Young people these days seem increasingly difficult to impress. I marvel at the incredible pace at which technology seems to be advancing, yet my own children were quite blasé about the wonders of their new mobile phones. I tried to remember if my own teenage attitude was as cool then as my children’s are now to the breakthroughs that seem to be happening at an ever increasing speed.
What were the landmark inventions that rocked my world when I was young? No, not the wheel, smartarse, I may be old but the only dinosaurs I know are of the blogging variety.
And then as the cogs began to turn, somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind the sound of harp music began to play. In my mind’s eye, three windows were silhouetted against a plain white background. Through the round window I found myself urging…
What? nobody remembers Playschool anymore? Brian Cant would be turning in his grave if he weren’t still alive. Ok, it was way back in 1980 and I still had hair – well, I was only 14…
One of my best mates, John, was the son of a local doctor. Dr Bodley-Scott had the coolest house that simply bristled with an arsenal of all the latest gadgets. It was at the house of the Bodley-Scotts that I became acquainted with (drumroll please!) the VHS video recorder! Ta-ra!
It was also at this futuristic domicile that I encountered the first mobile phone I ever saw, which looked something like this:
Yep, the Bodley-Scotts were probably the coolest people I knew (and the only people I knew with a posh sounding double barrel name) and I simply loved going there.
One fine Saturday I rode my hand-me-down bicycle around to my friend’s house, where his very nice mum made me a fruit smoothie to drink while she got my friend John out of bed. Pretty soon I was joined by three other mates and we all sat drinking smoothies at the kitchen table while we waited for John to surface.
Mrs Bod as we called her said goodbye and went off to tend to her horses leaving us to wait for our friend. John had an older brother called Richard who we held in the highest regard as he wore sunglasses and a leather biker jacket all year round, and rode a Suzuki 125 motorcycle, while the rest of us were still riding push-bikes.
Richard swaggered into the kitchen that morning to a chorus of ‘alright Rich’ and lit a cigarette right there in front of us. “Have you seen this, lads?” he said, pointing to a large chrome and glass box sitting on the kitchen worktop.
“What is it?” I asked innocently, noticing the new contraption for the first time.
“It’s a Microwave Oven,” said Richard with a wicked smile. “Watch carefully.”
He took an egg from the fridge and we gathered around in front of the microwave with absolutely no idea what was going to happen next. With the exaggerated flourish of a stage magician he showed the egg to all of us, then opened the door of the oven. He placed the egg in the middle of the turntable and closed the door, twisting the dial around to the number 10 setting. The microwave began to hum, a light came on inside and the turntable rotated.
“Cool!” we said, already greatly impressed. Rich stood back, crossed his arms and waited as the four of us crowded around the glass door. The egg turned, the microwave hummed and we waited.
Richard began to frown, the demonstration was clearly not going entirely to his satisfaction, but he said nothing. Presently, a bell ‘tinged’, the light went out, the hum subsided and the turntable stopped rotating. We sat and waited straining to see if anything had changed, but the egg remained just as brown and egg shaped as before.
“That’s odd,” said Rich, opening the glass door. He reached in to pick up the egg but withdrew his had immediately. “Shit, that’s hot!” he said, shaking his fingers. The egg, disturbed by his touch, rolled ever so slowly in a gentle zig-zag motion towards us, only to stop upon making contact with the raised rim of the turntable.
And then it happened. The egg exploded with what seemed to be the force of a tiny hand grenade going off. It boomed like a firework, spraying tiny fragments of egg and shell hurtling forth in all directions, coating the insides of the oven and splattering our terrified faces.
It took a long time to pick all the pieces of egg and shell fragment out of our hair and eyebrows and I was trembling for some time after, and laughing so much that I was probably bordering on the hysterical.
I look back with a smile on my introduction to microwave technology, even it did leave me quite literally, with egg on my face. We were more excited by technology in those days, maybe because things changed so very much in such a short time. There was less technology around, so there was less opportunity to be desensitized to change when it happened less frequently.
We don’t seem to marvel at new discoveries anymore. Instead of greeting breakthroughs with wide eyed wonder we have come to expect improvement, and isn’t that a shame?