And the clocks were striking thirteen…

OK, here it is, Life in 2020 as viewed from 1984. I make no comment, or apology, but should probably point out that this is a translation from the original Welsh, which you can read, uncorrected, here.

Apologies to the two of you that actually wanted the rubbish poem. Maybe I’ll set up another Battle of the Homeworks sometime later.


Life in 2020
Sunday-29-1-1984

7.00. “Hello Rhys. Tea or coffee today?” asks my robot. “Tea” I say. This happens every morning at seven. After I drink the tea, I go into the floor mover. I press the button “Living room.” The floor mover is similar to lifts from the old days. Anyway, the doors open to a fairly small room with a panel of buttons in its middle. I sit on a chair and press the buttons: “Breakfast,” “Grapefruit,” “Egg,” “Sausage,” “Bacon,” and “End.” A few odd sounds and a small paper comes out of the panel. This is what’s on the paper:

BREAKFAST.
Grapefruit – Ready in 15 seconds.
Egg, Sausage and Bacon – Ready in 2 minutes.
Tea or Coffee?

I press “Tea” and a cup of tea and a grapefruit come to my chair. Press “Table”, and a table emerges from a hole in the floor. Before leaving, my robot reminds me to choose my lunch now. I press more buttons and the robot tells me to be here at one o’clock promptly. This is the procedure every meal time. I press “End” and the table goes down to be cleaned before lunch.

I press the “Computer” button. The machine emerges from the hole in the floor. This computer doesn’t have any buttons. It can speak and understand your voice. I say, “News.” The machine starts. “These are the headlines. One thousand robots go on strike in a rocket factory in Manchester. Dyfed’s schoolchildren go on a trip to the planet Pluto today. The Senate meets today to discuss a tunnel for mobiles under the River Severn.” I press the button, “End.” Down goes the computer, back into the hole.

I press “Videophone.” The gadget comes up from the floor. I lift the receiver and put the camera in the right place. I type my cousin’s number on the special panel. I wait a second. Then I see his picture in his house in London, he too is on holiday. I have a friendly little chat and arrange to go and see him after lunch.

About 12.00. My leisure is interrupted by the deafening noise of the videophone. A call for me. I’m supposed to go to the Dyfed Robots work centre, where I’m employed. A bug in the work program has made the robots run wild. I rush to the mobile. I press the buttons, “Factory” and “500 kilometres an hour.” I hold tight – and within seconds I’ve completed the journey of ten kilometres. After three quarters of an hour of pressing buttons, everything’s back in its place in the centre.

1.00. Back home for lunch.

1.30. Back into the mobile. I press the buttons “London” and “400 kilometres an hour.” I sit back comfortably and read a book. Reaching London at last, I see my cousin. A day’s holiday for us both. An afternoon in a special exhibition called “Life in the eighties.” I see wonders. Only one robot and that a very awkward and clumsy one. (Oh dear, think about making a meal without the help of one of these!) I see the ZX81. This is terribly old-fashioned, row after row of silly buttons and only 16k of memory – this was really only a toy for small children. But still, a million people bought it – something hard to believe.

But the greatest wonder was a gadget called a car. A huge box on wheels using something called petrol and belching dirty smoke sometimes too. An expensive gadget swallowing costly liquid. Clothes! People washed and ironed clothes in those days. Thank goodness for cheap clothes you can throw away after a week of wearing them.

An interesting afternoon, but all good things must come to an end and I go home over the second Severn bridge. Call at the doctor. Stand in front of the large screen which tells me that I am well. After a tasty meal, I play chess against the computer. The game carries on for hours but in the end the same thing happens time after time – the computer wins.

I chat to my robot about the day’s events. The robot in its turn will put a summary of all the events into a special book called a “diary.” After a year the robot will give me this book to keep, and maybe I’ll give it to my children – who knows. I close my eyes and go to sleep after a very busy day. Good night!

8 thoughts on “And the clocks were striking thirteen…

  1. Rhys you were clearly ahead of your time… videophones and voice recognition. But what most impressed me was the fact that even back in ’84 you cared about computer memory size – i don’t think i was aware that computers even had memories then!!!

  2. i was more concerned that you had thought that wearing a set of clothes everyday for a week without washing them would be ok.

    you may have been prophetic about your future career in talking computers and the second severn bridge, but didn’t foresee that dyfed simply wouldn’t exist anymore. i guess prophets have their limitations too. 😉

  3. A shame that the world hasn’t caught on to the possibilities that moving floors have to offer; or to the true nature of cars.

    Such accurate predictions, but sadly your radar was way off in believing that there would still be meaningful employment in Dyfed. Bit of satire there, hope you don’t mind that ladies and gentlemen.

  4. That was very cool. I love the bit about the robot having 16k of memory. Our brand new computer has atimy 320gb hard drive. How times have changed.

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