The young folk of today 

This month’s writing group has what I’ve found a vey difficult challenge. ‘The subject is just a story that shows how you think the world will be in twenty years. This came from a discussion about all the changes we have seen in our lives.’

The young folk of today

“Hi, Gran!”
“Hello Jaffa, park your board there and come and have a drink!” I was ready for a drink too, and I had a jug of lemonade ready in the cool side of the kitchen.
“Is this your granddaughter?” called Mrs P. My new neighbour was pleasant enough, but I’d already learned she wanted to know everyone’s business. I just hoped she wouldn’t start going on about ‘the young folk of today’.
Having put her board in the sun so it could recharge, Jaffa bounded over and gave me a hug and we went onto the veranda at the front which was still in the shade. As the sun came round we would move to the side, but for the moment we could sit with our drinks and watch the world go by.
“Your garden is so pretty, Gran – and are the apricots ripe yet?”
I had to laugh, with a name like Jaffa she should like the oranges, but apricots were her favourite. I told her that probably there were a few ready to eat, and we could pick others and she could take them home and make jam.
She made a noncommittal noise and I remembered that her mother had an automatic kitchen – well, I call it a kitchen, these days it’s the FPA – food prep area although the only prep as far as I can make out is activating the cook facilitator, or CF. I don’t know, everything seems condensed and reduced, saving time, even words are reduced… but I shouldn’t go on about it. The next thing I’ll be saying is  when I was a girl, like Mrs P. does and going on about back in the good old days.  Good grief, she’s actually younger than I am and we both went to school in the 1980’s, although actually…
“So, can we Gran?”
I’d missed what Jaffa had said, but she’s used to me with my wandering mind. She repeated that for a school project, Now and Then, Then and Now, she wanted to interview me and have me show her round the garden and house while she filmed it – not filmed, Gran, no-one films anything now! Because I was AltSoc, and lived Old Style, it would be great for her project. Most people’s grandparents lived in the RetComs – the what, Jaf? I asked before I remembered – RetComs – retirement complexes, whole cities of old folk in what we used to call care homes or supported living facilities.
We had a quick slice of fruit cake to keep ourselves going and then we started by me talking about my old-fashioned kitchen. There was electricity of course, solar panels provided that; now we had so much more sunshine than when I was a kid growing in the 70’s and 80’s and with the tech to store it. I did have an illegal wood-fired stove, no doubt at some point an enviro-inspector would call round and catch up with me. Possibly I’d be able to convince them it was just a historical keepsake to give a retro feel to the kitchen, along with all my other retro items – which actually are things I still use every day.
We moved outside and walked round the garden, hats and UV protection well applied, and I talked about the things I remember my dad and granddad growing when I was a kid, and how fruit and vegetables flourishing in my garden had to be imported from other countries.
“In the olden days, when you were young,” Jaffa started. “Did everyone eat actual animal meat for every single meal?”
I had to laugh at that. We live in such a different world now – or maybe it was a different world then, it was difficult to explain without it seeming as if I resented the changes, or longed for the past. I was happy to live my simple life here, independent and not yet having to move into a RetCom. I didn’t like to think about whether communities like this one would be able to survive, or whether we would have to conform and move into what’s called a structured life-style. I know some people have abandoned all modtech and gone off grid as we used to say, small pockets of individuals living as travellers and New Age – to use a very old expression.
We had arrived at the apricot tree. Jaffa had filmed our progress round the garden and had interviewed me and made notes on some sort of digital thing – not filmed of course, not digital thing, I am so off grid I don’t even have the vocabulary for the modern world any more. It had been strangely depressing; these days everything is so controlled and regulated, for our own safety and protection of course.
I look at Jaffa and hope that the young people like her will facilitate some change and her future will be brighter than our present seems now. These young folk of today, as Mrs P. would say, they surely are our world’s only hope.

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