Byline: KEN ROGERS journeys into Liverpool's past
IN 1960, aged 12, I read George Orwell's classic novel 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'.
His alarming look into the future, published eleven years earlier in 1949, projected 35 years ahead. Orwell's vision was thought-provoking and alarming, predicting a time when Big Brother would not allow us to think for ourselves. Of course, this had nothing to do with a mind-numbing TV reality show, not least because very few of us had a flickering box in 1949.
Orwell saw a world constantly at war, run by manipulative governments drawn from the privileged elite. Does this strike a chord in 2016? In Orwell's new world you would be persecuted for having any free thought. Every living moment was controlled and watched, a little bit like Channel 4's Gogglebox, except that in Nineteen Eighty-Four your brain would have been removed for lounging on a sofa, swearing like a (sky) trooper, and clouding your judgment, not that you could have any, with another large glass of red wine.
Orwell forecast a time when CCTV-style surveillance was everywhere. No surprises there, but in 1949 he was writing in a world in which the hi-tech news of the day was the launch of the UK's first self service launderette. As Orwell's book launched, youngsters were reading a very different thought-provoking title, Enid Blyton's Little Noddy goes to Toytown. You may be aware that the boy with the bell on his hat, and some of his friends, are deemed politically incorrect now by our very own thought police.
Orwell's all-controlling state would almost certainly have been more interested in Blyton's "Famous Five" with their tales of secret seaside adventures and lashings of ginger beer.
Orwell came into my mind this week as I read a newspaper article about today's real Big Brother, your mobile phone. An in-built GPS signal is constantly tracking your location, where you live, where you work and everywhere you've been. Whenever you purchase something online, companies view and analyse your buying habits.
Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four is clearly yesterday's news when it comes to covert TV street cameras monitoring our every move. I'd support even more street monitoring if I thought for one second that every crime might be followed up.
I recall looking out of an upstairs window and watching somebody using a screw driver to break into my car. I phoned 999 and several years later I'm still waiting for anyone to turn up in a world that focuses on insurance solutions before crime busting.
I won't be here in 2084, but in the meantime I've got one of those old war posters to comfort me: just "Keep Calm and Carry On".
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|VISION: George Orwell
| ||FEAR: Edmond O'Brian and Jan Sterling in the 1956 film adaption of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four