The Toddler Paddlers & Adult Select Concept Deafness
Johnny was hypnotised. He hadn´t been the night before. But he was now.
It made no difference what you said - there were certain concepts he could no longer hear. A hypnotist had told him not to - on a Television Programme broadcast the previous evening in seventy two languages, on every continent of the globe. So it wasn´t just Johnny who was suffering from Adult Select Concept Deafness (A.S.C.D.), but Adult Television Lovers everywhere.
Johnny, and millions like him, you might be relieved to hear, could still enjoy the predictive programming of the latest and most fashionable films, the thrill of cooking competitions, and the patriotic spark of international football matches. But certain concepts, concepts deemed illicit by the World Governance Web, now entered their ears like silence.
The W.G.W. had been offended by the lyrics of runaway rapper Izzy Knot´s recent nightclub anthem "They Don´t Care". "If they cared - would they inject you without knowing what could happen?" Izzy had rapped, rhetorically. "If they cared - would they spray the skies without knowing what could happen? If they cared - would they genetically modify your food without knowing what could happen?" The lyrics went on and on, rhythmically, seductively, questioningly - and accompanied by a YouTube video of W.G.W. officials partying uninhibitedly with Izzy himself, on Izzy´s private yacht - "They Don´t Care!" had gone viral.
The W.G.W. officials had felt betrayed. They had graciously accepted Izzy´s invitation to degrade themselves aboard his luxury yacht, and he had betrayed their trust. By way of revenge they had arranged for the beguiling, dizzying hypnotist Lulu Lulu to appear on prime time TV, and hypnotise the adult world into believing they cared.
That even Johnny, Johnny Jumpsuit, the freestyle swimmer and free-thinker who, on accepting his olympic gold medal for Very Fast Swimming, had decried the plastification of the oceans, and recited a Maori prayer to the Water Gods... That even Johnny Jumpsuit, whose two year old daughter was tipped to be this year´s World Paddling Champion - that even HE could no longer hear that the W.G.W. didn´t give a shit, was testimony to Lulu Lulu´s world-class hynotic powers.
Nenita, Johnny´s little daughter, could sense there´d been a change in her Dad, and posed him a test question, investigatively, at breakfast. "Daddy" she asked, gently "if the W.G.W cared would they rollout 5G without knowing what could happen?" (It was a line from Izzy´s anthem, and her Dad had been singing it in the shower, just the previous afternoon.) "Come on, darling, eat your porridge, or you´ll be late for your paddling lessons!" Johnny replied. Nenita feared for the worst. "Daddy, if the W.G.W cared would they invest billions in the arms industry - knowing exactly what will happen?" But all Johnny saw was Nenita´s lips moving silently, which he thought looked cute, so he pinched her cheek... "Who´s my little paddling champion, then?" he muttered, encouragingly. Nenita got the picture.
But it wasn´t until she got to her paddling lessons at the Onetontootoo Leisure Centre, where she talked eagerly with other concerned toddlers, that she realised how widespread the outbreak of A.S.C.D. had become - and in an emergency meeting in the paddling pool, the small group of small people decided to declare it a pandemic. In a press statement they released later that morning the group, who had decided to call themselves ´Toddler Paddlers Against Adult Select Concept Deafness´ claimed that the right to free listening was as fundamental as the right to free speech, but that due to the limited hynotic and technological capacities of previous generations, this fundamental human right had been overlooked.
They DID look cute, talking so eloquently, and so eruditely. At least that was what the Televison Watching Public thought - and soon Nenita and the Toddler Paddlers were popular guests on talk shows, and chat shows, and being offered big money to carry brand-named crab-catching nets, and après-paddle snacks.
It was while chitting and chatting on one such show that Lulu Lulu herself first beheld the cute, articulate free-listening toddler activists - and had her Moment of Repentance. "Oh deary, deary me! What have I done! These poor children! Their parents have become deaf to the callous cruelty of the W.G.W. - and it´s all my fault!"
Lulu Lulu glanced upwards, fondly, at her ten thousand dollar chandelier, made possible only be the twisted generosity of the World Governance Web. "But no! No!" she said to herself, "I must undo what I have done - even if they take back the chandelier!"
"But Lulu Lulu" said Lily, Lulu Lulu´s pretty pink poodle, "if you go on TV and un-hypnotise everyone, they´ll immediately send another hypnotist to re-hynotise them!" Lily was a politically astute little dog... Both Lulu Lulu and Lily were stumped. They stared sadly at the TV screen, as the innocent toddlers made speeches no one could hear. "Oh turn it off!" Lily growled, impatiently - it was painful to watch. "But that´s it! I´ll hypnotise them to all turn off their TV´s!" exclaimed Lulu Lulu, euphorically...
And yet, and yet... And it wasn´t just the loss of her chandalier that made her doubt. The Toddler Paddlers were campaigning for Free Listening - not for No TV. "Maybe I could hypnotise people to never be able to be hypnotised" Lulu Lulu wondered aloud. Lily just raised a doggy eyebrow - as if to say "it seems to me there´s a fundamental contradiction in that proposal". They both knew that all Lulu Lulu could do was undo her spell, and let go, and trust that The Flow of Life would find its way...
And so it was that Lulu Lulu went back on TV that next night, and unhypnotised the Television Loving Public, in seventy two languages, on every continent of the globe. "In the beautiful, mysterious Flow of Life we trust! In the magical Flow of Life we trust!" she declared as she finished her show.
"Yes! In The Flow of Life we trust - but not in the W.G.W.!" Johnny Jumpsuit shouted back at the screen. And Nenita, who was asleep in her cot in the next room, stirred contentedly in her dreams.
The next day, when Nenita and the now-famous Toddler Paddlers Against Adult Select Concept Deafness arrived at the shallow pool where they attended their Paddling Lessons, they were greeted by crowds with placards and banners, and drums and megaphones and chants like "TV Hypnotism No! TV Hypnotism No!", "The Toddlers Will Set Us Free!", "Turn Off the Tellie!" and, of course, clumsy, out-of-tune, yet passionate renditions of Izzy Knot´s "They Don´t Care!"
Accompanied by parents or grandparents or older siblings, the Toddlers slipped through the celebratory crowds, into the changing rooms - and got into their swimsuits and arm bands.
Their Paddling Teacher, Michelle, was, quite literally, an angel - a three meter high Archangel, in fact - whose lower wing feathers often got wet and scraggly when the Toddlers splashed about in the pool. "Come on, everyone - let´s get wet!" she called out, invitingly, from the paddling poolside - as the accompanying adults finished adjusting the Toddlers´ goggles and snorkels in the changing rooms.
Paddling lessons always began with everyone holding hands, and jumping up and down in the water, singing "water, water, water, we love water" - and today, when the singing and jumping subsided, and the circle of Toddlers stood still in the pool - the Archangel Michelle spoke some words of praise for Nenita and her Associates, and their successful campaign to free contemporary global human civilisation from Adult Select Concept Deafness - and all of the Toddlers who hadn´t been on TV cheered "hooray, hooray, hooray".
Mary Hadalittlelamb, a fervent Toddler Paddler, and a close friend of Nenita´s added, soberly, that, despite this one fine victory, in her opinion, this wasn´t just about the grown ups. Toddlers everywhere were under threat of underage hypnotism by a global culture that sought to control their minds, and thus their feelings and actions. The Paddling Class nodded wisely, and as they stood, hands held, the water up to their ankles, they felt a solidarity and a determination to not succumb to ANY political propaganda - whether in the media, or at kindergarden - propaganda to which, Mary asserted, they were already, continuously, being subjected.
The Archangel Michelle glowed with pride as she looked down upon the Toddler Paddlers, and felt the unity of their hardly-conditioned hearts. "And now it´s time for the Spalshing Dance!" she annouced, gaily. Everyone knew the steps (more or less) - and everyone began to jump and splash about. Michelle beheld their innocence, their purity, their simplicity, their clarity - and was overcome by a slightly engulfing love.
"Why do I feel such an over-protective love for these brave little humans?" Michelle asked the Flow of Life. And the Flow of Life answered her question that very afternoon, when Johnny Jumpsuit, Nenita´s famously fast Dad, while driving Nenita home from her Paddling Lesson, received a phone call from Izzy Knot himself.
"Johnny, we´re making another promo video for ´They Don´t Care´, and we´d be honoured if Nenita and the Toddler Paddlers Against A.S.C.D. would be willing to appear in it." The Archangel Michelle, who could feel the way The Flow of Life ripples through all of existence, immediately knew that although Lulu Lulu and her astute poodle Lily had repented and withdrawn their hypnotic enchantment the previous evening, nevertheless: the magical battle for the control of the human mind was far from over; that Izzy Knot´s word wizardry would have many more illusions to dispell; and that Nenita and the Toddler Paddlers were in need of protection, for they were about to become footsoldiers, nay - warriors - in the Battle for the Freedom to Hear.
"We´ll be filming on my yacht again" Izzy added, temptingly. "But what about their Paddling Lessons?" Johnny asked, concerned - knowing full well, that if Nenita was to become next year´s World Paddling Champion, then there could be no let-up in her training. "Can her Teacher, the Archangel Michelle, come too?" he asked, efficiently. "But of course!" Izzy said, enthusiastically. "Let me ask them all, and I´ll get right back to you" Johnny said. And he asked them all. And they all said ´yes´. Michelle too. And the very next day the Toddler Paddlers, their accompanying adults and the Archangel Michelle were on a train to the port where Izzy´s luxury yacht was docked.
The W.G.W., the World Governance Web - the planets´s authoritative multlilateral alliance of political and corporate tyranical bureaucrats - were now doubly livid.
Firstly, Izzy Knot had sung the open truth that they didn´t give a shit about anyone but themselves (and broadcast shocking video footage of their sadistic party games aboard his yacht); and secondly, Lulu Lulu had revoked their cover-up-by-hypnosism, for which, it has to be said, they had paid more than generously.
"We will be avenged!" they hissed, across encryted international private phone lines. And they cackled, villanously.
Part one of their retribution was swift and neat...
The very next morning, when Lulu Lulu descended her marble stairwell, feeling proud of her righteous defiance of the W.G.W. in her full length pink silk dressing gown; there, on the kitchen floor, not far from her bowl, lay Lily - her pink-dyed fluffy fur now eerily ashen grey, as stiff as wood...
Lulu Lulu fell upon the sparkling kitchen tiles, and wailed to the heavens. She had loved Lily SO deeply! She still did! They had been like interspecies sisters... But Lulu Lulu´s beloved pet poodle had been assasinated using a mixture of rat poison and doggie treats, that very morning at dawn, by a secret agent of the W.G.W. specialised in murdering animals.
The agent himself, Frederic Rex, had been recruited at a slaughterhouse, having been seen laughing his head off as cow after cow, and pig after pig, and chicken after chicken were sliced up and packaged with merciless efficiency. "This is a man capable of terrible things!" one W.G.W. Aninal Assasination Recruitment Officer had whispered to another. "He´s our man!" the other had whispered back. And Rex had resigned his rather repetitive, though not unamusing career as a Slaughterhouse Quality Control Manager, and signed the secret documents that promised him a glamourous, almost cinematic future as a W.G.W Animal Assassin.
In his now distinguished career, Rex had sunk his very own teeth into the necks of crocodiles, vampire-like - crocodiles kept as pets by colombian cocaine cartels whose trading success had come to rival that of the W.G.W.... And once, armed only with poisoned darts, Rex had single handedly rid an entire country of its indigenous squirrels - in order to justify the introduction of genetically-modified cyber-spy squirrels by MotherEarthCare Inc., a high-flying associate company of the WG.W.. Rex had even murdered his grandmother´s cat when it had spat at him, and refused to wear a mask at the height of the Covid Plandemic.
Lulu Lulu wailed to the heavens, and laughed bitterly, incoherently, and cursed the W.G.W..
The Archangel Michelle - and the many, many others who were also atuned to The Flow of Life - felt Lulu Lulu´s pain pass through them - like a sharp, biting electric shock. Lulu Lulu staggered into her living room and threw porcelain figurines of elves and fairies at the glittering chandelier she´d bought with dirty money from the W.G.W.. "I hate you! I hate you!" she screeched, indiscriminately - at the chandeleir, at the W.G.W., and at the fame and fortune addict inside herself.
As the train full of Toddler Paddlers and their Carers approached the station in the seaside town with the port where Izzy Knot´s yacht rocked lazily in the warm summer waters, the Archangel Michelle emitted what we might call a radar wave, or a situation scanning wave, from her heavenly body. The tourist town was teeming, not only with tourists, but with reporters and media celebrities of all sorts, who (now that the Television Lovers of the World had been released from the hypnotic veil that had obscured the W.G.W.´s callousness) were preparing intiguing headlines such as "Do they Care or Don´t They?", "Is the W.G.W. the Mafia that Runs the World?", "Izzy Knot for President!" and "Who Killed Lulu Lulu´s Poodle?"
Michelle could feel The Life buzzing through the whole seaside town: the birds in the trees, the insects in the earth, the rats in the sewers; the perhaps-not-particularly-intelligent, innocent tourists purchasing souvenirs for their mantlepieces back home; the sophisticated media personnel languishing in the promenade cafés, sipping capuchinos, squandering their perhaps-higher-intelligence on sensationalism and superficiality - and the swarms of W.G.W. secret agents, bomb-squads, diving-teams, and cruelty and obedience-loving high-ranking military officers moving surrepticiously, ominously - in and out of the summer shadows.
"Oh My God!" gasped the Archangel Michelle, as the train arrived at its destination, "THAT´s the rest of their revenge - they´re waiting for us to board Izzy Knot´s boat - and then they´re planning to blow us all up - Toddlers and all!" "Hummmm" she murmured to herself, pensively. "Well we´ll see about that!" she exclaimed, unwittingly, out loud - and Johnny Jumpsuit, Nenita and the Toddler Paddlers Against Adult Select Concept Deafness, everyones´s Carers, and the carriage full of keen tourists bearing colourful buckets, spades, parasols and tubes of sun cream - all turned and looked up at the three meter high Archangel, questioningly. Michelle smiled uncomfortably.
Izzy had sent his private fleet of limousines painted with daisies and dandelions to pick everyone up from the train station, and ferry them to the yacht club inside the port.
As the Toddler Paddlers and their Carers made their way from the train to the big, bright, shiny cars sparkling in the sunshine, crowds of Toddler Paddler Fans pressed upon them - yelling their praises, posing for selfies on their knees alongside their favourite Toddler, and desperately requesting their autographs - despite the fact that none of the Toddlers could yet write...
Tourists looked up from their souvenir shopping, and felt special to be somewhere where something special was happening. And Television Reporters thrust microphones in front ot the Toddlers´ faces, endeavouring to solicit a controversial comment on the W.G.W., or Adult Select Concept Deafness... But the Archangel Michelle, aware of the delicacy of the situation, parted the crowds - much as, once upon a time, so it is said, God, or someone acting on God´s behalf, had parted the waters of the red sea for the Israelites, as they fled from the hypnosis of institutionalised slavery to the Pharoahs of sunny Egypt.
Once behind the tinted windows of Izzy Knot´s hippie limousines - where the whisky in the minibars had been replaced with ice cream, and the playlist of hardcore rap with nursery rhymes and lullabies - the Toddler Paddlers and their Carers felt relieved to be alone with each other again. Only Michelle felt slightly uncomfortable - she was a bit big for the limousines, and had to sit on the floor, and wrap her wings tightly around herself. But that was the least of her concerns...
Cross-legged and a bit cramped on the limousine floor, Michelle was contemplative and concerned. "Dear Most Beloved Flow of Life" she whispered, "being, as you are, all-knowing - yesterday morning, not long after that lovely Splashing Dance in the Paddling Pool at the Onetontootoo Leisure Centre, when we accepted Izzy Knot´s invitation to come here to this tourist town, you already knew we´d be driving into a trap! Are these hippie limousines taxying us to our doom? What should we do? How should we be?
Oh Dearmost, Most Beloved Flow of Life - please guide me in service of The Freedom to Hear - so that the ear of humanity might be freed, not only from Adult Select Concept Deafness, but from Deafness to Any Concept! Please guide me in service of The Freedom to Hear - so that humanity might eventually be freed from conceptualisation itself - and come, perhaps, finally, one euphoric, surrendered day, to hear, as we do, the Music of the Spheres!"
As Michelle shared her worries with, and sought guidance from, the Flow of Life - the Toddlers´ ice cream cones melted messily, stickily, deliciously, almost-orgiastically, over their cheeks and chins, over Izzy Knot´s black leather limousine seats, and dripped on Michelle´s upper wing feathers. But that was the least of her concerns...
The fleet of limousines pulled up at the entrance to the private yacht club. "Who´s Izzy got visiting this time?" Rob Rollerton, the Yacht Club Security Guard asked Silva Diamond, Izzy´s long-time number-one chauffeaur, conspiratorially. Bob and Silva went back a long way. In fact it was Silva the Chauffeaur who´d got Rob the job at the gate.
Rob, truth be known, had been a bit of a mess - his life dripping all over the place... Rob had suffered numerous epileptic fits as a child - and he swore it was these terrifying yet ecstatic episodes that had tiggered his mathematical genius. At age eleven Rob had been able to count backwards from a hundred to zero, in twenty two thousand languages; he could calculate the number of commas in any edition of the Bible, the Koran or the Tao Te Ching, just by looking at the cover; he had beaten A.I at chess, checkers, badminton and rugby; and he could ascertain the number of prawns the world´s population would consume on any given day, simply by sitting in a Chinese restaurant.
World banks, transnational corporations, government secret services, and gambling syndicates had all competed for Rob´s employ - and by the time Rob was thirteen, his Mum and Dad had amassed a fortune that supassed even that of Cleopatra, Elon Musk or Attila the Hun.
When Silva, who at the time, was only seventeen himself, had found Rob drunk in a gutter in an inner city slum at dawn, Rob had just escaped, the previous midnight, though his bedroom window - having spent the previous month strapped to an armchair, calculating the exact date of the Apocalypse, on behalf of the C.I.A.
"I am a Maths Slave" Rob had slurred, "I am being mathematically abused!" Silva had, understandably, supposed these were the senseless drunken ramblings of an underage drinker in a gutter at dawn, ignored them, slung him over his shoulder, carried him around the corner and up the stairs to his flat - and dumped him on the bed in the spare room to sleep it off.
"Is this a safe house for maths abusees?" Rob had asked, ingenuously, as he stumbled into the kitchen the next morning, where Silva was reading the newspaper and drinking a cup of tea. "It´s a safe enough place for drunk youngsters to sober up" Silva had replied, indulgently - and at that moment, as they each saw the kindness in each other´s eyes - a friendship had been struck, a friendship that had endured to that day.
It had not be overly complex for Rob to construct a new identity for himself... Thanks to the good word Silva had put in for him, he had got the job at the gate - and since then, he had led a simple life as a Yacht Club Security Guard. Now a married man, Rob had twin toddlers of his own - both of whom were big fans of the Toddler Paddlers Against Adult Select Concept Deafness, and both of whom - yes, rather worryingly - were excessively mathematically enabled.
"It´s the Toddler Paddlers and their Carers" Silva said, flicking an eyebrow backwards, to indicate his cargo. "No?!" Rob squealed, in happy disbelief. "I don´t suppose I could get some autographs for the twins - could I? Or maybe a quick selfie?" But just as Silva took an inbreath - the kind of inbreath that preceeds the words "really I shouldn´t, but just this once" - the Archangel Michelle, somehow aware of Rob Rollerton´s latent mathematical genius, asked him, hurriedly "Rob, how long would it take you to reconfigure the radio equipment in the Yacht Club Parking Lot Entrance Booth to intercept the signal being sent to the divers with bombs now swimming towards Izzy´s yacht?" Rob´s eyes turned upwards and inwards, his head shook rapidly - "two minutes and thirty eight seconds" he spluttered.
"Then do it!" said Michelle, "and tell the divers to keep the bombs in their pockets, and climb up on deck!" There is a sweetness, but there is also an arresting authority, in the voice of an Archangel - and Rob was delighted to obey. "We´ll do selfies on the way back!" Michelle called out, kindly, as their limousines sped away towards Izzy´s yacht.
Up the gangway went the Toddlers, their Carers, and Michelle - to be met on deck by Izzy sporting his trademark orange dreadlocks and marble teeth, and - who would´ve expected it? - by the ghost of Lily, Lulu Lulu´s beloved once-pink pet poodle! "I loved life!" Lily barked proudly, affirmatively, "of course I didn´t kill myself!" (On on the news, her death had been reported as a suicide.)
"It´s a pleasure to meet you!" Michelle said to Lily. And the Toddlers gathered enthusiastically around her, and fussed over her - petting and stroking her ghostly fur.
Meanwhile, Michelle filled Izzy in on the plan. Izzy loved it! The divers would be in the video! Yes! Perhaps they could do a little dance with their bombs...
Izzy was electric now. He paced the deck, clicking his fingers. "I´ve got it, I´ve got it" he gasped: "Johnny, you help the divers climb up on deck, lock arms with them, and do a quick-step side-step! Lily, you strut about on your hind legs! And Toddler Paddlers - when I sing the chorus of ´They Don´t Care´, you sing ´kill the poodle, kill the paddlers - kill, kill, kill´, softly in the background".
"Positions! Cameras! Music!" Izzy yelled - and at that instant, as if choreographed by the Flow of Life itself, two W.G.W. divers in black wetsuits alighted acrobatically on the yacht deck, and were whisked into the song and dance by Johnny Jumpsuit´s strong, rubbery swimming arms. Izzy tossed back his dreadlocks, sung to the heavens, made esoteric finger signs - and encouraged the free-listening world to sing along. Michelle opened and stretched her wings gloriously. Lily stood on her hind legs and barked "Lulu Lulu, I´ll always love you!" heartbreakingly. And the Toddler Paddlers, arms around each other, swayed-as-one as they gently sang "kill, kill, kill"...
And so it was that, thanks to the Archangel Michelle´s atunement to the Flow of Life, and her bio-scanning abilities, and Rob Rollerton´s maths, and Izzy´s creativity, and Nenita and the Toddler Paddlers´ wisdom and innocence - another promo video was made for the hit rap "They Don´t Care" - with added background vocals, guest appearances from an Archangel and a dead dog, and two bewildered divers in black wetsuits who couldn´t help but side-step in time to Izzy´s catchy tune.
The video went out the very next morning. By lunchtime it had already gone viral. And this time the World Governance Web was exposed to the world - not only as not giving a shit, but as animal assassins and would-be toddler murderers. It was a great day for the freedom from oppression. And yet, if once doubly livid, the W.G.W. was now triply livid - and as Mary Hadalittlelamb observed soberly to the Archangel Michelle that evening, as their taxi made its way back to Onetontootoo in the soft light of the setting summer sun - "this ain´t over yet!"
Mark the Mystic Activist
Catalunya, Spring 2023
From a forthcoming collection of short stories ´BEDTIME STORIES FOR GROWN UPS´ www.markthemysticactivist.com