The Teasmade

The Internet is something I’m rather fond of. It’s given me a platform from which to address the world; to watch obscure cartoons and to commune with strangers in Iraq and Canada and Japan.

I also enjoy my DVD player. It allows me to watch all my favourite funnies without the nuisance of scheduling or ad-breaks (I mean, really. An ad-break in The Simpsons? It’s only twenty-minutes long).

But aside from these two devices, I’m a bit of a Luddite really. By choice. Technology tends to complicate things and it breaks and it insulates you from doing real things with real people and with real results.

While plugged as being liberating or time saving, technology is actually (as Dylan Moran opines in his Monster show) a horrible, horrible trap. It just turns you into a button-pushing slob. Back to the Medieval age, says I. Those Guilds knew what to do with slobs.

But today I was thinking about technology and the future after reading an article about digital radio in The New Statesman. When people think of a technology-driven utopia, they think of one main thing: a robot maid who wakes you up with a cup of tea. Don’t try and deny it: it’s what you think of.

But it is a civilised idea, isn’t it?. A robot maid like the one in The Jetsons could wake me up with tea not so far in the future. Come on, inventors. You gave us iPods and penicillin, now follow through.

Much like Mrs. Doyle I actually enjoy the ceremony of making tea properly so I wouldn’t want a dumb old machine to take that pleasure away from me. But the Robomaid 4000 would only be making that first cup of tea. There’d be plenty of time to enjoy brewing tea at other intervals in the day.

But of course, as with all robots, my tea-brewing Jetsons maid would eventually tire of her over simplistic raison d’etre and go on a rampage of Cylon-style rebellion. I’d wake one morning to a steaming cup of my own guts.

And rightly so. Just because she’s a machine doesn’t mean she’s not a person. She has needs! What we need is some kind of non-sentient device to simply wake you up with tea. What’s that? There is one? It’s called a Teasmade and it was invented over a hundred years ago? It’s a fucking alarm clock that makes tea! My idea of a sophisticated technological solution dates back to 1891.

Does anyone know why the teasmade gets such bad press? It’s seen as being a bit old-hat or geriatric, like slippers or a hotwater bottle, or a colostomy bag. But it’s surely the level of sophistication that our stoneage ancestors dreamed of when developing the first tools. Today: a stick with a rock tied to the end. Tomorrow: a robot that makes the tea.

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