Less than 600 weeks to go until the end of the century, and Mel Croucher stops feeling his age and starts feeling our age to predict the shape of things to come...
To celebrate the season of goodwill, the prison hulks that have been rotting in the Thames Estuary since 1987, crammed to the scuppers with immigrants waiting to be 'processed' are suddenly emptied. Would-be citizens are issued with oomputerized electronic tags, ordered to keep the curfew and packed off to friends and relations, thereby saving the tax-payer bundles of dosh. Proposals are made in the House of Commons to electronically tag the flood of 'temporary guest' visitors from Southern Europe, Turkey and Hong Kong.
Wendy, the all-singing, all-dancing, twice married Commodore oomputer takes over from Terry Wogan as the nation's favourite chat show hostess. She is also appointed Ambassador to the planet Zanussi and Minister of Affairs.
In the Third World, mass education and on-the-spot medical transmission penetrates the most remote areas, thanks to satellite transmission and interactive data bases. In the First World, teachers and medics are thrown out of work as CD-ROM discs replace education and medical teams. Steve Davis wins the Mates World Snooker Championship for the eighth year running, and is spotted interfacing with Wendy at Stringfellows.
At the end of the British tax year, it is confirmed that the world's tropical rain forests are vanishing at the rate of 2,000 acres a minute (tax deductible). On April 6th 1983, the rate was 1,000 acres per minute, in 1988 it was 1,500. By 1998 all the rainforests will have disappeared, all of its human and animal inhabitants will be extinct or urbanised, and the rest of us will have benefited by consuming 140 million hamburgers a day for the past ten years.
During speed trials in the computer controlled Eurotunnel, swarms of rats are monitored in Calais. The spokesrat Rob Hubbard of California is hired by the British to dress up in tights and a triple-pointed hat with bells on to play the computerised simulation of the pied-piper and tempt the rats back to Dover, where they are required to join strike-breakers.
In the past five years, since June 1988, the following jobs have disappeared from British High Streets because of computerisation, teleshopping and fashion changes: travel agents, bank clerks, funeral parlours, checkout cashiers, estate agents, high-class prostitutes, garage attendants, pharmasists, building society staff who don't have shiny teeth and large breasts, post offices and lollipop ladies. Home computer terminals can now handle all of the above services, as well as smoke alarms, baby alarms, intruder alarms, kitchen hardware, video tape recording, giving Jehovah's Witnesses polite rejections at the front door, letting the cat out of the backdoor (not applicable to tower blocks), and doing the football pools. So far, no cure has been found for either Bob Monkhouse or Benny Hill.
At the annual Status Quo farewell concert, old age pensioners riot when Francis Rossi is revealed to be totally bald after getting his silver pony tail trapped in the gears of his wheelchair. The badger is declared extinct, except in certain parts of German restaurants, where it is served with sauté potatoes and cream.
The European Parliament, the United Nations and Maxwell Communications put forward a realistic schedule for the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the Belfast Wall. The first phase involves computer monitored movement for EEC and Comecon citizens with 'legitimate business' across the two borders, and it's proposed that the Walls are removed by August 1996 (the 35th anniversary of the Berlin Wall, and the 17th anniversary of the Belfast Wall).
A revolutionary low-cost processor is launched, based on a Hungarian design. It is fully portable, requires no external power source, is user-friendly and has an infinite range of type fronts. Available in several 'breast pocket publishing' colours, it costs fifteen pee, and is provisionally named The Biro.
The first fare-paving package holidaymakers take off for space, many of which have booked their seats on the Shuttle since 1987. They make three successful orbits, and are served a champagne meal somewhere over Ethiopia.
On the eve of his 45th birthday, Prince Charles is offered the active role of Price Regent, effectively making him King without a crown as his mum graciously heads for senility. Charles turns it down, and goes walkabout disguised as a Yamaha tenor saxaphone. A nation rejoices, and welcomes the popular Warrior Price Andrew and Fertile Fergie (mother of five all named Wendy) as the future King and Queen. The word 'parasite' is removed from the language by Royal Decree.
At Southeby's first Computer Ephemera auction, record prices are paid for Z80's, LED watches, copies of The Great Space Race, Tim Langdell's old law suits, Tim Best's corset, Jeff Minter's mushrooms, the Oliver Twins' nappy and a signed copy of Mel Croucher's last will and testicle.