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October 2017


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Faster and yet faster!

In this hectic modern life, we will often hear the same old complaint …
“Things just get faster and faster. We can barely keep pace. Things were slower (and better) in the good old days!”

So let us compare the ‘good old days’ with our accelerating and breathless new world.

I ordered a DVD box set from a company in the USA. ‘Hill Street Blues’, as it so happens. The complete series. Unavailable in the UK (PAL TV Region 2), so I had to buy an American version (NTSC TV Region 1). Why there is such a stupid distinction, I fail to see. I had to buy a DVD player that could play the American DVDs. It cost me money, of course. I did not wish to have a 3rd rate pirate copy. Do it properly. By the book.

The Box Set was despatched (yes, I checked the spelling!) on the 29th of September, and is not due to arrive until the 26th of October. 27 days! By DHL Global Air Mail. That would make via an aeroplane, I presume. East Coast of USA to London, by aeroplane, in only 27 days. Blindingly fast, in this day of jet propelled aviation.

So I checked …
Charles Lindbergh would have got it here faster, even allowing for the extra trip across the English Channel from France.
Alcock and Brown would have easily beaten DHL, even allowing for the package being dug out of an Irish bog, and the added trip across the Irish Sea.

Let’s go back in time. Almost any steamship would have managed it. (Except possibly the Titanic, which, as we know, never did make the return trip!).

So, how about sailing ships?
According to well-maintained records, a 2,000 ton sailing ship could cross the Atlantic, from New York to London, in a time, somewhere between 21 to 29 days. In 1818. 200 years ago. Very similar to DHL’s 27 frantic days. Oh, how the pace of life has quickened!
Mind you, the DHL time is an estimate. It hasn’t actually arrived yet. So it could be longer …

Naturally, they did not have DVD players 200 years ago. If they had, I would be sitting here watching Hill Street Blues, not typing out the ‘Where, oh where, has my DVD Box Set gone?’ blues. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ anyone? Fresh from the printers in 1813. Delivered by stagecoach. Now, that is what I call quick!

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