The Teasmade

The Internet is something I’m rather fond of. It has 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 and I hate Domino’s Pizza so their attempts at persuasion are wasted on me, the fools).

But aside from these two devices, I’m not really a fan of technology. It complicates 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 massive button-pushing fatty. Back to the Medieval age, says I. Those Guilds knew what to do with fatties.

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, you tea-swilling pig.

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

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

But of course, as with all robots, my teabrewing maid would eventually tire of her over simplistic raison d’etre and go on a rampage of Cylon-style rebellion. I’d surely awake 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 woman. She has needs! Equal rights for mecha-chicks, says I.

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!

(I love how my idea of a sophisticated piece of technology dates back to 1891.)

Does anyone know why the teasmade gets such bad press? It’s seen as being a bit of a granny product 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 will make the tea.

I am presently at my parents house in the West Midlands. It is Christmas. Leaving Glasgow yesterday resulted in the usual standing at Hillhead Tube station and saying goodbye to friends. The fact that I wouldn’t be seeing them for a couple of weeks combined with the fact that the day before had been our faux-Christmas meal and gift session made for an emotional experience. Or at least, it should have done.

Hugging my friend Stuart, he said quietly into my ear “Don’t look now but Von Smallhausen has just appeared”.

Sure enough there was a man on the platform who looked exactly like TV’s famous Engelbert Von Smallhausen – a grimacing little turd of a man, dearstalker cap clamped firmly to the top of his head.

It was very funny. What should have been a tender parting of company was suddenly invaded by an innappropriate infusion of The Uncanny. The chance passing of a living non-sequitur had spoiled what should have been a tender moment of separation, but that just made it extra funny.

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