A couple of weeks ago I was writing about the year 2025 and what I should tell my grandson Cowell, who would be ten in that year, about how life would be when he grew up. I rather failed in my grand-parental duties and lied, saying “It’ll be alright” when I definitely felt that it wouldn’t. Since then I have checked horoscopes, read the Scientific American, memorised tide-tables. plotted economic trends back to the 16th century and tossed a coin or two, and my conclusions have changed completely. Only two years after Cowell asked his question the state of the world would deteriorate markedly, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse had packed their sandwiches and were saddling up, we teetered on the abyss of global doom. Then a miracle occurred, a man named Jeremy Beadle (no relation), who worked for a small agro-chemical company just outside Cambridge announced the discovery of GOOP. What is GOOP? GOOP is ‘Genetically Optimised Organic Petroleum’. Beadle came to the obvious conclusion that the only way to harness solar power was nature’s way, photosynthesis. He took mono-cellular algae-like organisms and tinkered with their genetic make-up until he came up with something that both reproduced and photosynthesised at prodigious rates. All that was required was seawater, carbon dioxide, and human excrement (for it’s nitrogen and trace elements). Initial tests near Wisbech resulted in a significant proportion of Cambridgeshire being covered with GOOP, which looks very like the green scum you get on a garden pond. Beadle then took his product to the very nearly moribund motor manufacturing industry who, realising that their salvation was at hand, quickly adapted existing engine prototypes to run on GOOP. The nations of the world of the world stopped bickering over the few barrels of oil still under the ground because in effect the alchemists dream had come true, the manufacture of raw energy from components that were as commonplace as anything on earth. Of course there were doubters, environmentalists, embarrassingly still called ‘Greens’, who declared that GOOP would become a Frankenstein Monster among algae. US President Earl Dewberry declared that GOOP was the product of a plot by homosexual Jewish Communist bankers and the Boy Scout Movement to subvert the very being of the USA. His voters, realising that here, at last, was a chance to get their pick-up trucks out of the garage dumped him at the earliest opportunity and replaced him with President Clooney.
What made GOOP so revolutionary was that the technology required to produce it was minimal, a DIY GOOP starter kit cost little more than a barbecue. A suburban family could easily produce enough GOOP in a summer week to fuel the school run and a visit to Granny on Sunday. On a grander scale the UN and IMF embarked on a massive planet wide engineering programme and started by gouging out a mile wide canal from Dakar on the west African coast heading due east across the Sahara. The poorest countries on earth, Mali, Mauretania and Chad, with access to saltwater from the Atlantic and with limitless supplies of sunshine and shit, became the world’s leading GOOP producers and immediately constructed massive GOOP fuelled desalination plants to irrigate the desert. In a matter of years the Sahara became the market garden of the world and a new centre for narrow boat cruising. Similar schemes transformed Australia’s Northern Territory, Arizona, Nevada and the Gobi.
The greatest GOOP plus of all was the reversal of global warming. GOOP sucks carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and temperatures are dropping again. Weather men predict that the Thames will freeze as it used to do 300 years ago. Bonnie Langford has promised to skate from Greenwich to Windsor to raise money for the Arlene Phillips Home for Dancers with Bad Knees when it does so.
The world’s leaders, with no scarce resources to squabble over, convened endless summit conferences, slapped each other on the back and disbanded their armed forces, pledging to spend the cash thus made available on the Arts in general and 18th century Italian opera in particular. The Four Horsemen unsaddled their horses and ate their sandwiches while watching reruns of The Midsomer Murders.