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The Mechanisms and Function of the European Union Going Forward into the 21st Century or Quid Pro Euro? - This is a European Videos Production.
We're nearly at the end of 1995. A year for the history books! But what's next for the EU when we leave this decade, this century, and this thousandry? In this series, we’re going to find out. Today: Afterlife.
London. Home of French centrists in exile. London. Where every bank started as a coffee house and every coffee house started as a bicycle shop. London. Where art meets finance like a boxer meets an anti-aircraft gun.
London snow is fog that’s tired. Across the muffled city, braziers are lit, chestnuts are cooked, judges throw snowballs at lawyers, and everybody is lacing up their ice skates for the swan hunt.
The University of London is honestly just as good as the universities they put in books and films. Like Oxford and Oxford Junior. The University of London is even divided into colleges, just like the universities they put in books and films. Like Edinburgh and ... Oxford. Here’s Imperial College. Here’s University College, here’s School College, and Higher Education College, and College College, and College College College, College Green, and Collage, here’s Dentist’s College with its impressive Col. Gate. Here’s the College of Truth, here’s the College of Lies, and Birkbeck, and Central St Martin’s and The University of London College of Daddy Thames.
On the outskirts of Regent’s Park, this two story town house is the type that would be owned in films by a simple teacher played by, for example, the actor Hugh Grant. In reality, it is the type of house that can only be afforded by somebody very wealthy like, for example, the actor Hugh Grant. However, this house is not a house. Nor is that one, or that one. What a deceptive street. This is, in fact, Library College, the college with the books. And who’s this lying in the snow? It’s the late Matthias Taller, rector of Library College, and: dead. He was shot by the group of spies in the building across the road who thought he was the duke of Burgundy because he wears the same hat. Look, there the spies are, eating a ham sandwich. And there’s the duke behind them. The spies and their mark laugh at the mistake and Matthias’ body is dragged away by the Lord Mayor of London.
Here are the rooms of the late Matthias Taller. After moving from his native Innsbruck, home of the best librarians in Europe, he lived here for over thirty years! The carpet is balding and creeping up the walls where it meets the moss going the other way. Heaters are stacked one above the other, a new one added each time an old one fails. Piles and piles of books make up the furniture. This armchair is built entirely out of copies of first editions. And here’s a fireplace. The dryest books burn best and that is why every one of them is a copy of Charlotte Bronte’s Villette.
But what’s that? The room is empty, the fire is burning, and yet a chill passes through. Look, we brought this pig upstairs to illustrate. The pig shivers, and falls over.
The pig has contracted pneumonia. It is dragged down the stairs by the Lord Mayor of London.
The cold is one clue. The other is that a copy of The Complete John Whyndham is apparently reading itself, hovering a foot above the seat of the armchair. How is that possible? Simple. If you don’t finish a book before you die, you become a ghost, doomed to read and reread the same paragraph over and over again, each time slightly losing your attention and forgetting what it was about. That is Matthias Taller, nose deep in The Midwich Cuckoos.
Ghosts have been legal in the European Union for longer than you think. An unofficial tolerance was practised by most police forces as early as the 1960s. Full legalisation across the Union was brought in in 1980 through The Treaty of CoOoOopenhagen.
Here’s a crowd of ghosts at a multisport centre that has been hastily erected on a battlefield by Lake Geneva. You can tell by the floating books. The European Union and Switzerland are marking the festive period by coming out of their trenches to play tennis.
On the first floor of Library College London, this is Natalie. Natalie doesn’t have a surname because she is a student. Natalie is studying for a postgraduate degree in Railways.
Oh dear, she doesn’t look happy. No wonder. This book isn’t about railways. It’s about sailways. Sailways are the underwater tracks they attach the boats to. Her finals are tomorrow. How is she going to find the right book?
It should be easy enough. R is right next to S, isn’t it?
It isn’t it.
The indexing system of Library College London was established before the Gregorian Alphabet and R is a leap letter. The section on Railways could be anywhere. In fact it’s here: on the first floor, in the garage.
Next to Natalie, this patch of air looks distressed! See how the bookshelf you can see through it is flickering black and white? And how there’s a copy of The Complete John Wyndham shaking in mid-air? There must be an upset ghost in the vicinity, one that wants to bring a student to the right book. But Natalie can’t speak Ghost. Oh dear, the air is so distressed, it knocks over a table! The table is dragged away by the Lord Mayor of London.
Ghost is not a recognised language of the European Union. Matthias Taller has an uphill battle to get his message across.
What’s this? It’s a one way sign, stolen from the street outside. The sign hovers an inch in front of Natalie’s face. One way signs were named after one of the founding fathers of the European Union: Jean Oneway. The arrow points up the stairs towards the garage. Clever! If Natalie understands the message, she’ll be able to find the relevant book and pass her finals. Can she do it?
The terrified Natalie has fainted and banged her head. Oh no, what a shame. Look, she’s bleeding from her ear. This is what happens when students don’t plan for their studies. The late Natalie is dragged away by the Lord Mayor of London.
In the twenty-first century, the European Union will recognise Ghost as an official European language and provide interpreters in all major capital cities, and in eight of the minor ones. Matthias Taller might be dead but it won’t be long before he’s once again helping the next generation of Europeans. And with assistance from a translator, the shade of Natalie will sit her exams.
It has been far too long that we have allowed ghosts to float around the union without contributing to it. In very few years, we will be better equipped to integrate them back into society. Do you live with ghosts? Statistically, yes. I hope you’re looking forward to meeting them properly.
From everyone at European Videos, we wish you a very merry festive period and remind you to finish your books, or spend your afterlife haunting them. If you are already spending your afterlife haunting a book, let us know which one and how you’re getting on. Send a letter to the usual address along with a stamped addressed envelope. The best one will win a bottle of wine.
This has been a European Videos Production.