A conflict foretold: when the generation war turns nasty
26 December 2008
The little-known prediction website OldBoresAlmanac.com has had a reasonably successful 2008 with only one forecast (“There will be dancing on the streets of the market-place”) proving to be completely wide of the mark. So what does Old Bore predict for the coming year?
The return of Jonathan Ross to the nation’s TV screens dominates the month’s news. The BBC runs a minute-by-minute online blog while the show is being broadcast and, on a special edition of Newsnight, Lady Warnock, Stephen Fry and Charlotte Church discuss the moral questions raised by its screening. But Ross’s inadvertent expletive “Lor luv-a-duck” causes controversy the next day, with the Daily Mail running the headline “OH DUCK! FOUL-MOUTHED ROSS DOES IT AGAIN” over a piece in which it was claimed that the phrase referred to an act of sacrilegious bestiality.
A number of so-called “boomer-bashing incidents” are reported. As predicted by Martin Amis at the end of 2008, there are signs of an inter-generational civil war caused by the hatred of the young for the baby-boomer generation who are now passing 60 and, according to Amis, “stinking up the hospitals and hogging the restaurants and social services”. Increasingly, Tube passengers of pension age report that younger travellers fail to offer them a seat. The filming of The Last of the Summer Wine is disrupted by demonstrations. John Sergeant is booed at the Pride of Britain awards.
A series of unfortunate events afflicts the Government. Alistair Darling slips up on ice-cubes outside the Treasury and breaks his leg. Ed Balls succumbs to a rare form of laryngitis and is unable to speak for weeks. Jacqui Smith is said to have suffered a nervous breakdown and refuses to be seen in public.
Lord Mandelson explains to journalists that the Government is in safe hands. He will personally be covering for any incapable ministers.
The Home Office announces that, under emergency terrorist-related legislation, any public servant taking more than three weeks’ sick leave will have to re-apply to the job. Asked whether the law will apply to members of the government, Lord Mandelson comments that, at a time of crisis, no exceptions will be made.
After months of speculation, Mayor Boris Johnston announces cutbacks to the 2012 Olympics, now officially known as “the Austerity Games” Beach volleyball will be replaced by darts. The Olympic ice-rink will be on the Serpentine and cycling will be done on regular bikes through the streets of London. Shooting, archery, judo and boxing will be dropped as “inappropriate to the peace-loving place that is modern Britain”.
Sarah Symonds, described in the press as “a professional mistress” after she had claimed to have had affairs with, among others, Gordon Ramsey and Jeffrey Archer, announces that she is setting up a co-operative to represent the interests of women like her.
“We’re not going to take it lying down any more,” says the author of Having an Affair: A Handbook for the Other Woman. “Frankly, we’ve had it up to here. This will do for mistresses what the RAC does for motorists.” The new co-operative’s name, the Professional Mistresses Society, or PMS, receives a mixed reaction in the press.
Robert Peston becomes a life peer. Britain’s most famous broadcaster, author of the bestselling memoir Me and the Collapse of Modern Capitalism, Peston is able to break the story himself as the lead item on the BBC News. “I can now exclusively reveal,” he tells Huw Edwards “that I have been told personally by very high-up sources, speaking to me before they spoke to anyone else, that I – and by that I mean, myself, me, Robert Peston – am about to become a lord.”
An MI6 operative sensationally claims to have evidence of a conspiracy “within government and against government”. Tragically the man is killed by a hit-and-run driver on his way to give evidence to a select committee. Lord Mandelson, in charge of government while the Prime Minister recovers from a boating accident while on holiday, vows that “no stone will be left unturned in the search for the truth” and that the situation is so serious that he will chair the government investigation himself.
Riots break out in Bournemouth during the reunion tour of Cliff Richard and the Shadows, after Cliff is heckled by two “boomer-bashers” in the audience, who are subsequently torn apart by angry pensioners. The inter-generational war is now so serious that a government of all the ages should be established, says Lord Mandelson. He nominates Vince Cable for the boomers, Zac Goldsmith for the anti-boomers, with himself as a unifying leader.
There is near-tragedy on the new edition of I’m Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! when veteran broadcaster Judith Chalmers chokes on a kangaroo testicle. Max Clifford suggests that Chalmers should sue Ant and Dec for cruelty, humiliation and sexual harassment involving an animal.
In a surprise move, Russell Brand is voted honorary president of the anti-boomers. His remarks to Andrew Sachs, once the subject of considerable criticism, are now seen to have set an example of how best to communicate with the old.
Having chaired the latest round of negotiations with the BBC over the license fee, Lord Mandelson achieves his great ambition and appears on Strictly Come Dancing. His remarkably low scores in the first programme are quickly forgotten when, shortly afterwards, a cable to the lift carrying the judges from the studio snaps, killing all three instantly.