So I’ve decided to get the word “major” taken up in the language as an expression for good. I do this for no reason other than that it made me laugh when I accidentally used it in this context whilst failing to finish a sentence, a bad habit I have when my brother isn’t around to take up the onerous task of ending of my thoughts for me.
I mentioned this ambition to my friend the filmmaker Lousia Mayman and she obligingly signed off a text message by describing our arrangement to meet up as “major”. Flattered though I was, I wanted to let her know that I am aware of the utter futility of my quest and was going to reply that I felt confident the expression would be in the script of Skins by the year 2030 but I found I couldn’t actually write this.
I suddenly realised that I had no workable concept of 2030. Written down it doesn’t even look like a date. If I told you something was going to happen in 2030 you’d expect it at half past eight tonight. Held transfixed on the edge of my train carriage, the high pitched door alarm squealing in my ears, I was suddenly aware that my mental image of the future extends no further than the year 2020. Anything beyond this date is utterly meaningless, cotton wool in my mind.
I have always had a pretty clear mental map of the future. I suppose there is the exception of a brief period in my childhood when I was convinced that due to a quirk in our numbering the 90’s were never going to happen. I’m not sure where this came from, possibly from the French and their still dazzlingly bonkers refutation of logical progression once their numbers hit 80. Whatever the cause it took me until quite someway into the year 1990 before I was certain that the sequence wasn’t 1989, 1990, 2000 and that we would have to sit out the whole the decade before the millennium fell.
This episode aside I’ve always felt like I knew where I was in time. True I’ve never thought much beyond the year 2020, but until trying to send that text message I’d never felt I needed to. 2020 has been, for sometime, the limit of the near future. Of course science fiction is written about any date, often those picked at random, but generally speaking I’ve always felt a divide between people imagining the safe impossible space of the future like the year 3288 and those wishing to comment on contemporary culture by projecting forwards into the tangible nearly-now the early 2nd Millennium.
Perhaps it is purely a result of paying less and less attention to bad science-fiction the older I get but my own sense of the distant present is fixed at a point which is rapidly because the actual present. With a mere 8 years until 2020 is the actual real date of the date and no longer the outer reach of our present culture I am struck by the realisation that I have no idea what 2021 might be like. I am also struck by the sliding doors of a train at Harringay station.
Lightly bruised in the freezing cold of the platform I watch the lights of the train pull away into the deep unknown future. Life is major, I think to myself, rubbing my arms.
Nah. It’ll never catch on.