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Tuesday, 18 June 2019
How Soon Is Now? Chapter 11: Burn Baby Burn
Chapter 11: Burn Baby Burn
"Beds Are Burning”
Out where the river broke
The bloodwood and the desert oak
Holden wrecks and boiling diesel
Steam in forty-five degrees
The time has come
To say fair's fair
To pay the rent
To pay our share
The time has come
A fact's a fact
It belongs to them
Let's give it back
How can we dance
When our earth is turning
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning
How can we dance
When our earth is turning
How do we sleep
While our beds are burning
We arrived back in Amsterdam at 7:30 am refreshed after a good sleep on the flight back, the airport was busy even at this time of the morning, however, extra security was evident, Dutch Marines were patrolling the airport with semi-automatic rifles along with the usual Koninklijke Marechaussee, (Royal Gendarmerie) who were also armed with semi-automatic rifles.
Maggie pointed to a sign which advertised an all-day English breakfast, "let's eat I'm starving," she said.
We found a seat and sat down, Maggie ordered two full-English breakfasts.
The BBC news was showing on the wall monitor, a video clip was showing Iranians on the streets of Tehran burning American and Israeli flags and chanting death to America after the sinking of the USS Torpedo.
The US meanwhile was preparing to send more ships to the Persian Gulf and promised to avenge the deaths of the thirty-two crew members deaths.
Another two Iranian drones had been shot down by the IDF above the Syrian border both had been armed with two cruise missiles.
Maggie looked at me smiling, "do you want that sausage," she asked pointing to my plate?
"Only if I can have your bacon," I replied, laughing.
She bent over to kiss me and sneakily stole my sausage from under my nose, she forced it into her mouth laughing at the same time."You will pay for that Maggie when you least expect it," I said laughing.
We walked outside, immediately the early morning hot sun hit us, another cloudless sky promised another uncomfortable hot day, a line of taxis waited for customers, we put our bags in the boot of the first one and sat in the back, this taxi had a driver. Maggie told him our address and he pulled away from the curb, another two Dutch Marines watched our car as we left.
"Security is tight," said the cab driver.
"I'm not really surprised," I replied.
The driver went on, "according to the Dutch news, Iran has announced they are sending a flotilla of warships, along with their most advanced destroyer to the Atlantic Ocean, the fleet will depart today."
He went on, "Russia has announced they are deploying long-range, precision cruise missiles to the western Atlantic that American defence officials say will allow Moscow to target Washington and other East Coast cities with conventional or nuclear attacks, Moscow is adding Kalibr land attack cruise missiles to both warships and missile submarines that Moscow plans to use in Atlantic patrols near the United States."
"This Israeli Iranian conflict is escalating rapidly," said Maggie.
"The world does seem to be spinning out of control," I added.
"Last month a group of scientists declared that the world had just got closer to the worst catastrophe ever," I said.
I went on, "the symbolic Doomsday Clock which is designed to show mankind’s proximity to a global disaster, scientists have moved the clock’s minute hand forward by 30 seconds, The Doomsday Clock is now set at one minute to midnight —nearer to a global catastrophe than at any time in over 70 years!"
"While we can maybe rely on the US and the Russian's to show some form of restraint regarding (MAD), mutually assured destruction, it is the rogue states and leaders we can no longer trust," said Maggie.
"And the Ayatollah, the supreme religious leader of Iran is such a rogue leader with a deep-rooted hatred for all Jews and all Americans," the driver added.
We all three remained silent for the rest of the journey.
Maggie and I had time for a coffee on the balcony before she went to work. Despite the depressing news this morning Maggie was as bright and cheerful as ever and wearing her beautiful smile to it's full.
"Well, we just won't go to the Persian Gulf for a holiday this year," she giggled.
"Or Israel," I added.
"You are going to be a rich girl, Maggie, what do you plan to do with money," I asked.
"Well, I suppose it's just my luck, I finally find the man of my dreams and make it big as an author and I'm gonna get the crap bombed out of me," she said biting her bottom lip.
I laughed out loud.
"We don't need the money do we, we have everything anyone could dream of," Maggie said.
"Yes we do," I agreed, adding, "everything we need," I laughed.
"You know, whatever happens in the future, we are in it together," I said.
Maggie smiled and gave me a warm hug, "I know," she said, "and I'm so grateful."
Maggie kissed me and said goodbye, adding, "I would rather spend my time here with you my darling but I have a job to go to."
"Thank you for a wonderful couple of days, Maggie," I said.
"Yeah, we make a good team," she said.
And then she was gone.
I decided to work on my blog, I poured myself another coffee and took it, and my laptop outside onto the balcony.
It was a wonderful clear blue sky with a few wispy clouds far away in the distance above the pristine blue sea.
I opened my computer to check my emails, an email from the BBC confirmed North Korea as the latest northern hemisphere country to be impacted with a heatwave. The email went on, a natural disaster is unfolding in North Korea as the Korean peninsula is suffering an unprecedented heatwave and drought. The whole area is suffering from the heat with South Korea and Japan recently recording record temperatures of over 41 deg C, with more than a hundred dead and thousands hospitalised, however, North Korea's infrastructure is not able to cope with such temperatures and water shortage. According to the BBC, North Korea which has previously suffered bouts of famine claims state media had warned that key crops such as rice and corn were under threat. It called on citizens to "join the struggle" to safeguard harvests. This year's high temperature was an unprecedented natural disaster.
It appeared the whole northern hemisphere this summer had suffered a catastrophic heat wave resulting in the deaths of thousands of people.
And an email from Stockholm University claimed a glacier on the southern tip of Sweden's Kebnekaise mountain had melted so much that the height of the peak had shrunk, and was no longer the country's tallest, scientists had claimed. The announcement came during a press release declaring the mountain's northern tip as the nation's new tallest peak. From July 2 to 31, the southern tip lost 13 feet of snow to melt as much of Scandinavia baked in searing heat. "This is happening very fast," Stockholm University geography professor had said in a statement.
"The result of this hot summer will be a record loss in snow and ice in the mountains."
And still on the warm theme, an email from a biological oceanographer from California claiming to have recorded the warmest ever water temperature at Scripps Pier.
The email continued; since World War I, scientists have been recording ocean temperatures at the iconic Scripps Pier in La Jolla, California. Every single day, someone walks to the end of the pier and takes a seawater sample at the surface and bottom of the ocean and measures its temperature and salt concentration ("salinity"). Earlier this month, the surface sample was the warmest it had been since records began in 1916. Researchers measured a sea surface temperature of 79.4 °F, which was 0.8 °F greater than the previous record from an unusual warming event in July 1931. These temperatures are on par with what is observed off the coast of Miami, Florida during winter months, which are known to be the warmest waters around the continental United States.
Given that ocean waters in San Diego are often warmest in August, this record could again be broken later this year. Pacific Ocean temperatures recently increased during a marine heatwave in 2014- known as the "blob" - and then an El Nino event in 2015, 2019 and as recently as 2023.
An email from USGS showed just how volatile the Indonesian island of Bali is, after the devastation caused by the mag 9.1 quake, subsequent tsunami and the Mount Agnu volcanic eruption, another powerful quake measuring magnitude 7.0 on the Richter Scale had been monitored on the island. Authorities in Indonesia issued a tsunami alert after the massive earthquake rocked the popular tourist mecca of Bali. The United States Geological Survey said the magnitude 7.0 quake was reported around 11:46 a.m. local time.
An email from the University of South Florida claiming more algae bloom anxiety for Florida, a mass mortality event never seen before was developing as thousands of fish sea turtles, manatees and other marine life were now dying from the massive algae bloom there.
My phone rang, I said, "answer!"
It fizzed to life and there was Maggie's smiling hologram, "Hi, honey, I was missing you so I called."
"Well, it's good that you did because I'm missing you too," I said.
"What are you doing," Maggie asked.
"Nothing special hon, just writing in my blog and what are you doing," I asked?
"I have a lecture after lunch and then I'm coming home to you," she said smiling.
"I was wondering if we could go for a long walk on the beach," I said.
"You bet, I'll see you later, remember, I love you," she said.
"I love you too honey," and she was gone.
I went back to work, according to the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA) at least 490 people were dead along with thousands more hospitalised as well as more than 6 million deaths of livestock and vegetable prices hiked to more than double due to the record-breaking heat wave devastating the country.
That's enough doom and gloom for one day I thought, I looked out across the beach and the cloudless sky. I decided I needed a break, I had to do the shopping and the supermarket had become my place to go this summer when I needed to cool down, the air-conditioned aisles were like paradise on these hot days.
I left my apartment and headed for the main street, I passed the restaurants and bars along the boulevard, they were packed, as the summer had now moved to the peak period, the many tourists and locals were heading for lunch. The main shopping street, however, was once again almost deserted with dogs, cats and shop owners sat in the shade under the shop awnings. the cold air of the supermarket hit me head on as I entered the store, I filled up my shopping cart with essentials, leisurely, enjoying the cold, when I had finished I paid at the checkout, I also asked the girl to have my shopping delivered to my apartment.
I was just about to leave when an old man came up to me, his hair was snow white, his eyes were the deepest blue I had ever seen, his face was lined with deep wrinkles and his skin was dark brown from endless days in the sun, he stood bolt upright, in traditional wooden clogs, he didn't have an ounce of fat on him.
"Are you the guy who writes for the local paper," he asked?
"Yes, yes I am," I answered.
"I have been fishing these waters for sixty years, let me tell you and I saw it coming, back in the '90s and now it's happened, jellyfish have taken over our fishing waters, all up the Dutch coast the jellyfish have replaced the fish, there is a jellyfish hurricane going on out there," he said.
"Well, I knew it was bad," I said, "but."
"Let me tell you, son, the waters are dead, no more fish, the jellyfish is now the king of the sea, at least here anyway's," he said.
"Isn't there anything which can be done about the problem," I asked?
"It's now too late son, the oceans are degraded and have become dominated by jellyfish, put that in your newspaper," he said and was gone.
I shouted, "thank you," after him but he didn't turn round.
When I arrived back at the apartment Maggie was waiting, we embraced and kissed. Maggie had changed and was ready for our walk on the beach, I told her about my encounter with the old fisherman.
Maggie laughed, "sounds like Quint, the man who was hired to kill the big shark in the film Jaws."
"That just what I thought when I saw him too," I answered laughing.
"Come on let's go for a walk," Maggie suggested.
We walked along the shore hand in hand with the hot sun behind us our feet in the shallow water, we had learned to love our late afternoon walks.
"You know Maggie if it's by war, a geophysical event or disease, the most important day in human history is coming," I said sadly.
"Yes," she said.
"Do you want children when we have married Maggie," I asked.
"I would love to have kids, sure but, wow, what a time to bring a child into the world, I don't think it would be wise to have a child right now," she answered.
"Yeah, I agree, I would love to have children too but I guess it's no fun being a child these days, peer pressure and social media and just the world around them have caused rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers to have increased by more than 100 per cent in the past 25 years and the number of children turning up at the doctors with a psychiatric condition has more than doubled since 2020 and, in the past three years, hospital admissions for teenagers with eating disorders have also more than doubled," I added.
I went on, "in the UK data from the Office for National Statistics shows so far in 2025 there have been 368 males aged 10 to 19 and 163 females in the same age group, 531 kids who took their own lives up to July in Britain."
"How on earth can a ten-year-old contemplate suicide, never mind actually do it," asked Maggie?
"Apparently the youngest ever was 6-year-old Samantha Kuberski, who tied a belt to a crib and hung herself after being sent to her room," I said amazed.
"How can a six-year-old understand the concept of death," asked Maggie?
"More than a million people worldwide have committed suicide in 2025 and there is still, more than four months to go until the end of the year," I said.
We had reached the deserted area of the beach, no tourists just seagulls, Maggie and me.
"Shall we go for a swim," I asked Maggie?
We stripped down to our swimwear and dived in, the sea this time of the year is usually pleasant but due to the heatwave, it was actually lukewarm.
"This is like a warm bath," shouted Maggie.
"Have you forgotten already about the kids who were bitten by the blue shark," I laughed.
"Haha, you tease," she answered.
Later, we lay in the warm sun drying off on a beach towel.
Three drones with Police insignia flew over us on their way out to sea, we both sat up and watched, the drones stopped above a fishing boat less than a couple of kilometres away, we could hear faint shouting coming from the boat, the drones hovered just above the boat.
A shot rang out and one of the drones exploded dropping into the sea, obviously hit, the other two drones climbed high out of the danger zone. Another couple of shots rang out but missed the drones who had now climbed to a significant height. To the left of us, another boat was speeding fast toward the fishing boat, "here comes the cavalry," I said.
The Police who were in the speeding boat fired two warning shots high above the fishing boat, we could hear shouting.
The Police pulled alongside the fishing boat and boarded it, "must be drugs or something," Maggie said.
"Could be human traffickers or refugees on the way over to the UK," I added.
Well the cops have em now," said Maggie.
In the distance, we could see a grey coastal patrol boat manned by the Dutch Marines powering its way toward the scene to help the Police a large Dutch flag was proudly waving at the back of the boat.
"I bet you dinner, its drug traffickers," said Maggie.
"Ok kiddo, I say its refugees on their way to the UK," I added.
"This far north," questioned Maggie?
"You could be right," I said.
The grey coastal patrol boat had pulled alongside the fishing boat and was taking on board the occupants of the fishing boat.
"They look like drug traffickers to me," said Maggie.
"They look like refugees to me I said," laughing.
"We had better start walking back," I said.
We got back to the apartment around ten pm, just as the sun was going down we had eaten dinner earlier in one of the restaurants below, I poured us both a glass of red wine. We both sat on the balcony watching the sun fall beneath the sea.
"We will still be sat here when we are old and grey," I said to Maggie.
She didn't answer, Maggie had fallen asleep.