No Planet B - The History of the World Backwards - Part One

July 2006

ROB: Tonight I will tell you the history of the world backwards. We’ll begin at 2006 and go through to the 1870s, interval, then we’ll go from the 1870s to the sunset of recorded time, and then we’ll split up into small groups.

the Earth

Now the one thing you need to remember over the next seven hours of this show is that history going backwards is not the same as time going backwards. In fact in the History Of The World Backwards, time still flows forwards. For example, a baby born on October 7 2006 who lives 86 years dies in 1920. A baby born in 1920 lives fifty years and dies in 1870.

This being so,what does it look like? The history of the world backwards look like? What does it enable us to see? From a distance we may see the mighty sweeps of population. We gaze in horror upon American Indians in the 1800s implementing ethnic cleansing so relentless, so ruthless that by 1492 there is not one single European living on the North American landmass.

Approach a little closer and we may observe how a man’s life changes his character. In the southern cone of Africa, Nelson Mandela enters prison a sweet-natured Spice Girls fan but emerges from long incarceration an embittered revolutionary bent on the armed overthrow of the state.

Closer still and we see ourselves! Let us begin in 2006 with changes which were happening in the workplace.

...From 2006 and through the 1990s there is a steady decline in IT jobs. In 1988 the Harrow March leaves London, walking to the industrial north hoping looking for relief. One marcher has a sign which says ‘Will Web-Design For Food’. Other marchers carry signs more poignant still.

BACK-PROJECTION: JARROW MARCHERS HOLDING ‘WILL MANAGEMENT CONSULT FOR FOOD’ SIGN

Music, Culture & the Arts

PAUL McCARTNEY: Towards the end of the Beatles we started writing songs together, John and I. Sometimes we’d abandon songs halfway through, like the one which went:

[Reads]:

In Penny Lane there is a Tesco and a Shell Select,
Another Tesco and another Tesco.
There's a subway but it's not an underpass, no,
it's a sandwich shop
...fairly strange.
There's a McDonald's but it's not a restaurant
it's a free public toilet
... very strange

This was before the Anti-Clone-Town Laws were passed which were designed to break up chains and clone towns. That was Harold Wilson’s big reform, whereby if a pub was called O’ Neills there had to be someone working there called O’ Neill. And in Scruffy Murphy’s there had to be someone working there who was not only called Murphy but was also scruffy. And I think the same rule applied to ‘giraffe’.

I say ‘writing songs together’ but it was usually about 95% me, 5% John. I’m not trying to do a whole revisionist history thig ‘ere, but that’s how it was, which was fab-wacca-thumbs-up-Macca - woo-ooh!

To Part Two...