1989

There are twelve years to go until the end of the decade, the end of the century, the end of the millenium, the end of the world? Mel Croucher whips out his crystal balls and predicts the shape of things to come. Maybe half of these predictions are really going to happen. The trouble is, which half?

January

Softek's boss, Tim Langdell, denies that his company is in trouble, 'We've merely sent her to the country to stay with her Aunt for a while,' he says. 'I know that she got very close to Ariola for a while, but it is totally untrue that she got, um, what's the word I'm looking for...' The incoming President of the United States accuses Michael Gorbachov of being a Russian spy. Best selling Christmas product is reported to have been the Pillowtalk computerised cushion that tells fairy stories. It's immediately hired by software advertisers.

February

A freelance journalist with the initials MC is nominated for a Computer Arena '89 special award by the readers of CRASH, ZZAP! 64 and THE GAMES MACHINE. The 'Glorious Order of British Software Heroes In Techno Entertainment' is justly deserved, despite its unfortunate acronym. An explosive device is appointed Editor of all three magazines. It goes off prematurely without warning.

March

Treasury Minister Peter Brooke accepts the tender from the Racal-Scion consortium for the Government Data Network, as indicated in his Memorandum of February 1988. The Whitehall computer now cross-references tax, National Insurance, passports, criminal records, VAT returns and welfare benefits for every United Kingdom citizen. The new Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency is designed to expand by encoding all health records, education files, census details, vehicle licensing data, immigration records and share holdings within twelve months. For 'security reasons', the public is not informed that all telephone conversations can now be automatically tapped by computers programmed to recognise key words. Members of suspect organisations such as CND, Militant Tendency, the National front, Friends of the Earth, Trades Unions, student bodies, international groups and certain churches are all monitored.

April

Iceland wins the Eurovision Song Contest by entering a Commodore 64 named Wendy programmed by Rob Hubbard. The Weathermen fail to predict the volcanic eruption of Ben Nevis due to the fact that their Commodore 64 has eloped with Wendy. Activision is bought out by the winner of Crufts, who sells it to Wendy. Michael Jackson marries a compact disc of Wendy's greatest hits. Wendy is appointed Minister for the Arts, Manager of the Icelandic football squad and the new Doctor Who. The Duke and Duchess of York re-christen their firstborn child Wendy. A strange name for a prince.

May

John Patten, the Home Office Minister of State pilots his Bill through the House of Commons, introducing penal tagging. This is a form of electronic house arrest for 17 to 20 year-olds, as an alternative to locking them away in overcrowded prisons. Computers are used to check that the young offenders are obeying a dusk to dawn curfew, by means of identifying the locations of the Tags - bracelets that cannot be removed without breaking their communication circuits. The National Association of Probation Officers refuses to cooperate, much to the delight of the young offenders. The Government is also delighted, and immediately sets about the privatisation of penal tagging as the first step to the total selling off of the prison service.

June

The Duchess of Pork, Her Royal Hugeness Massey Ferguson, announces that she's up the duff again. A nation rejoices. In South Afrikkka, the new Government bans black and white television sets, all piano keyboards with black keys next to white keys, dalmation dogs, zebras and spotted dick. Nobody intervenes. In East Africa, 50% of the population are now under 15 years of age, 30% of the population are born with the AlDS virus, 60% of the population do not have access to fresh water or medicine, half of all babies born this year will not live beyond their fifth birthday. Nobody intervenes. Every four days one species of mammal becomes extinct, yesterday it was the turn of the white rhino. Nobody intervenes. Bob Monkhouse is offered a new series of Bob's Full House. Nobody intervenes.

July

After the seasonal July storms and floods, blizzards sweep the country, which is just as well because the dustmen have been on strike since June. Simulated Stimulations appear in travel agents, whereby instead of going to all the bother of visiting holiday resorts abroad you simply plug in to a computer-controlled simulation of a fortnight in Tossa De Mar. Clive Sinclair announces the arrival of the Club Z18-30.

August

The British version of the Astra communications satellite is launched on schedule and enters geostationary orbit above the United Kingdom. Rupert Murdoch, Robert Maxwell, Granada and Virgin begin transmissions of free direct broadcast entertainment programmes 24 hours a day, as do Christian Fundamentalists, Ronald MacDonald, Sir Benny Hill and the CIA. Bill and Ben videos are banned after a psychopath goes on the rampage in Kensington Gardens, dressed as a flowerpot-man. He is later found to be high on Weed after visiting the last ever Personal Computer Show to be held at Earls Court.

October

After the worst football riots ever known, identity cards are introduced for all males between the ages of 15 and 25.

November

Amstrad launch their all-in-one Waldheim satellite television dish and decoder, costing £99.95, and a nation sits down to watch Black Forest Hospital in the original German and Sumo wrestling in the original Japanese. Sir Alec Guiness and Sir John Mills lead an armed resistance movement from a secret headquarters near Pinewood Studios.

December

Buckingham Palace denies the rumours of a Royal Divorce, yet again. Meanwhile, the heir to the throne joins Greenpeace and wishes to be known henceforth as the Prince of Whales.