From R.E Porter, (Richard)
Journalist published nationally in a well know UK Broadsheet
Wednesday, 14 October 2020
A flight of Fancy
Heading for the office this morning when a mans voice from a nearby parked car called my name.
“Good Morning Richard, may I have a word with you?”
I walked over to see what he wanted.
“John Clements of the NHS, I am looking for a journalist to write a piece on the project we are busy with. I have read your work and your name cropped up in a meeting yesterday, would you be available to come with me for a little while?”
Along with the question, he offered me his business card, which his Chauffer had passed back to him. With my mind blending his job title, the chauffeur driven Mercedes and the though of meeting a high ranking NHS man in these Covid times seemed clear I was not going to refuse. I pulled out my mobile, waved it at him and told him I was checking with my workplace.
“No Problem”, John said amiably.
My Editor answered the call, it was not a problem for him either. The chauffer had got out and was holding the rear door open for me to get in, and I slid onto the back seat alongside John Clements. We shook hands, I confessed to being intrigued, I became even more so when John produced a deck of playing cards, fanned them out and asked me to
“Pick a card, any card you like”.
How bizarre, I thought but I picked one anyway,
“Look at it and tell me what you see” he says.
I turn the card over, it was plain white with 31st September 2020 at the top, and lower down in the centre the number 2879
Some mistake surely, there is no such date as the 31st September, I pointed out, he just smiled at me.
“Yes I know, but what we are about to see does represent an actual date in the past. I just felt that using a real date might have unpleasant memories for some people theses days so we simply coded it. Let us get on with the job in hand”
The Chauffeur drove away.
“I want to show you something Richard, it won’t take long, but it will give you a story, probably the best story you will ever write. Once we are done in a couple of hours you will be driven wherever you wish to go.”
The whole thing was very polite and friendly and I felt no misgivings, in fact I felt more comfortable now than I had done in months. That was until we crossed a flyover and I looked down and saw the London Excel building below as we took the next exit off the roundabout. The legend on the sign was ‘London Excel Centre’ with a big Red Cross alongside the name Nightingale.
“No need to be nervous, he observed, I promise you will be glad you came and you are in very good hands.”
John handed me a box with an Apple logo above the words ‘iPad Pro 12,9-inch 2020’
“You may be needing this, we didn’t know if you would be carrying your computer when we bumped into you, so please accept this with our compliments”.
I am not sure if I can accept that, I replied, I have not written anything yet, and it may not be to your liking when I do.
“It isn’t about the iPad, it is about the photos and interviews you will be recording on it in the next couple of hours. You can always transfer them to another machine when you get home and send us the machine back if you wish”.
John had an answer to everything, I thought, and as if he had read my mind, he apologised …
“Look I am sorry for the cloak and dagger behaviour, I will tell you all about it once you have gathered the information you need. There will be a debriefing before we return you home.”
We had arrived at the rear door of the Excel exhibition centre and John showed me into the building where I was asked to fill in a registration form. While busy with it, a staff member in full protective clothing put a large plastic bag on the desk alongside me, containing a full set of brand new Protective clothing.
I handed the form in and was shown to the men’s changing rooms where I must take a shower and get dressed in the PPE. Once processed I found John waiting to take me upstairs to an observation area, very much like the sky boxes in football stadia.
I was shocked by what I saw next. Below me there were row upon row of fabricated hospital cubicles fully fitted and each bed occupied with people. Dozens of nurses and porters moved between the beds attending to the occupants. At the end of each long row, a head nurse sat busy at a computer. This did not fit the Governments story that the Nightingale had been abandoned through lack of staff.
My host could see how puzzled I was and came to stand by my side and explain what was going on.
“This is the adult female ward of the Nightingale hospital. These are all ladies that were tested and found positive for Covid 19 on that single day – ’31st September’. They are not all necessarily ill but have volunteered to be here for a 20-day period, you could say helping us with our enquiries,” he said smiling at me.
“In the building next door there is the adult male ward of the hospital, with roughly the same number of patients and they got here in exactly the same way. There is also a small ward for children, in another building and each child has its own room with extra beds for parents to come and go as they please.
I must stress that all of this is done on a voluntary basis, and in view of the experimental nature of this project everyone is receiving a financial reward for their participation and to offset any costs they and their families may have.”
“So, Richard you have 2 hours unfettered and unaccompanied access to all staff and guests in this facility and you may record and photograph anything you like. Please be back at the reception desk in 2 hours’ time for a debrief, any questions will be dealt with then”
Thank you, I replied, and headed for the main doorway into the main part of the Hospital. To say that the next 2 hours flew by is an understatement. I had got a lot done, I had spoken to dozens of people, often in informal groups sometimes privately. I was happy with the result, but only just inside the time limit. Visits to both male and female sections and a chat with several parents attending the Children’s facility were filmed and recorded with everyone being helpful and apparently very straight forward. To all intents and purposes I had been talking to people who felt more like they were in a Hotel than In a Hospital. It made a refreshing change after watching the scaremongering antics of the Johnson/Cummings partnership for the last 6 months.
As I arrived at the changing rooms 2 hours later John was waiting for me and before I could change my clothing he abruptly instructed me to …
“Follow me please”.
I followed him into one of the meeting rooms next to the main entrance.
“Sit down please, let me explain our side of things and then you get a question time OK?
“We are a small group of former Ex NHS executives and civil servants that Mr. Cummings did not like, as a result were discarded with an early pension. We are nothing to do with the current government, and no longer have any real function with the NHS. This is a private initiative, because we believe in universal Health care and not some bastardised American model. We have studied the output of information from the government and found it to be mostly false. The only possible reason for falsifying the data is an indicator of our government having another ‘agenda’. None of us are Bilderbergers or Trilateralists though so we can only speculate but the future looks bleak it must be said”
John seemed to reset himself, and suddenly became more friendly. “Look did you happen to count how many people are here?”
Just under 3000 by a quick reckoning, I replied
“OK, do you remember the playing card, 2879? “
Is that the number of people infected on the 31st September, I asked?
“Precisely, or at least it’s the number of people who tested positive for Covid 19 on that date. On the date we call the ‘31st September’ the headlines stated 2,879 New Cases of Covid 19 in the UK which is misleading at best. The public believe a ‘Case’ to be a sick person, and as you will have discovered from your interviews the majority of our guests here are not sick, nor have they been since they were brought here”
“So, Richard we persuaded those 2,879 people who tested positive that day to come with us. If you really want to understand a disease you need to understand the numbers. You are no doubt aware that some people were there because they had symptoms, others had been in contact with other positively tested people. There was also a small group who were tested by way of their terms of employment, Airline Pilots for example.”
Yes that much is clear but the public awareness of these details is very poor, I replied.
“Now you are getting close to the reason for your visit Richard, because the way the public are being informed about this illness is appalling, and you must admit that at least some of the blame is on your shoulders as a Journalist…wouldn’t you agree?”
No I do not agree John! I am not going to let you get away with that…I tried to respond further, he cut me off…
“Now stop there Richard, we have had over 6 months of deliberate mismanagement by the worst government in living memory with the public subjected to a systematic campaign of scaremongering. You can deny this until the cows come home, so how does the information we have been receiving fit with what you have learned today? You had access to anyone you chose here and even if we had given you time to interview every one of our guests you would have heard the same thing.”
So how is this my fault? not even trying to hide my anger. As a journalist we work with the numbers we are given by the experts.
“Really? So you just see yourself as a channel of communication? No effort to verify facts and figures? I have read your work Richard; you clearly have some grasp of what is happening but nothing in your recent work says anything about the pretty obvious lies and distortions released to the public.”
I barely had time to open my mouth when he carried on…
“Richard you need to know that you and another 99 journalist colleagues are the very reason we have gone to all this trouble. Do you seriously expect me to believe all 100 of you are Johnson & Cummings fan club members? I know for a fact that isn’t so, having asked the others face to face…so what about you Richard where do you stand”
Well for a start what is this about another 99 Journalists? I was really getting angry but hardly dressed for a quick escape into London Docklands. I thought I was to get an exclusive.
“The word exclusive hasn’t entered into our conversation from the moment we met Richard, and if you check your notes, they will confirm it.” If we had just given you an exclusive the people that run the industry you are in would have buried this story and you along with it.
“Now tell me Richard why are the public not reading the truth from you, why the running commentary and the fact free journalism? In my opinion Richard, we all know that from time to time history is going to throw up a mongrel of a government, and it’s very much the job of people like you to expose them to scrutiny and make sure they are doing what the paid for, running a democratic nation.”
Its not as easy as that John, you know as well as I do that the MSM is pretty much a cartel and there is little I or anyone else can do on their own to get our opinions across. As soon as I said it I became even more angry as John had cornered me into protesting my innocence, which in turn made me guilty as charged.
“You need to understand exactly what we have been doing here Richard. My group formed a company a little while ago and we ‘accidentally’ added to our board a former conservative Health minister as one of the directors. Shortly after the company was formed ‘he’ requested from the government a contract for supplying PPE, you have probably seen how much money the Tory government have been skimming off for their old friends. It came as no surprise to us that with the weight of an Ex Tory Minister seemingly on board we were awarded a contract worth £112,000,000 pounds within hours of our application.
I confess that I had recently read a report in the paper I frequently write for, which included that same name and the exact same sum of money. Good grief, I exclaimed you guys have got some balls to pull a stunt like that.
“That may be so Richard but its not about bravado its about changing the rotten system, and when we met you this morning you were very much a part of it.”
You have no right to say that John…
“We shall see Richard, now let us get back on track, time is tight. What you have seen today is where most of that money went. We have had to pay the staff, many of whom are retired NHS people, as well as compensate our guests. The government have no idea what we are doing and they do not seem interested to find out. I think the Prime Mister would rather be photographed in a refrigerator than be seen talking to people in here.
When we arrived last month, contractors were busy clearing this place. We simply told them that they had been a mistake, we waved some very impressive Security badges at them and they quickly got on with reinstating the wards. Nobody queried this nor where there any questions asked when we contacted Serco for full information on those persons testing positive on the 31st of September.”,
“So you see Richard, we have skin in the game and we believe it is about time you did too”
I was getting pissed off with John now, and let him know it, but it had no effect, he shut me down again
“Look its pretty futile getting steamed up Richard, you are now going to get the opportunity to right all of the wrongs and become a Folk Hero”.
I nearly choked on that, I could not believe my ears, I have no interest in becoming a folk hero John…
“Then have you at least have some interest in doing the right thing don’t you Richard?””
Of course I do ! I yelled at him
“Good, because you are going to take this information packet with you”
He pushed a large File across the desk to me.
“And then you are going to go home and study the packet, the data and all of the information that you have obtained on your iPad and you are going to write a factual story for a change. You will tell it like it REALLY is and not how your editor wants it to be. You can do this knowing that the other 99 of your colleagues from the News Agencies, TV stations and Newspapers will be doing exactly the same thing, at exactly the same time.
The deadline for you all is 0600 Hours next Sunday morning. All 100 of you will, by then, have moved heaven and earth to persuade your editors to run this story stopping short of nothing. You can tell them about the other 99, and they can phone round their pals and get the same story. If enough of them connect they will soon get the message.
I was just staring at him across the desk…lost for words…. Not a good look for a journalist.
“Tell me Richard, have you ever known an Editor pass up the chance of a major story?
I had to accept that it was unlikely, especially in the light of dwindling circulations. Richard moved along quickly…
…”If your Editor doesn’t play ball then you have until Noon on Sunday to push this complete story through every Social Media outlet that you can. If all 99 editors refuse to go with the story then you will be in good company Tweeting and Instagramming the very same message with all 99 of your colleagues, I suggest you link arms with them as soon as possible, their names and contact details are in this pack.
You are assuming I will go along with all this? My career will be finished for heavens sake, how do I feed my family then?
“It really is important that you make this happen Richard, because every moment of your visit today has been recorded, full sound and HD video, and we will not hesitate to post every item we have on YouTube if you don’t succeed in your mission.”
“Oh So now its blackmail is it you bastard? I shrieked”
“We call it an incentive…to relinquish the path of falsehood and fakery and become a proper journalist for once, and in the company of 99 others. We live in dangerous times Richard and one of the most subversive and dangerous things on this planet right now is false and misleading information. Right now, you are a part of the problem but soon you could be a part of the solution. We still have a little money left to help you support you but I would draw your attention to some very good journalists out there that do not work for the MSM, live in Hampstead OR drive the latest Volvo SUV”.
That hurt !
“If I were you I would be less concerned about feeding my children and a lot more concerned about being able to look them straight in the eye in the years to come. Good Luck Richard, make it happen!”
John walked out, and from over his shoulder “The car is waiting outside, he will take you where you want to go” the door closed behind him
I left the building, half of me scared shitless, the other half looking forward to the fight.