I’m up for change; for years I worked in an industry where technology streamlined processes to the point where you can now do at home with a cheap pc and inexpensive software, what used to require hundreds of thousand pounds investment in kit and staff.
That said, I’m also nostalgic for some of the things technology has stolen from us as our world has embraced all things electronic.
Take the door knocker. That was once new technology. Our ancestors were happy to announce their arrival at a friend’s home by simply shouting “Get the cauldron on, we’ve come for a cuppa”. Then as bits of sacking gave way to wooden doors it became necessary to bang on the door to announce your arrival and for poorer folk who couldn’t afford a staff (or stave) to beat out their arrival note, it meant sore knuckles for days afterwards.
Time passed until an inventive village blacksmith with time on his hands (and perhaps sores caused when he visited Aunt Ethelred a few days earlier) came up with a door knocker. Probably a plain affair, cheaply made, because his clients probably couldn’t rub two groats together.
Benjamin Franklin was reputed to have said: “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning” and so it was that Mr Smith’s idea was embraced by others and soon the wealthy were adorning their front doors with elaborate knockers, often intended to outdo their neighbours with their flair and panache.
In Roman times apparently the use of a metal ring as a door knocker allowed the wealthy home owner to chain slaves to his front door so to welcome guests (I guess they had to be chained up or they might be stolen or indeed run away).
I suppose the advent of the door bell was inspired by the practice of ringing church bells to warn of the advance of marauders or maybe if your home was a castle, a knock on the door just wouldn’t cut it.
Mind, even door bells demonstrate the advance of technology. When I was a youngster our bell had to be wound up (you turned the bell-ringy bit) and the operation was simple, the outside button was connected to a rod which passed through the door when when pressed, turned on the clockwork mechanism.
I well remember my best mate’s gran, who was a bit better off than us, had a chime which consisted of two long tubes hanging in the hall beneath a box of electrical components. When the door button was pressed small hammers tapped on the tubes to create the sounds.
I’m red faced to admit, but in more recent years we had a wireless door bell! A
battery powered button on the door activated the ringer unit which could be carried round the house – very useful if you were sorting out the attic.
All this new fangledness has one sad aspect though. I doubt if future generations of holidaymakers will bother to take pictures of the plastic, double glazed front doors of our homes, gasping as they press the shutter, just look at the knocker on that.
If you want to see more pictures of amazing door knockers try Google and click images.