In the Christmas Special, we invited readers to imagine they were making entries in their Letts diary in the year 2186. The competition, sponsored by Letts, produced a crop of imaginative entries and lot of copies of the Letts Computer Users diary for 1986 were given away. Top of the pile, was ROBERT NORTON’s entry, which was passed round the office in a chorus of chuckles.
Robert picked up a set of Letts Revision Software for his pains, as well as a diary — and we thought his work deserved a wider audience. So here it is, two hundred years into the future — with apologies to a more contemporary diarist, Adrian Mole...
Received this diary for Xmas. Bit disappointed as I really wanted a hover-cycle. Dad said that in his day you were lucky if you got a second-hand Commodore computer for Christmas. Looked up Commodore in Lord Mangram’s long word dictionary. Apparently it’s a military rank. You could probably only buy them from Army and Navy stores.
Spent my software token that Auntie Janet gave me for Xmas. Bought a strategy/arcade/adventure game called “The Space Shuttle War”. Dad said that it was in bad taste coming so soon after the real thing, and that people had complained about it on TV. It shot straight to number 2 in the charts a week later. The holographics are amazing, the best I’ve ever seen on the Spectrum Super. It’s incredible what they cram into 2000K these days.
What a boring day. I don’t think that it’s stopped acid raining since I got up this morning. The only bit of excitement was when Tibby came running in from the back yard. Mum told me to put the cat out, but the fire extinguisher wouldn’t work. She had to throw a bucket of water over him instead. He hasn’t stopped steaming since. Personally, I think we should buy a Robo-Pet. At least they’re acid-rain proof.
School started again today. Depressing. My new form tutor is ancient. The headmaster says that they just can’t afford to buy new androids every year, so we’ll have to make do with the older, ‘but more experienced’ ones. Old isn’t the word. He looks like he’s pre-Sinclair. My mate Dave’s new teacher is the latest model, with built-in 3D projector and positronic humour circuit. I’m not sure what a humour circuit is. Maybe he giggles when handing out lines!
Got into Mum and Dad’s bad books today. I forgot that they were in the room and let fly with a filthy word. Mind you, I had a good reason to: the final of the Indoor International Tiddlywinks Championship was on TV, and was just reaching the deciding winks when the stupid cat went and bit through the solar power lines. The power went out, the cat lit up and I jumped to my feet angrily shouting out, ‘OH, Tebb it!!’ I realised my mistake immediately. Dad went crazy. Mum, who had been in the process of throwing her non-alcoholic cider over the smoking moggy, span round towards me, sending a spray of non-alcoholic cider over the room. I was ordered to my bedroom without any protein tablets and told never to say such vile words again. I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t even know what it means! Well, at least they can’t stop me writing it in my diary. Grown-ups! They can all get Thatchered as far as I’m concerned!
Went on a school trip to Ludlow today. We visited the building that originally housed the Newsfield Publishing empire. In the town centre there is a plasti-bronze statue of Sir Lloyd Mangram. ‘Did he really wear a paper bag over his head or is that just what they call Artistic Licence?’ I asked ‘Old Rustbucket’, my form tutor, but he didn’t know. He did say that Lord Mangram was one of the few famous people who never had their likeness captured on canvas or celluloid. Him and Jack The Ripper.
Pirated Dave’s copy of “Mega-Galactic Mice From Mars” today. Took six hours just to type in the POKE. I got a little worried when the Software Protection Chip in my Spectrum flashed a warning that it was about to self-destruct, and that I had 30 seconds to leave the vicinity of the explosion. Turning the power off had no effect, as it immediately switched to its reserve battery, but I managed to stop the countdown with a wad of chewing gum and a corn plaster. Two seconds from meltdown! Phew! Mind you, it was worth it just to see the cat running around after the holographic Meta-Galactic Mice. Well, hobbling around would be a better description, what with the bandages and all.
Got picked on by the school bully this morning. He trapped me in a corner of the playground and threatened to throw acid-rain in my face unless I gave him my protein pill money. I only had a hundred and fifty Euro-dollars on me, so it could have been worse. Revenge is forthcoming. I’ve asked Dave to lend the bully “Mega-Galactic Mice” and a copy of the POKE. So, provided that he doesn’t have any chewing gum or corn plasters lying around, he may become a big noise in the neighbourhood.
The cat has gone missing — again. This frequently happens. The last time, it had gotten its tail caught in the rear bumper of a over car, and was dragged for 50 miles up the M996 before the driver heard the screams. Luckily the address tag that all licensed domestic animals must wear was still attached to his collar, and he was returned to us minus one life, half of his fur coat and any dignity that he may have had left. My Dad says that black cats have always been thought unlucky, and that Tibby is a prime example. What he seems to forget is that the cat was originally as white as snow, but has slowly, over the years, been charred to its present condition.
The cat has returned — battered and bandaged. It appears that the foolish creature attempted to mate with a Robo-Cat a few blocks away. Sparks flew, Tibby flew, and so did his address tag. It took some time for the owners of the mechanical mouser to find the tag among the plasti-grass in their back garden, hence the delay in the cat’s return. Dad is being sued for the price of one Robo-Cat and a patch of melted synthetic lawn. The topic of Tibby’s sexual proclivities is carefully avoided when I’m around, no doubt to save my parents from embarrassing explanations. At times like these I’m glad I had the foresight to bug their bedroom.
Old Rustbucket dragged the class to a boring museum today. In the music section they demonstrated the forerunners of holodiscs, things called ‘records’. Just bits of crudely shaped plastic, which you had to scratch with a needle to make sounds. Primitive! I’ve heard clearer sound on an inter-planetary trunk call to Jupiter City. One item of interest though, was the body of the ‘time hopping’ android known as Cliff Richard. It amazes me that he escaped detection for over 150 years, pretending to be human. Nobody knows what time he ‘hopped’ from, as he de-activated under interrogation but it is assumed to be a far more advanced society than ours, judging from the androids complex circuitry, which cannot be duplicated using any known methods. Personally, I don’t think much of this so-called ‘advanced’ society, if, with so much power at their disposal all they do with it is send back in time a bloody pop-singing robot!
Tried to discuss the political and economic aspects of the civil war on Saturn with Lynne Constable but all she wanted to do was drag me behind the hover-cycle sheds. When we got there, we found my friends Dave and Ian, smoking an illegal substance: Tobacco! They offered me something called a ‘fag’ and, having decided to be a man of the world I had to try it. I set fire to one end, sucked on the other, breathed in, coughed, choked violently, finally managed to look at my friends and said ‘Not bad, but I’ve had better.’ Seeing through my bravado, they then informed me that I had just smoked the filter. That made me immediately decide never to take drugs again. Anything that needs a filter on it CAN’T be good for you.
Dad had a tele-link call from his brother and his family in America. My uncle emigrated there before I was born. God knows why. Practically every city is covered in a large radiation-proof dome in case there’s another nuclear accident, the theory being that if one city blows up then at least the rest of the country keeps its fresh air. Bad luck for the suckers inside the dome though! Can’t say I’d fancy living inside a giant bra cup myself, but then Americans are strange anyway. Spoke briefly to my cousin Chuck. Typical Yank. Talked with a mouth full of re-useable chewing gum. Dad told me later that Chuck ws a test-tube baby. Interesting. I wonder if his star-sign is ‘Pyrex’?
The cat came into the house with a dead sparrow in its jaws this afternoon. Dad went into panic mode. With the Robo-Cat court case still pending, the last thing he needs is a charge of harming an endangered species. He chased the cat all over the house, finally catching it in the kitchen. After a small tug-of-war over the corpse, he threw the incriminating evidence into the garbage incinerator. If I had not been there, I think the cat might have followed.
The court case has been dropped. The justice computer decided that Dad couldn’t be held responsible for the maniaical nature of a cat. The cat was sentenced to the electric chair. (No, no... only joking). As a celebration, Dad bought Tibby a personal force field. We should have done it YEARS ago! It’s fantastic. The field generator is built into an ordinary cat collar and activated with a remote switch. It stops the cat bumping into or biting things. And, more importantly, stops things hitting him. If he gets into trouble now, I’ll eat my collection of CRASH Weekly!!
We have been discussing where to go for our family vacation week. Mum voted for South America, as it’s just about the only place on Earth where you can see real trees in their natural state. Dad wanted Hawaii, (where you can see women in their natural state. Dirty old swine). I quite fancied Moonbase myself. After Dad had checked his Eurobank account, we settled on a compromise. We’re going to Blackpool — again!!
Here we are in Blackpool. Again. The place never seems to change. Laser lights painting pictures in the sky, rides on the Robo-Donkey, million Euro-dollar bingo, fruit machines by the thousand and a sea-wind that blows acid-rain hats around like confetti. I once heard that the government erected a giant shield to try and reduce the force of the infamous Blackpool wind. It blew down within a week.
Returned from Blackpool to find Tibby in a terrible state. We had forgotten to switch off his personal force field before leaving, which meant that he could not get at the food from the automatic dispenser. He was starving half to death among a mountain of food on the kitchen floor. Poor thing. He’s always been his own worst enemy, and now got us to contend with as well.
The President made a national telecast today. He said that the price of solar power would be going up, due to the unusually dense clouds over the Republic of England. National reserves are at an all-time low and rationing may soon be forced upon us. Dad got very angry and threw his cup of pseudo-coffee at the President’s holographic image. He started ranting about never voting again and if he did he would vote Royalist the next time around. I can feel the government quaking in their boots at the very thought of this. From laughter.
My birthday. Still no sign of a hover-cycle on the horizon. Ended up with the usual sort of presents. Software, of the potential bargain bin variety; books — (“Biggles Flies Undone” and “Build Your Own Robo-Butler”), plus holodisc tokens. No party. Dad said he couldn’t afford to feed the whole neighbourhood every year. Just as well I suppose, considering the cat nearly drowned in the pseudo-fruit punch last time.
Bonfire night. Went to the community park to watch the firework display. A large area of plasti-grass had been cleared for the central pseudo-wood bonfire, which was lit by laser pistol. Computer controlled ignition of the firework displays ensured that all the pyrotechnic displays went off perfectly. According to my history teacher, fireworks have not always been state controlled. People were once allowed to buy them from shopping centres and set them off personally. This resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries over the years. How foolish of them.
Bought my Xmas presents early this year. Got Mum a large box of vegolates (low calorie of course), and Dad’s getting a pair of slippers to replace the ones that Tibby chewed to pieces last year. I’ve made sure that these are non-toxic as the vet hates being called out on Boxing Day. For my grandparents I’ve purchased some classical music (non-holographic) by Wham and Duran Duran (Yech!!). I’m playing safe and not buying the cat anything. In previous years he’s had a Robo-Mouse (stuck in throat), a musical ball, (rolled into the vacuum droid, followed by Tibby) and a box of cat sweets, (got head jammed in box).
Put up the Christmas decorations. We dragged out the old ‘auto-unfolding, pre-decorated, plastic Christmas tree’ again and the floating fairy lights worked after a bit of tweaking with the control box. The anti-tangle streamers were a bit of pain though. As usual the damn things tangled. One day I’ll report them to the Trades Descriptions Committee. Mum insists having a ‘traditional’ Xmas dinner, unfortunately, which means having cloned turkey, organic vegetables and freeze-dried gravy. I don’t know why we can’t have protein pills, as we do for the rest of the year. After all, eating food is merely a pagan tradition, suitable only for lower order animals. Tradition! Humbug! (Whatever that means!)
Fantastic! Great! Nova-Brill! I’ve got my hoverbike at long last. Just come back from a test run. It’s like riding on air. Well it IS riding on air, actually, but I’m too excited to bother with details. It’s got everything. Fifty-speed air gears, somersault retros, programmable homing memory and emergency back-up generator. Bit tricky to control at first, in fact I nearly took the top off Mr Spilsbury’s plasti-privit, but I’ll soon get the hang of it. Dad said he’d teach me properly. Good old Dad!
Tebb it! Tebb it! Tebb it! My stupid old father just rode my hover-cycle through Mrs Pursehouse’s window!! I told him to be careful but he didn’t listen. I warned him that they didn’t have somersault retros in his day but he just grinned and said that he could handle it. He shot off like a laserbolt, clipped a solar power pole, span [...] bits [...] to give up. I must try to acquire some for next year.