‘Will Mr and Mrs Wilkins, currently believed to be touring in Scotland, please contact their daughter Charlotte in Bristol on a matter of urgency.”
This is the sort of message you would sometimes hear, tagged on the one o’clock BBC News, fifty or more years ago. If they heard the message the Wilkins would go to the nearest post office and send a telegram. Charlotte would then telegraph back to say that she had accidentally burnt the house down, or some other significant event.
How different from today. Through Facebook and phones the Wilkins will probably know what Charlotte ate for breakfast and who she’d ‘bumped into’ in Sainsburys. If communication then was too difficult, is it now too easy? We have just returned form two weeks holiday in Cornwall and I was one of very adults in our party who left business entirely behind. In my mini-survey I spoke to several people in business. Some felt that their role could not be covered by anyone else, others continued to deal with emails or chat to colleagues. It has become normal practice, but it would not work for me.
Here at Staunton I live ‘over the shop’, with about ten people on the payroll. I love what we do, but it becomes all-consuming. I need periodically to get away, clear my head, and then fall naturally into a pattern of objective thinking. Is this just me? Do other people come back from their breaks fully refreshed and ready to tackle the world again?
The question is not new. Wordsworth, who lived near here two hundred years ago, wrote in one of his poems:
The world is too much with us, late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.