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A Short History of the World

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLDCompiling a history of the world would take forever, and I have only a few minutes of your time, so it will help me if you read quickly, thanks.

The Earth began 4 billion years ago and there was an Ice Age but most of it melted, like the remainder is doing at present. Dinosaurs were a passing fad: eventually, oxygen came along and so did we.

Before dying young, some of us took the time to evolve. Many people alive today still possess traces of Neanderthal DNA. I think I've met several of them. We lost our own fur millions of years before catwalk models stopped wearing real fur coats to keep their skeletons warm.

The water receded and it became possible to wade between what we now call continents. Without proper galoshes, I bet some of the waders wished they were still fish. Evolution can be a little tricky at times. Hunters became farmers, then land owners, landlords, property developers, founded banks, became usurers, fraudsters, jailbirds and often novelists. Villages grew into towns, turned into cities and clusters of cities established nations. Trade caused industrial revolutions and nations had political revolutions. Witch doctors became spin doctors, both of which could be injurious to health.

david aitkenDespite advances in knowledge, mankind was still unable to control such elemental forces as weather, tides, volcanoes, teenagers and stock markets, all of which can cause unpleasant crashes. Lots of tyrants lost touch with reality.
So-called "people's revolutions" more often than not produced despots as unhinged as any self-assembly shelf unit I have ever tried to attach to a wall. Before you scoff, just reflect on how completely machines can now outsmart us, so that nowadays we have to take technology on trust. I hope none of it hinges on hinges.

Wars never end satisfactorily and they never go away, despite everyone declaring they desire only peace. More and more fields turn into housing estates, and more and more people arrive daily to drain the world of its resources. We know more than ever before, but the world is in a perilous state. Nothing to do with me, honest.

There have been tiny changes in the Earth's angle of spin, which as any astrologer will tell you, can influence the future. ("Romance may make you dizzy next week!") I am old enough to remember when students used to get grants rather than loans, so perhaps that is one of the effects. But often the future is a repeat of the past.

London, Rome, Tokyo and the rest will all be gone and forgotten. The first towns are now buried deep below today's cities, just as they in turn will be buried under mounds of empty pizza boxes and other cardboard containers for gourmet meals and obsolete electrical goods. Is the future already here? And if so, how long will it be before we have to send out for more fast food? Let's hope it arrives soon, but even if it doesn't, it won't be the end of the world, will it?


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