Sunday, March 01, 2015

Lighting A Fire Under The Bath Water Of Technological History


What are you going to be getting up to this evening? I don't know about you but I might phone up The Lad in Sheffield and see what type of weekend he has had, FaceTime my mate Denis in Spain, fire a few e-mails off to friends near and far, check-out a few of my favourite blogs from around the world, take a nice hot bath and then settle down to watch Match of the Day 2.  But there again, if all the electric and battery power suddenly disappeared, I suppose I would just go to bed and feel miserable. Or perhaps I would pop along to the fascinating lecture at the St George' Hall in Bradford on "The Electric Telegraph, What It Is And What It Does"

Sadly, I can't make it to the lecture as I seem to have missed it by the small margin of 155 years; the confusion can be put down to my habit of reading old newspapers. As I get older I find I get more and more depressed by so much of what is happening in the news and even more depressed by popular reactions to it. I find I can't even walk past a brace of popular daily newspapers on a newsstand without my blood pressure climbing to dangerous heights and I am in receipt of a lifetime banning order - issued by the Good Lady Wife - stopping me watching Question Time and the Politics Show on television. I thus take refuge in old newspapers : it is difficult to get too worked up about mistakes that have already been made and at least you know how the story ends.

And that is how I came across the above notice from the Bradford Observer, advertising a lecture by Mr E Graves of the Electric Telegraph Company. Reading the list of marvels to be demonstrated, I can't help thinking that it must have been a fascinating time to have been alive (given the proviso that you were also fortunate enough to be able to afford a carriage to collect you at 10.00pm and buy enough food to stop you from starving). Technological innovations were queuing up to with all the enthusiasm of bargain hunters at a Boxing Day Sale. Telegraphs, electricity, lights, printing, not forgetting my beloved photography; they were all falling headlong into common usage and transforming society in a way that is reminiscent of the digital revolution over the last thirty years. Like any list of things that will transform the world, they don't all make it - I am not sure whether to be pleased or disappointed that the Mystery of Spirit Rapping never made it past the design stage.


But tonight, as I watch my TV, Facebook my friends and relax in a warm bath I will not be able to avoid thinking of that lecture I have missed and how fascinating it would have been to have shared the wonder and the marvel at the demonstrations of Mr Graves and his colleagues. Perhaps I will light a small fire beneath the bath water to celebrate.

5 comments:

  1. It seems like it is a lecture about magic or trickery. The wires having to being carried into the room must have been a sight to see. We have come a long way in 156 years.

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  2. I have to limit my news intake daily. We only take the Sunday paper. Other news we get from the TV -- way too loud , too many arguments and depressing, if not shocking news in the Middle East. The persecution of Christians hits close to home while Obama seems to be twiddling his thumbs waiting for a repeat of World War 2.

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  3. You missed it by 155 years? You must work on your punctuality, Alan!

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  4. Well it sounded like am interesting evening if one could afford it. How did the fire under the bath water work for you:)

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  5. The Chef's blood pressure soars when confronted by the news. He takes the Guardian when he's in England, the FT on Saturdays (ditto) and Le Matin in Switzerland - mostly I suspect for the gripping "People" pages; stacks of Z list French and Swiss celebs all getting married and divorced, having children with strange names, and featuring on so-called reality TV which we never watch. And then there's the World Service.

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