136 months to go before the end of the millenium and we get sucked closer to the year 2000 by the vacuum of Mel Croucher's time-warped imagination.
The new Pope is elected In Vatican City, the first time an electronic database has achieved this honour. Cardinal Hitachi Camcorda, a distant cousin of Wendy, the singing computer, takes the name of Pope Amiga 16-Bit the first. Sins can now be forgiven by direct debit, with the National Soul Board installing credit card confessionals outside most banks and massage parlours.
The last trace of the Brazilian rain forest vanishes, and the cattle farmers bite off their own heads for sound commercial reasons. The harvesting of the world's oceans begins to turn the tide in the battle against mass starvation. Plankton biscuits, krillburgers and seaweed sausages provide cheap protein at a fraction of the cost of mammal meat. Computer controlled fish farms are established in the North Sea, with the derelict oil platforms revitalised as ocean farm nerve centres. The farming of the Irish Sea is declared illegal by the EEC, due to unacceptable levels of radiation and chemical pollution.
Free trades unions are legalised In Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Free trades unions are banned in the United Kingdom. Drivers in New York suffer epileptic fits, when the City's traffic lights computer turns on to the delights of MTV. The House of Lords is finally reformed due to the ludicrous composition whereby 85% of its members are geriatric lunatics. Henceforth all of its members are to be geriatric lunatics.
The private US orbital cryogenic cemetery, 'Afterlife', becomes unstable, and seems likely to deposit 250 tons of metal, plastic, enriched uranium and corpse back on earth. It is decided to hurl it out of planetary orbit, away from the Sun's gravitational pull, with the message 'we come in heavenly peace' stencilled on the main cargo hold.
The first marriage between a men and a lap-top computer is blessed in a Copenhagen church, where the practice of hand-helds is sanctified as the best way to avoid The Plague, which continues to spread like, er, The Plague. However, medical science can now claim almost 100% success in treating leukaemia, skin cancers, carcinomas of the bowel, lungs and liver; the treatment of brain tumours using prenatal cell tissue continues to make great progress. Cancer is declared a curable illness.
Sir Chris Curry, the founder of Acorn gives away his ten millionth Keyline Shopping Computer. Launched back in 1988, his freebie book-size machines are now as indispensable to yuppies as the filofax, and are used for home shopping, travel and theatre bookings, as well as banking transactions. The Government agrees to issue Keylines free to all pensioners and disabled citizens, supported by discount agreements from leading supermarkets and mail order firms. The equivalent French system Teletel, launched In 1982, now has twenty-five millions users. A small company known as British Telecom Prestel ceases trading, having echieved only 350,000 subscribers.
On the busiest holiday weekend of the year, a telephoned bomb hoax closes the Euro Tunnel, Gatwick airport and several ferry ports. Fifteen people are burned to death in a discotheque while the nearest fire engine is answering a fake emergency call. The newly formed 'Box Boy Avengers' (gangs of well organised vandals) succeed in putting 40% of public call boxes out of action, using high-bond resins and nitric acid. In a knee-jerk reaction, Parliament is recalled from summer recess and legislation is rushed through under the Emergency Telecommunications Act. Henceforth all citizens eligible to pay the Poll Tax will be issued with multi-purpose ID/Telecommunication Cards. These must be inserted into all domestic and public telephone modems before a call can be connected, and transmit the ID of the card-holder simultaneously with the location of that telephone, whenever a call is placed. Portable phones and incoming foreign calls are pinpointed by satellite coordinates. The public are assured that the emergency system will only be used when necessary to prevent terrorism.
Low yield stun guns are issued to the police on foot patrol. Higher powered electronic 'cattle-prods' are now commonly issued for riot duty such as football matches, rock concerts, and any other illegal gathering where more than six people meet together in public. Private security firms have now been in operation for 20 years, private night-watch patrols for ten years and private militia forces for 12 months.
The joint USA/USSR mission blasts off for the first voyage to another planet, as the Martian Luther King heads for Mars carrying a crew of three Americans, three Russians, an Indian and a tabby cat named Jules Verne. Continuing their budget software policy, Codemasters reduce the price of their games discs to ten a penny.
The mountain gorilla is declared extinct. The African elephant exists only in zoos. Escaped wallabies continue to thrive in Wales. Bob Monkhouse is reported to be romentically involved with a large vat of baby oil and a full-length mirror. CRL and Electronic Arts fail to sue one another for the first month since March 1988.
There is an alarming increase in the number of babies born with a single ear in the middle of thelr forehead. This is caused by their parents listening to Walkmen in mono, while making love.
A mass campaign is launched against the Emergency Telecommunications Act during the season of goodwill. Office workers can no longer make free calls from work, adulterers get copped as soon as the phone bill arrives, kids can't use their parents' phones for the dial-a-smut service, hackers get identified every time they log on and heavy breathers are thwarted more than somewhat. These categories represent 89% of the population.