Note to Self

Of all the communications I received during the recent General Election campaign, easily the strangest arrived in the form of a letter, ostensibly addressed to me from my future self, on a single sheet headed with by name and address and dated July 2024 It begins as follows:

Part of a political ad framed as a letter to me from my future self.

It was part of an attempt by the Conservative Party to dissuade voters from casting their ballots for those ‘populist’ arrivistes the Reform Party. As I’d never any intention of giving my vote to either of these outfits, it was altogether wasted on me. The concept of it did get me thinking, however – what if I were to take its premise at face value?

Imagine a 2044 where technology exists to send pieces of paper backwards through time, yet word-processing software is no better than it is today. It suggests impressive (albeit uneven) technological progress over the coming two decades. And yet it’s a future where there’ll still be scope for anachronistic activities like writing a letter (perhaps one will also be able to transmit dire warnings to the past via text message, email and fax). Moreover, this is a 2044 where I’m still – at the age of 75 – alive, somehow still at the same address, and well enough to write: perhaps the hazards of climate change, pandemics and global political instability won’t be as bad as all that.

Worryingly, though, I must at some point develop dementia or sustain a brain injury, as I can’t see myself spouting such twaddle were my faculties still fully intact. I like to think I’d put any properly urgent warning to my past self in a few forceful words, while in any other scenario I’d want to have some fun with it at 2024-boy’s expense, but there’s no hint of fun in the letter I received. Perhaps an Artifically Intelligent entity will by then have subsumed my identity, and is merely pretending to be me? Whoever wrote it was right to suppose we’d end up with masses of Labour MPs after this election, but forgot that the Reform Party did indeed win five seats. Unless the latter is knowledge that future authorities will strive to suppress…

The letter, I think, is too long for its intended purpose: it rambles; it’s poor advertising copy. Whether anything better-conceived might have been any more effective seems doubtful. In my constituency the incumbent Conservative was unseated by the Labour candidate. Had the right-wing vote not been split by a Reform Party candidate, the erstwhile Tory MP might – narrowly – have kept his job.