This month’s postcard from the future comes from a genetic nurse working in the Social Engineering Department of the World Family Commission…
They tell me I should enter this competition, because they’re going to select the best postcards from a whole cross-section of people in society and send those cards back in time through that new machine they’ve been building. And that makes me think: what should I warn the folks in the past about to try to stop them making mistakes? But that makes my head hurt, because without those mistakes we wouldn’t be here… but resumably bigger brains than me have looked into that conundrum and put it to bed.
Presume, presume. Presume ain’t good… I know that from my history. Like people presumed Asbestos was really safe and all their scientists knew what they were talking about. Or Thalidomide. Or smoking. Or nuclear fission. Or mobile phone radiation. Or genetically modified crops. Or voting for Adolf Hitler. That kind of stuff. Good idea at the time. Everyone else is doing it, and I assume someone smarter than me has looked into
this and concluded it’s safe. Etcetera.
Maybe sending postcards back in time isn’t safe then, like they’re telling us. Maybe it’s a disastrously stupid idea and we’ll change our own present in the blink of an eye and we’ll all wake up different and just not know it. Oh well then, here goes nothing. I’d hate to lose this present though, and lose my job. I like my work in the embryo lab, ironing out the male aggression genes. They say people used to have fake friendly wars back in the 21st century, where they’re sending these postcards back to. Sort of vestigial wars, you know, like the appendix of social history. Oh yeah, now I remember, football it was called. And then the Romans further back, what was their version called? The coliseum and gladiators, thanks Suzy. Suzy is my pal here who works in embryo lab with me. We’re great chums, we do everything together.
Anyway I was saying. Footballers got paid more than presidents, and millions of people got all excited about the matches as they called them. It kind of went hand in hand with street riots. But why am I telling you this? You know already, you’re still living it. What I’m trying to tell you is that we’ve scrubbed the male aggression gene. Maybe you should know that, so you can enjoy it while you still can back there, get the most out of it. We have no
wars or football or street riots or men kicking lumps out of each other over girls. Just doesn’t happen anymore. Suzy and I wipe it all out in the test tubes every day here using our pipettes and syringes, wearing our hair nets and welly boots.
Suzy and I are laughing now. We rather like the idea of some men fighting over us now and again. But these days they’d all get hauled off by the Order Commissioners and stung with electrodes and sent for reconditioning therapy, in the blink of an eye, the flutter of a flattered eyelash. No, life’s too dull for all that now. It’s all plain sailing.
Still, it’s not as if the girls got off scot-free either (whatever that antiquated expression means). Less testosterone, less oestrogen, as President Pasqual so eloquently put it when he founded the World Family Forum. Apparently there were trillions of books and plays and films all made about frustrated sexuality, Shakespeare, yes that’s right, Suzy, very good. Dickens and Aristophanes and Steven Speilberg. Did one of them write Romeo and Juliet or Pride and Prejudice? Oh who knows, ancient history. But they called it love and romance apparently, all this frustrated sexuality thing. They even called copulation “making love”, can you imagine? Of course you can, you’re still back there, so again… I
ask myself just why am I telling you this? Silly me, I keep forgetting. I’m telling you because there is no romance anymore. People just have sex whenever they need to and nobody gets hung up about it. No more pining on balconies, serenading with guitars, and drowning ourselves in heroic despair. It’s all over. Oh yes, and the pop charts. Hundreds of thousands of repressed songs about copulation, calling it a huge range of euphemistic names like rock and jive and getting down and being mine tonight. Etcetera. All dead and gone. Sorry.
Classical music? Oh Suzy, you’re so intellectual today. But it was even worse. All those climaxes and mellifluously intoxicated build-ups. It’s all discredited now. So hey, make the most of your football and music and wars and bar-brawls back there people, their days are numbered!
Poetry? We still know what poetry is. Suzy and I finished work yesterday just as the sun was setting, and we went up the scenic lift through floor after floor of embryo libraries, all glowing green and blue and pink in the refracted light. We got into our turbo copters on the seventy-third floor and took a detour down via Amazon-World on our way home. They had animatronic primitive tribesmen on display and plastic simulations of real rain forest. We got to stroke the robot elephants and tigers and watched films about people who remembered the real things and interacted with them, and said they were nearly human. They had aggression and romance too by the looks of things, the poor dears. No wonder they’re extinct. Anyway, Suzy and I went to a bar to wind down. And we’d had such a good day together I wrote a poem called The Relentless Pursuit Of Happiness–
Delusion, dilution, dissolution,
Sun going down like the plunger of a syringe
Flying up through the colour-stained glass
Great cathedral of Future I am the solution
To all the world’s problem gathered under one roof
Sweet mothering dome like tiny gnats we buzz from your roof
As dissident thoughts to track happiness down
Like the last of its species, sad dying animal
Licking its wounds, against all sense, too tired to fight
Turning to face the guns, galloping the last mile
Just to end, worth it to smell the dirt of home
Wash my body sweet, taxidermy this crazy heart
To dazzle future generations.