Once upon a time, in the kingdom of Carousel, lived a hardworking Eloi named Albert. The island of Carousel was known for its stunning coastal scenery, but was constantly under threat of flooding.
Although his genealogy did not boast lords or landowners, Albert still worked as one of the King’s floodgate builders. He earned a decent income of five gold coins a year and completed his work with skill and pride. With business booming, Albert was able to train other builders to work with him, protecting the kingdom’s coastal areas. Albert enjoyed his work and was able to use his good income to build a large house for his family, and send his children to the best school in Carousel.
As the years passed, a change in the currents meant that a significantly larger portion of the coastline was at risk of flooding. Albert started working longer hours, covering a wider area, but for the same five gold coins a year. He was out of the house for over 12 hours a day and hardly saw his family. A particularly bad weather front caused some of the floodgates to be torn down, leading to a complete destruction of some of the coastal houses. Although it was no fault of his, Albert was personally liable for this damage, which would cost him up to two gold coins a year – nearly half his income.
In return for working longer hours for less income, he was rewarded with access to a Master Builder. The Master Builder insisted on viewing all his plans before building, as well as completing an annual inspection of his work. For this privilege, Albert paid the Master Builder one gold coin a year, so Albert was now earning just two gold coins per year.
The scarcity of trees in this challenging climate caused the price of wood to escalate; so Albert spent 20% more on wood than the year before. He asked the King for a subsidy, but this was declined because Albert was an independent businessman.
Albert could no longer afford to live in the house he built or continue paying for his children’s education. His health began to suffer because he was drinking too much stout, which led to the break-up of his marriage. He knew he couldn’t continue like this and something had to change.
Then, one day, he heard that one of the Master Builders had been executed by the King for embezzlement, so the position was vacant. When Albert learned that he could earn seven gold coins a year for supervising, and not building, a single floodgate, he was determined to secure the role. And because the King trusted Albert, he got the job.
So Albert is now working happily as a Morlock and earning more than he ever earned as an Eloi. He enjoys sharing dinner with his family every day and he is unlikely to retire before the age of 65. But the Kingdom of Carousel is frequently under water and many of the houses have been destroyed.
But then again, children, that isn’t his problem now is it?
Dr Shaba Nabi is a GP trainer in Bristol
N.B. In homage to Dr Phil Peverley’s column ‘Mr Hunt! I know where your 5,000 extra GPs are’