Friday, 7 July 2017


I think that history will look back on this era not so much as the 'Have It Alls' but rather the 'Want It Nows' and I, for one, don't think this is a good way to be.

You see, the trouble with having high expectations and wanting instant gratification is that they are bad for us. They wouldn't be, if we could control our desires and accept that sometimes we will not receive all that we may wish to receive instantly, at the click of a finger, or of a mouse. If we could stay patient when life is not happening at MIPS speed and learn to live more in the moment than in the next few minutes.

Our brains may be built for high-speed processing, our neurons may fire fast, but I don't think we've yet evolved to cope with the technology we all take for granted. Which reminds me of some code I wrote some, oh, thirty-five years ago, for one of the early online computer systems that the company for whom I was Chief Techie was developing. It was a brand new computer installation, an IBM 3441, probably less powerful than the laptop on which I am typing now, but back in the 80's it was impressive. Too impressive. The first systems had almost the whole central processing unit to themselves, there were so few of them written and tested, and I was worried that the users accessing them would become complacent and greedy. That they would expect such high-speed results even when other systems had been installed and the mainframe was working harder to service hundreds of online users. So, I wrote some Assembler code to run in CICS to interrogate the programmes returning results to the users: had they taken a certain number of seconds to reply? If yes, good, give them what they asked for. If not, pause, wait until those few seconds had passed and then reply to them.  The users never knew they were sometimes delayed. All they saw was a fast and consistent response that would be the same later when resources were being shared with others. Their expectations were set and they were never disappointed. Fait accompli.    

I'd quite like to do that to people now. In real life. The trouble is that those who sell us our stuff want us to buy quickly, before we have time to think, to reconsider, to change our minds, and so they enable us to Have It Now, next day delivery, today, if they could manage it. I can imagine the drones flying in the window now.

But it does not hurt to wait, does it?

And sometimes the waiting makes the receiving so much sweeter, almost special.
Just as waiting for Christmas Day, the anticipation, the mounting excitement, is often so much better than the day itself, even if there is all that we had desired stuffed into our stockings.

I started thinking of this today as I returned from walking the dog because today, 7th July, is the day when the village shop re-opens after the baker's first summer break. And while it has been sad to walk past a closed sign for the last two weeks, and while I may have wished to have had the convenience of popping in to pick up milk or bread, or my Sunday strawberry tart, today it has been such a treat to return home from our morning walk with a fresh croissant for breakfast

 and a mille feuille for afternoon tea.

Worth the wait...

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