Wednesday, August 25

Pensioners' Surrender

London, 25th August 2035       Caving in to pressure, British pensioners have accepted demands for a massive handover of their wealth to the younger generation.  In a landmark referendum, in which all able-bodied over-65s were required to cast their vote, 78% voted to accept the demands of the Movement for Inter-Generational Justice for a windfall tax.  This will see all accumulated wealth over and above £50,000 held by this age-group incurring a levy of 50%, and any wealth over and above £250,000 being taxed at 80%.

The referendum was the culmination of eight months of heated debate, in which moral responsibility was pitted against personal interest, and which emanated from more than two years of civil unrest. 

This generation, born prior to1970, had enjoyed the privilege of inherited benefits from the responsible savings culture of the generation above them, together with the free-credit culture of the late 20th century.  Many had also enjoyed free loan-free university education.  Meanwhile, property prices during the second half of the 20th century rose so much that even those who borrowed money to purchase property were made rich from their investment. 

Fears that, as they logged in to place their vote, the moral imperative to 'hand back' their wealth to the next generation would be outweighed by the loss of wealth they would face if they clicked the 'yes' box, proved to be unfounded.

It is hoped that, with this correction now to take place, the haranguing of pensioners, the attacks on old people's homes, the spate of 'accidental deaths' of old people at the hands of their grandchildren, and the calls for compulsory euthanasia for non-productive elderly will subside.  

Who knows, maybe we will see grandparents once again walking freely in the streets, side-by-side with their grandchildren?  

Tuesday, June 29

When Classes were Hot!

London, June 29th, 2035 - - - Teenagers visiting the newly opened "Old Schooldays Museum" in South Kensington were saddened to see the wasteful ways of just 25 years ago. What shocked them most about the mock-up classroom was not the furniture, nor the antiquated audio-visual equipment, nor the non-circular layout, nor even the dominance of the whiteboard at the 'front' of the room.  It was the heating system.  

Back in those days, when oil just seemed to pour out of the ground, classrooms were artificially heated whenever the temperature started to fall below 18 degrees Celsius - that was the law. In those days, even in winter, children wore light clothing.  Indeed, wearing of woolly hats in the classroom would have been banned!

Indeed, it was only twenty years ago, as oil shortages began to push prices up towards their true values, that people across Britain began to wear thicker clothes, and shops and offices were authorised (and then compelled) to switch off their heating systems. Indeed, it was not until 2025 that potable anti-freeze was introduced into all drinking water systems.  Before then, it was not uncommon, even in those extravagant 'heating days', for water pipes to burst as the water froze.   Unbelievably, because of the frost risk, people used to keep their heating on in their houses, in offices and in schools, even when they were empty!

How times have changed. If they had realised that their children and grandchildren would be obliged to walk and cycle, simply because, in the space of a few decades, they had extracted and set fire to nearly all the planet's oil, then one might hope that they wouldn't have been quite so short-sighted.  

They were worried about global warming in those days - but as we know to our cost today, that wasn't the main problem.

Wednesday, January 13

Swine Flu Officially Over

Geneva, January 13th 2035  - - More than 20 years since the last known case of Swine Flu was recorded, the World Health Organisation has finally announced the end of the pandemic.  Older readers may remember the panic caused when, more than a quarter of a century ago, this new flu was seen to be spread across the world from South America; younger readers may never have heard of it.  Despite fears that it would decimate the world's population, the Swine Flu turned out to be a one of the least dangerous of strains.

The WHO announcement comes on the 25th anniversary of the day that, in the light of complaints from governments around the world who found themselves over-stocked with unwanted vaccines,  they promised a review of how the pandemic was managed, and of what role, if any, major drug companies had played in hyping up the hysteria around it.  The review, they had said, would start 'only once the pandemic is over'. 

So now, finally, if anyone cares, this review can go ahead.

Comments, as ever, welcome - click on COMMENT link below

Tuesday, December 8

Festive Lights to be Banned

London, 8th December 2034 - - The Euro-Minister for Environment and Culture has defended parliament’s decision to ban the sale and use of festive lights in public areas and in the home.

Speaking outside his Oslo home, Minister Bjørn Nielsson, reminded journalists of olden times, when coloured lights would only be displayed once or twice a year.

In today’s multi-cultural world, a plethora of festivals now compete for attention in the High Street, and the lights stay on all year round: a succession of New Year celebrations (Western, Mahayana Buddhist, Chinese, Baha’i) is followed by Passover and Easter, Buddha Day, Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu), Eid al Fitr (Islam), Yom Kippur (Jewish), Dasera / Deshain (Hindu), Diwali (Hindu, Jain, Sikh), Eid al Adha (Islam), and Christmas (Western/Christian). There are also the non-religious festivals, including the globally popular solstice, equinox, and annual peace celebrations.

The landmark 2030 Interdenominational Symposium on the Rationalisation of Festivals and Holidays has been blamed for the problem. Known better for being behind the reduction of the working week to four days (Monday to Thursday), the meeting also secured the agreement that religious festivals are to be spread out evenly through the year, with no festival ever to occur within 5 days of another, except where they are both from the same religion (e.g. the Christians’ Good Friday and Easter holidays). This has resulted in each month having two or more festivals. Hardly surprising then that shopkeepers and councils gave up putting up and pulling down the lights every time, and just chose to keep festive lights switched on all year round.

Many will welcome the return to less commercialised festivals. As the Minister quipped, “Festivals are for life, not just for Christmas”.

Your thoughts this Christmas - click COMMENTS below

Sunday, November 22

Euro-Tribalism can be Eradicated

Brussels, 22nd November 2034 -- Tribalism in Europe can be eradicated, according to Nigerian charity workers speaking confidently at the opening session of the Eurescue Summit.

Tribalism, long ago dismissed as an African problem, is now threatening the ‘darkening continent’ of Europe. The difficulties began with the now infamous horse-trading dinner of November 2009, at which heads of state agreed for two relative unknowns, a Belgian man and a British woman, to be appointed as Europe’s President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs. The pair were acknowledged at the time to be weak, and were relatively unknown at the time of selection. Now, 25 years on, few remember their names.

When the Euro-Cabinet was expanded six months later, it was to France, Germany, Slovenia, Malta, Romania, Latvia, and Finland that positions were granted. The appointments were made not so much with a view to attracting the best people to the top jobs, but to ensure that representation was given to a broad spread of countries, to all classes, all religions, all sexual persuasions, all ethnic groups, to males and females, to the disabled and able-bodied, and to the left, centre and right of the political spectrum.

When this expanded but still largely unpopular team of nine people from nine states was in its turn forced to stand down in 2012, it was on what appeared to be an enlightened basis that Europe should be led by the best qualified, rather than the most harmless. However, few were ready to support candidates who spoke languages other than their own. Euro-Tribalism was now alive and kicking.

With the benefit of hindsight, one can see that the dreams of creating a United States of Europe along the USA model were doomed from the start. Unlike the States two hundred and fifty years ago, each Euro-state already had its own language, its own government structure, and, most importantly, its own history. It would have been more surprising if tribalism had not emerged as a problem.

And so it is that, whereas once Europeans from ‘the developed world’ would go to the so-called ‘developing countries’ of Africa, now it is the Africans who enjoy higher standards of living, stronger democracy and greater wealth. And it is from Africa that development-missionaries now come to Europe, seeking to tackle the tribalism that is now pulling Europe down and apart.

Comments welcome - click COMMENTS below

Tuesday, November 17

Hadron Made Safe by Time Traveller

Geneva, 17th November 2034 --- Professor Naithkin from the University of Geneva has today confirmed that he has used his time machine to make the Hadron Collider safe.

In an exclusive interview to Check25 News, just outside the Hadron Theme Park, he explained how the site of the world’s largest children’s playground used to house the underground “Hadron Collider”, a massively expensive piece of equipment that was never used, and that led to the now popular children's rhyme, “The biggest roundest whitest elephant in the world.”

It was a journey forward in time that first alerted him to the problem with the Collider. "I had travelled to the year 2037,” the Professor explained. “The streets were much the same as now, and of course I had no problem finding my way round. Everything seemed completely normal, except for one thing: I went to the newsagents and bought a paper, but I found that I was seeing two alternative newspapers at the same time - like I was in two dimensions simultaneously. It's difficult to explain. The text was the same; everything was the same - just double.

“Anyway, a while later I got back in my machine, and decided to go ahead another few years. I got to 2042, and immediately wished I hadn't. It was really quite disturbing. This time, it was like the whole world was double, like transparencies on top of each other. At the same time I was walking along the street, I was also walking along barren desert. And the most disconcerting thing for me was, when I looked down at my feet, I could only see one pair of legs. When I kicked a Coke can on the pavement, it rolled into the gutter; but when I tried to kick up some of the sand, in the desert world, nothing happened at all. I realised I was seeing two parallel universes for the year 2037: in one, Geneva was still here and I was walking in it; and in the other, Geneva was gone, replaced by desert, and I didn’t exist."

The Professor went on to explain how he calculated that it was the famous Hadron Collider that had caused the dual universes to be created. “I decided to go back, slowly, until I reached the day when there was no parallelism to be found - and that turned out to be more than 25 years ago, in 2008. I checked the newspaper for the day, and that was the day they were planning to switch on the Hadron Collider.

“I realised I had to do something, but I knew I had to be careful, not to cause any event that would impact on the present. The nice thing was, having seen that there were two such universes, I knew that I was going to succeed (or rather, that I had already succeeded!).

"So anyway, I travelled back a bit further, to August 2008, which was a few weeks before the switch-on was planned. I managed to get in, using an invisicloak. Luckily it hadn’t been invented then, so there were no security systems in place to detect one using it, and I was able to slip in very easily. Anyway, I just played around with the electro magnets a little! That obviously worked, as it broke down after just a few days, as we all knew it had done (or would do)...

“I came back to our time (2034), but found to my horror there was still a dualism of some kind, not as strong as before, but it was still there. I checked the papers, and it seemed this new smaller parallel universe was based on an attempt to start it up again at the end of 2009. So, I went back again, this time to exactly 25 years ago, to 17th November 2009. I put on my invisicloak again, took a bag of termites, and some auto-freeze fluid, and once inside, I ... errrm ... distributed it around the place, taking care to keep it all well hidden."

Would he tell us exactly what he had done, and where he had done his act of sabotage?

"No, I'd better not, had I? You never know, do you? Maybe someone from 2009 will turn up here with a time machine, and report my act to theHadron scientists! Then where would we be?”

Your reactions, as always, are welcome. Click on COMMENT below.

Tuesday, November 3

Last Rail Ticket for Under a Tenner

Brighton, 3rd November 2034 - And finally... this month's rail fare rises across Britain have seen the last ever return ticket on sale for less than ten pounds. From now on, the cheapest return fare in the country, that between the two neighbouring stations of Brighton and Hove, rises from nine pounds eighty-six pence, to ten pounds and four pence.

It is just 25 years to the day since it was announced that one could spend, for the first time ever, more than a thousand pounds on one return rail ticket, that being for a first class return from Newquay, Cornwall, to Kyle of Lochalsh, in Scotland.

It is estimated that now more than 35% of all passengers travelling first class on a return rail journey will have forked out more than a thousand pounds.

Your reaction? Click COMMENTS below...

Thursday, October 22

Parliament Uproar at BBC Invitation

London, 22nd October 2034 -- Backbenchers stormed out of the Houses of Parliament this morning in protest at the BBC's refusal to retract its invitation to the Labour Party to tonight's internet debate, People's Questions.

In a show of unity, the leaders of the two main parties reminded backbenchers that as a legally recognised party, Labour should enjoy the same rights of access to the media coverage. Prime Minister Mary Southerland told her BNP backbenchers that until as recently as 24 years ago, Labour were the majority government, while Philip Thompson urged Conservative members to show restraint, pointing out that only last year, Labour had won two seats in the global Union of Nations chamber elections. The Liberal Democrats, ahead of the Conservatives in the opinion polls for the first time in 17 years, were the only major party whose backbenchers were solidly supportive of the BBC decision to invite Labour to the intercast.

Meanwhile, Euro-Rep David Miliband hit out angrily at those who were calling for the Labour Party to be banned, warning that Britain could soon find itself expelled from the Union of Nations altogether. There was already considerable disquiet, he said, at both European and global levels, over the reduced voting power awarded to non-native ethnic groups. Europeans were particularly incensed, he claimed, at the proposal that the voting power for European immigrants, already set such that each of their votes counts as half of a vote, should now be downgraded to the level of the ethnic-Asian vote, currently standing at a quarter of a vote. The Labour party, he said, was pressing for equal votes for all citizens, regardless of race.

Mr David Dimbleby, who until 2014 chaired the TV equivalent of the BBC debating programme, then called "Question Time", has expressed support for the BBC position, pointing out that 25 years ago, the exact same situation had arisen, but with the shoe on the other foot, with controversy over the BNP being invited to a debate.

It makes one think: where would the BNP be now, if, a quarter of a century ago, the BBC hadn't stood firm on its issue of principle?

What do you think? Click on 'COMMENTS' below...

Monday, October 12

Last Scout Camp in the World

Helsinki, 12th October 2034 - More than 125 years of camping history comes to an end today, as the final whistle is blown at the world's last Scout Camp, on the main island of the Ålands, half way between mainland Finland and Sweden.

The scouts at Camp Pooki found themselves joined by a mob of hundreds, many of them ex-scouts, who turned up to witness the last camp in the world. John Smithson, from Newcastle in the UK, was at 87 one of the oldest and most vocal demonstrators. He expressed the views of those around him, striking out angrily at the destruction caused by the modern world's nanny culture. It has, he said, stopped youngsters using knives, sleeping under canvas, touching cooking equipment, or ever being out of the sightline of at least two adults. When you add to that the European ban on camp- and bon- fires, the risk assessments to be carried out prior to each camp, the invasive clearance processes that all adults have to undergo before they can assist at such camps, plus the massive insurance coverage that has to be arranged, it is not surprising that the Scout Movement has decided to pull the plug on camps.

It is 25 years to the day since Britain started enforcing the requirement that anyone, even parents, who help out at organised events, would have to undergo a criminal records bureau check. Volunteer numbers immediately fell, young people's sports and outside activity events were called off, and childhood obesity increased. Various countries followed this lead, with the whole of Europe signing up in late 2029, when, shortly after UK-born Blair took office as President, the enhanced Vetting and Barring scheme was instituted across the Union of European States. It is expected to be made global, across the Union of Nations, by the end of this decade.

Baden-Powell would be horrified.

What do you think? Click on COMMENTS below.

Sunday, October 11

Indian Scientists Find Oil on Moon

Delhi, 11th October 2034 - Samples taken by the Indian Space Tourism Corporation from the moon last week have been found to contain traces of oil, according to scientists in Delhi. The pieces of rock were lifted from the Southland sector of the moon, approximately 30 miles west of the site where ISTC's Moon-01 Hotel is to be constructed. Traces of metal were also found.

A profile analysis of the oil has revealed that it is very similar to the kind found in interplanetary rocket fuel, according to the ISTC. The potential is now being explored for a more comprehensive oil exploration survey to be carried out in the Indian sector, similar to the 5-year survey currently underway in the Sino-Russian sector, 1500 miles to the north.

Suggestions that the oil-find could be linked to the rocket attack on the planet, carried out by the Americans a quarter of a century ago, have been dismissed as 'absurdly unlikely'.

Share your thoughts - click on COMMENT below

Friday, October 9

US President Angered at Nobel Snub

Washington, 9th October 2034 President Sho Hun Li hit out angrily at the Nobel Peace Prize committee following the announcement that regular citizen, scientist James Ngomba of the Northern Africa Federation would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

This breaks a tradition that goes back to the days of Obama, a quarter of a century ago, of granting newly elected Presidents the award in their first year of presidency. The Director of the 5-member Norwegian Nobel Committee was unapologetic. He explained that the reason for the committee's choice was to return to the broader selection procedures that were used back in the twentieth century. In those days, he said, the Peace Prize would be awarded on the basis of practical achievements completed, rather than on strength of vision, and he rejected the idea that a newly installed US President should receive the Prize as a matter of course.

Insiders at the White House have said that the Norwegian ambassador is to be called to give an explanation for what has been described 'a gross international snub'.

Let me know what you think - click COMMENT below

Waiting for the next silly decision

Whenever a policy is announced that is likely to have long-term negative, and unintended consequences, I'll bring out my crystal ball and offer you a 'news story', as it might be written a quarter century later. A bit of lateral thought like this, and we shall see potential downside of what may at first sight seem to be the right decision.

You know the kind of thing: force motorcyclists to wear helmets, and they go faster; offer allowances to cohabiting unmarried couples, and fewer people get married; make age discrimination illegal, and children can learn to drive.

So I'm on standby, waiting for the next silly announcement...