An 11-year-old schoolgirl, writing her homework 52 years ago this month, foresaw some of the key aspects of life in 2021.
The unnamed child predicted with uncanny accuracy the video-calling revolution that has become an absolute essential of lockdown life.
Some of her other predictions – such as a complete meal replacement that comes in the form of a stick of chewing-gum – are yet to come about, but there’s no reason to assume that we won’t one day see them.
The portrait of life in the future, which was supposed to outline the technology of the “far off year” of 1980, was discovered by upholsterer Peter Beckerton while he was refurbishing an old sofa for a client.
Dated February 23, 1969, the essay starts with the girl imagining her future husband coming home from work.
With slightly imperfect spelling, she writes: “’Hello dear,’ he said to me. ‘I’ve just got to ring up my friend on the telephone’.
“’Well you’d better tidy yourself up a bit,’ I said.
“In 1969 the telephone was a square box thing with a receiver on top of it.
“But now it is still a receiver, but you can see the people you are talking to, for there is a screen where you can see the people. It is a bit like a television.”
Peter’s wife Rosa, 66, from Peterborough, Cambs., decided to make the essay public in the hope that the author, who today would now be aged around 62, might see it.
She said: “When my husband showed it to me I couldn’t believe it.”
She added: “It was just so interesting, because looking at it today she’s got a lot of her predictions kind of right – but in her childish innocent way she thought it would all happen in 10 years.
“My husband has found all sorts of rubbish down the side of sofas and furniture before – but never anything as interesting as this.”
The essay doesn’t foresee all the technological advances we enjoy today – instead of a smart TV with remote controls or voice commands the TV is described as “a big screen with knobs on your chair arm to switch it on and off”.
Mealtimes, too, haven’t lived up to the young girl’s 1960s imaginings: “All we have is a piece of chewing gum to eat. You may think that we have not enough to eat but you are wrong, because this piece of chewing gum is food.”
The work was marked by a teacher who made a few corrections in red pen, and pronounce that it was “Good”.
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