he would be hit with a fine equivalent to his morning's pay if he was late again.  He slotted a one pound coin into the slot.  The digital display flashed up: ETA for crossing 20 minutes.  He would be late.  He sighed and dropped in another coin, and again until the display showed only two minutes until crossing.  By the time he got to work he only had one pound coin left, not enough for a coffee, but enough for a small plastic cup of water. 

Brian worked hard in the office, so much so his wallet would fill up through the day, leaving him enough for the journey home.  When he arrived home he kissed his wife, then dropped a two pound coin in the Intimacy Tax meter.

Tim the Sandman already waited in the wardrobe, chuckling with delight at the tricks he had in store for the night.  He fumbled in his bag of musical instruments, pulling out a recorder, a trumpet and a ukulele. 


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