THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE part 1

THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE

Part I

‘Healthy young test subjects wanted’, the advertisement tacked to the college noticeboard read. Volunteers (who must have no known health issues) would receive expenses plus a small emolument for their trouble.

“You should apply for it; you’re always crying poverty!” a soft female voice chuckled to my side. I twisted round to see Carole, my tutor on the social sciences course (and young, blonde and lovely into the bargain) standing next to me.

“Maybe I should,” I replied, feeling a rather illogical need to impress her with my bravery. My eyes flickered back over the text, which – like most business writing these days – proved to be a masterpiece of saying everything while telling you nothing. “It’s not very clear, is it? Do you know anything about what it’s actually about? I mean they obviously want people to experiment on?”

“Well that’s one way of putting it!” Carole frowned and teased a lock of wavy blonde hair between thumb and forefinger as she tried to recall the recent conversation with the advertisers. “I remember the principal saying something when the company first came in to ask to advertise. Solaryde they called themselves. But it was more for the psychology department. Something about a new type of dynamic therapy, neurally reprogramming learned shortcuts to anti-social behaviour through disciplinary interventions, that kind of thing.”

“Discipline eh?” I cackled. “Ooh er missus! Kinky!”

Carole laughed softly and shook her head in mock sadness. “Don’t get your hopes up! I’m sure it’s nothing like that. I guess it’s similar to what they were trying back in the Sixties, I suppose.” She wrinkled the bridge of her nose in that characteristically cute manner I liked when she was deep in thought. “The lady that headed the team did say the research is designed to continue the theories of Newman and Benatar from the nineteen eighties and nineties.”

The only ‘Benatar’ I happened to be familiar with was the mini-skirted purveyor of American housewives’ rock but I felt no need to admit that.

Carole shrugged those slim shoulders in her floral summer dress. “Probably best if you ’phone up and ask them first before committing yourself to anything.”

“As long as it’s not the Ludovico Technique I don’t mind,” I joked, mind by now made up. “And the money will come in handy for the end of term ball. Oh, and by the way,” I attempted nonchalance, “will you be going —?”

I realised I was addressing thin air as the object of my desire had by this time disappeared.

There was half an hour until the start of my next lecture. While pacing the college grounds I decided that there would be no time like the present and tapped out the number for Solaryde on my mobile ’phone. After a gratifyingly short period (during which I was still daydreaming about Carole in her party dress) the clinic picked up. A female switchboard operator – clearly computer-generated – queried the nature of my enquiry and hardly had I uttered the words ‘test subject’ than she recited a legal disclaimer before putting me through to the lead clinician. I was impressed by the way they even managed to synthesise the tone of studied boredom before another voice cut in on the line. Again it was female but there the similarity ended. She sounded bright, enthusiastic and spoke in the most cut-glass of English accents. Being a typical young bloke I imagined she would look absolutely lovely and hoped I’d get the chance to actually meet her.

“Hi, Doctor Barzani speaking. How can I help?”

“Hi, Doctor,” I replied. “Actually I might be able to help you. I’m ’phoning about the advertisement you placed in my college for test subjects. Something about a revolutionary new therapy?”

“Oh yes!” she said excitedly. “Thank you so much for enquiring! We’ve had quite a few people ring and we need just one more person to complete the numbers for the first test group. Would you be interested and if so could you come over to our research facility in Chichester on Wednesday?”

“Count me in,” I heard myself reply.

Living proof that you can be intellectual without necessarily being clever.

By Roadman.