If you want predictions that don’t necessarily focus on your spouse’s fidelity, and looking further ahead, you could try watching a movie like Elysium, which Mrs Pobaan and I have been viewing. The year is 2154. Los Angeles has become a bit scruffy, so rather than spending a few bucks cleaning it up the Beverley Hills set have gone to live in a space station (or torus, as we are told) called Elysium which has beautiful houses, swimming pools, lawns etc and hovers tantalisingly close to Earth, so all the poor people left in downtown LA can look up and only dream of going there.
Matt Damon is a member of the Earth-bound criminal classes, harassed by policebots and protective of his childhood friend whose small daughter Matilda has leukaemia and will only survive if she can access the top-notch medical services they have up there in Elysium. Matt Damon has put on a lot of weight since I last saw him, and he’s shaved his head so he now looks a bit like he’s peering out of an inflatable Ross Kemp suit. Ignoring all his health-and-safety training, Matt has rather stupidly suffered a radiation-related workplace accident which means he has only five days to live, so he needs medical attention as much as Matilda. Frankly, things do not look good.
Defence of the space station is the responsibility of Jodie Foster who’s dressed like a hotel receptionist and talks funny, as if she’s just had an injection at the dentist’s. She employs a thug on Earth to do her dirty work, a South Eefriken called—wait for it—Kruger. It could almost be Freddy.
You can probably guess the rest of the story but you may need me to tell you that Matt has an exoskeleton screwed to his body to make him a bit stronger and has all sorts of secret stuff downloaded into his brain. Thus equipped like a human USB memory stick, he fights Kruger to get to Elysium where he downloads his files and somehow opens the spacestation’s borders to the earth’s hoi polloi who will now presumably surge up there and ruin it by dropping litter and speaking Mexican.
Matt’s friend whisks sickly Matilda to a hospital and chucks her on to a scanner which goes ‘Beep. It’s leukaemia. Beep. Fixed it.’ So that’s all right then. Also Kruger’s face, which has been blown off by a hand grenade and looks like a kilo of minced beef, is magically restored in seconds, not that he was ever that good-looking so you wonder why they bothered.
This is what it’s going to be like in the future, apparently. The film shows us all sorts of futuristic things like medicine that really works, lawns in space and so on. But the makers have clearly got bored thinking up everything that we’ll have in 150 years. For example, according to them we’re still going to have laptops with keyboards and we’re still going to drive Toyota Corollas, albeit with Mad Max-style bars on the windows.
Now the typewriter was invented only 150 years ago, in which time we’ve managed to improve desktop writing devices from those cast-iron monsters that slammed bits of lead into an inky ribbon (and were always getting jammed) to the wafer-thin tablets that Chinese tourists hold in front of their faces to snap each other today. Are these movie types really telling us that no further evolution will take place in this technology? Are we to understand that the QWERTY keyboard will survive for 300 years?
Similarly, today the Model T Ford is not much older than 100 years. Yet, we are asked to believe that in 2150, four or five generations into the future, we’ll still be driving around in cars that were designed in the 1970s for double-glazing salesmen with wide lapels and big tie-knots. I could get better insights into the future from the lady that sits on the pavement at the bottom end of South Pattaya with a dog-eared pack of tarot cards. She’s going to give the Toyota Corolla the Death card for sure.
I tell Mrs Pobaan that she’s wasting her money if she pays two hundred baht to the lady that comes to the salon when Mrs Pobaan is having her hair done. ‘How can she know the future?’ I ask, quite reasonably in my view. ‘She’s just some old lady.’
‘It’s magic,’ explains the light of my life. ‘She can see the future. She says you’ve got a minor wife and you’re going to leave me.’
‘Do you believe her?’
‘Well,’ she says, stretching the word out to two or three seconds.
‘She’s a devious old crone who exploits the gullible,’ I reply. ‘She upsets perfectly harmonious relationships by making unsubstantiated accusations against innocent people.’
‘Er, possibly, but what’s devious?’
‘Her business is to start rumours. Stir things up. She’s a wicked person. It’s not possible to tell the future. Hollywood can’t do it with all their resources, so there’s no way that some old witch that goes round the beauty salons can do it.’
‘She could if she was magic. Hollywood,’ says Mrs Pobaan firmly, contradicting everything that the American movie business has been saying about itself for a hundred years, ‘Hollywood just doesn’t have magic.’