22 August 2002
"The average human male at any one time holds enough energy in a single pair of testicles to light the city of Oxford for two hours." These words glared out at me form behind a four by seven piece of perspex suspended at eye level, next to which was a photograph of the Dreaming Spires by night. I think it was just instinct or some sort of bio-reaction, but I suddenly noticed my balls felt warm. The queue slowly moved on.
It was three more factoids with associated photos/graphics later that we reached the end (or is it the beginning?) of the line. Cream coloured smooth round capsules slowly droned passed us with their restraining bars raised invitingly. A helpful smiling uniformed assistant guided us to the front pod, ensuring that we boarded in plenty of time, not losing any personal belongings, or getting a leg uncomfortably stuck sticking out the side. A baritone male came over the stereo speakers behind our heads. The lights went out, we turned a corner, and the story began.
Welcome to the Palmer Power Experience. Our story begins in the late naughties, in a disorganised and under-funded research lab in this very town, originally situated on a plot just across the road from this exhibit. This is where Professor Earnest Palmer worked well in to the night, perfecting the basic technique that led to the technology that lights are towns and cities, powers our cars and even drives the pod you're sitting in now...
Our vehicle automatically smoothly turned to the left. Over the sounds of science (glass clinking, electronic bleeps), we cruised past a scene of your stereotypical comedy science lab, loads of glass tubes, spirals, bubbling steaming coloured liquids. And in the middle of it all, be-labcoated, stood an animatronics was figure of the man himself, spasmodically looking up from his microscope, rictus fixed in a constant state of eureka. This was the man who, frustrated with the failure of cold fusion, came up with the idea of harnessing the power of spunk to feed mankind's appetite for energy. A faint warm musky smell rose from the scene.
Those were the humble beginnings Palmer Power - who would have known that it would become one of the biggest corporations in the world. Now for the technical part: Follow us on the Journey of a Sperm, from the point of collection, through freezing, distribution, extraction and finally into your home, giving you heat, light and luxury. At no cost to the environment either, but we'll get to that later
We were trundling up in a spiral, facing outwards, passing countless monitors showing the various stages of the power-making process. The first screen just showed a single spermatozoa, swimming frantically in close up. The next screen showed a fresh glob of spunk being frozen using liquid nitrogen, forming a bullet-sized white capsule. We were dragged past images of the capsules being loaded into trucks, or delivered through tubes underground to a shiny power station on a green hillside. Of white-helmeted engineers monitoring dials in the plants. The huge turbines spinning. And finally a smiling toothy family switching on lights at home, toast popping out of a toaster, driving off on holiday.
As demand from the public and governments increased for this new form of energy, an organised and effective method had to be devised for the collection, processing and distribution and large amounts of raw fuel. Initial volunteer stations at hospitals proved to be inadequate, providing only a tiny fraction of the vast quantity required to power a station as big as this one. Palmer Power, with the help of local government agencies, gradually put in place a huge network of public donor booths. The first booths provided a clean, convenient way of collecting large quantities of fuel. But soon a wide variety of booths developed, for the standard model focussed on efficiency, to more luxurious places of collection that soon arose once franchises started being awarded.
Our pod glided past the first booth, almost laughable now in its naive antiquity. A white tiled interior with small basin for receiving the seed; a coin operated door and a ten minute timer warning. No deposit and you didn't get your quid's deposit back, if you know what I mean. Rotating to our left, we were shown how much more advanced we had become. A large, plush booth, this one with an oriental theme. Enough room for three or four people, cushions to stretch out on. The kind of thing you'd expect nowadays in a posh hotel room or first-class airport lounge. She giggled and started to whisper something into my ear, but then the voice started again.
As Palmer Power got more popular, and booths become commonplace in towns and cities across the world, it soon became hard to think what life was like before. While women had been largely left out of the movement, it was soon discovered that they had a very useful role to play in energy creation, apart from simply assisting in the collection process. Sexual chemicals released when a woman is sexually aroused act like a catalyst to increase energy production. By creating a chemical gradient in a solution, it possible to make all the Sperms in a container swim in the same direction. That is how large turbines, like this one here, can work. Women soon had their own donor booths, and objections to the new energy on the grounds of gender were soon diminished.
I thought back to my first day of secondary school, when we were shown around. We weren't taken down one of the corridors. I don't know why, because by that stage at least half the kids' parents would have had some form of donor booth in the home somewhere. We soon cottoned on. By the third form we were allowed to book them anyway, and then the whole thing became fairly mundane. The first fancy booth I went to was when me and a mate got in to a pub at the age of sixteen. They had a serviced booth there, and me and him certainly gave our fair share of fuel that day. Worth every penny.
Engineers soon found ways of converting Sperm Energy on a smaller scale: private home generators, cars, even watches took on the new energy medium. The environmental problems that had been stored up from decades of fossil fuel burning gradually decreased. Sustainable energy was no longer a pipe-dream, but a reality.
The last couple of sections of the exhibition were interesting, with small gadgets that would be powered by just a drop of fresh Sperm for hours on end, the latest in home and personal gadgetry to help with your energy gathering needs, but quite frankly I was getting distracted. I had paid my money, and the booth at the end of the tour was legendary. She was obviously getting impatient too, wriggling next to me with excitement at getting her chance to help keep the big turbine we'd been shown earlier going.
As the restraining bar raised, and we hopped off the car, we were directed to one of three queues. "Men, women or couples?" the attendant asked politely. We had agreed this beforehand, and went in our separate queues. We loved each other dearly, but nothing beats the real thing.