Can any of you, dear readers, do the following?

Bake a loaf of bread.

Sew a shirt.

Knit a jumper.

Fix your car when it breaks down.

Build a house (or a shed).

I can confidently tick the first three. After that, I admit, my knowledge is extremely hazy. I can work out which end of a hammer to use to hang a picture, and that’s about it.

I can make a loaf of bread in my bread maker, but I buy the yeast, flour, salt and oil, the tin I bake it in, and expect my oven to be automatically warmed by gas or electricity. I doubt if I could bake a loaf of bread like my grandmother did, by kneading it on the kitchen table and cooking it in a wood-fired oven. I have no idea how to grind flour from wheat, or extract yeast from the beer-making process.

Similarly, I can knit a jumper, but I can’t spin or dye wool, or shear a sheep.

I'm probably about as handy, in the sense of being able to feed, clothe and house myself, as most people in my age group in Western society, and more handy than the next generation, or the one after that.

What are the implications of this? ...continue reading "The Fragility of Technology"


A friend of mine, a married woman in her thirties, is probably a typical First World woman of our era.

She has two young children, one at school.

She works part-time, three days per week.

She's developing a home-based business idea.

She enjoys sport, and participates when she can.

She has a large circle of friends and family.

Last time I saw her she had dark circles under her eyes, was tired, depressed and generally pissed off. I must add that she's generally a positive, up-beat person, but a few plans had gone awry - as plans tend to - and she really wasn't coping well.

Most of us have a tendency to fill our days with activities many of which, if stopped, probably wouldn't be missed, but the purpose of this blog entry is to stop and reflect for a moment on the lot of the modern young (under 40) woman. ...continue reading "Superwoman"

We all need it.

We would die without it.

If you read science fiction written 50 years ago, we were all supposed to be living on pills by now.

Instead, in Western society, food has polarised. At one end of the scale there are fast food and pre-packed meals full of artificial ingredients and preservatives. At the other end we now have food as art, innovative cuisine combining flavours and ingredients unheard of twenty or thirty years ago. Entire reality television shows are devoted to this type of food (without mentioning any names).

I want to say here that I don't get the point of combining food and television. To me food is about eating, which means it should taste good, smell good, hopefully look good, and be nutritious. A pleasant side effect is the social aspect - nothing beats sitting down to a Sunday lunch with a group of friends and family. Where can television possibly fit into the above? ...continue reading "Modern Food"