Olivetti

What shall I write about this week was my desperate cry? Why, the magnetic storm, everyone answered! Yes, of course, what else is there…the end of the world is nigh, so surely I can knock out five hundred words before we are all plunged into a darkness that could last into the next millennium (or so said Google at its most apocalyptic).

Turns out it was more of a solar breeze than a solar storm.  Talk of Armageddon soon fizzled out. Besides, said an ‘expert’, magnetic storms don’t affect people, only technology. Well, that’s ok then!

So Nothing Happened as the famous headline once read.

You can laugh, but imagine a world with no micro-processors said a colleague with a look of doom and gloom. Actually, I can, I answered. For about forty years of my life there were no micro-processors, at least not in normal everyday life. Yes, we were dragged out into the garden one night to watch Sputnik pass overhead. I suppose that must have been powered by computers and the like. But down on Earth where I was brought up in rural Essex, the techno-gizmo age had yet to materialise.

Mobile phones? Why, the nearest telephone was a half-mile walk to a very smelly phone box more than likely occupied by someone sheltering from the rain waiting for the twice weekly bus. Someone who thought nothing of chain smoking while in the steamy kiosk with the door closed. Nice!

As for cash points, they didn’t exist. Getting cash meant a 7 mile ride on said bus (with said smokers still puffing away) to the bank. Add the fact that there were only two channels on the black and white telly and life was very simple.

And I’d be typing this column on foolscap on my portable Olivetti.

“We really haven’t had any reports from power system operators yet,” a space weather forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, said early Friday. “But sometimes they don’t come in until after the storm.”

Ooh-er, I’d better click on ‘send’ before everything crashes. I don’t want to have to go back to licking a stamp, whatever that is.

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