It is not everyday, we see something that has genuinely changed the world. But today I did and it is called Locomotion. Nowadays, it looks distinctly ‘old hat’ yet as Pete Waterman explains, when it was first seen in action it must have been as exciting and frightening as the Space Shuttle. Nevertheless, when its inventor George Stephenson let loose this contraption on the unsuspecting British and hence the globe, he was really launching the first system of public transport. and so in some ways Locomotion became less Space Shuttle and more prototype Jumbo Jet.
Of course Locomotion was the first steam locomotive to run on rails. But what I had failed to grasp prior to visiting Locomotion’s home at the ‘Head of Steam’ Museum at Darlington was that well before its first run in 1825, rail line systems were an extensive mode of transport in Georgian Britain. The only difference was that it carriages and trucks were horse drawn. Not surprising then that the first time Locomotion tasted speed was when it was carried some of the way from Newcastle to its start up point of Darlington on such a waggon.
Its first run along the Stockton to Darlington line complete with a load of coal and a carriage for the Directors of the whole project was a immediate success. So much so the coal was given away to the poor. There is no record of the passengers being charged at all let alone asked to pay the extortionate fare required today to travel on Britain’s railways.
It is ironic then that despite this little loco ushering in mass travel by train, it only pulled carriages of passengers one more time. The rest of its 40 odd years of working life was drawing coal from the Durham coal fields to provide steam for the factories and ships of the growing industrial revolution. Yet Locomotion’s efforts not only brought in that era, it helped also to power it as well.
Today I added another rule to the horrors of web site smithing. And is this! If you happen to have two web sites, then if not carefully watched, the software will upload to the wrong one.
In a similar vein, the greater the amount of work you do hammering the pages into shape, the greater the chance it will not save (Serif X4).
“Assistant to electricals – customer waiting!” – the supermarket loudspeaker blares out and that half amuses and half annoys. For the suggestion is that if some unfortunate doesn’t get themselves amongst the kettles ‘tout suite’ then something unspeakable, possibly lingering, will happen to them. It’s all nonsense, of course. They’ll finish their cuppa and amble along in due course. Yet the illusion has been maintained – you are a valuable, even an invaluable, customer whose time is as rubies. Moreover, the company’s fiction is sprayed around like fake coffee aroma – our clients have status instead of just being till roll receipts.
It’s for these reasons too we lap adverts of smiling call centre staffs, waving shop-keepers and bank tellers who are family friends. For deep down we want to be part of a community of which we are real part – where the people we meet have some sort of concern for us as humans. Needless to say this type of community is possible even sustainable; it just takes investment. That means the spending not of money but time and emotional energy. Since the bottom line is we get what we pay for. The question must be is there a “customer waiting!”