Wednesday, August 15, 2012

1000 years up the timeline

I was watching a BBC 4 programme on Landscapes. Historian Michael Wood was walking a muddy path along a field boundary, intoning Old-English Anglo-Saxon (which he reads).

He was calling off the boundary markings (here's a path, there's a stream) as documented one thousand years ago by the Anglo-Saxon surveyor who had drawn up the mortgage document he was reading from. Those landscape markers were still there.

Put yourself in the place of that surveyor in 950 AD. He speculates what life will be like, in this English countryside around Cheltenham, one thousand years hence. Let's tell him.

The economy has changed utterly - a bounty of goods beyond imagining lies in every supermarket; technology also has flowered beyond the most feverish of dreams - flying machines, interplanetary exploration, .. television.

Yet people are the same: the same drives, compulsions, ambitions, betrayals, desires. That surveyor could visit this foreign land of the future and after a period of shock-and-awe he could fit right in.

I look out the window as the rain washes in, and wonder if it's the same story for Wells, Somerset in AD 3000. Somehow, I don't think so. You see, we'll soon know sufficient genetics.

Finally, finally, the people themselves of 3000 AD will be utterly strange.