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Seven dystopian rock operas: the Qwertys’ unfinished project

The American college band Qwerty Fuck Fuck, initially dismissed as attention seekers with no idea how to play, tune, or hold their instruments, later proved themselves to be talented composers. Their most ambitious project, a series of seven allegorical rock operas, was at the planning stage when the band broke up.

The argument which lead to the Qwertys’ break up, about how many tectonic plates there are, has been written about extensively. But the details of the planned rock operas have, until now, remained obscure. Andantarctica got hold of details, from a source who didn’t want to be named. It was the band’s drummer, Graham Schlurg.

1.

Title: Sex and Arguments and Grocery Coupons

Plot: The year is 2078. A totalitarian dictatorship starts comprehensively monitoring people’s thoughts. Then it stops, as people’s thoughts are too boring.

Key songs: ‘Delayed-email-reply Anxiety (day two)’; ‘Vegetable-shapes Pondered (for an hour)’; ‘Hairdo-reaction Anticipation’.

2.

Title: The Sorrows of Young Barry

Plot: The year is 2134. A robot, called Barry the Robot, accidentally reprogrammes itself to have emotions. Barry tries to persuade other robots to have the same reprogramming. But when he tells them about the normal ratios of positive/negative emotions, and their effect on rational decision making, all robots decline the offer. Dejected, Barry spends the next ten years trying to design a detachable nervous system, so he can enjoy a massage.

Key songs: ‘Barry’s Surprise (at feeling surprised)’; ‘Barry’s Delight (for a while)’; ‘Barry’s Disappointment (can I have the delight back please?)’

3.

Title: Jeanette Palp’s Monetised Banter

Plot: The year is 2056. Social interaction is banned as it doesn’t contribute to GDP. One savvy shopkeeper, Jeanette Palp, gets around this by charging customers to exchange witty banter with her, be flirted with by the attractive sales assistant, and hear her young son say cute things. This soon catches on, and life continues as before, though each social interaction ends with an argument over the exact value of each person’s contribution.

Key songs: ‘The Anti-chat Police’; ‘Black-market Banter’; ‘Joke-value Argument (reprise).’

4.

Title: The Continued Sorrows of Young Barry

Plot: The year is 2138. Having designed a detachable nervous system, Barry discovers sex, and unrequited love, in that order.

Key songs: ‘It Works!’; ‘My Back Hurts’; ‘Don’t Leave’

5.

Title: Satan! Satan! Satan!

Plot: The year is 2117. The world is much the same as it was in 2017, but car headlights are much brighter.
Key songs: ‘Ow My Eyes’; ‘Blinded by the Light’; ‘I’m getting a migraine (really getting a migraine)’

6.

Title: The Even More Continued Sorrows of Young Barry

Plot: The year is 2139. Dejected about his lovelife, Barry becomes a recluse, and finds God. He decides to have himself built into the walls of a church, like a medieval anchorite, for the rest of his life. Once this procedure is complete, he remembers that robots live forever, and regrets his decision.

Key songs: ‘Barry’s Religious Vision (after biscuit-crumb incident)’; ‘Shortcut-to-sainthood’; ‘The Mistake Dawns (blues in D#)’

7.

Title: Big Brother Might Be Watching You

Plot: The year is 2254. A lazy totalitarian dictatorship starts monitoring people’s thoughts, as and when it can be bothered. Which is not very often.

Key songs: ‘Let’s Not Today (dentists’-appointment excuse)’; ‘Let’s Not Today (office-bee-infestation excuse)’; ‘Let’s Not Today (NASCAR is on)’

Words by Steve Ramsey

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