"Greetings, Earthlings!" he said to an open-mouthed audience, then "I like calling them that." This last was said as an aside to his flame-haired companion. "Greetings. I bring you good news from the future!"
For a conference debating the very form that the future should take this was an answer to a prayer. They could look forward and see what their earnest intentions would bring about. For the first time they could set a policy course knowing what the outcomes would be. Almost everybody, to some unheard cue, leaned forward in their seats and listened.
"In the future, there is no such thing as multiculturalism. Everybody identifies themselves as either 'British' or 'visiting' and everybody looks pretty much the same. People do not fear the police or the judiciary and everybody rubs along pretty well, knowing the rules. Burglars are desperate people for they know they abandon their rights the moment they break in.
"In the future there is no European Union to speak of and Britain is independent of it. There is no Human Rights Act, no restrictive employment laws and employers are free to hire and fire fairly and as they see fit. Most adults are in work, many mothers happily stay at home and bring up well-behaved children who do them credit. The watchword is 'a fair day's work for a fair day's pay' and those who are envious of higher earners know that to achieve the same they must work harder or smarter, or both.
"In the future the National Health Service is the envy of the world, as is the British education system. Both have discarded the management-heavy inefficiencies and both medics and teachers strive to provide the best possible outcomes for their client base. Police officers and security guards are no longer required in A & E and the rare ill-discipline in schools is swiftly and effectively dealt with. Teachers and doctors are pillars of the community.
"In the future people will not be slaves to technology. People will not stumble about their daily lives, eternally plugged into the internet, their iPods, social media, games and the like. They will be civil to each other, hold face-to-face conversations and will no longer suffer the anguish and slide into dementia precipitated by a loss of electronic connectivity. In the future, you will be FREE!"
For a moment, nobody broke the spell. Then a muted shuffling began as people turned to each other, uncertain how to proceed. Strangers cautiously smiled at each other and shook hands; some hugged and a few wept silently to themselves. The future IS bright; the future ISN'T Orange.
Then one brave soul addressed the stranger on stage. "Sir!" he said, "Tell us, pray, from what year you come, bringing such good news?"
The Time Traveller ducked back inside his blue box for a moment, the sounds of ratchets ratcheting and springs being sprung were heard before he reappeared and announced to the enraptured throng. "1958"