The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be



‘The future is where you and I will live’ – wasn’t it the Great Criswell who said that in ‘Plan Nine From Outer Space’?

Once we had dreams of flying cars, jet-packs, matter transmitters, foldaway homes, tiny phones and flat TVs you could hang on the wall – and only the last two came true.

But it’s worse than that. It turned out that in the brave new world of instant communication we would have to rely on the old-fashioned hand-delivered post more than ever before – except that in 1900 there were eight posts a day in London, and now there’s just one in the middle of the afternoon, or sometimes one every other day. And those electronic gadgets that would instantly provide us with information became reliant on delivery systems that became quickly overloaded.

My friends on the outskirts of London get 100 meg speeds – here in the very epicentre, I get just 2 meg downloads, and after 5:00pm there’s no point at all in even going online most nights. Why? Because useless behemoth Sky ¬†decided that the inner city, where there are relatively few privately-owned residential homes, could do without an upgrade for another year.

What else did we get from the future? Science? Oh, the PS4, which will put your face onto a swordfighting rabbit, probably.

Transportation? Well, the tube system is creaking on, most cars are as ugly as trainers, planes are cattle-cars with wings.

Fashion? Dress like your great-grandad on ration book starvation diet. And don’t look weird in any way, like they did in the whacky sixties, seventies and eighties.

Politics? The Tories got re-elected and Boris Johnson will probably be the next PM because he knows some Latin. And the Bank of England just suggested their big idea – negative interest rates.

Nutrition? The cynical supermarkets got caught feeding us horses, just because they could. At least it might mean the return of the high street butcher.

Human knowledge? The jury members in the Vicky Pryce case were too dim to be able to figure out why they were there.

The planet? New research shows that nobody cares about global warming anymore, despite the fact that it will wipe out the remaining glaciers in just a few years (and now I’ve seen the effects for myself).

Medicine? Staffs hospital. ‘Nuff said.

Nature? The last wild elephants, rhinos and tigers are expected to reach extinction much sooner than predicted.

So the future is basically walkie-phones, little tellys and shops selling 1950s cupcakes. Glad I hung around for that.

All further evidence that everything’s going backwards received here – don’t post it by mail, it’ll never get here.

18 comments on “The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be”

  1. Martha Ullard says:

    I’m still waiting for my helicopter beanie hat. But the most important thing for me that has regressed, is the amount of hours we work each week. Wage slavery was to have been abolished.

  2. Wayne says:

    Well what do you expect?, Christopher. People are selfish and live for the now not the future why should anyone care if the sea level rises and the planet poulation explodes and the human race can’t feed its self. Everyone sees it as a thing that will not happen while they are alive so why care.

    Personally I do Care and have taken as many steps as possibe to cut my carbon footprint.

    As for future gadgets, well people have just stopped being creative. Lets all follow the igadet…. i this i that well I am not impressed! The whole world seems to be dumbing down.

    Its the best thing since…….well, who cares about sliced bread?

  3. Ralph Williams says:

    But on a positive side, at least the predictions of invasion by the Mekon/Martians/Cybermen/Daleks/Martians(again) haven’t come true. The moon hasn’t been blown off into space. Paris is still there, as all the meteors are happy narrowly missing Siberia. And the world threatening Super Computer would run on Windows, so no problem there.

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    I can’t disagree with you, and could add to it, but what’s come over you, Admin? That’s a downright black list.
    Spring is coming on March 20th! and then later in the month there’s … Ahhhhh. I see.
    Does this help? This year I’ll turn 3 quarter’s worth (in U.S. currency) and only twenty-five pennies to go to be photographed missing my mouth and putting a forkful of cake in my ear by mistake.
    The robins are returning, the crocus are up, I have a mile-high stack of books to read (including some of yours), have my health, great internet connection, the flying car is coming back (NYT), and … hummm… forgot what i was going to add there, sorry. Oh, oh, a publisher may be interested in my latest. That wasn’t really it, what was…. Oh, yes, I still know where I am except in parking lots when I’m driving the old dark green van.

  5. Pheeny says:

    Ah nostalgia isn’t what it was either …

    I think you are being a little bleak – children today are being given a better education than I had at my (grammar!) school and a vastly better education than I endured at primary level – and what about the wonders of the internet?
    Fair do’s way too much of it is taken up with porn and people being horrible to each other, but on the other hand you have little gems like this site (fawn fawn) and the estimable where you can learn a language for free.

    Sone social attitudes too have improved, however you feel about “political correctness” it must be said that the amount of casual sexism, racism and homophobia in the Seventies was appalling

    On the other hand … the rich are getting richer and the poor not only poorer but (to add insult to injury) scapegoated at every turn.

    Also where is my flying car and why have they have taken the cardboard tray out of Bounty bar packaging.
    To quote Mr growser “It shouldn’t be allowed!”

  6. keith page says:

    Sounds like Admin is evolving into Arthur Bryant on one of his particularly bad days

  7. Dan Terrell says:

    Keith: all writer’s characters, it is well said, come from within their author’s core. Admin is lucky. In addition to Arthur, he is also the urban and clear-thoughted May, as well as a host of other characters… although I don’t want to meet his lead in Sofo Black (rather meet Hyde). Looking forward to the next Case Book (or was it also Slip Case book?), and do touch up the witch, so to speak, particularly loved her stuffed cat!

  8. andrea yang says:

    Feeling a bit glum? At least you don’t have to share citizenship with Pat Robertson who is telling his followers to pray over their second hand clothes purchase to rid them of demons….make a visit to Texas and you will feel like London is a giant Mensa social!

  9. Pheeny says:

    Ralph … as far as we know anyway, some of our politicians appear not be not of this planet …

  10. Dan Terrell says:

    Andrea – Pat may have used “demons” in place of “bed bugs”.
    I try not to be negative about the really outre round us, someone might decide to lobby for April to be declared Be Extra Nice to Nutters month. I’m “good” with all the designated months so far, but with all the loose weapons floating around and recent events, we might want to be extra cautious, just saying, most neutrally.

  11. Griffin says:

    I liked the 70s – you had to phone people or call round. I picked up lots of ladies simply because they were looking at the world around them, not bent over giggling into a bloody phone. We played music in pubs and busked without getting arrested. There was more countryside, the trains ran, there were real buses that ran mostly on time and lots of them…..then along came Thatcher and the future got really a lot darker. Ain’t been better since!
    My stepson said he saw the future in Kuala Lumpur. He’s an iPhone giggler, but he was horrified to see virtually everybody, everywhere bent double over their phones, lost in their Soma world, electronics not drugs.

  12. Mike Cane says:

    >>>We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

    Tch! The future also gave us people who can’t Google.

    But seriously, if you want to go for a full-out suicidal depression, go read “Paris in the Twentieth Century” by Jules Verne.

  13. Helen Martin says:

    No iphone, me. Marmalade with good whiskey in it is on the way and I thank the US city which plants the seville orange trees on its boulevardes for that. I have read some lovely writing from Dan, there is more coming from Admin, the hellebores are on offer this weekend so gardening can begin in spite of the heavy rain we’re supposed to have, I’m planning a European trip where I won’t have to throw dusty candy at publishers (although I’ve found the candy, surely we can all make an effort to cut down on wastefulness (yes, I know, flying over the Pole doesn’t fit) enjoy some simple pleasures. Spring’s coming, Admin, think of Barcelona!

  14. admin says:

    Hey, we have pessimistic days as well as good ones. Lily Cole is in the Amazon highlighting the fact that the new demand for biofuel is causing an area the size of three football pitches to be cut down every minute. Individuals have less power now than they ever had.

  15. Vivienne Cox says:

    I increasingly feel that human nature never changes. I get pessimistic with all the WhatKatiePriceDid magazines, but then remind myself of William Guppy in Bleak House who collected postcards of the ‘stars’ of the upper class. We may be melting the glaciers, but we earlier practically wiped out our oak forests for warships. I do think our Earth crisis can only be solved by strong worldwide government cooperation since, as an earlier poster said, we are short-term by nature and tend to selfishness.

  16. keith page says:

    If those oak forests hadn’t been felled we’d be speaking French with a guillotine in every town square!

  17. Jon Anderson says:

    I came up with a theory very recently, and it goes like this: there is a finite amount of intelligence available to be spread around among the peoples of the earth, and there are simply too many of us now. It’s been scraped thin, like butter spread over too much bread. I know this doesn’t actually have anything to do with the bankrupt promises of the future, but it’s my theory, so I like to spread it around. Like butter over too much bread.

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