I’m playing with the idea that the government has styled itself as The Team. I want them to have a name which is vague, anonymous and which insinuates friendliness.
Below, Erica begins to answer some of her postbag.
If you tolerate this, then your children will be next
It was ten o’clock in the morning and so far Erica had achieved a great deal: she had made her bed, folder her pyjamas and brushed her teeth. She had switched on Classic FM and completed approximately fifteen minutes of light yoga while focusing on her breathing and internally stating her intentions for the day. She had set the coffee machine to brew while she showered and had switched to Radio 2 and had sung along to a song she liked from the Top Forty while she made toast and spread it with a precise sliver of Marmite which extended just so to the corners of her wholegrain toast. She had savoured the coffee and toast slowly, flicking through the news online, while still in her dressing gown. She had completed the quick crossword and required a search engine for only two of the clues. She had dressed in black leggings and an oversized shirt, had dabbed her temples and lips with some virgin coconut oil and applied a thin layer of natural brown mascara to her eyelashes. She had practiced her French for twenty minutes and replied to six personal emails. All this she had done, and yet a nagging part of her felt that she had done nothing. It was the part of her that sat down to write her diary at night – a healthy habit for a healthy and reflective mind – and that realised that none of this was worth writing in a diary. How many decisions did she make a day without anything changing?
She opened the folder in her inbox marked ‘letters awaiting reply’. For five days a week, her routine was the same. In the morning she picked letters, wrote replies and submitted them to her editor. In the afternoon she checked replies from the preceding day’s efforts, read through all of the underlines and annotations and edited her letters accordingly. The process in general took a week before her work was considered publishable: her editor was fond of reminding her that the ‘message’ she sent out should be ‘clean and peachy keen’. Sometimes Erica wanted to be mad at her editor for their insipid obsession with sanitising her writing, but this was difficult for two reasons. One: she had not really been truly mad for several years and couldn’t quite remember how to do it. Two: she had never met the editor and therefore wasn’t quite sure who to be mad at. She wasn’t even entirely sure her editor was always the same person.
She picked a letter at random.
I am 9 years old and I am worreyd about my phisical tests next year. I am doing my best to be fit and ready for them but I a worryed about if I don’t get picked. Does it still feel the same? Also what if you want to carry on doing something for two days in a row do you have to stop? Sometimes I do a jigsaw and leave it out in my bedroom over night. Can you tell me what a normal day is like for you?
The reply would be easy. Erica could at least admit that writing was easier with the interventions of the editor: paint by numbers instead of a blank canvas. It was exactly the kind of question that the editor enjoyed and she knew exactly the spin they’d like to put on it. She left in the spelling mistakes – the editor felt they were endearing.
Thanks so much for getting in touch! It’s awful to feel worried about something, especially when you can’t control it. But hey, you did the right thing by writing in to me because, hopefully, you’ll believe me when I say that there’s really nothing to worry about at all!
First off, don’t worry about ‘getting fit’ for the physicals. While it’s always a great idea to be fit and healthy, there are all kinds of factors that can mean that your body isn’t placed in the top third of your age group, and lots of them don’t have anything to do with you! A family history of diabetes, not having had the measles yet… In fact, my case is the perfect example! There weren’t many nine year olds fitter or healthier than me, but my eczema meant that I just didn’t make the cut.
But hey: don’t feel sorry for me. Although I had all the concerns and doubts that you’re probably having now when I was told I’d be being moved to a new body, it was totally the best thing that could have happened to me. While it may seem scary to ‘lose’ your body, it’s important to remember that people’s bodies have always changed, often for the worse, and collaboration is an opportunity that our ancestors never had to change for the better and to increase our health and fitness. Remember: if you don’t get picked, you’ll be moving into a body that was tested as healthier and fitter than yours! The only way is up!
You asked me if it still feels the same. I ask you this: when you wake up in the morning and open your eyes, do you have to look in the mirror to remember who you are? Of course not. Who you are is what’s in your mind. When my collaboration began it felt as though I fell asleep and woke up just like any normal nights sleep. The only difference was the way I looked… and my skin didn’t itch any more!
That leads me on to your question about when you want things to run over from one day to the next. When your match is made, The Team will arrange things so that you always fall asleep and wake up in the same place. Although two days will have occurred in your body without you, it’ll be hard to tell. Plus – in collaborations it’s important that we take care of what we have: you’ll get used to tidying your jigsaws away and labeling them with ‘please do not touch’, just as much as you get used to putting yourself to bed ready for your collaborator!
Lastly you asked me about an average day. Well… I can’t imagine that’d be much different to the average day in anyone’s life… collaborator or otherwise. I wake up, practice some yoga, read a little world news and eat a healthy, balanced, breakfast. The Team has all kinds of great breakfast recipes online to help you with balancing your nutrition. I listen to some music to cheer up my mood and set to work answering great emails like this one! After a delicious lunch I will call my mum (she’s not a collaborator so she’ll often have a couple of days worth of gossip and news to fill me in on!) and complete a little more work. In the afternoon I’ll meet a friend for a stroll in the park or to hit an exercise class – spinning and Pilates are my current favourites – and we might treat ourselves to a frozen yoghurt or a trip to the cinema. Most evenings I prefer to come home and curl up with my cuddly old cat and a book. I make sure I leave myself in good condition for my collaborator (her name’s Jenny!) by removing my make up, drinking a pint of water and cleaning my teeth. Then it’s time to hit the hay and get some beauty sleep! When I wake up two days later I remember the day before as though it just happened. Not much different to any normal girl, I guess!
So Joe: your body changing is scary because it’s a new thing and I understand that. I mean think about it, it was even newer when it happened to me! But we humans have always been scared of the future… that doesn’t mean we should avoid it. So if you do end up upgrading, embrace it and get ready for a life of improved health and all the happiness that that will bring!
Hugs and kisses,
The words had flowed out of her so easily it was almost as though she meant them. She checked through to make sure the tone was as perky as her editor liked and clicked send. It was eleven o’clock. Erica had twelve hours of her day left.