I have just returned from the Post Office, where I witnessed with my own eyes a gentleman renewing the tax disc for his car whilst wearing trainers with toes on them. Trainers, with toes, looking like some sort of horrific human-reptilian hybrid.
Now, I am certain that there is a legitimate sporting excuse for wearing trainers with toes in this second decade of the 21st century, but popping down to a Post Office-cum-chemist shop is certainly not one of them, unless he was also going on to purchase powder for his reptile mutation problem. Whatever his excuse, my faith in this nation has been shaken to the very core.
But my undoubted conclusion from this experience is this: If this is a vision of life in Britain in the year 2012, then I want no part of this bold, dangerous future.
So, what, then does 2012 hold for us all? Obviously, we are already 12 years into the future and we still haven't got jet packs and monkey butlers, but I am willing to forgive the world of science for these hideous oversights if they come up with some way of skipping the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. Because, frankly, if I'm not invited to light the flame, I'm not interested.
I exaggerate. In actual fact, I am so excited about the Olympics, I may actually vomit on the Japanese Olympic sailors who have already set up digs on my street, and/or the Russian team who are darting around the Asda multi-storey car park in a van that once belonged to Scooby Doo and chums.
However, the rules of 2012 insist that I maintain an air of Charlie Brooker-esque cynicism, as this is entirely expected of columnists writing in this third millennium. In fact, new rules just come into effect mean that any article relating to the 2012 games must also contain the word "Olympricks". And thusly, my quota is fulfilled.
Science has made brave strides in the last year or so in the field of time travel, but unless they happen to get their time machine working very soon, I fear - if 2011 is anything to go by - I shall be swept up in Diamond Jubilee madness, waving a small plastic flag on The Mall, welling up with tears for Her Majesty, God bless her.
In other royal news, we can expect either a full-on media frenzy and unwanted parental advice should the former Kate Middleton fall pregnant; or a full-on media frenzy and unwanted you're-doing-it-wrong advice should the former Kate Middleton fail to fall pregnant. The stories are already written, as it happens, possibly by Paul Burrell. That is how things work in the news industry these days.
While we're waiting for the Royal happy event, we might as well resign ourselves to the knowledge that one of Edinburgh Zoo's pandas will probably fall pregnant first. Which will be a bit of a puzzler when it's revealed that they've actually been sent two females. Meanwhile, in the enclosure next door, there is a very smug-looking penguin sending a panda outfit back to a local fancy dress shop with a note of thanks. Mark my words, this can and will happen.
And while our collective heads are turned by the year-long festivities, the recession will bite harder on the high street. As more and more well-known chains bite the dust, our shopping streets will become nothing but endless branches of Tesco Express, charity shops, plastic pubs and - of course - 99p discount stores.
And therein lies the rub. As soon as one 99p discount store opens, as sure as eggs, a 98p store will open next door, offering a double-the-difference money back guarantee, and the price war begins. Within two weeks, all that is left is a 3p discount store offering nothing but shattered dreams and used sawdust, which will then become a Tesco Express. Or a branch of Greggs, also offering shattered dreams and used sawdust*.
And then, on 21 December, the world's going to end. Not with a bang, but with a Mayan language title card saying "Th-th-that's all folks!" Still, you've got to laugh, eh?
* This is a lie. Greggs offer tasty, tasty baked foods with absolutely no sawdust in them, used or otherwise.
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