I think I must be getting old.
I was watching a sitcom on TV the other night, and a boy of about twelve unearthed some old 78 records in his grandmother’s attic. He asked, ‘What are these round things, gran? Place mats?’
It gets worse. She replied, ‘They’re what we played music on before CDs.’ And the kid replied, ‘What are CDs?’
Technology is out of date before you can carry the new gadget home from the shop. And everyone’s at it: banks are trying to phase out cheques; train companies use Twitter to update passengers about delays; publishers haven’t known what to do with paper manuscripts for years. The world is moving so fast that when I stand still I’ll feel it rushing past me like a 70 mph gust of wind.
In my own life, the local theatre seems to have been taken over by blinkered bureaucrats who don’t even live in the town. The local newspaper is moving out of the office it’s lived in since Adam was in short trousers, and into a building designed by someone with a mirror fetish. And the landscape around my house is set to change if ‘relaxed’ planning regulations have their way. Yes, folks, the developers are back, and this time they’ve brought in the big guns.
I don’t know whether to run away and hide from it all, or climb on the roof and yell at the top of my voice, ‘S-L-O-W down a little and just THINK about this before you change everything out of all recognition.’
Because they don’t, do they? At least, that’s how it looks to me. I ache to quote Native American wisdom to them: the bit about thinking through the consequences of their actions unto the seventh generation. In fact, the next generation would be good. Better than at the moment, anyway; they don’t seem to look beyond the next balance sheet.
It’s all about money. And worse, it’s all about money now. Take the theatre.
Last week the place was packed out; the show was a popular genre, and had a couple of well-known faces in it. But it was very... average. Tedious, in fact, as if the cast had learned it by rote and weren’t really interested. People left at the interval. Quite a lot of people. So the theatre’s coffers were full for a week, but its reputation for quality work plummets; those people won’t be back, and will tell their theatre-loving friends not to bother. It wouldn’t have happened when the woman in charge actually knew her audience, many of them by name because they did come back, every week.
Short-term thinking benefits no one further than the eye can see.
And don’t get me started on the criteria publishers use to select new titles... (Not all publishers, Ben. Some of you have the right priorities. I like to think I did; maybe that’s why I couldn’t make it pay.)
I’ll stop ranting now. I’m sorry this post has nothing to do with crime fiction – just the kind of day-to-day real-life low-level crimes against humanity that are perpetrated in the name of progress.
Progress? Yeah, right.