The Early Days of a Better Nation

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Some mercifully lost diary records my excitement at the first decade rollover I was old enough to be aware of, in 1969. I remember being excited about it, because I'd read enough science fiction set in or referring to the 1970s to think of the 1970s as the beginning of the scientifictional future. I wondered where I'd be in 1979: maybe fighting for king and country against China? (Why king? Possibly because some near-future political novel by Douglas Hurd and Andrew Osmond - The Smile on the Face of the Tiger? Scotch on the Rocks? - had Elizabeth making a graceful handover to Charles. Why China? Well, that was probably in the novel too, but it was also in the geopolitical wisdom of the age, which saw the big war to come as pitting an alliance of the US/UK, Europe and Russia against China and its allies in the Third World.)

Within a couple of years, of course, Nixon went to China and Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

In 1979, the war with Eurasia had just turned hot in a cold place. My new girlfriend, Carol, rather aptly impressed my family by winning a game of Risk, though that wasn't why they took her to their hearts.

My recollections of late 1989 include watching the BBC news from Romania in the cafteria of a shopping centre with Carol and our children, just before or just after Christmas. I quit smoking on Christmas day, had one cigarette at Hogmanay, and then none for a couple of months. Some time in February or March I took our daughter on a Woodcraft Folk weekend. Woodcraft Folk kids tend to be free range. By the time the adults had some time on their own on the first evening I was cadging roll-ups.

In 1999 we all went into Edinburgh for the big century rollover. I had flu and was a bit feverish, but it still felt joyful. We'd made it out of the twentieth century alive! Firework residue and drops of sprayed beer fell on happy upturned faces. I had an elated hope that the new century might develop unencumbered by the ideologies that had dominated the old. Hah!

Here in the last day of 2009, I have absolutely no idea what the world will be like in 2019, or what we can expect in the ten years ahead. All I know is that 2019 seems a lot farther in the future than 2009 seemed in 1999.

Labels: ,


I have it on good authority that there isn't actually going to be 'ten years ahead':

I remember being very excited about the dawn of 1990. Something about 1989's events made the whole decade thing seem so much more important.

I don't remember much about 1999-2000 but the first hangover of the new year was a belter!

Hapy New Year to you and yours.

Somehow 1989 is lost in the mists of time...

I must say, though, that one of the nicer things about the last year--rather a mixed bag overall--was that a friend of mine introduced me to your novels.

Glad to hear there're more on the way.

Best wishes for the new year.

I always figured the future started in 1984. Partly because I had a book (on high-school student underground publications) titled How Old Will You Be In 1984? which was an excellent question, and is still an interesting consideration I think. So 1989 was not so much of a surprise to me. But I've always had a post-apocalyptic sort of mindset.

Ken, I wish I could be an optimist about 2019. on a personal level I am, but consider this. We now have four crises that must be addressed at once and with resolution. We have the Financial crisis, the climate crisis, the overpopulation one, and that of adequately caring for the many people who shall live longer. If we don't get to work right now, things might well be a mess in 19. I listed all this with no mention of the sorts of political systems that can perhaps ammeliorate this confrontation. A famous quote of yours is relevant here!
Well, I shall try to sleep with this on mind. So happy new year, everyone.

George: To quote the New Blue Camus, "I give mankind no more than a chance in a thousand. But I would not be human if I did not place my stake on this one chance."

Here's to another decade dedicated to placing our stakes on that once chance. Practice trumping ideology.

I remember 1979 - but mainly because I found the monochrome images of various middle eastern wars on the CBC decade ending special to look rather quaint (to give this context, 1980 was the first year we had colour tv - so I was watching black and white film _in_ black and white).
I mainly remember 1989 because the Montreal massacre (at the Ecole Polytechnic) happened while I was flying home - qnd was announced by the pilot during the flight. It is noteworthy that it shocked everyone so much, something that subsequent mass shootings and wars have ceased to do.
1999 was a lot less memorable as I was pissed at the time.
Happy Hogmanay, anyway.


Hear, hear, Bunty. You have activated my Existentialist Module. Happy decade to you .

Thaks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

Post a Comment