"We have to fight for privacy or we're going to lose it" - Eric Schmidt
Eric’s face had turned a sickly shade of green as the Gulfstream banked steeply over night-time Pyongyang. Down below, the metropolis was almost pitch black, the sky illuminated only by the traditional North Korean welcome of tracer fire.
It didn’t improve the mood of Google’s Executive Chairman.
“No Sushi. No running hot water. What in hell’s name are we doing here, again, Steve?”
“Your most testing days are ahead of you this spring, Eric. You’re going to be pounded on tax, on privacy, and even your entire business model,” I replied.
"So let’s go through the Theory of the Immortal Socio-Political Body one more time...”
* * *
The beaming teenager bounced down the runway. We bowed, and began our well rehearsed saluation.
“First Secretary, First Chairman, Supreme Commander, we’re...”
The teenager interrupted.
“You bring Praystation 4? No matter, I have already. Har har.” He continued: “You bring grass? I want grass now!”
Sensing our awkwardness my assistant มาลัย (which means ‘Garland of Flowers’ in Thai) whispered something in the Google Chairman’s ear.
“Yes I have twenty prototypes of Google Glass, just as you requested,” Eric replied.
“Good, good. Now my crack dev team get to work on gurly app, chop chop,” he gestured, and a uniformed team flipped open the Gulfstream cargo bay.
“We have so much to discuss. But now, traditional welcome from one revolutionary leader to another,” said Kim Jong-un, passing round a tatty bottle on which I could only discern the words "MAY CAUSE BLINDNESS".
* * *
I rubbed my head. It hurt. Bad. I hadn’t felt this bad since I OD’d on scopolamine at the launch of the Cabinet Office’s Digital by Default strategy. In a neat line in front of us, I could just about make out the outlines of a dozen or so Apple G4 Cubes.
“In Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk we have best dev team in world.” explained Kim.
“Impressive, First Secretary,” I said. “I remember back at Woodstock Capital back in the day, we had one of these on every desk.”
“No ordinary Cube,” interrupted the Supreme Commander. “This is special Juche-based design. So Yanqui imperialist export restriction only allow us empty G4 case? No matter, we source plentiful motherboard of Amstrad E-m@iler Plus. Unique hybrid.”
“That’s amazing,” gasped Eric.
“Yes. Body of Steve Jobs - brains of Alan Sugar.”
* * *
That’s better. It was cool and eerily quiet here, deep inside the Baekdu Mountain complex, a facility no Westerner had ever seen. With some relief, I passed the one litre bottle of 100 per cent pure organic Puyehue water - a crate of which my tiny assistant มาลัย had carried for us - around our delegation.
Finally we could relax. And now it was time for business.
“This top-secret visit will be followed by a rather more public one in a few days time,” I explained. “So Eric, explain the proposition.”
“Yes, thank you, Steve,” Eric began. “Our humble offering is really quite simple. Google becomes the exclusive supplier of security and information services to the Workers Party, to assure the continued welfare and safety of the people and the glorious victory of the Great State.”
“And lots of grasses.”
“Of course,” Eric nodded.
It was my cue.
“And we have so much to learn from you all, too.” I said.