Whenever I mentioned that ‘we could do that 20 years ago’ (which you hear me say a lot!) I often hear the old expression ‘ah, the old ways are the best’.

Well, not really. In surgery, they used to operate with whiskey for an anesthetic. Ouch! I would call that anything like ‘the best’!

Here’s what I mean by ‘we could do that 20 years ago’.

Yesterday I wrote a St Paul’s Cathedral sketch. St Paul’s was built in the late 17th century. Even at that time, if you were standing on the banks of the Thames and wanted to get to the construction site you walked up (the banks of what was then the River Fleet) what is now Farringdon Road today. You’ll be there in 5 minutes.

Even in Roman London, or prehistoric times, you could make that short journey. I’m sure even the dinosaurs had no trouble going a short distance on foot.

The London Underground system is an amazing piece of engineering from since the Victorian times. It’s been extended and enhanced over the years, and we await the new Elizabeth Line opening soon. Fantastic stuff. Helps us get around London pretty easily.

But if its the journey from the banks of the Thames at Blackfriars to St Paul’s we’re talking about the London Underground is no help at all.

Although ‘the old ways are the best’ is commonly used as a cynical expression, it’s used largely in jest. So it’s not a big deal.

However, its important to understand that there is no conflict between ‘we could always already do that’ and ‘technological progress’. Its like, yes we now have a power screwdriver (good) and we no longer need to use a manual one (good), but a power screwdriver is not much use if what you want to do is to drive a nail into a piece of wood.


Hiran de Silva

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