03 July 2012

George Orwell - 1980, 1982 - 1984... 2012...

A friend of mine said the other day: "Things seem increasingly like 1984..."

"What, big hair, shoulder pads, shaggy perms, leggings..." I began, having noted the huge revival in 1980s fashion over the last seven years or so.

My friend looked at me, witheringly: "No, I mean George Orwell's version, you twit! Look at CCTV, DNA sampling - you can easily end up on the national database even if you're not charged with anything, the centralising of power to the EU in Brussels, the Nanny State, the refusal of successive UK governments to allow a referendum on EU membership, the West Lothian Question, the Barnett Formula... all the new laws passed in the last fifteen years empowering the police - we don't live in a democracy..."

I must admit to having entertained similar thoughts myself at times, and shuddered.

One of the things which concerns me the most is the disinterest most young people I speak to have in politics. And many older people. If I mention the real 1980s political scene and Reagan or Thatcher opinions for and against usually come thick and fast... but if I mention today's politics I'm usually greeted with a shrug or a blank stare.

Anyway, if you haven't read George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four, I advise you to take a look. No Marilyn having his handbag nicked, no Apple Mac, no big hair, no shoulder pads, no Trivial Pursuit, I promise!

He was alone. The past was dead, the future was unimaginable. What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side?

He took a twenty-five cent piece out of his pocket. There, too, in tiny clear lettering, the same slogans were inscribed, and on the other face of the coin the head of Big Brother. Even from the coin the eyes pursued you. On coins, on stamps, on the covers of books, on banners, on posters, and on the wrappings of a cigarette packet — everywhere. Always the eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed — no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside your skull.

TRIVIA SPOT: Did you know that Orwell's original title back in the 1940s was 1980? He then changed it to 1982 before moving on to 1984.

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