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The future? Well, I’m past worrying
WHATEVER happened to the future?
It used to be such a fantastic place, full of pristine white buildings hundreds of storeys high.
We all went around in floating cars and had a robot at home to do the housework while we spent our abundance of leisure time watching hologram television or playing anti-gravity tennis with our handsome android instructor.
In the 1950s they loved the future – the Festival of Britain was an unashamed celebration of post-war optimism where visitors could gaze upon fantastic structures with fantastic names like Skylon and the Dome Of Discovery.
Nobody wanted to look back, and why should they? Two world wars and massive social inequalities was all there was to reminisce over in the 1950s.
Of course there were pesky killjoys like George Orwell and Anthony Burgess painting some pretty bleak pictures of the future but, on the whole, people, couldn’t wait to get to the glittering world of the year 2000.
So what changed? Why is it that the future now seems so unappealing and why are we so obsessed with the recent past – gazing longingly back to even the eighties like a golden age?
Just look at the recent explosion of vintage shops springing up around York, and you can take your pick from a number of vintage fairs taking place in the city over the coming weeks.
If you have never been to a vintage fair, they consist of rack after rack of clothes you remember your mother or even grandmother wearing, old tea sets, orange lampshades from the 70s, sewing patterns from the 60s, string-backed driving gloves, cravats, and framed adverts from a time before smoking was bad.
What these shops and events do is give the past a vibrancy, sophistication and allure which, admittedly, is pretty hard not to be drawn into.
On television too it seems that the past is the place to be, with programmes such as Downton Abbey, The Midwife and the recent BBC mini-series White Heat, which charted the lives of a group of friends from the 1960s to the present day.
This week also saw the BBC launch its major analysis of the 1970s, looking at the political and cultural impact of the decade.
And if you didn’t change the channel straight after you could enjoy a half-hour special featuring archive sessions from the biggest musical names of the day such as Rod Stewart, Sparks and the New York Dolls.
But what is the alternative? The present is a pretty uncertain place at the moment and as for the future, with its austerity measures, nuclear arms races, strikes, pollution and a growing population – who wants to go there?
But hang on – the 70s had austerity measures, nuclear arms races, strikes, pollution and a growing population too.
We are all guilty of looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses (probably with frames like the pair Audrey Hepburn wore in Breakfast At Tiffany’s).
There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s now time somebody stepped in to rescue the future. For that we need people for whom nostalgia is an impossible concept.
I’m talking about kids. While we might think watching Saturday Superstore and waiting for a monochrome space invaders game to load on our ZX Spectrums was the epitome of childhood happiness – kids today think it sounds rubbish – because it actually (admit it) was rubbish.
The ZX Spectrum generation, who are now just taking up the reins and running the country, seem to be tasked with nothing more than damage limitation and repairing the overspending and resource-abusing of the previous generation.
The future seems to be on hold for the time being, and it’s our job to stop it getting worse and hope the next generation can make it a place we all want to visit again.
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