Saturday, 20 June 2009

Advice From A Distance (Take 2)

A long time ago, when I was still officially a student, an English teacher set our class a piece of work based on advising one’s past self using the wisdom of the future.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the task seriously enough for the teacher’s liking. Not only did I suggest that I would advise myself on how win more chess matches by offering better moves at certain junctures, I also ended up in trouble for rather flippantly suggesting that the person who tried to assassinate the Pope could be tipped off to aim a little bit more to the right. This got me into rather serious trouble.

A friend scolded me. ‘Why did you write that?! You know fine well that Mrs. B. is a Catholic!’

‘Of course I do!' I replied. 'But how was I to know the Pope was too?’

So in order to make amends I thought I’d better have another go at the lesson. It’s just taken me a little while to get around to it, but I suppose I’ve been quite busy for the last 27 years. Anyway, if Mrs. B. is reading this, perhaps I will get a better mark this time instead of being shouted out. After all, I haven’t mentioned religion at all this time. Except just then. And the bit at the start.

So, past self, here’s a few snippets hinting at what you should expect from 2009...

In order to make money, it is enough to lower one’s dignity. The lower the dignity, the more the income. It really is as simple as that.

The people you think are overweight look ‘normal’ compared to the people of 2009. Pencil-thin anorexics are on the increase but so are obese people. Millions of pounds are spent on food and other products to create people with extremely odd shapes. Further millions are spent on trying to change them back again. Gone is the uncool solution of the wired jaw; a gastric band is not only trendy but has the distinct advantage of allowing a victim to eat without missing out the taste buds.

Tattoos have become unbelievably popular. Upper-arm Celtic crosses and/or curious barbed wire markings vie for the most popular options along with strange black versions of paisley patterns. Tattoos used be an attempt to stand out from the crowd. Now, they represent an attempt to do exactly the opposite. They don’t look any nicer though.

Want to spend somewhere between one and four years doing anything you want with no sense of responsibility? Just go to university, like everyone else does. Don’t worry about the academic side of things. Nobody checks for the first year and then a couple of simple internet searches will let you download all the notes you need. Or join the trendsetters and simply pay a freelancer to write essays for you. Just alter tiny bits to make it look like your own work and nobody will find out.

Do you prefer your actors to do the acting, celebrities to do whatever it is they do and Mr. & Mrs. Nobody to remain anonymous? Then you won’t like it here. Nobodies do all the singing and dancing while the actors and celebrities do all the cooking, buying/selling houses and gardening. The ‘lucky’ ones get to spend a couple of weeks arguing on an island and eating worms. This could lead to appearances in Christmas pantos. See what I mean about lowering one’s dignity in return for a pay-day?

Some people foresaw this happening. I chanced upon a diary entry very recently:

‘The most amusing of all spectator sports in England now is television. Not the second-rate plays and films nor the actors and actresses, but the news, and the real people, heroes and heroines who voluntarily exhibit themselves under a merciless magnifying glass for the public to gaze at.’

Diana Mosley
Diary entry from the 1950s(!)

Ok, 1982 self, that’s all I’d better tell you for now. More will follow in part 2, which will follow some time within the next 27 years. Oh! Before I forget…it’s not all bad news. 2009 is the year you get to see Ultravox ‘live’ again!


Anonymous said...

Well, Mrs. B might forgive your past homework performance on the basis of this, but I don't think she's ever going to forgive you for pointing out that Pride and Prejudice has no plot...

Sean Marsh said...

Ah yes, so I did! Perhaps history will yet judge me to be correct in my opinion.

Sean Marsh said...

On a related note: