As you might have heard (with or without the assistance of vans with megaphones on their roofracks), a quarter of a million of us in the middle of England are currently without drinking water. Unless you have an interest in the subject of water-borne parasites, you’d have no reason to know the first thing about cryptosporidium. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if, a week ago, not a single one of the quarter-million had even heard of it. Now, of course, it’s a regular topic around a hundred-thousand dinner-tables.
In truth, I still don’t really know anything about it other than its name and its effects on the body (effects which I came to know only too well a short time before I knew the cause), but what I have found most interesting to observe is the social effect of such an event on the human animal.
I have considerable admiration for anyone who’s ever had that discussion with their parents. If the parents have managed to overcome shock and respond with the usual parental love and support, I admire them too. I like to think that, by the time my own terribly liberal generation is old enough to have children of the “finding one’s sexuality” age, we’ll be so chilled-out, unfazed and approachable about it that it won’t even register as a milestone.
Last year, I found myself in a situation which I believe is as close to this as you can get if, like me, you’re straight. It took place, as convention dictates, around the kitchen table.
It wasn’t premeditated: I had not intended for it to happen, nor staged the moment, nor even planned what I was saying. For the life of me I can’t even remember exactly what I said. I remember realising that I’d just said it, and that I was already part of the brief silence that followed.
Record companies and movie studios like products. Real, tangible, physical products you can buy, place in a bag, and carry home. This keeps the issue of distribution and ownership nice and straightforward—-those who are holding the product in exchange for money hold a licence to use it, within predefined boundaries. Accountants, lawyers, and those fresh out of an economics degree can cope with this model with no problem at all.
But what if the customer doesn’t necessarily want or need a physical, touchy-feely product in a box? What if, for example, they can download the album or film or book or whatever, and this fits in with their highly digital lifestyle?
My grandfather used to complain that technology was always at a point some way in front of him, and moving away at an ever increasing rate. In the eighties he complained that having four television channels was wasteful, as it meant that it was only possible to consume a quarter of broadcasts at one time. In the nineties he refused to tune the television to receive the new fifth channel on account of the fact that there were already plenty of broadcasts he wasn’t watching and didn’t feel the need to let any more go to waste. Now that he has passed on, I pray that his afterlife is a plane of gentle, asynchronous consistency.