Winning Veronica's Heart
by Ian Creasey
Hello! Hello to everyone down in the front row, and all the folks sitting by the aisle in case
there's a fire. Hello to you people at the back who thought you were here for something else.
The robot porn is over the road, down the steps, through the unmarked gate . . . or so I've heard.
Hello to my alternate selves, and everyone here who isn't me. Hello Manchester!
It's great to be back. I grew up here, in one of those council estates where burglary is the local
form of recycling. You know the kind of place: the police got tired of putting up Crime Scene
boards every day -- "Have you seen this murder?" -- so eventually they just used an enormous
piece of hazard tape to enclose the whole estate as a permanent Crime Scene. Instead of the old
notice-board with the dry-wipe markers, they put up a wiki-screen so we could input the crimes
ourselves. It worked fine until someone stole the screen . . .
But it wasn't all shoplifting and joyriding. When I was a boy, I used to go and watch the
football. Back then, football was real -- you could pretend to know one of the players, because
he was your cousin . . . well, your cousin's friend . . . okay, your cousin's friend's babysitter's
brother-in-law . . . but it was a connection! Nowadays it's all nostalgia: stars from the past
uploaded into cloned bodies, scuttling around the pitch like dogs looking for somewhere to have
a dump. Why do we need a veterans' replay of every Cup final from the last century?
Sometimes I get nostalgic for the days before the Nostalgia Channel.
I don't need TV: I have my own nostalgia. Right now, I'm nostalgic for my ex-girlfriend. I was
with Veronica for five years. Now we've split up -- we're seeing other people. Well, she is.
I'm not; I want to get back with Veronica, because I love her.
Okay, at that point you're all supposed to go "Aahhh" in a mass outpouring of sympathy. So,
let's pretend you're not a bunch of heartless bastards, and give it another go. One, two, three,
Aahhh. That's better. Keep it up, I'll make an audience out of you yet.
I have a plan for getting Veronica back, and I need your help. It'll all become clear as we go
along. Pay attention! This could be on the exam.