by Tim Pollard

Do you remember the old 80’s movie Dirty Dancing? It’s not a big favourite of mine (there are nowhere near enough explosions, spaceships or samurai in it for my liking), but Sal really loved it. Anyway, there’s a scene at the end of the movie where the lead girl’s father has realised that Patrick Swayze’s character isn’t the ‘up-to-no-good bad boy sex fiend’ he’d previously presumed and says to them both “When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong” (and then bizarrely doesn’t say it, despite the implication). At that point I always shouted “Go on then, say it” at the screen, but he never does…).

Anyway the basic concept is sound, so here goes…I was wrong.

Recently I’ve written in this very publication about my concerns over the potential ramifications of the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ when the majority of Covid restrictions were lifted – and thankfully there wasn’t a massive national increase in cases and especially deaths overwhelming the NHS.

And I also commented on a local business near my house which hadn’t even opened yet looking like it had closed down before it could start trading – and again I was wrong – the signs have gone back up, it looks like the shopfitters are in and I have every expectation they’ll be trading sometime soon.

In both cases I’m really glad I was wrong – so what else might I be wrong about?

I grew up enjoying science-fiction TV, movies, books and comics and the majority of them (with the notable and gloriously optimistic exception of original Star Trek) were bleak, dystopian views of a world (or universe) beset by various travails – war, natural disasters, invasions, futile resistance to totalitarian governments, pandemics and the odd zombie apocalypse or two.

All cheery stuff, but it was quite exciting imagining how (for instance) I’d fare fighting the venomous walking plants of The Day Of The Triffids (to this day I avoid looking at meteor showers in case they send the world blind as they did in that story). Or coping in the collapsed and plague-devastated 1970’s UK of the old TV series Survivors (where everyone working class or with a regional accent was likely to be a baddie, but if you were middle-class you were probably OK).

And of course there was the ever-present threat of actual nuclear war hanging over us – they used to test the four-minute warning sirens in town on a regular basis, which was terrifying (partly because you never knew if it was drill or not)! Would I survive the initial blasts, and what would the world be like afterwards if I did?

So the idea of living in a dystopia was a mostly thrilling idea, but having now lived (at least so far) through a global pandemic coupled with the nightmare of climate change, a rise in authoritarianism, the ongoing extinction of countless species of flora and fauna (hey, who needs those trees and bees anyway, right?) it’s considerably less fun in real life than in sci-fi. Especially as I now have a daughter, nephews and friends with children who’ll see these changes even more acutely.

But maybe once again I’m wrong, maybe they’ll be the generation to sort things out and tidy up the mess we’ve left them – I do hope so for their sake. Things do change, as I’ve also written before and it’s certainly possible that things can change for the better – as I said last time and on a smaller, local scale there are new shops, restaurants and venues on the High Street replacing those that have gone. Things are looking up for us – so maybe I should stop being the voice of doom and start quoting Professor Zarkov from another classic 80’s movie, Flash Gordon: “You can’t beat the human spirit!”

What really worries me though is this… what if I’m very wrong indeed – and Dirty Dancing is actually a good movie?! 😊