Many years ago I read a collection of science fiction short stories, one of which, unlikely as it may seem, took as its theme the possible future of the retail sector. It was written long before the introduction of personal computers but it confidently predicted that retail demands would be fed into a form of electronic typewriter and then delivered automatically to your door by android-driven transporters (laugh if you will, but have you ever tried ordering anything from Tesco Direct). The point of the story was that the service managers had incorporated so much technology and automation into the system they were able to deliver goods even before you decided to order them. The story examined the kind of chaos which would result from such a service.
My mind was taken back to this old tale earlier today when I spotted the advert which had appeared - courtesy of those nice people at Google Adsense - at the top of my Blog. Normally there is an identifiable link between the subject of a recent blog posting and the product being sold : when I post about deafness there are adverts for hearing aids, when I delve into the lives of the great brewers there are ads for lager, and when I once waxed lyrical about Erasmic Shaving Cream there was an advert for false teeth! But there at the top of the page was an advert for a firm of solicitors who claim to be experts in the field of legal claims following aviation disasters. I was vaguely wondering what the link might be when I suddenly realised that I was going on holiday next Monday.
But, silly me (I told myself), I am not flying anywhere but sailing on a rather big cruise ship out of Southampton. However, I had been given a sign, and the least I could do was to try and interpret what it might mean. I tried to see if there were any statistics on the number of times that planes crash into ships at sea but apart from a rather steep rise in the curve in the early 1940s in the waters around Japan, these seem to be relatively rare. Could there perhaps have been a slight error in the coding of the prophecy - everything else is subject to error so why not auguries? Perhaps the powers that be had meant to send me the name of a firm of solicitors which specialise in maritime disasters. Whatever the reason, the advert is clearly a warning. Luckily there is still time to re-pack my case, getting rid of all those dinner suits and Bermuda shorts and stashing away an extra lifebuoy or two and a small inflatable raft. Call me silly if you want, but as I am safely pulling away from the wreck in my little lifeboat I will be singing a hymn in praise of those clever people at Google AdSense.