I had an epiphany not long ago. Unfortunately it wasn’t a happy epiphany. In fact, it was the very opposite. But I’ll come to that shortly.
First, I’ll begin with what eventually led to my epiphany. I sometimes like to escape into fantasy or daydreams as a way to salve moments of despondency or those periods in which one despairs at the state of the world, and one of the things I like to ponder on is the idea of going into stasis so that I can wake up 100 years from now. As a somewhat eternal optimist, and admittedly perhaps a naïve one, I like to believe that no matter how terrible things are in the world now, surely things will be better in the far future. I’d like to believe that the people of Earth in 2116 will not be living with the daily threat of islamic terrorism and that Britain has not become a nation defined entirely by mosques, halal meat, child grooming and FGM.
When discussing this fantasy scenario with others, it has been pointed out to me that life in 2116 would be so vastly different to what I’m used to that it would be virtually impossible to adapt and become acclimatised. This is certainly true. When one considers the pace of technological advances in only the last 30 years, we can’t begin to imagine what will happen over the next hundred.
Of course, this is all conjecture, because none of this will happen. As much as I’d like to see the far future, hypersleep of the type seen in the Alien films doesn’t exist and is unlikely to be a reality for a long time, if ever.
So then I speculated on how someone from Britain in 1916 would react to waking up in 2016. In 1916, Britain was halfway through the First World War. There was conscription, the country was under attack from German Zeppelins, battlecruisers and airships, and the Battle of the Somme saw horrific losses. Let’s take a hypothetical 21-year-old living in London in 1916. He will have just been conscripted and sent into battle. We’ll say he survives the war, goes on to have a family and a career and dies in his early 90s during the 1980s. Let’s say this fellow wakes up in 2016. How would he react to the world as it is now? More to the point, how would he feel about what London is like now?
After the initial shock of skyscrapers, modern vehicles, digital billboards and all the other emblems of technological progress, there are, no doubt, many things he would be excited about. Ease and speed of global travel and communications, the abundance and quality of food, the vast choice in entertainment and leisure activities, and so forth.
But then, I wager that our time traveller would be rather shocked by a more profound change than the merely technological. In fact, our traveller would be forgiven for thinking he’d gone to sleep and woken up in a foreign land. Chances are that, upon waking up in 2016, he would walk for about 30 minutes without hearing a single word of English being spoken or an English accent. Confused and anxious, he’ll see that these are London streets with familiar names, he’ll recognise those places and buildings still standing from his time, but he’ll also see things that don’t make sense. It’ll be London but not London. What are all these butchers and restaurants offering something called “halal”? Why are there so many people covered head to toe in a black garb that hides their face? Are they women? They could be but he can’t tell. Why are there so many buildings with the word “mosque” on the front? This is still a Christian country, isn’t it?
Our traveller is even more baffled when he sees a group of about 80 men and boys in a local park wearing odd attire and all face down on the ground reciting words in Arabic. He remembers children running around and playing in that park back in 1916. And when our time traveller decides to visit the East End to visit his childhood home, he becomes distressed when he doesn’t see a single English face in the streets he used to play in. Instead he sees many bearded foreign men and more of the women covered up entirely. What’s going on? Is this London or isn’t it?
He spots a shop and, feeling thirsty, he goes inside and buys a beer to try and calm himself down. But as he strolls down the road enjoying his drink, he’s accosted by two of these bearded men who tell him to get rid of the beer. The 21-year-old from 1916 is lost for words. “Why should I?” he asks. They tell him he’s in a “muslim area” and they don’t allow alcohol. He is now even more bewildered. This is London, the capital of the United Kingdom. How can there be such a thing as a ‘muslim area’ in the city he was born and grew up in? Why are two foreign men aggressively telling him he can’t drink alcohol in his own country? And as our visitor from the past makes a quick exit from the East End, he spots a bus coming down the road that has on the side a poster wishing people a “Happy Ramadan.” He stops in his tracks. Ramadan? He remembers Easter, Christmas and St George’s Day. He doesn’t remember there ever being a holiday called Ramadan when he was at school. By now, our time traveller from 1916 is in a state of deep shock and doesn’t know how he can cope with living in this strange and disturbing new world.
And it was in imagining this scenario that I had my epiphany. It was a heartbreaking realisation. This country has been damaged and disfigured just as much as if it had been in a world war. It hasn’t been through bombs being dropped on us at night – though we have had bombs during the day on our buses and tube trains – and it hasn’t been from heavy artillery, but the United Kingdom has been attacked, diminished, changed, disfigured and damaged to an extent comparable to a war. It is no longer the country that those of us who grew up in the 80s, let alone any time before that, recognised. The political classes have permitted and encouraged an alien culture that is not only completely incompatible with Western civilisation but totally bent on destroying it to come here and demand that we adapt to their way of life, when it should be the other way round. And if the present course continues, this country is headed for destruction. I don’t mean physical destruction of the land and buildings. They will remain. But it will no longer be Great Britain.
To come back to our time traveller, after having experienced life in 2016 London, I think it’s safe to say that, even with the First World War underway back in his time, on being told that he will live to a grand old age into the 1980s, a decade in which Britain was still most definitely Great Britain, he would happily and very speedily return to 1916.
And who could blame him?