Nostalgia For The Future
In the 1960s, we were too impatient to wait for the future. We had to have it now. The Americans and the Russians were racing to the Moon. In Britain, we had TSR-2 and Concorde, and in TV ads men in white coats sold us washing powder and alien robots sold us powdered instant mashed potato. Even ice lollies were space-age ice lollies. Not only was the Zoom lolly shaped like a rocket ship, with three differently-coloured stages, in 1963 or thereabouts a space-age card was secreted between lolly and wrapper. I was just getting into science fiction, and was an avid follower of both the space race and Fireball XL5: I had to have a complete set of those cards. It was one of the first of many obsessions. I had little pocket money, and there are only so many ice-creams you can eat even when you're eight or nine, but I hit on a cunning plan. We lived close to the village shop, and one day I noticed that someone had discarded not only a Zoom wrapper in the bin outside, but also the free space-age card. After that, I checked that bin every day, braving angry wasps to peel open sugar-sticky wrappers in search of those precious cards. I never did get the full set, but I sent away for the free album and carefully glued my collection inside. It vanished long ago, and the row of cottage where I lived and that village shop have vanished too. The future isn't what it once was, but what is?