The future imagined by the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World has now arrived and it’s pensioners who are embracing this brave new world with glee – with occasional hilarious consequences, writes Susan Morrison.
Tomorrow’s World was required watching in our house when I was a kid. At first, it was presented by a series of posh blokes, all of whom seemed to have been sourced from the RAF. Raymond Baxter’s vowels were so strangulated he made the Queen sound like a cockney.
They were obsessed with photo-electric cells that could do useful things, like open your curtains. We had mum for that.
They did have a bit of fun with jet packs but, really, think of the damage humans can do on the ground, what would we do in the air? Do you really want a stag-do from Bolton dressed as seagulls hovering above the Grassmarket? You just know what they would think was funny if it hit you on the head.
There was some talk of holidays on the moon. Can’t think why. Freezing, miserable, no atmosphere. Might as well go to Skegness.
I’m not sure what sort of world the Tomorrow team thought we would be living in, but the fact is, we are there now. And our world is better now, in many, many ways, if you overlook Boris Johnson, which I shall for now, and stay on the sunny uplands of Pollyanna land.
Back then, when the Tomorrow’s World team spoke of things like the ‘world wide web’ and ‘information superhighway’, it was only meant to be for business types. Very few people realised it was going to change our lives so dramatically.
Even our tellies are smarter than BoJo’s Cabinet (sorry, forgot, wasn’t mentioning). Back in the day, we used to have to get up from the couch and go and change the channel manually! I know! Of course, that only lasted until you had trained the first-born child into the dial-twirling action.
And let’s not forget the spectacular rise of the phone, freed from your wall and into your pocket.
Yes, the future is here, but what no-one guessed was, it would be old.
Back in the 1980s when the mobile phone first appeared, adverts were awash with young lady executive-types in pencilled-skirt power-suits marching though gleaming offices with massive brick-like phones clamped to their ears.
The future was techno, the future was shiny, clever and young.
No one guessed it would be the pensioners who took to the internet and the mobile phone with such glee. Facebook is being abandoned by youngsters because old people like me have infested it. Mobile phones are no executive toy, but the must-have of every granny I know, complete with screensavers of the grandkids to show off to any passing stranger.
And these silver surfers don’t just phone people up, admittedly incredibly loudly – photos, audio books and texts are no problem to older phone owners.
I know this, because my 80-year-old mother persists in sending me messages with emojis attached.
Admittedly, the combination of small screen, shonky eyesight and dubious typing skills occasionally through the odd curve ball my way.
She has discovered catch-up in her smart telly, and old favourites are being replayed.
She texted me to tell me she’d found Trevor Eve’s big hit cop show. It was called ‘Waking the Dead’. You and I both know that. One erroneously added ‘n’ in that first word of the title, and you’ve got yourself a reason for snorting loudly on the top deck of the Number 22 bus.
Tomorrow’s World opened with a slow-motion shot of a plane crashing into a desert. This was remarkably popular, given that we as a nation had discovered the joys of package holidays to the Costa del Sol.
We saw that plane hit the deck every week, but it still didn’t turn us into a bunch of nervy fliers who had to hit the booze and go radge at 35,000 feet, fighting with the cabin crew and winding up in the hands of the local constabulary. Must have been tougher back then.
The life-saving power of science
Chemotherapy requires you to be attached to a drip. God knows, I’ve seen many a woman in that predicament. However, my drip has to go everywhere with me, and that requires wheeling it about, even to the toilet.
This would be fine, but for some reason, the last two drip stands have clearly been the illegitimate off-spring of a pair of wonky supermarket trolleys. There was an incident involving me, the drip stand and the toilet door.
The nurse gently told me that my language was ‘salty’. And could I stop singing along to Cher on my mobile phone playlist.
Yes, the future is definitely here. For one thing, had I been the age I am now for the first edition of Tomorrow’s World 1965, at least one of my pesky cancers would been well on the way to dispatching me sooner rather than later, so you bet I like the future.