Britain, 2006. A nation in the grip of fear and bouts of daily upset, with homegrown 
terrorists a-plotting on street corners, and citizens having their groceries delivered even 
when they live next door to the supermarket. Nobody ventures out, fearful as they are of encountering gangs in
hoodies, small-time drug dealers, or armed police ready to shoot if prolonged sessions on the sun-bed have
made your skin appear sympathetic to Islam. This country has always been uptight; determined to sequester
itself away from other cultures, but now Britain is becoming obsessed with keeping out variables altogether.
Many UK inhabitants are now only willing to fly on an aeroplane with members of their immediate family, or board a train if they’ve had a conversation with the driver beforehand, thereby gaining assurances he can handle himself should a threat arise during the journey to Leamington Spa.

Inspired by this fearful backdrop, Home Defence commissioned a survey - a very important survey - to find out
whether the public really is unwilling to countenance the unpredictable in their daily lives. The results were
conclusively horrid. Everyone interviewed said that, given the choice, no aspect of their life should be
relinquished to networks, systems, government officials, celebrity chefs, taxi drivers, or the au pair. Contrast
this with the 1940s, when parents happily sent their children off to stay with paedophiles during the blitz, and
those Londoners who remained were sanguine and content with their lot, happily munching rationed eels as
WWII blazed overhead. Back then people believed in the Prime Minister, granting Winston Churchill plenty of
leeway to see them safely through the conflict with the Nazis, despite the fact he was obviously pissed up for
much of the time.

Davida Nussbalm is typical of the twenty-first century citizens we vox-popped. A project manager for a
consultancy firm, Davida hasn’t taken a holiday in three years and refuses to let others access her work. Miss
Nussbalm had this to say:
“When unexpected variables, like traffic jams or signal failures, hit my commute so I lose control over exactly when I get into the office, I become edgy and anxious. Often I’ll throw a huge tantrum if I’m late for a meeting and it’s not my fault. My colleagues know not to approach me then, and looking at it objectively I can say this is inappropriate behaviour, but it doesn’t really matter. I’ll still act the same way next time. I’m terrible, I never let cleaners touch my desk for 
fear they’ll rearrange my papers, and when I go out I won’t have more than one Babycham because I might 
not know what I’m doing. Last week my car got stuck behind a milk float on a usually empty road and I found 
myself trying to nudge it into the ditch while overtaking on a bend. Then I gave the terrified milkman the finger 
as I passed by. Still, at least he’ll know better than to deny me my own way in future!”

Next we found forty-two year old divorced father of two Spencer Aggronimizer sat outside Lidl’s on a Saturday 
morning, sipping from a hip flask. He told us:
“I need to have everything ‘just so’ in my schedule, which is probably why my wife left me after fifteen 
years, taking the kids with her. The up-side is that I can have the house exactly as I want it at all times, 
controlling the ambience, noise levels, and what gets spilled on the carpet. Okay, so I often end up weeping 
myself to sleep at night, or dozing off in a pool of my own tears, but I look at it this way - bouts of depression 
are a small price to pay for my situation. The important thing is that no one else can dictate my life to me. 
Particularly after I got laid off this week for smelling of gin.”

Doctor of Psychology Jerry Kittiwake wasn’t surprised to learn of our findings, and was soon giving us his expert and long-winded opinion.
“All empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests that obsessive behaviour of this sort has gone through the
roof since Osama Bin Laden’s mass murdering hijinks.” Kittiwake explained, before berating his secretary who
had organised the appointment without prior permission. “I’ve seen people who choose to educate their offspring
at home, denying all contact with anyone who isn’t a blood relative. Others have to mow the lawn on the same
day each month or they’ll have a panic attack. More and more of these individuals will pop up as our world
spirals towards apocalypse. They use criticism of others and a hatred of imperfection to mask fears and
insecurities, and they don’t even know they’re doing it!”

“These cases fall into two categories.” Kittiwake continued, as we tried to interject without success. “First come those self-absorbed individuals who get off on belittling others for not being as ‘in control’ as they are. Then we find the ‘skilled manipulators’ who distort reality, making their needs appear more important than others. Control freaks have to set the agenda, it’s 
a desperate attempt to avoid vulnerability, but any success they have is an illusion. You can’t legislate for 
the fact that, in today’s climate, a suicide bomber could take you out at any time. What these people 
have is a borderline personality disorder and we ought to feel sorry for them, but it’s hard to empathise 
with those who are unwilling to negotiate or compromise. Some even end up taking banned substances 
on aeroplanes, saying they can’t do without hand cream or ‘insulin’, and then flights are cancelled 
because of them. It’s bloody annoying, they end up cutting off their toes to spite their shoes. Your 
time’s up now, get out of my office.”

All in all, an estimated 18% of adults are now classed as ‘relaxationally challenged’, a condition which 
can easily be passed on to children, particularly the home schooled. Symptoms may start out 
innocuously, like always wearing your ‘lucky pants’ for a night out, or having to travel by the same 
route every time. Yet for the Procurement Manager in the growing company, whose control freakery wouldn’t allow him to delegate, so he ended up working sixteen-hour days and eventually dropped dead of a heart attack whilst eating a bagel, ultimately the condition can prove fatal.

“There are brief intervals when I feel like every aspect of my life is under the appropriate control, and during these periods I’m calm.” Revealed Peggy Carbuncle, a middle-aged Maths professor with issues we met with in her spotless home. “But these periods pass, and I’ll soon be back to worrying about future interactions. The problem is that other humans often possess illogical natures or fluctuating personalities. They’re a world away from the predictable elegance of equations and formulae. When events occur I have no
power over I get mad, throw things, and threaten my students with a board rubber.” At which point Mrs.
Carbuncle paused to confirm, off the record, exactly how Home Defence would be portraying her in this
article, before continuing. “I’ve heard it said that, within two generations, up to half of Britain’s population
could be classed as control freaks. Which would make thirty million of us, all hogging the TV remote, all
with a ‘system’ for arranging our clothes, and all unable to sleep for fear there might be a knife in the fork
drawer. Can you imagine? I try not to. You’ll have to leave now. Don’t use my toilet, there’s a public
lavatory at the end of the street.”    

with Al Likilla
Home Defence UK
A Symptom of a Greater Malaise
British Control Freakery Now ‘Out Of 
A systems analyst learns his minicab has been delayed.
Davida Nussbalm (artist's impression).
Dr. Jerry Kittiwake relaxes.
A bearded control freak gets his comeuppance.

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