The trouble with technology is that you can never quite predict its effects. Alexander Graham Bell must have looked at the telephone and thought, cracked it there. I’ll take the rest of the day off and have a Curly Wurly.
The telephone has been a boon and a blessing to the world. It also has a downside.
He could never have imagined that his device would be responsible for the rising obesity rates of the Western World, which was bound to happen once food came to hunt us down to our very homes, borne by box wielding, helmet wearing, moped riding, pizza delivery warriors.
Nor could he have imagined that his invention would be responsible in large part for the career of Simon Cowell. Where would the X Factor be without those telephone votes? Do check with the bill payer before dialling, because those calls are pricey, and part of the cost funds Mr Cowell’s plan to dominate the world, I tell you.
Once the rocket of technology is launched, you can never tell just what blessing or curse society is going be landed with.
It’s the same with the super-duper new buses, which I praised most fulsomely most last week.
However – you knew that was coming, didn’t you? – there is a downside. The beautiful new bus is a silent queen of the roads. As a result, a whole new range of annoying noises are now clearly audible. Previously, the gentle rumble of an environmentally unfriendly panda-choking diesel engine could blanket some of the more irritating habits of your fellow travellers.
We’ve long suffered the doof-doof of the personal stereo, and now we can hear it even better on the quiet bus. It’s been joined by the incredibly loud telephone conversation, and the ping of incoming texts, tweets, e-mail and really, really urgent Facebook updates (“Seagull 8 my burger! Lol!”)
Despite the ferocious competition from modern technology, old habits can hold their own. The muffled bass of a modern beat combo is now teamed with the syncopation of a teen gum chewer (open mouth technique). There is still the rare but remarkable false teeth clack, also known as the Wally Castanet Concerto. Let’s not forget the Congested Nasal Trumpet Voluntary.
I fear one of these might one day be responsible on the new Number 10 for an outbreak of Commuter Screaming.