The NS Competition No 4139

Set by Leonora Casement

As George Orwell wrote, those "who control the present control the past". Even if you don't fully accept the Orwellian viewpoint, it is inevitable that all historians begin their interpretations of history with certain basic assumptions rooted in their personal biases and backgrounds. We'd like you, looking back from the year 4010, to discuss everyday aspects of the 21st century from a 41st-century vantage-point.

This week's winners

A popular comp. We were sorry to lose Barry Baldwin ("These events occurred just before the Revolution, as is clear from the mention of Big Brother on the telescreens of the period") and John O'Byrne ("The most unusual thing about eating in 2010 was that it was done on ancient plasma screens, aka 'telly'") and hon menshes to both. The four winners get £25 each, with top dog Roddy Campbell also getting the Tesco vouchers.

It's their choice
The 21st century: primitive lives of abject misery caused by "choice". As Neanderthal hunters spent all their waking hours tracking food for survival, so 21st-century consumers exhausted their lives in hectic selection processes (sometimes referred to as "shopping") rather than submitting to the Master-State's logical solution of all problems. Instead of poetry and philosophy, their media (little of which survived the mini ice-age of 3666) consisted of irrelevant ranges of clothing, footwear, furnishings, places "to go". Not for them the 41st-century ideal of permanently rooted stability in three square metres per person, uniformly clothed and furnished by the Master-State. Seduced by false alternatives, swayed by ever-changing gimickry, their lives as second-stage pre-civilisation hunter-gatherers were wretched, brutish and wasteful.
D A Prince

Strange obsessions
It is with odd affection that we look back at times obsessed with sex, death and recycling; it is perhaps a thousand years since anyone attempted to remember anything and 500 more since archaeology was superseded by the Dewey-Google All-Matter Inventory, locating and tagging all atoms down to Molecule ViewTM. It is hard to imagine these Oilwellian times; five generations of "Fossil Fools" using hydrocarbons for heat, light and transport! Having installed MS-SunSystems' Sol Corridor to our beloved star, life without it is unthinkable, yet how could these people consider storing their rubbish for future generations? What were they thinking? Where were they planning to put the people? Fortunately, in those days, they did not have to concern themselves with issues such as Universalisation.
John Griffiths-Colby

Can you believe it?
A phenomenon of early civilisations was "travel", by which people moved from place to place to transact business or even, incredibly, for pleasure - although for centuries scholars have argued whether to categorise "travel literature" as fact or fiction. The present arrangement, by which we all occupy our ensuite personal space, leaving it only to procreate, dates from 2184, the year of the Great Gridlock, when all transport worldwide came to a halt after a "lorry" shed its load in central Colorado. That was when Saint O'Leary of Ryanair, descended from a 21st-century travelling salesman, introduced the prototype of today's personal modules, with integrated feeding and communications devices, forcing people to pay him their entire income in return for basic necessities.
Michael Leapman

What if . . . ?
What would have happened in the Year of Our Lords 2010 if the Libdems had formed a coalition with NooLabor instead of the rightful party of government? School pupils would have been mired in rundown "comprehensives" instead of attending Govean Freeschools in branches of
Tesco. The poor and the halt would have slowly withered on waiting lists instead of availing themselves of the NationalEuthanasiaService.com. And the economy would have spiralled downwards till GB plc was reduced to being a lowly partner in the EU.gmbh, instead of being, as now, a healthy
and vibrant colony of the Indo-Chinese Empire. Truly, we owe much to the courage and vision of King David I and his civil partner, Queen Nicky.
Roddy Campbell

The next challenge

No 4142 Set by Leonora Casement
We'd like to hear about new diseases, their symptoms and possible cures.

Max 125 words by 2 September
comp@newstatesman.co.uk

This article first appeared in the 23 August 2010 issue of the New Statesman, Pakistan