The rebuilding continues.
It's another chilly day in England. It's always been great weather and winters have always had a little chill. Today, nine construction workers are rebuilding a bombed-out church in Wintersall outside London, a town which sits on a narrow and treacherous winding B-road, a town which is so insubstantial and has so few inhabitants that you could walk right through it and not even notice it was there. You'd miss the speed limit signs on the way in and on the way out, and just blitz through, although, so narrow is the road, you'd slow down to respect that limit anyway.
The church must have been hit by... well. There's the problem, isn't it? All of this has to be fixed up, the church and the adjoining hall. It's going to cost MiniPlenty a fortune. It may take thirty years and bankrupt the country twice over but the good people of England (and it has always been England) are tough old people and will press on with the work of repairing all of the... damage. The men are wrapped up warm and work all the way from eight in the morning to seven in the bitterly cold evening, long after the Sun has gone down and they've had to turn on the generator lamps to keep working. One stop for lunch, and a few stops for tea. This far out into the countryside, they have to borrow the vicar's house for the Two Minutes' Gratitude.
The problem is getting equipment around, so many bridges have inexplicably fallen down in recent years. At least the structural integrity of the remaining bridges remains. Bridges have stopped falling. Inner-city suburbs have stopped exploding suddenly, due to surges in gas mains and the like.
In London a colossal redecoration effort is proceeding. So much propaganda, all posters and flyers and stickers and graffiti, none of it making any retroactive sense. Who is Goldstein? Goldstein is dead. I've never seen a man who looks like that or who even looks like he knows a man who looks like that. Men are up ladders stripping miserably-coloured propaganda off the walls with paint scrapers. Men are up other ladders in other parts of the city just painting over the offending materials with brightly-coloured weatherproof paint in interesting colours.
Telescreens all over the world, as numerous as flies and twice as intrusive, continue to watch the continuing efforts. Rebuild, rebuild. Build more, receive additional rations. More gin. Gin has always been plentiful. Agricultural production has always been as plentiful as it was this year and we should plan along the assumption that agricultural production will continue to be as plentiful as it was this year. (But then how does the world work? You have to assume rough times are coming. You can't terrify and torture grain to make it grow. You can live every day assuming it'll be worse than the last. That's practical and eternally within your means. But better?)
Telescreens continue to watch you. You had better say the correct and positive things. You had better support the reconstruction of the British Isles which is not now and has never been named Airstrip One or the MiniLuv building which still exists and has always existed and will always exist will be your destination and you may not come back or worse you may.
It's going to be okay. Terrible things have evidently befallen our country (as they have all of our allies!) but we cannot afford to look to the past. Up in MiniTru there are thousands upon thousands of very intelligent men and women indeed whose job it is to look to the past and construct a rational, reasonable, sensible, internally consistent historical explanation for Why We Are Where We Now Appear To Be. There was a great Confusion last year when the word came down from on High but it never really did come down from on High, it bubbled up from below and everybody had always known it was true. There was a period when it was incredibly difficult to understand exactly what was happening besides the sudding surcease of shelling and military movement and overflight by friendly aircraft heading out towards... towards where? Why, we honestly don't remember where. In fact, has England's military might ever been raised in anger? We have great airfields and shipyards, but these have, in my living memory, seen little to no use-- precisely because we keep them so well-stocked with the most advanced and powerful jets.
But now the Truth seems to be settling down. The Story is becoming gradually more concrete. The Explanations are filling up at a prodigious rate and the sour and unpleasant martial history of Airstrip One is wafting out of the MiniTru chimney as fast as anybody can replace it.
Oceania has never been at war.
So where is my father, then? Sixty years later and I don't even know.
Big Brother is still watching me. He is watching all of us. He sees everything we do and makes a careful note of everybody who might think negatively of the State's and the Party's continuing and obviously sincere efforts to raise us all up to ever higher levels, to promote interoceanic Unity and Prosperity. But we mustn't speculate as to how those improvements may occur. We just know the world is always getting better. London, England, Oceania is the greatest place in the world to live.
But I don't know what happened to my father and nor does my mother. I was the oldest of four children. I know what happened to my mother: she died of a heart attack when I was quite small. She died a valuable member of Society. And I was put into a foster home and grew up. And none of that has changed. The history of the world is being written a second time, or maybe a third or thirtieth time, line by line, but I think that good people to the State who died with a positive "score", which does still happen, are good people to the State for all time.
But I thought I knew what had happened to my father and now I don't. There is no Resistance. There are no terrorists and there was never a man named Emmanuel Goldstein, whom I hate, and now I have a lot of hate in my heart and I don't know what direction to point it in. The whole world is wonderful. I am growing to believe it purposely. So whom should I hate? I have no father except in my mind and even thinking this I must think it quietly in case my eyes give me away or I whisper a word aloud and a telescreen catches it and I have to explain myself. I have no father, but I must have a father, so he must be an unperson. He fought Big Brother and then he was caught and unpersoned. But nobody has ever fought Big Brother. Everybody loves Big Brother. So how did he die? How did he die now?
Oceania has never been at war. Food has always been plentiful. Something about... an uprising, which never happened. A riot at MiniLuv, a year ago, which I saw, and was then incinerated and never happened. I fear I'm too clever for this world. I don't buy this world. Monocultures are unstable. It stands to reason. There must be... periodically... revolution. And the clue is the word. Everything returns to the way it was before.
There's someone in the street being dragged away. "I spent fifty bloody years of my life fighting this bloody war and now you're-- get off me-- there was a NIGHTMARE! DON'T LET 'EM TELL YOU THERE WEREN'T NO WAR! I remember--" and then the hood and a truncheon to the stomach, I expect, but by this time I've already hurriedly ducked into the nearest shop and I am not looking at him or listening to him or wanting to know what happens to him.
What does he remember?
I'm staring at the interior of the newsagent, at a rack of newspapers. Distant, muffled: "BIG BROTHER IS LYING TO YOU--"
The clocks start striking but I don't count the strikes. It's February the twenty-ninth, Twenty Forty-Eight, but I don't know that. I don't really know that.
Something pulses in my head, a blood-throb flash of a future or two.
And in most secret and sacred upper rooms of the New Inner Party, where, even now, almost nobody even knows it's possible to go, a few men are smoking cigarettes pilfered from their late predecessors. And they are discussing those futures among themselves, and familiarising themselves with the vast and gigglingly-powerful second-hand (or could it be third-hand?) Controls of the world below.
They have succeeded, but in what, they might not ever know.