Neither child’s university career may happen because Arthur’s biggest worry lies at work where his previously pleasant Canadian employer has just been taken over by Americans and they’ve replaced the local executives in order to introduce new ways. Arthur can see the new executives don’t think he’ll ever be new again. One particular new way that is worrying Arthur is IT and the Internet, which has become ubiquitous in 2001 and an ill-prepared Arthur is somehow supposed to lead his troops through this minefield. Arthur hires a young temp, Lydia, to help him but she only adds to his worry. He worries about her wish to be closer to him, which isn’t allowed in the new ways, and he worries she is just drifting through life without proper direction, which isn’t a good thing in Arthur’s old ways.
All these immediate, personal worries aren’t helped by a truly serious one. A modern ‘Mad Mahdi’ has just killed thousands of Americans at the World Trade Center and Canada has agreed to join America and Britain in invading Afghanistan. Arthur’s sees that the world needs someone who can clear the confusion, make the complex simple and package it into manageable pieces -- it needs a diarist. Arthur maybe a nobody right now but in centuries to come he feels he could be considered the ‘Samuel Pepys of the 21st Century’.