“Grandad. What will it be like when I’m grown-up?” asked my 10 year old grandson. A big question and not one easily answered as we threaded our way through the rickshaws and minibuses that thronged the forecourt of the Lords Go-Kart and Cricket Indoor Arena. This was my Boxing Day treat for young Cowell, the final match in the 5 match England v Moldova 20/20 Test series. I beat a path through the noodle and dim-sum sellers with my walking stick, pausing only to drop some change into the hat of a limbless veteran of the Afghan Wars. How could I predict anything, let alone something up-beat and optimistic, to the eager little boy by my side when the previous decades had been so tempestuous? Who could have foreseen twenty years ago that private cars would be banned, that mobile phones and computers could be installed in a rear molar, texts and images displayed directly onto the retina, that linguine with a light squid and garlic sauce would appear regularly on school dinner menus.
Who could have predicted that Earl Dewberry would have emerged from Louisiana at the head of the Righteousness and Apocalypse Party of America to sweep away the Republicans and Democrats at the 2016 elections to lead the US into an era of unparalleled isolationism, an era when would be visitors to the USA would have to answer 3 questions at immigration control while attached to a polygraph.
1. Do you believe in the Lord God Almighty?
2. Do you believe that the world was created by the aforesaid Lord God Almighty on Tuesday 14th April 4326 BC at 2.00 in the afternoon?
3. Are you now or have you ever been a Canadian?
Anyone giggling when answering these questions is subject to a mandatory 7 day jail term. President Dewberry has moved the seat of government from Washington to Judgement Day, Montana (pop 403) and was only just dissuaded by his wife Charlene from nuking New York and Los Angeles declaring them to be the true Sodom & Gomorrah. Nato broke up after Dewberry’s allies found his habit of quoting large chunks of the Old Testament in summit meetings tiresome.
As unexpected was the entry of the Russian Federation into the EEC, as was the Russian army taking advantage of existing freedom of movement legislation to occupy all EEC capitals except London and Dublin over a Bank Holiday weekend in August 2017. A technical fault on Eurostar and a ferry strike prevented the Russians from crossing the channel and Prime Minister Johnson promptly took the UK out of the European Federation. European President Putin (elected with 98% of the vote, the 2% are currently in labour camps on an icy marsh near Archangel) declared Johnson to be “nothing more than a mad dog barking at the tree of progress”. In order to secure Chinese support for Britain’s tenuous position on the western fringe of a now hostile continent, Johnson has been forced to sell off most of the UK to Chinese developers. The sale of Leicestershire to the Shanghai & Kowloon Novelty Co was finalised a few weeks ago and only Clackmannanshire remains unsold, partly because no one knows how to spell it and partly because the Chinese can’t pronounce it. On the domestic front the ‘Arts’ have been “given back to the people” by Ministers of Art & Culture, Ant & Dec, who in their 2015 legislation made it a legal requirement for the ‘Big Four’ national companies (the National Theatre, RSC, ENO and the Royal Opera House) to fill all leading roles by TV audition. The public now vote regularly and have recently selected Ray Miggins, a Salford quantity surveyor to play King Lear at the National and Maureen Purvis, an Ealing traffic warden, to sing Brunnhilde at the ROH. The Post Office was closed down in 2012, “in order to give the consumer more choice” according to Prime Minister Johnson. The railways were tarmaced over in 2015. Commuters now hitch their bicycles to massive tow trucks capable of pulling up to 1000 cyclists to work. The economy survives solely by serving the needs of the luxury markets to the east. Cowell’s mother counts herself lucky to have a job as a supervisor in a cyber sweatshop churning out software for entertainment and brothel robots used in the Volga and South China Sea resorts.
As Prince Regent William said in his Christmas speech (with Mandarin subtitles) “these are challenging times but I feel sure that the indomitable spirit of the British people coupled with the technical expertise of the South China Moral Uplift Co will see us through”.
So what should I say to my grandson? Can I really put my hand on my heart and say it will all be OK. Of course I can. I say “It’ll be fine. It’ll be just fine. Would you like some noodles?"