Bill poured his coffee and checked his diary: four meetings and a retirement presentation. That was a good framework on which to hang the endless stream of urgent, unpredictable enquiries from the media -- and the demands from his colleague officers and councillors, despite his perennial efforts to show how successful public relations were best managed, that he turn excuse into explanation, delay into deliberation, dross into glitter. He sighed deeply, picked up his phone to make his first call of the day to the Covinshire Evening Mail, and pressed delete on his laptop.
ANNIE CLARKE, almost in her thirties and struggling on her latest chosen path in life despite having earned her Diploma in Marketing only the month before, settled in comfortably two cars behind a metallic blue Honda Jazz.
The Jazz was infuriating everyone else on the road on this blissful spring morning. It was being driven so teasingly slowly that the Ford Mondeo in front of her, and the half dozen vehicles behind, were straining, jostling, and whipping themselves up into a rage.
The issue, Annie mused in a meditative way as part of her strategy for keeping calm, was that society needed to adjust to the fact that the population in Covinshire was aging, dramatically. Somebody had to market the fact that Covinshire‟s roads were filling up with over-seventies and over-eighties, all out in the sunshine behind the wheel, their eyesight shrivelling and their reaction times multiplying. Thank goodness they didn‟t need to get to work on time or kids to school before the bell, or the roads would be truly dangerous.
But why „Jazz‟? Annie asked herself, as she reached to the radio and turned off „Thought for the day‟. Every car manufacturer has copied it, but it was Honda that made the granddaddy of them all – the ultimate, paradigm-shifting, old-person-looking car, all 1200cc of it, hunchbacked and bandy-legged, an icon for modern rural Covinshire -- and their marketing team came up with „Jazz‟. Words flew at her: jazz is black, jazz is America; jazz is jive, swing, bebop, boogie-woogie. Maybe “old” was the new jazz. Maybe she was too honest – no, too straightforward, too boring – for marketing after all. It would be a good essay question: „The marketing of the Jazz and the new generation of old-people‟s cars – driving or jiving?‟ She regretted, not for the first time, that she had finished college – again – and had left behind the gang of fellow students of which she had always been a popular, if not leading, member, for the solitary business of finding a job.
Then she turned, letting the van behind her spurt forward briefly and move up one in the chain on the choke of the blue Jazz. She left the highway for a tiny lane that led eventually to the gates of Burnet Hall. She wished she could convince herself that they were about to open on the rest of her life.