One hundred and forty months to go until the end of the decade, the end of the century, the end of the millenium, the end of the world? Mr Croucher casts his runes and unscrambles the steaming entrails to predict the shape of things to come...
The New Year's Honours list reflects British computing. Jeff Minter (the new boss of Activision) is given a night-hood, but refuses to wear it. Dean Barrett (Commodore's telephone switchboard operator) is given a season ticket to the VDU Clinic in a finel attempt to cure his Virus. Clement Chambers (British Board of Film Censors) is given a Baronetcy, which he immediately disembowels, ripe the throat out of and deep fries. Rob Hubbard (Governor of California) is at last officially made a Dame.
Prime Minister, Maggot Hatcher, arid Minister of Extra-marital Energy, Cecil Porkinson, commence the privatisation of electricity. The CEGB is split into two power companies plus a 12-region distribution company. This marks the beginning of the end for nuclear energy in Britain because nobody in their right mind will invest in loony, lethal, expensive generators. A massive youth employment scheme is inaugurated for everyone between the ages of 16 and 21, which solves the nuclear power shortfall and unemployment at a stroke. It is called 'Treadmills'.
Julian Rignall is arrested for subversion when the Census Computer discovers that he is an anagram of 'IRA Gunn Jaill'. The super-molecular processor is perfected after research begun in 1987. Using organic three-dimensional computer circuits, a new gereration of hybrid structures for biological sensors becomes available for medical and military usage. Members of the Stock Exchange rush to fit the new modules in their underpants, thereby linking the Dow Jones One Hundred Share index directly to wetting themselves.
For security reasons, the Government Central Computer is linked to Immigration Passport Control and to all data bases that deal with shareholdings, credit card transactions and teleshopping networks. DHSS, Police and Vehicle Licensing computers have been linked to the system since 1990, and it is now possible to monitor the movements of people and money with 95% accuracy. The other 5% still run the Government. Jullan Rignall is released after it is found that his name is really an anagram for the choreography of a Bananaramma video, 'Run-Lala-Jig-Nil'.
The Computerised Car Navigation Network (CCNN) Is launched, based on a ten-year-old German concept. This comprises matchbox-sized low-cost dashboard transmitters in cars, miniaturised location beacons at every road sign, automatic traffic information broadcasts via car radios, and satellite system control. The Central Computer is now able to monitor vehicle movements plus or minus 100 metres. A 69-mile traffic jam forms on the Ml, as hedgehogs are spotted at motorway junctions with dashboard scramblers in their paws and wicked grins on their faces.
At the ZX81 Tenth Anniversary Celebrations - held on a trestle table in a Cambridge soup kitchen - the Reverend Ian Paisley accuses the assembled programmers of being 'a bunch of One-kayers' It is confirmed that the panda is now extinct in the wild, as is the freelance computer programmer, the independent software house, 'Your Commodore' and my overdraft.
The British Organisation of Nursing Kamikazes (BONK) introduces a private screening service for AIDS. Credit card sized passes are issued every month for anyone clear of the virus, and immediately become recognised by insuranoe companies, private blood banks, the St John's Ambulance Brigade, Milwall FC Supporters and the Boy Scouts. Robert Maxwell buys everything in the previous sentence after the word 'by'. Wendy the singing computer is appointed editress of ZZAP!64 when Rignall admits that his name is really a sick note reading, 'JR nul: ill again!'. Due to cut backs, Level 9 are rechristened 'A Couple of Hillocks'.
Droughts, uncollected garbage and the release of Wendy the singing computer's latest single form the backdrop to the worst inner-city riots since July 1991. The Government introduces compulsory baton rounds and baton charges. This means that everyone takes it in turn to get beaten up, and then gets charged for their injuries by direct debit. US Gold buys the rights to the game.
Under the 1988 Clause 28/29 legislation, electronic tagging is introduced to monitor the movements of'convicted homosexuals'. Most schoolchildren and geriatrics are already tagged by computer monitoring, for 'reasons of their own safety'. The Poll Tax is finally introduced whereby barbers, flag erectors, lopped trees, anyone with the surname Gallup and all parrots have to pay for going to the bog twice a day.
The 'greenhouse effect' continues to change the climate of the planet The 'warmest year on record' is broken yet again after 1981, 1983, 1987 and 1989. Yuppies continue to leave their Porsches in the garage and city gents continue to ignore British Rail in favour of camels. Computerised predictions confirm that because of the greenhouse effect, by the end of the century, most of the population will consist of little old men in cloth caps, living in glass houses and not throwing stones. Militant greenfly surround the Met Office and demand the head of Ian MacGaskill.
Ian Botham walks around the world for charity, riding Grand Slam supremo Stephen Hall. Low-lying areas sink by several feet. A revolutionary data retrieval system storms the market, measuring only five by seven inches, weighing less than 500 grammes, containing 256K of ROM and almost infinite RAM, with several languages on board and costing less than a fiver. It is codenamed 'A Book'.
Government cuts affect the panto season with disastrous results. Children are forced to watch 'economically efficent' productions such as 'Skinhead and the Bear', 'All Ba and the Double-glazing Salesman', 'One or Two Dalmations', 'Off White and the Quite Short Person' etc. During the Oueen's Christmas Broadcast, several viewers think that they can detect a thee-core flex snaking up the leg of Prince Edward, and a 13-amp plug bulging from his trouser pocket. Meanwhile, Wendy the singing computer is reported to be 'less than 100% non-pregnant'.