Friday, 11 December 2015

A glimpse into the past/future


Last evening, I took my wife out for a meal. We left about 4pm, and returned home at about 5.30.

I live on a closed little estate. Our electricity is provided by means of prepaid card meter, a change that was implemented without consultation or consent. There is no provision for emergency credit, and if we contact site staff outside working hours to obtain electricity, they charge us £50 for the priviledge.

Getting home at 530 meant that we missed office hours, and we got home to find that our supply had run out.

Well it happens. We should have replenished the card when we used it, but we didn't. Our chickens came home to roost at the most inconvenient time possible.

It's winter. The sun goes down at this latitude at about 4pm, and stays down until about 8am. 16 hours without natural light.

We did have some unnatural light. The streelight outside once we'd opened the blinds. A couple of LED torches/magnetic stick on lamps. The gas fire. The light from a couple of battery powered bits of tech, such as my wife's kindle, and my ipad.

Despite the dead router, there were still a couple of methods for getting online with my ipad, while the battery lasted, either by using my mobile phone and a personal hotspot, or by using British Telecom's hotspots. I could read a book. I could listen to an audiobook or music. I could surf the net. I could play a game. The more intensive my choice of activity, the shorter it's duration.

We got home to find darkness. I found myself falling asleep. I went to bed, and surfed the net/listened to an audiobook. The battery on the ipad reached critical levels, and I switched off and went to bed.

There was always the option of going to the car, switching the engine on, and using the 12 volt supply to prolong my access to light, heat and entertainment, but by this time, my body had warmed a bed that is normally prewarmed by an electric blanket, and the low levels of light promoted sleepiness.

I slept.

Bren had other arrangements. She was out for the evening, (hence us going out for an early meal) She came in around midnight, and woke me up.

Having slept for a few hours, I could not get back to sleep.

Normally, I'd go into my man cave and surf the web or play some inane game, or something. If for some reason, I couldn't get online, I could read a book, or watch TV. But now I could do none of those things. LED torches are the 21st century equivalent of candles or rushlights, but to be up and about at night without the benefit of mains electricity was alien. Uncomfortable. Discomfort and boredom got me out of bed. Cognitive dissonance drove me back to bed again. The was nothing familiar to do.

Actually, there was. When I was a child, I used to read voraciously. Once lights out time arrived, I would sneak my light back on, and continue my journey into the imagined reality of someone else (usually Willard Price, or Enid Blyton, or Robert Heinlein) and once I'd been rumbled, I'd use a torch.

But for now, it was easier to lie in bed and try to get to sleep.

The fruits of civilisation were within a gnat's whisker. They were kept at bay by a beaurocratic oversight.

Yet 20 years ago, there was no internet to speak of.
30 years ago the best computers were 8 bit morons like the ZX Spectrum and the BBC B. Awesome compared with what what went before, but in retrospect...
40 years ago, there were no computers beyond pong in our homes.
70 years ago there was no TV.
100 years ago, there was no radio,
150 years ago, there was no widely available electric light.

I endured the commonplace. Just a glimpse. Light is not just a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum, It's also just a tiny part of the experiential spectrum too. Try repeating the above using pain management/anaesthesia as a useful analogue, or the ability to travel 20 miles.

driving lessons in North Wirral? learn to drive in Hoylake? driving instructor in Birkenhead?

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