Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Mad Hatting

I’m back in Old Blighty where we seem to want to party like it’s 1999. Judith (mummy) asked me to come back because she’s afraid of the stupid new Covid variant—of which there are three cases and no deaths. So I appeased her, but truth be told, I’d had enough of Silicon Valley and their oppressive mask-wearing. Plus Californians are living in abject fear because their state is going to hell in a handbasket. And they’re in full denial over Florida’s bragging rights. They’ve thrown a wobbly, but if lockdown really happens I’m headed straight back to Lyford Cay. It won’t be another spate of take-away curries and skulking off to underground parties from my childhood home.

When I arrived I found Daddy sadly away, so I let myself be dragged to a Mad Hatter Party. Rather early on I got separated from my friends, and found myself recognised as ‘the bug hostess.’ I guess I should be flattered but sometimes even talking about it gets me rather queasy. I took a big gulp of my ‘million dollar cocktail’ and tried to change the subject. Now outed as an eco-warrior, I was being asked about Bill Gates’ plan to blacken the sky. Like I know? ’He’s not really a client of mine,’ I said to a girl with a Viking ship on her head, and anyway why do I have to be responsible for him?

"Some say, to survive it, you need to be as mad as a hatter. Which, luckily, I am."

‘But you do know him…’ She pressed.

‘I don’t !’ I insisted. ‘I mean…he comes to the WEF and sure—I’ve met him but…’

‘TELL !’ She squealed, ‘Did you go to his daughter’s wedding?’ Seriously? This was getting nuts. I almost wanted to tell her who my real client was and I excused myself under the guise of needing the loo. Moments later I was bombarded again. This time she had a friend with her and it was rapid-fire from the two of them --

But he wants to obscure the sun, right?

Why does he own more farmland than anyone else in the States?

Why does he want to vaccinate all of Africa?

What about the fake meat—does it really grow in a lab?

Are you dating him—?

‘Excuse me.’ I said, this time making no excuse and getting far away from them. It seemed they knew more about Mr Gates than I did and I just didn’t want to be talking about my job when it wasn’t my job. And certainly not about a client that wasn’t my client. How childish they were! I pushed through until I found a quiet place to make a call.

‘Yes, Jennifer.’ Daddy answered. ‘How’s mummy?’

‘Dunno exactly. I’m at a Mad Hatter party.

‘How mad exactly?’ he asked.

‘Reasonably so… they seem to think that just because I care about the planet and attend the World Economic Forum in Davos that I personally know every big climate enthusiast, including Bill Gates.’

‘Well don’t you?’

‘Daddy!’

‘It’s a fair question, poppet.’

‘Not at a party it isn’t.’

‘Ah. Only green during bankers hours are we? Sorry, that was unkind. How was California?’

‘I was in Northern California… I flew in with my client. But I wanted to ask what you know about Bill Gates and shooting calcium into the atmosphere to block the sun.’

He thought for a moment. ‘Is it calcium now? Originally it was sulphur. Either way it’s reason for concern.’

‘Why exactly?’ I asked, not wanting to face this party uninformed. 

‘Think, Jennifer. It’s the whole atmosphere we’re talking about. There are still pieces of the very first atom bomb in every corner of the atmosphere… I think you call it the ecosphere, but don’t you imagine we’d have done something to remove them if we could? Add to that nothing they say rings true, it’s more double-speak than even your green-science allows.’

‘But what if…?’

‘If what? If they’re right? Einstein was right—the atom bomb worked as intended. But would we sign up for that a second time? Not likely. And to what end? Most of Europe’s gone fascist again anyway. Sweetheart, I’m surprised at you. And to solve what problem exactly? The possibility of lowering the temperature of a planet by two degrees? It’s not going to happen. Even they admit it could make things worse than having done nothing.’

‘Worse isn’t good.’ I said. Ugh.

Bear in mind it was not that many years ago you were begging me to buy land on the equator because your science reader told you we were headed toward an ice age.’

‘Daddy— I was a kid!’

‘Yes a kid quoting science. And now without any additional proof, you are convinced of the polar opposite. And likely part of the team who also—without much more knowledge or education, will install the deciders. Why do you think they brought in Prince Charles instead of MIT?’

Did somebody mention Prince Charles?

Double ugh. Daddy was right about that. Neither me, nor my client, nor Bill Gates nor Klaus Schwab, nor Prince Charles for that matter, had any science or engineering cred. This was embarrassing. He was right calling them space cowboys and I felt like an idiot.

With the sun rising over this party our host came round with sausage rolls and Alka-Seltzer. I watched the reaction of the fizzy tabs in water. Calcium bicarbonate—stable until plunked into the water. The dramatic change made me shiver because SCoPEx -- the Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment at Harvard -- had argued that calcium was stable… and the ideal compound to be jettisoned into space.

I realised too, I’d missed the obvious. They just want to be the ones in charge. They want to tinker and manipulate because when you’re playing chess games with God, you can afford the really big toys. This wasn’t what I’d signed up for. This wasn’t about the planet. I looked round and remembered the Mad Hatter’s words to Alice: ‘People who don't think shouldn’t talk."

Make sure of it Alice, make very sure.