Tag Archives: necessity

‘Utility is when you have one telephone, luxury is when you have two, opulence is when you have three—and paradise is when you have none.’ Doug Larson.

Alexander Graham Bell’s notebook entry of March 10, 1876, describes his first successful experiment with the telephone, in which he spoke through the new instrument to his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, who was in the next room.  Mr Bell writes, “I then shouted into M (the mouthpiece) the following sentence: ‘Mr. Watsoncome hereI want to see you.’  To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.”

My first thought on reading that statement was that if Mr Bell had ‘shouted’ into the mouthpiece, Mr Watson might well have heard him from the next room without the help of the new invention anywaybut then I realised that was probably a tad mean-spirited. There is no doubt the invention of the telephone has had a massive impact on the world as we know it and unless you are living an extremely isolated existence (or are over 141 years of age) it seems almost impossible to imagine life without one.

Recently, however, by circumstance rather than choice, I was given a taste of experiencing just what that might be like.

Just before last Christmas I discovered my home phone was not working.  No static, no funny clicks on the line . . . just . . . nothing.  As you might imagine, an inordinate amount of time was spent to-ing and fro-ing with the phone company before the problem was eventually correctedthree weeks later.  Then, barely two months along the track, the line went dead again.  And then again another month after that.

The first time I felt quite anxious and agitated.  It really bothered me.  I felt ‘cut off’ and that feeling didn’t really go away until the phone came back on line.  The second time it happened I was irritated, to say the least.  Now I would have to go through the whole telephone company rigmarole again . . .  this is so annoying . . . and I really don’t have time for this . . . and it’ll probably take another three weeks and  . . . then . . . somehow . . . I kind of forgot all about ituntil one day the phone rang again and I realised it was fixed.

They say ‘third time’s the charm’ but I guess I will have to wait and see whether the phone company’s ‘fix’ will stick this time.  Surprisingly, I now find myself quite unconcerned.  I have come to realise that it is actually quite pleasant to not have my evenings and weekends constantly interrupted by people wanting to leave messages for the local aged care facility (my number is one digit different from theirs) or having someone insisting I buy funeral insurance (bastards) or hit me up for donations for dying pot-plants in Bolivia . . .

Maybe, just maybe, I don’t actually need a home phone at all . . .

And then my mobile died.  Sigh.

There seems nothing I can do to resurrect it.  (As John Cleese  would say ‘It is no more. It has ceased to be. It’s expired and gone to meet its maker.’)  I admit I felt a little panicky.  No home phone and no mobile phone.  I at least need a mobile phone.  Don’t I?  What if I need to contact someone urgently?  What about emergencies?  What if?  What ifwhat?  Well, I can’t think of anything right here and now but somehow I still seem fairly certain that I really should get a replacement.  I’ll make it a priority.  I’ll do that.  Soon.

Maybe next week.

Or the week after that . . .


Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Uncategorized


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‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ (English Proverb)

I am not really one for gadgets.  I don’t seem to own many of those beautiful, shiny, sleek, everyone-needs-one, can’t-live-without-them, things-to-make-your-life–easier doodads that a lot of other people seem to have.  However, I do admit that some of the thingamabobs, whatchamacallits and doohickeys advertised on those (really, really, really long) infomercials which seem to have taken over our tellies these days can sometimes stop me dead in my tracks.

I will sit and watch and listen in awe to all the ‘amazing, extraordinary, save-you-10-hours-every-day’ promises they make.  I will marvel at the cutting edge technology and aerospace engineering involved and sit rapt while the doojigger slices and dices, cleans up and disposes of, folds in and out and puts itself away, and builds a dog kennel all on its own.  I will ponder the weird and wonderful mind that thought the gizmo up in the first place and, more importantly, wonder if it comes in a colour I like.

Then the phone will ring, or the dog will bark, or the kettle will boil and I will wander off to attend to that and never give that wonderful, amazing whoseamewhatsit another thought.  Short attention span?  Absolutely.  Do I feel the loss at not having acquired whatever it was?  Not at all.

I have friends who have cupboards full of gizmos, gubbins and doodads they have never used (‘seemed like a good idea at the time’), and, if anything, I feel I am just doing my small part in restoring the balance and not adding to any more landfill.  I am in no way trying to belittle those in the past who have lived their lives striving to discover things to make things easier for the rest of us.  Where would we be without those intrepid inventors of the past?  Even I find it hard to imagine getting through everyday life without computers, emails and telephones.  No television, no light bulbs, no birth control pill.  Just imagine millions more people trying to get around without planes, trains and automobiles — no bicycles even.  No cameras or film (no YouTube) to record our path through the years.  Perhaps (the horror!) not even any books — we could still be chipping our take-away orders on stone tablets!  People would be suffering or dying from diseases now long curable, or at least manageable  So, good to know that I am not a complete Luddite then.

As the old proverb says — necessity is the mother of invention and, although whomever invented the bright stylish footwear in the photo (right) could perhaps not really claim this invention to be a necessity, they were  not only thinking ‘out of the box’ but they must have also had a direct line to the B.O.M.

And go on . . .admit it . . . you just really do have to love an invention with a sense of humour . . .

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Posted by on September 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


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