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The International Writers Magazine: 21st Century - Is This The Future? *Archives 2004

2024 - A Fin Odyssey
Andrew Walker in the year 2024

I stared at the shapely characters on her left shoulder with a sense of high intrigue. I asked for their meaning. She told me it was Arabic for "Smoking while pregnant harms your baby". I continued to admire this strange blemish on her beautifully modified skin, as she returned the burning Mayfair stub to her lips for another toxic inhalation. Tattoos are no longer a controversial subject as they were in our day. The girl with the health warning on her upper left back is my daughter. This kind of thing is something of normality, thanks to the increases in cosmetic surgery, and the reduction to costs of tattoo removal.

Tattoo removal is now a worldwide industry. Shares of the larger companies, such as ‘Ink-off co’, and ‘The Laser People’ sometimes exceed in price over the likes of ‘Coca-cola’ and ‘Microsoft’.

The world economy aside, I’ll return to ‘Nip and Tuck’. Back in 2011, facing early retirement David Beckham decided to resort to the ultimate image changing publicity stunt. He had a fin surgically attached to his head and spine. People’s interest returned to a satisfactory level, and while his sex appeal, as would be expected for a man with fish-like features, did suffer slightly, he managed to maintain some, holding down the 47th place in Cosmopolitan magazine’s official Fifty Sexiest Men poll that very year.

However, Beckham’s decision to mutilate himself came with diabolical consequences. The lambs followed their shepherd, as always. But this was no Mohawk. This was not merely a female haircut on a male body. Nor was it poorly spelled, grammatically incorrect oriental writing representing advertised love for a family member. No sir, this was a fin. For the first time in his long career, the man who was once said to have had golden testicles had gained the support of the entire alternative music scene.

Young men dropped their black makeup, and pushed their black Bucket of Death, and Slipknot hooded jumpers to the back of their wardrobes to make way for a topless summer, baring their very own aquatic body parts. The government were powerless, the parents were angry. Fish components became the new swearing in the parental bid to save their children from this soon to be international outrage. In 2014 a group calling themselves Fathers Against Ghastly Surgery, having concluded that, the now Derby County manager, Beckham was the reason behind the craze, awaited his exit from the grounds after a Tuesday morning training session. Security stood no chance. Beckham’s fin was brutally severed by the group’s leading members. He died in hospital the following day, but the cosmetic surgery craze continued to rise as young men resorted to fins in tribute to their former hero.

The fad didn’t stop at fins, it developed into tails, and very briefly, eyelid removal, but that was quickly illegalised. But these unusual customers enabled cosmetic surgeons to reduce prices for the less extreme treatments. Which is why my daughter has perfect skin, and breast implants. The skin was a Christmas present, so I would hate for her to waste my money by sticking some hideous fins to it, and is why I am glad she is satisfied by a simple tattoo, which actually looks pretty good. She afforded the breast enlargements by harvesting the fruits of working in a coffee shop one summer. "All the kids have them" she used to say.

Other things have changed of course. Starburst, formerly known as Opal Fruits, changed to Rainbow Blocks, but after a pointless legal battle arguing that there are only four of the colours of the rainbow in these sweets, the name was changed again to Fruity Chunks. That’s a lot of name changes, rather like that old guy, Prince or Taffcaps or whatever he calls himself now. As for fantasies like hover-cars, I think the people in charge must have realised what a bad idea it would be to give road-rage a third dimension. Don’t even start me off on teleportation, there are far too many reasons why that’s a stupid idea.

So, most of the world has stayed the same. Grass is still greenish brown, Coco-pops are still Coco-pops, and North Korea still has an unrivalled nuclear arsenal… What’s that? You didn’t know? Give it a year, and prepare for some more repetitive headlines. Politicians still talk a lot of crap. People still eat a lot of crap. Amongst my ex-wives was one of almost five hundred people to successfully sue McDonalds in the last decade. Boy, did she get fat, and then rich.

So, don’t you all worry about the next twenty years. Just the usual daily grind, lots of wars and a world domination attempt by mutated penguins. They’re extinct now! Just stay away from fins and Canadian beef, that’s my advice. Anyway, I’ll see you youngsters when you’re old like me. Then we’ll see who’s right!

© Andy Walker Dec 2024
Andrew is a graduate of the Creative Arts at the University of Portsmouth

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