Abraham Lincoln famously said that you cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. It is rumoured that he said it on the night before he went to the theatre, but he was never available to answer questions about this. The fact is that however far you look into the future it is always going to start the minute you stop predicting it. However, for many at the moment 'the future' seems to be two short dark days in December on which we traditionally eat dry white meat with people we love but frankly don't like very much.
"Will we still get our turkey at Christmas?" asked someone (quite seriously) of the panel of BBC's Question Time last Thursday, during a serious debate about the future of road transport and supply chain challenges. Grant Shapps was on the panel and, unusually for him, was facing the correct way, but appeared a little stymied by the question. David Lammy, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, was also in attendance and saw this as yet another opportunity to bellow and scream at any and everyone around him:
"We love poor people. We love turkeys. We represent all poor people and turkeys everywhere and it is shameful, wrong, spiteful and callous that the Tories hate all poor people and turkeys."
Fiona Bruce seemed as unruffled by this explosion of noise as any human being sitting with a hundred metres of Mr Lammy could be, and attempted a follow up question about lorry drivers and their future employment.
"WE LOVE ALL LORRY DRIVERS," roared David Lammy, "THE TORIES HATE THEM AND WANT TO KILL THEM ALL. ALL OF THEM CAN ONLY EAT AT FOOD BANKS AND THEIR CHILDREN WILL ALL GROW UP DEFORMED."
And so 'the debate' continued. It appears that politicians and the media think that as long as we get a dull meal on one dreadfully disappointing day in three months time the British public will be mollified. You and I know that is not true. We also want an artificial tree standing depressingly in the corner of our living rooms weighed down by bargain baubles and the hopes of a nation. However, this national dream is also under threat. Christows, an online retailer of stuff for our already overstocked homes, are prematurely urging us at the very top of their website, "Don't be late to the 2021 Christmas party" and have told the media that production problems in Asia means that only 60 per cent of their order of artificial trees have been supplied so far.
"WE LOVE CHRISTMAS TREES; THE TORIES WANT TO EAT THEM ..."
Yes, yes, David, we get that you are cross and are a man of the people. Have a word with Sir Keir about his suit, will you?
The shipping industry is suffering delays because containers are in all the wrong ports due to the pandemic (and, no doubt, terrible planning) and this is having a knock on effect around the globe. In many respects it is a good thing that we haven't got anything landing at our ports, as we don't have a single lorry driver to deliver them on to our stores. Now, despite a rather pitiful amount of poor strategic thinking, the Government have doubled-back, faced themselves and are agreeing to a short-term extension of the visa regime to include HGV drivers from the EU (and frankly anywhere else ... now). Apparently this may not 'save Christmas', but may help our futures thereafter if we survive without a pigeon stuffed in a turkey and terrible TV for those seismic two days at the end of December.
If the future does exist after Boxing Day (when shops will suddenly all be closed to save companies money, leaving us all bereft, not able to buy a terrible sofa for half price and to face our relatives for a second, terrifying, consecutive day) it seems as if we may be flying on a plane powered by hydrogen by 2035 (the same year that Australia will be welcoming back international tourists). Airbus is increasingly confident that 2035 is a “fair and realistic perspective” for their pencil sketch of a hydrogen plane to enter service. The CEO of Airbus, Guillaume Faury, tells us: “We don’t need to change the laws of physics to go with hydrogen. Hydrogen has an energy density three times that of kerosene - [technically it] is made for aviation." Well, that's good, as changing the laws of physics would take longer, but would - on the other hand - have the great benefit of pissing off Brian Cox ... so we in the NTI newsroom are 50/50 on that one.
We won't need planes to travel to (many) hotels in Great Britain and that may be just as well as the future predicted for them, especially those reliant upon business travellers, is a little bleak. It has been well reported that this year British people have been visiting parts of their home islands they had never previously:
(a) heard of, and
(b) considered worth the effort, but what will happen in the future, as summer turns to autumn and inevitably to winter, and hotels have to rely upon missing business travellers? We need Abraham Lincoln to predict whether British business people will leave Zoom behind and start meeting each other again. We in the NTI newsroom are sure that David Lammy has a view on it (almost certainly involving food banks, the poor and those devilish Conservatives), but we have too much of a headache to ask him what it is.